Downtown Ann Arbor, which is supposed to be the focal point of the community, has been relocated to the Briarwood Shopping Center área, a city planning commissioner claimed Tuesday night. Cmsr. Fredrick J. Herrmann said the mass of rapid building of office and commercial space along S. State Street and the Eisenhower Parkway is becoming to Ann Arbor what Southfield is to Detroit - an outlying area draining businesses away from the central city area. Herrmann's cofnments caníe durffig discussion of a resolution before the commission to approve a planned project application for the Bechtel Corp. which wants to construct a 10-story office building at State and Eisenhower. The commission eventually deferred action on the application, which, if granted, would allow architects of the building more discretion in the design than is normally permitted. Noting the surge in commercial and office development in the Briarwood area, Herrmann said "Downtown Ann Arbor is no longer at Hurón and Main Streets but at State Street and 1-94." He questioned,"Are we aware we're changing the center of Ann Arbor?" Besides the Bechte] Corp. building the southern part of Ann Arbor is also gaining the 11-story Wolverine Towers, which will be located just across the parkwav from the Bechte] site Herrmann was not alone in his belief! that the Briarwood area is detracting from the downtown area. Cmsr. Franz Mogdis said sometime the city has to decide where its commercial and office center should be. "You can't approve things like this (the Bechtel building) and talk about redeveloping the downtown, because you can't do both," Mogdis said. "The focal point of all activity in this community is the State Street and 1-94 complex, and places like the Bechtel building assure this." Cmsr. Robert Potts also noted "all those banks jumping up immediately" in the Briarwood area, indicating concern that the financial interests in Ann Arbor might be leaning towards locations near Briarwood. Potts suggested the commission might need to consider placing a moratorium on new construction along Eiseriiower. But Planning Director Michael Prochaska did not agree, saying that before the shopping center was planned the commission approved plans for the location of both commercial and office space in that area. The demand for office and commercial space in the State-Eisenhower área has good indications for Ann Arbor, Prochaska continued. He said this shows local firms are committed to staying in Ann Arbor, and that they want to consolídate their operations. Presently, "it is difficult, if not impossible, to lócate in downtown Ann Arbor," Prochaska said. Cmsr. Eunice Burns backed the planning director. She said the commission had plans for the development ahead of time and considered the office space problem all along. This shows that "maybe this commission and this city can plan ahead," she said. Along with deferring the Bechtel application, the commissioners also deferred an annexation, zoning and area plan for office space being sought by the Ann Arbor Bank at the intersection of S. Main and Eisenhower. (Other Planning Commission storijfj sppear on pages 1 and 33.) Ê
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