Press enter after choosing selection

2 Historic Buidlings Get New Lease on Life

2 Historic Buidlings Get New Lease on Life image 2 Historic Buidlings Get New Lease on Life image
Parent Issue
Copyright Protected
Rights Held By
Donated by the Ann Arbor News. © The Ann Arbor News.
OCR Text

2 historic buildings
get new I ease c.. life

^S'JbSiSs's^c^'1'1111^' William Martin's First Martin Corp. recently
completed the historic rehabilitation of the
"" "nger Building at First and

on streets. And Martin and Joe
u rseai ui O'Nc^ Construction are now
focusing th a few blocks south and
—c"* on anonici ruin Arbor landmark — the

sJljbyllding, on William between Third
»i,.u Fourth streets.

Vaughan, tax partner in Wright
Griffin Davis and Co.

Pleper says every once in a while
she receives a call from a develop-
er looking lor a large building to re-

"There aren't too many big pro-
jects sitting around to be done,"
she notes.

David Evans. president of Quinn
Evans/Architect^. »1'° '"'•litect
tor the Argus I r; • .ays
the Argus is a ; "I a
19th century indu™ —. i-.-;.-;i;;o.

Those buildings are character-
ized by heavy timbers in the interi-
or and a monolithic appearance on
the outside with large masonry
brick walls punctuated by a
rhvthm of equal sized windows.
" '"'i "is such as the Argus I ;i"
mendinger have streni,
ol their simple exteri.i

a stock ol large manufacturing
buildings to draw upon. according

gus Camera buildings, was pur-
chased jointly by First Martin
Corp. and O'Neal Construction for
about $500,000 in 1983, according lu
U-M Vice President James F. Brin-
kerhoft, the university's chief fi-
nancial officer.

The University acquired the
101,000 square-toot Argus I in 1963
from Sylvania which had acquired
the three Argus buildings from the
old Argus Camera Co. The build-
ings were partly a gift, but the Uni-
versity also paid some money, ac-
cording to old newspaper reports.

Built in 1866, the Argus I is situat-
ed on eight city lots totaling some
1.6 acres.

While under university control,

— T ' ir.iT'd 'lie!. IIiings as an
lily and a
-, crickets.

igle-story concrete b!o>'
;>.-, to the building, redu.

-'.juare footage to 71.iiiiii

to Robert T. Gate'

ager of the Argus I n-


housing and very light manufac-

" -"- "•-- "'-nendinger Building
"r purchased from
ArgUn i, •J,.C ui t1"-?? fnrmpr Ar-

Argus I is in what was Ann Arbor's
first suburb. It is in an area outside
of the original Ann Arbor village


RESTORE ^^51986


limits, says Evans, who is a mem-
ber of the Ann Arbor Historic Dis-
trict Commission.

What is unusual about the Argus
I is that it w.' * -

"The buik. .dually a series
of additions. At first glance, it
looks like it was built at one time,"
Evans says.

The oldest part of the building,
the wing along William Street, is
going to become the office of O'N-
eal Construction. Historians be-

' at the first wing was builtin
ti.e i^us by a furniture maker. The
two-story structure covered with
wood and metal siding was later
covered with a brick veneer and
another story was added prior to

The architect and developer
didn't realize that the one section
was 20 to 30 years older than the
rest of the building until they start-
ed pulling off drywall and paneling
and disc"" » ^ the walls were only
one brii i in one part of the
building instead of being the stan-
dard three bricks thick.

First Martin Corp. bought the
Allmendinger Building, also once
known as the Benz Building, for
$700,000 in July 1984. The building,
which contains 48,000 square feet of
space, was purchased by the Uni-
versity in 1969. For several years it
housed the now-defunct Institute
for the Study of Mental Retarda-
tion and Related Disorders and
more recently, the Institute for La-
bor and Industrial Relations. ILIR
was in the Argus I building before
it moved to the Allmendinger.

When First Martin Corp. pur-
chased * . ! tv, the Ann Arbor
Econor; pment Corpora-
tion granted Martin an inducemc-'
resolution to purchase and re;

ovate it. Martin said at the time
that he expected to spend $2.5 mil-
lion on the development. Two-
*.,. i i. ii »o for renovation.

neiuii ; ifkling the Allmen-
dinger Building, First Martin
gained experience in working with
older structures by rehabilitating
the First National Building. 201 S
Main St.

"You expect to encounter some
problems," notes Gates. "No two
buildings are alike."

The developer did not have a
good set of architectural or me-
chanical plans for "" the All-
mendinger or the Ai uilding.

"All we had were simple floor
plans and plans tor improvements
made by the U-M," Gates says.

Over the years certain conditions
had been covered up. Gates says
only after crews started demolish-
ing the Allmendinger did the devel-
oper discover that there had bee'
fire in part of the building. As a •
suit, the structural system of the
building had to be reinforced.

Because the Argus I is located in
the Old West Side Historic District
and the developer has applied for
tax credits for the historic restora-
tion, the developer has to have all
exterior work reviewed by the
Michigan Bureau of History and
the U.S. Department of the Interi-

Although the approval doesn't
create a problem tor First Martin

because the developer wants to re-
store the exterior to its original
condition, gaining the necessary
approval does represent another
step in the development process,
Gates says.

Why does First Martin choose to
restore large older buildings when
it could start from scratch and pre-
sumably avoid "surprises" under
the facades?

"I think historic buildings offer a
certain kind of ambiance not found
in modern buildings. Historic
buildings of the vintage of the All-
r wer and A* "'al to
i , . ople,"Gc

About 65 percent of the Alimen-
dinger Building is leased to Chi
Systems and its affiliates. The re-
maining will be leased as office
space. Gates says he also would
consider leasing first floor space to
quality retail establishments.

Chi Systems, which employs
about 100 persons, moved in Febru-
ary to the Allmendinger from one
of First Martin's contemporary
projects at 330 E. Liberty.

Jean Keller, director of adminis-
trative services for Chi Systr™
says employees seem to enjoy tneir
new work environment with its
high ceilings, exp—' '-"ams and
floor joists and br,

Many employees have a window
view. The interior of the building is
open and airy.

Architects for the Allmendinger
Building were Jickling Lyman &
Powell Associates, Inc. of Birming-
ham and Architects Four Inc. of
Ann Arbor.

The Argus I and the Allmen-
dinger Building represent what
people like about Ann Arbor, says
"-San Wineberg, an Ar ^or
• storic District conn i ser
who has worked in both buildings
as a university emplov00

The old manufactu! i^ midings
are small scale compared to nev
high rises. The small scale build-
ings are part of what makes people
think Ann Ai ':or is a comfortable
town, Wi.*v ./v > ,-, says.

>ugh there aren't many
large buildings left, Ann Arbor has
many other smaller buildings on
Mat* •• ;t "»to be restored
or • ien it becomes
ale, she adds.

Wineberg approves of what First
Martin has rinne to the Allmen-
din; do to the Argus

"Those buildings are a good ex-
ample of what can be done.
They've done a very good job. They
didn't try to be cute which is some-
" • •" • • • • 'blem," Wi'1^'''•••""""" says.

The addition of the two buildings
to the tax rolls already has added
to th " c tax base. Assessor Ed
Youns - the Allmendinger had a
market value of $750,000 this year.
The $375,000 assessment, half the
market value, doesn't include im-
provements. Thp rty will be
appraised early in;-..'. ar.

The Argus I building has a mar-
ket valnp of $200,000, according to
the assi office. It too is up for
review early in 1987.