City Place and Council Connections

With all the changes and contortions that City Place has gone through since 2007 when it was first mentioned, you would expect some pretty heavy politics.  The most affected councilmembers would naturally be those who represent the residents. During my council campaign in 2008 (I opposed Carsten Hohnke for the Fifth Ward seat on the City Council), I do not remember that it was much of an issue, though I stated whenever possible that I was in favor of retaining the historic buildings on South Fifth.

I recall that later that year, Mike Anglin spent many hours meeting with “the neighbors” who live in the area, now being called Germantown.  He was joined by Hohnke after he was elected, though I don’t know details of those meetings.  However, on December 15, 2008, a proposal to form a historic district study committee was defeated on Council, with only three votes (Councilmembers Anglin, Briere, and Teall) in favor of it.  The other newly minted Fifth Ward councilmember, Hohnke, voted against it.  Establishment of a historic study district would not in itself have prohibited the development, but would have been the first step in recognizing the value of the buildings in the area and their history.

After the failure of the second version of the PUD at Council on January 5 (the only votes in favor of the plan were Councilmembers Rapundalo, Taylor, and Greden), there seems to have been an acceleration of activity, with many hours of meetings. The new neighborhood association, the Germantown Neighborhood Association, began to exert much more influence and to bring more facts and arguments to the table.

Since the second postponement of consideration of the site plan (see the previous post in this series), negotiations have reportedly picked up all round.  The political winds have brought the news that Hohnke has been actively promoting the passage of the site plan when it comes back to the council agenda, with the thought that further negotiations with neighbors and other interested parties could continue after that.  An interesting tidbit was brought forth in the discussion at the June 15 Council meeting, when, as reported by the Ann Arbor Chronicle, “Carsten Hohnke (Ward 5) began deliberations on the City Place site plan approval by indicating to his colleagues that he had brought information to the city attorney’s office concerning a possible conflict of interest on his part with respect to the City Place project. He stated that councilmembers had the analysis provided by the city attorney’s office and indicated he was prepared to accept their recommendation, if any, on the topic.”

Clearly, considering Hohnke’s key role at this point, any conflict of interest is worth examining.  From what I have been able to glean, the information given to council members was merely that the city attorney did not consider the circumstances to be sufficient to cause concern.  I wondered whether the information that I learned last summer connecting Hohnke with Daniel Pampreen might be involved, so I took some trouble to substantiate it. I have attached several documents indicating that the business (Kinetic Energy, Inc., under the assumed name of Vie Fit) operated by Hohnke’s wife, Heather Dupuis, is either owned by Pampreen or he has a substantial share in it. His (Pampreen’s ) is the only name appearing in the assumed name application , where he names himself as “owner/director”.  In the 2005 report , he is the President, Secretary, Treasurer, Vice President and Director (with two other directors).  Heather Dupuis is not yet listed.  In 2007, Heather Dupuis is now the registered agent, but Pampreen is still the President and only Director. (The box indicating “no changes” is checked in 2008, not attached.)  Finally, in 2009, Dupuis is shown as the President, Pampreen is the Secretary and Carsten Hohnke is the Treasurer.  All three are directors, together with the two others first listed in 2005.

So why is this connection with Daniel Pampreen of relevance to City Place?  For one thing, he owns 437 S. Fifth, a property included in the proposed City Place project.  For another, he is a well-known property owner,  student landlord (Dan’s Houses) and developer.  According to one account, he owns at least 50 properties.  He has recently (again according to the cited account) become interested in development of student housing and was involved in the deal that replaced the lamented Anberay Apartments with the high-rise, high-cost Zaragon Place.  Whether Pampreen is involved at any level in the City Place project other than as the owner of an included property, I don’t know.  But he clearly has an interest.

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