ANN ARBOR, MI — For retirees Cathi Duchon and Reid Thebault, one of the selling points of their new Ann Arbor condo is the convenience of a downtown lifestyle.
“The idea was to be somewhere where we could pretty much walk everywhere and enjoy the city, enjoy college, and then when we travel, lock the door and not worry about anything,” Thebault said.
Duchon, retired CEO of the Ann Arbor YMCA, and Thebault, retired CEO of the Metro Detroit YMCA, are among the first residents of the brand new condos at 309 N. Ashley St., steps from all that downtown has to offer, including the shops of Kerrytown, the Ann Arbor Farmer’s Market and Zingerman’s Deli just a short walk away.
They moved into their spacious new dig in late August, after living out of town in Scio Township for about 25 years, and they’re already loving it.
“Oh, yes, we’re very happy,” said Duchon, pointing to the abundance of natural light streaming in through the large windows and the two rooms where they each have their own office.
Local developer Tom Fitzsimmons of Huron Contracting is still putting some finishing touches on the 17-unit building, although many of the condos are now complete and occupied.
“It’s my favorite balcony because it’s always sunny,” Duchon said one recent afternoon, gazing out from one of his two third-floor balconies overlooking a new two-way protected bike path being built. on Miller Ave.
The couple like to keep active and that includes cycling, so the growing downtown bike network is a plus, Duchon said.
“We go to every softball game in Michigan, so we’ve already made a bike path to the softball field,” she said.
Standing in front of their quartz-counter kitchen island with fresh takeout from a downtown restaurant, Thebault noted that he had just finished a walk along the nearby Huron River, another perk of the ‘location.
The condominium building stands five stories tall, nestled around a new marijuana dispensary on the northwest corner of Ashley Street and Miller Avenue. It includes two condos and indoor parking on the first floor, four condos each on floors two through four, and three penthouse units on the fifth floor.
As of last week, all but one of the units had been taken and several were being closed, said Stephanie Savarino of Savarino Properties, the developer’s real estate agent.
Two of the penthouse units, ranging from 1,837 to 2,215 square feet, sold in July for between $1.3 million and $1.6 million, with prices exceeding $700 per square foot. They include large balconies with city views, including glimpses of the grand M Block rising from Michigan Stadium in the distance.
Of the sales recorded so far on the city appraiser’s website, the least expensive condo in the building, a nearly 2,000 square foot unit on the first floor, sold for just a little over $680,000 in July. The others have all exceeded one million dollars.
The buyers include a mix of retirees and older professionals, some affiliated with the University of Michigan, and some come from all over the country to make downtown Ann Arbor their new home or second home, said Savarino, mentioning Detroit, Boston, and Washington, DC, among the different places people come from.
Some buyers are UM alumni who have fond memories of Ann Arbor and visit seasonally, or they may have children who attend UM and they want to be near them, Savarino said.
“COVID has made parents and children hard to separate, so a lot of parents want to be close to their children at school,” she said.
Others already live in the Ann Arbor area and are empty nests moving from homes to condos.
Demand for the type of luxury product Fitzsimmons offers, allowing buyers to customize the design of their units, is so high that a majority of condos in another building he plans to build next in partnership with the local developer MAVDs on Detroit Street in Kerrytown are already booked, Savarino said.
“You can’t find a better location in Ann Arbor, Michigan,” Savarino said of being in the middle of Kerrytown.
Prices continue to rise and have roughly doubled in recent years, Savarino said, citing an increase from around $400 per square foot to now $800 per square foot in the next building that is expected to come up soon. with a two-year construction.
Fitzsimmons, which has built several condominiums on the outskirts of downtown, is also preparing to build another condominium immediately west of the 309 N. Ashley St. building along Miller Avenue, with a courtyard between the of them.
Duchon noted that she will have a front-row view of this project from her west balcony and watch it take shape.
Looking for a place to retire permanently, she and her husband also weighed factors such as access to health care and a good airport so they could travel before settling on Ann Arbor. .
“We wanted to be downtown, so we looked at downtowns like Chicago, Detroit and Key West and St. Petersburg, and then we said, you know what, why would we move from here?” Duchon said. “We love Ann Arbor.”
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