Just south of one of the busiest streets in Ann Arbor and nestled below several bustling shopping areas is a sweet, quiet community of condos called Pittsfield Village. Built in the mid-1940s, it even has an elementary school in its center, just like a real village.
From the street, its rows of modest buildings are reminiscent of cottages. All covered in cedar shakes, they're neat and simple and close to the road. Their heights roll up and down. Their landscaping ranges from lush to tidy.
But once you see behind the rows of homes, there's a surprise: huge expanses of land—all unfenced and open. This is the biggest clue to its old-timeyness since few builders today would let this expensive greenspace sit untouched.
Village history: No fences make good neighbors
Back in the '40s, the Village's layout was part of 20th century "urban utopia" design, meant to foster community and blend naturally into the city. Pittsfield Village does exactly that. With porches close to the sidewalks and small front yards, it's easy for neighbors to meet. Its big green spaces are not only restful, they serve as communal areas where kids and families can mingle and play.
Outlined in blue is the perimeter of Pittsfield Village. In the center, the orange shape shows the location of Pittsfield Elementary School. The Village is an oasis bordered by Washtenaw Avenue, US-23, Packard Road and Platt.
The Village was part of the World War II building rush. Tens of thousands of people poured into the area to work at the Willow Run Bomber Plant. Because of gas and tire rationing, they couldn't commute. The Village, built in 1945, was an affordable solution. It was then used for returning GIs and their families and later for U-M students.
The architect of the Pittsfield Village, also designed three now historically important Art Deco buildings in Detroit: The Kean, pictured here, the Lee Plaza Apartments and Elwood Grill. He also designed a Tudor-style office building at 12001 Linwood.
The Will Run Bomber Plant is considered the birthplace of "Rosie The Riveter." It's an ironic birth since Henry Ford, who built the plant and ran it for many years was vehemently against hiring women. As many as 1/3 of the 42,000 workers employed during the war effort were "Rosies."
Now its residents are a mix of people who want ownership and affordable housing close to the city. The Village's price range is quite affordable (see the statistics: "Pittsfield Village stacks up to all A2 condos"), and for many years stayed under the $100K range.
In January 2016, I'm proud to say I cracked the $100,000 price point with the sale of the gorgeous condo at 3412 Norwood. Here's the story of that feat:
Part of the Village's rising cost is that it transitioned from a cooperative to a condominium complex. Pricing is now up to the market to set. And now condo owners are free to upgrade the interiors with high-end finishes, all of which command higher sales prices.
Check out how the Village's insides are changing:
Almost every kitchen had the same cupboards, drawers, faucets and sinks, stove and fridge but some owners are now upgrading countertops and cupboard styles, adding wall tiling and designing their own shelving.
Some condo owners are going all out, adding top-of-the-line finishes, appliances and cupboards. Some are even moving the sink and the plumbing to make the most use of their space.
The condos themselves are charming and inviting. All were built with hardwood floors. All are bi-levels with a basement—with either one or two bedrooms. Though technically small in square footage, they feel spacious with the high ceilings in the living rooms. They also have crawl spaces for extra storage and plenty of space outside for plantings in the front or relaxing on the deck in the back.
Perhaps their biggest pluses are what the community offers in extras, such as....
Pittsfield Village's many amenities
Besides its cozy condos, great history and huge yards, Pittsfield Village in Ann Arbor has...