Friday, February 11, 2005

A step in the right direction

The historic district commission approved renovations and alterations of 327 S. Main last night (where Wilkinson Luggage is now). They include a redesign of the entrance and facade windows, but more importantly, an addition of a 4th floor and code upgrade for the dormant 2nd and 3rd floors.

This is an idea I had been toying with for a while, but wasn't sure if it was structurally possible without putting in an expensive steel frame to support the new floor(s). It sounds like Wilkinson is just a wood frame building with brick veneer, but if it works, it works. I thought it was a great design and decision by the HDC, as it can allow for several more businesses in a building that was formerly just one retail establishment. One drawback is that the great entrance will be lost in the redesign, including the two glass displays on either side of the door, so it will not be as street friendly. However, I think it will allow for more foot traffic and greater activity in the area. Additionally, the creation of new space in the CBD (for whatever purpose, but particularly residential use) will be good for Ann Arbor in the long run. It offers more commercial and residential options, helps keep rents reasonable by keeping pace with demand, and helps reduce sprawl by doing so.

It's really too bad Wilkinson Luggage is moving out to Scio Township, though -- they're only feeding the sprawl monster (and I harbor my doubts that such a move will sustain the business after 100 years in the 327 building).


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