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Posted on Sun, Apr 4, 2010 : 5:56 a.m.

Developers seek to restart stalled affordable housing project off Stone School Road

By Paula Gardner

The roads are in, the mostly empty 3 acres are ready for landscaping and the 12 townhouses at the eastern end of Valencia Drive stand as occupied models for what the finished neighborhood should look like.

Now developers are ready to step in and complete construction of the project left partially built since 2006 just off Stone School Road north of Ellsworth.

windsong pix.jpg

Foundations for the new affordable townhouses are visible from Stone School Road between Ellsworth and Eisenhower.

Paula Gardner |

Windsong Limited Dividend Housing Association Limited Partnership is asking Ann Arbor officials to approve the site plan for the 32-unit project - for the second time.

It was originally approved in 2005, but construction stopped after the first phase was built.

“Because the project ceased for so long the site plan expired,” said Matt Kowalski, assistant city planner.

All of the infrastructure is in, Kowalski said: Utilities, streets, parking, retention pond.

And now, he said, “they want to build exactly what was approved in 2005.”

The property entered the market as The Oaks of Ann Arbor in 2006, when the townhouses were marketed as condos priced from $195,000 to $215,000.

But at the same time, Epic Development, based in Florida, pursued state tax credits to turn the property into affordable housing - and that’s what the townhouses on the site are today.

Both circumstances for the developer and the housing market changed in the interim, even after the state awarded the project a $3.7 million mortgage loan in late 2006.

So the project languished, even as the existing townhouses were occupied as intended.

Now the project is back with the new name of Windsong and new members on the development team - including Lansing attorney Thomas Lapka, who didn’t return a call seeking comment, and a new lead developer, Peter Jobson of Excel Realty Group in Ohio.

Jennifer Hall, housing manager for the Office of Community Development, said the developers took out a construction loan on the project “and they needed to either finish the development or pay back creditors. It only made sense for them to try to make the deal happen again.”

The townhouses are large - three-bedroom units are 1,800 square feet with a finished basement - and they’re targeted for residents who are at 60 percent or less of the area’s median income. For a family of four, that means income eligibility is $38,400.

Hall said there’s still a void in the Ann Arbor market for three- and four-bedroom rentals.

Meanwhile, Kowalski is leading the site plan review. The plans could reach the Planning Commission by the May 18 meeting.

Unclear is whether full financing is lined up and what the construction timetable could be.

But we could be seeing the early steps of a long-dormant construction project getting back on track.

“I think a lot of people want to get the project built and completed,” Kowalski said.

Paula Gardner is Business News Director of Contact her at 734-623-2586 or by email. Sign up for the weekly Business Review newsletter, distributed every Thursday, here.



Sun, Apr 10, 2011 : 4:36 p.m.

I drove by these today and fell in love with them, even though they are not yet complete. Can you tell me when will they be avalable for move in?

Paula Gardner

Mon, Apr 5, 2010 : 8:43 a.m.

Yes, sorry if that wasn't clear: They'd be affordable housing rentals. They shifted into rentals (despite the earlier marketing) after the first MSHDA loan. And now the second phase would also be rentals.


Mon, Apr 5, 2010 : 8:01 a.m.

@kafkaland -- It isn't totally clear from the story, but I believe that the intended usage will be as low-income RENTAL housing. (SEE: "Hall said theres still a void in the Ann Arbor market for three- and four-bedroom rentals.") So, if that is indeed the case, it is indeed much needed, and not the situation you envision, of putting unqualified buyers into mortgages / homes they cannot afford.


Sun, Apr 4, 2010 : 3:09 p.m.

This development will be good for young professionals.


Sun, Apr 4, 2010 : 11:10 a.m.

Arbor Oaks subdivision (also known as Stoney Brook) is an existing "affordable" neighborhood and is right around the corner. There are quite a few foreclosed homes in there and the pruchase prices were well below $200K.


Sun, Apr 4, 2010 : 10:35 a.m.

Hmmmm... families of four with income below 38k buying townhouses for 200k. Isn't this how we got into the current mess in the first place?