Block near U to be demolished

by Jared Roddy

Bulldozers and dump trucks could be tearing up land behind Stadium Village as early as today.

At this point, there have been no plans announced for the land, but on Nov. 16, the University is set to buy the block of land directly south of Argyle House apartments. The owner, Dinnaken Properties Inc., will begin destroying the houses and grading the land no later than Monday.

“Those houses had served their purpose,” said Dinnaken Properties Vice President Yvonne Grosulak. “Most of them are 100 years old.”

Dinnaken Properties has no plans of future expansion, Grosulak said, and decided selling the land was the best way to deal with it. She said the demolition must be finished by Nov. 9.

The University has no immediate plans for the block, said Richard Pfutzenreuter, University chief financial officer. The proposal to buy it must get Board of Regents approval at its Nov. 12 meeting.

“It’s a little unusual that we don’t have a specific proposal, and we’re not in the business of buying land,” Pfutzenreuter said. “But the fact is that this was one square block, not just a parcel, and frankly within the conceptual boundaries of the ‘U.’ “

There are 16 houses on Block 12, the county’s moniker for the property, and it once legally held as many as 76 tenants.

After the buildings’ destruction, the property will remain vacant until it is seeded for grass in the spring. Grosulak said Dinnaken Properties Inc. plans to keep as many trees standing as possible.

The University could pursue many options in the development of this land, Pfutzenreuter said. A conceptual drawing in the Clinical Sciences Campus Plan, which is a group working to decide how to expand the Academic Health Center, suggests a parking ramp would be an option.

Grosulak said she heard plans of removing some of the superblock and building new student housing on the property.

Pfutzenreuter dispelled that rumor. He said the superblock complex is an important part of the University experience. He also said the football stadium was not a motivation.

“There are many opportunities for housing or parking or facilities,” Pfutzenreuter said. “Maybe we’re being a tad opportunistic, but we have to keep our long-term interest of the ‘U’ in mind. We’re landlocked, and we can’t keep infilling green space.”

Some students said they are wary about the University’s lack of a plan but recognize the need for development.

“I know they’ve got to expand,” sophomore Sam Weisdorf said. “It just seems kind of weird to buy a whole bunch of land with no clear plan.”

Nursing junior Loni Cich said she thought there might be some ulterior motive.

“I suppose it’s just another way to make money,” Cich said. “Maybe they have plans but just aren’t telling anybody.”

Cich, who lives nearby, said she hoped the University would put in more parking or perhaps housing.

“Students want to live close to campus,” she said. “Or parking would be a good idea.”

Others said they were more upset with the destruction.

Walking down Ontario Street Southeast, Ryan Hill said he didn’t see the need to tear down the block.

“They look fine to me, they look like college houses,” Hill said.

“I think it’s a flat-out waste,” he said. “Use (the land) to do some good with it.”