Ann Arbor's Old West Side

I love the Old West Side in Ann Arbor. A short walk to downtown and campus, Jefferson Market, and Bach Elementary. If you are interested in buying or renovating a home on the Old West Side, you need to be aware of the historic district restrictions.

The neighborhood is a mixture of beautiful historic homes, old rentals, and a few office buildings mixed in. At one time, the Argus Camera factory was here. Now, UM, NPR, and a few other companies work out of the Argus building. Each year the neighborhood hosts an Old West Side Home Tour where we gawk at the homes of our neighbors.

The biggest challenge to living on the old west side is the cost, condition of the homes, and the historic district restrictions. There are many interesting stories of run-ins with the HDC (Historic Distric Commission). In my case, I used a GPS expert, historic home architect, and a small archeological dig to prove that my dilapidated garage was in fact, not historic. A review of old aerial photos, a review of the 2 x 4 size, and a letter by an expert architect proved enough to the commission that I could tear down my broken garage.

* Fun fact: a 2 x 4 measures 1.5 inches by 3.5 inches. However, it was once 2 x 4. Over time, this dimension shrunk, but at different times. This can be used to date a home.

Contact me if you'd like some helpful and free advice.

Are you in the historic district?
Detailed property records can be found here
Use Map Washtenaw for maps of historical aerial photos, flood zones, and more.
Browse the map below (click for full size):
For a detailed description of all regulations, go here and click on the "Historic District Design Guidelines" pdf.

If you're doing a larger renovation, I recommend working with an architect with Ann Arbor historic experience. Jill Thatcher is the point person in the Ann Arbor government for historic district questions. Contact her before buying your home or starting a renovation project.
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