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Lower Town

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City of Ann Arbor:

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& Neighborhoods:

  • New West Side
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  • Burns Park
  • Lower Burns Park

Neighborhoods in Ann Arbor

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Lower Town is the area just north of the Broadway Bridge.


Lower Town was one of the first-settled neighborhoods of Ann Arbor. Originally a separate village (becoming incorporated into Ann Arbor in 1867), it contains some of the oldest structures in Ann Arbor, including the Anson Brown Building, which dates to 1832, and currently houses the Saint Vincent de Paul Store. Mills and other industrial buildings located in the areas around the river and railroads, and the area has long been one of the city's more working class neighborhoods. A group of residents is attempting to inflict upon their neighbors a Lower Town Historic District, in recognition of the neighborhood's history. The proposal has met with resistance from most in the affected area.

Lower Town has not fared well over the recent decades - the University of Michigan in particular has razed large portions of the neighborhood for its buildings and for parking, and currently has plans to build two new parking structures on Wall Street, holding 500 cars each, to serve the Medical Campus. A large portion of the commercial area was redeveloped in a suburban strip style, with attendant large parking lots; Kroger had a store here that closed about two years after its Plymouth Road location opened; the Lower Town building was briefly a CVS location, but has stood empty for several years. Currently, the only evening uses in the area are the Broadway Party Store and a delivery oriented Cottage Inn Pizza location, giving Lower Town a desolate feel after the evening commuter rush from the Medical Campus.

The University's parking structures aside, there are some plans for new construction and re-use of existing structures in the area. The Strathmore company's Broadway Village proposal, which would replace most of the strip development with a mixed-use, pedestrian-oriented area, includes seven two- to six-story buildings, a plaza, replanting the Traver Creek edge, and the remediation of soil contamination from an old dry cleaning business. The University health system was on board as an anchor tenant, but pulled out of the project to locate their facilities outside the freeway ring, stalling the project. Involved parties hope to finalize a major tenant in spring of 2006, activating their financing.

Some smaller projects are in the works as well: the old Suzuki Tech Center building, on Pontiac Trail behind the party store, was purchased in early 2005, and is intended for redevelopment as condominiums, and there are plans to restore the Anson Brown Building and move the Northside Grill into the ground floor space, freeing the Northside's current location to be redeveloped along with the vacant lot next to it.


Residential Neighborhoods

The area just north of the University of Michigan Hospital contains apartment and condominium complexes. The disproportionately high population of medical students residing there, who often wear white coats, has earned it the nickname "The White Coat Ghetto." Apartment complexes include Island Drive and Medical Center Court. Condominiums complexes include Nieslen Square and Riverside Park Place.



  •'s Tour of Lower Town
  • Strathmore Development's Broadway Village project
  • UM Arts of Citizenship Program Broadway Park project
  • ArborWeb Neighborhood Guide page on Northside Neighborhood
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