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Posted on Thu, Nov 1, 2012 : 5:57 a.m.

Near North project stalled on Ann Arbor's North Main Street: What's next?

By Lizzy Alfs


One of the houses on the Near North property, which has fallen into disrepair over the past several years as the developers struggled to make the project work.

Ryan J. Stanton |

For years, there have been promises that eight blighted houses on Ann Arbor’s North Main Street will be demolished.

The houses on the 1.19-acre property, which acts as the northern gateway into Ann Arbor from M-14, have boarded-up windows, structural holes, exposed beams and peeling siding.

It’s been a cause of concern for city leaders, residents and neighbors for years — and it’s definitely not ideal for a property that welcomes hundreds of people to Ann Arbor on a daily basis.

Until recently, the site at 626-724 N. Main St. was going to be converted into a 39-unit affordable housing apartment complex called Near North. The $15 million project was expected to provide 24 apartments affordable to households with low incomes and 15 supportive housing apartments with project-based Section 8 rent subsidies.

Near_North_Perspective color rendering of building in context viewed from southeast looking south.jpg

A rendering of the now-canceled Near North development along Main Street viewed from southeast looking north.

Image courtesy of developer

But after the development team canceled those plans in September — largely due to a change in the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s floodway boundaries earlier this year — questions remain as to what’s next for the site.

A new development at the property, a sale, or even salvaging some of the now-blighted houses could prove challenging and take years, but city officials agree: the houses need to be demolished — and soon.

A decade-long history

Dating back to 2003, Ann Arbor’s Three Oaks Group targeted five houses on North Main Street for a four-story, 29-unit condominium project called “Terraces on Main.”

A Planned Unit Development site plan was submitted to the city in 2004, but when the project was met with resistance from the city and neighbors, Three Oaks dropped the plans.

Years later, and following several reincarnations, Three Oaks brought Ann Arbor-based nonprofit Avalon Housing into the mix and the two groups proposed Near North, bringing three additional houses on North Main into the proposal.

County records reviewed by show the properties were purchased and assembled by Three Oaks, operating under various entities, for at least $2.5 million over the course of about eight years. The sale price of the houses ranges from $215,000 to $539,000.

City Council approved the Near North Planned Unit Development three years ago, and for a while it was expected to break ground in early fall 2010, but there were repeated delays. Timelines were pushed back as the developers worked to sort out the complex financing structures and regulatory questions involved in affordable housing projects.

Meanwhile, the houses on North Main continued to fall into disrepair and neighbors expressed concern about the dilapidated houses, the effect it would have on their properties and the out-of-scale nature of the Near North development.


One of the boarded-up houses on the Near North property

Ryan J. Stanton |

The developers also fell behind on property taxes, which became delinquent in March this year. County Treasurer Catherine McClary said the property owner owes $60,250 in back taxes.

In August, Sumedh Bahl, the city’s community services area administrator, pledged that the city would move to demolish the structures within 60 days using money from its $250,000 blight fund that was established in February.

But one month later, Avalon Housing’s senior developer Michael Appel said the Near North project was dead.

"A combination of factors — including tax and regulatory changes, financing timeline constraints, and the challenges of balancing complex site work with cost containment efforts — led to our decision that the project was no longer feasible as planned," Appel wrote in a letter to Ann Arbor officials.

"At this point we are cooperating with the city's efforts to remove the houses on the site, and will continue to work with local and state government and other partners to explore alternative development options for the site,” the letter continues.

What’s next?

Perhaps the biggest catalyst for the project’s failure came in April when the city approved the new FEMA floodplain maps.

The new maps, which were in the works since planning meetings began in 2004, brought as much as 40 percent to 50 percent of the Near North property into the floodplain, said Jerry Hancock, the city’s stormwater and floodplain programs coordinator.

When those new boundaries took effect, the developers of Near North lost a significant portion of their funding for the project.

“The developer knew the maps were changing for five years before they changed,” Hancock said. “The maps became official, and at that point, the (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development) won’t give money to projects in the floodplain.”


One of the houses in a row of eight along North Main Street that has fallen into disrepair.

Ryan J. Stanton |

Although Near North could still be constructed since it was approved years ago and there is a valid floodplain permit, Appel said in September that the lost financing was too big of a blow to the project.

And if the developers decide to build a different project or sell the property to another developer, it would be difficult to work within the new floodplain boundaries, Hancock said. The floodplain boundaries put significant restrictions on a new project: the state prohibits new residential uses in the floodway, and non-residential uses have to be elevated or flood-proof. (An example is the First Martin Corporation building on Depot Street, which is raised above ground)

“I wouldn’t say it’s not developable, but it’s very difficult and not very wise either,” Hancock said.

“There’s still, you know, 50 or maybe 60 percent of the site left that’s not affected by the floodplain…it would be the south end of the site that’s up higher…if someone wanted to plop a big building in the floodway and not elevate it, it probably wouldn’t meet state standards.”

Representatives from Three Oaks and Avalon Housing did not return multiple requests for comment, but whatever the developers’ plan for the site, Bahl said demolishing the houses remains a top priority for the city. Certified mailing cards went out to the property owners this week asking what the plans are moving forward.

“The only reason demolition didn’t happen in 60 days is the change in the project and that it now doesn’t exist,” Bahl said. “We are still focused on addressing these buildings.”

Ralph Welton, the city’s chief development official, added: “(The property owners are) getting the letter we sent to them this week to figure out in the next couple days what they want to do with (the houses) or we’re going to demolish them.”

Welton said of the eight structures, six need to be demolished and two — 626 and 630 N. Main — might be salvageable.

“We’re considering (the houses) still a nuisance,” Welton said. “If (the property owners) don’t act on our mailing within a certain day, I will inspect (the houses) and declare them as dangerous. As soon as that happens, we have to get them demolished as quickly as we can.”

At least two local developers, both who have a stake in the redevelopment on North Main Street, said it will likely take time before something new can happen at the Near North property.

“I think that team is going to need some time to figure out what to do: sell it, come up with a new plan, affordable housing,” said Tom Fitzsimmons, a former resident on North Main Street and also the developer planning to build condos on the former Greek Church site.

Peter Allen, a local developer who redeveloped several buildings on North Main Street years ago, called the blighted Near North property “the worst in the neighborhood.”

“You couldn’t have a better location,” he said. “The next question is: what is the market to go after? Low income, market rate, for rent, for sale?”

He said the preliminary discussions of creating a pedestrian tunnel and path for stormwater underneath the railroad tracks could have a major impact on any development project at the Near North site. The redevelopment of the Ann Arbor fleet services facility at 721 N. Main St. also could play a role, he said.

“I think the redevelopment of 721 N. Main St. will have a huge impact on the marketability of Near North. Right now, you’ve got two ugly properties on both sides of Main Street.”

Lizzy Alfs is a business reporter for Reach her at 734-623-2584 or email her at Follow her on Twitter at



Fri, Nov 2, 2012 : 2:44 a.m.

The government has killed this project and made it not feasable. We need more government, vote for Obama....................


Fri, Nov 2, 2012 : 10:46 a.m.

@Mike: You're right, it's the government's fault that financiers don't want to fund a development being built on a floodplain. @Goober: neither candidate addressed the deficit well. Romney's idea to lower taxes and raise defense spending is the usual chicanery of politicians. What will lower the deficit is ending the wars, reducing spending (yes, even on defense), and (god forbid) raising revenue. The economy is improving but will be anemic until Europe gets their act together.


Fri, Nov 2, 2012 : 9:46 a.m.

Very funny. The sad part of this is, many will do as you suggest and we will sink deeper into debt as a country and city.


Fri, Nov 2, 2012 : 12:13 a.m.

Although I'd love to see businesses and shops here, I doubt that will happen. Sounds like razing the blight and making a park (?dog park) would be the best way to go. The owners probably don't want that though...

martini man

Thu, Nov 1, 2012 : 8:57 p.m.

Tear em down ..and make it a permanant HOBO Jungle. It should placate the liberals and give the "downtrodden" a place to stay. Rather than "Camp take Notice" it could be called "Camp Give Notice" ..and here to stay !!!!


Thu, Nov 1, 2012 : 10:27 p.m.

I wonder why people who hate liberals would choose to live in Ann Arbor? It, like most nice college towns, is full of liberals. Their success is no secret. You want a haven of unfettered capitalism, with strict "family values" and no social safety net or regulations or taxes, try Dubai. Or better yet, Somalia. All the great cities of the US (and Europe) are great because they're full of liberals who take care of their city, and, for the most part, their fellow citizens. Of course, nothing can withstand the coordinated onslaught of the big money capitalists. As we are now witnessing,


Thu, Nov 1, 2012 : 8:31 p.m.

We should open up these dwellings as emergency shelter for refugees from the mayhem, tattoos and thuggery out in Greater Saline.

Linda Peck

Thu, Nov 1, 2012 : 5:36 p.m.

Another problem with flood plains is that there is usually increased water in the soil and that can make a damp basement and foundation which affects stability and habitability. The foundation of a house determines its quality. I would not build or invest money in any structure built on a flood plain.


Sat, Nov 3, 2012 : 7 p.m.

Linda, it is not difficult to build in a floodway such as this one. Look at how long the current houses lasted (until Avalon and Three Oaks got involved). Anyways, ant new building in the floodway would have to be non-residential and be elevated, sort of like a bridge in the river. The commercial building at the W. Kingsley/North First St intersection is a new building built in a worse floodway.


Thu, Nov 1, 2012 : 5:28 p.m.

How much money did the DDA contribute to this folly?

Sabra C Briere

Thu, Nov 1, 2012 : 7:29 p.m.

Nothing. They did agree to contribute toward the finished project. Since it wasn't finished (or even started) they did not contribute.

Alan Goldsmith

Thu, Nov 1, 2012 : 4:18 p.m.

"Broadway, Georgetown, Near North: The Heiftje legacy? Acres and acres of blighted land thanks to failed public-private development schemes." Bingo. You would have thought an ex real estate agent would have had a bit more savvy than what our current Mayor has shown. But apparently not.


Thu, Nov 1, 2012 : 6:46 p.m.

yeah. ex real estate agent because he's busy making mayor a FT job (next to the sweet lil' PT at the U/M - thanks to breakfast bud MS.)


Thu, Nov 1, 2012 : 4:13 p.m.

Just tear them down! I know it's not quite that easy but now it's just a haven for squatters and looks absolutely filthy to anyone coming into the city, especially on game day when traffic there will be backed up for hours. Once it's grounded, thousands of people will be happier and then someone is much more likely to buy the property. Stop wasting our money on unnecessary public art and help actually make our city a better place.


Thu, Nov 1, 2012 : 4:11 p.m.

Dear Lizzy, Go take a panoramic photo of Main Street between William and Huron. That is the part of town that (most) everyone agrees is great about Ann Arbor. Why not try to duplicate a block of that? Yes, it would cost a lot of money but city development SHOULD cost a lot. That way, only really necessary and beneficial projects would go forward and dreck like City Place would never be allowed. There's a reason why those street-level retail addresses with apartments above are highly coveted. There does not seem to be a master plan for development in Ann Arbor but there should be one and it should involve replicating the parts of town that are the best parts, not the crap. Regards, Timjbd


Thu, Nov 1, 2012 : 3:31 p.m.

"Meanwhile, the houses on North Main continued to fall into disrepair and neighbors expressed concern about the dilapidated houses, the effect it would have on their properties and the out-of-scale nature of the Near North development." The typical dysfunctional Ann Arbor response: The neighbors did not like the crumbling slum but opposed a practical alternative. The only thing missing was a call to declare a historical district.


Thu, Nov 1, 2012 : 6:44 p.m.

@demistify: would you want a giant halfway house with supersized liquor store next to your home and the park your children play in? yeah. i kinda thought so.

Tom Whitaker

Thu, Nov 1, 2012 : 4:27 p.m.

The houses were not a "crumbling slum" until the developer bought them and left them to rot. This is a common tactic to make ANY proposal look better than what is currently there. Besides, a compromise was reached in this case and the development was approved. The reason it failed had nothing to do with the neighbors, but a lot to do with an overly-complicated financing scheme that took too long to implement and finally collapsed under its own weight.

Wolf's Bane

Thu, Nov 1, 2012 : 3:28 p.m.

Again, who can we blame: "City Council approved the Near North Planned Unit Development three years ago, and for a while it was expected to break ground in early fall 2010." City Council has a this uncanny ability to pull the trigger on any old project that walks through the door, yet is seldom realized. Look at this example, Georgetown and many others. The bottom line is, we want our neighborhood repaired and these blighted homes removed or renovated immediately and we sure don't need to tear down our Library on top of it all! I am voting against every city council incumbent.


Thu, Nov 1, 2012 : 6:43 p.m.



Thu, Nov 1, 2012 : 3:21 p.m.

Instead of buying another art project, the city should spend some art money to tear this houses down and turn it into a dog park. This has been going on for almost 10 years now. It makes me sick to see once proud houses turn into derelict wrecks by developers from elsewhere.


Thu, Nov 1, 2012 : 6:42 p.m.

the vote NO on the city art proposal. and vote for anyone but hieftje.


Thu, Nov 1, 2012 : 3:19 p.m.

Yes! Bureaucracy in action. Pay close attention to how this progresses and when it is finally completed to the best advantage of the neighbors and AA tax payers.


Thu, Nov 1, 2012 : 2:43 p.m.

There is far more to this story than reported here. It begins with one question. When all of the approvals were in hand, along with financing, why did this project really stall? Will have the nerve to research and report the true story? Until then, the FEMA mapping excuse is most timely and convenient for all parties. Their flood mapping is 1) appropriate for the area; 2) as good a target for scapegoating as any other.

Lizzy Alfs

Thu, Nov 1, 2012 : 7:07 p.m.

Actually, it doesn't sound like there was ever a point where all the financing WAS lined up. Representatives from Three Oaks and Avalon continued to report that they were close to closing on all of the financing - affordable housing projects involve financing from a lot of different sources - but they just kept trying to make it work to no avail. Here is a quote from Michael Appel when the project was cancelled: "For Near North, the challenge of bringing these funding sources together proved impossible within the timeframe allowed by our tax-credit financing." If you think there is something I'm missing or something you'd like me to look into, feel free to email me:


Thu, Nov 1, 2012 : 6:41 p.m.

of course wont report the whole story. we would be sorely disappointed if they did, right?

Patricia Lesko

Thu, Nov 1, 2012 : 2:43 p.m.

In for a penny. In for a pound. Avalon Housing and Three Oaks need to be compelled (legally, if necessary) to mitigate the blight. Avalon wanted in on the real estate deal, and was willing to take $500K from the DDA in tax dollars. The organization and the developer are responsible for making sure that their property along the entrance to the city is not an eye sore. Who on Council will propose the resolution to require Avalon and Three Oaks to clean up the blight, and to instruct the City Attorney to back up the resolution legally, if necessary? It would be a refreshing precedent to aggressively deal with blight in Ann Arbor neighborhoods left behind by developers. Broadway, Georgetown, Near North: The Heiftje legacy? Acres and acres of blighted land thanks to failed public-private development schemes.


Thu, Nov 1, 2012 : 6:40 p.m.

@ pat and @ alan: their board meetings should be open to the public, or? therefore meeting minutes etc also public?


Thu, Nov 1, 2012 : 5:27 p.m.

Look what they paid for those properties! It wasn't their money, I guess. Now, even you wanted to renovate one of those houses, there's no way it would be worth what has been spent on them. So any move forward will only sink more of these developers' money into a no-return proposition. I smell a quick bankruptcy in the near future. Only students and working stiffs are left on the hook for loans in this country.

Alan Goldsmith

Thu, Nov 1, 2012 : 4:15 p.m.

Pat--it would be interesting looking into the finances of Avalon Housing. Their involvement in this fiasco, the amount of 'overhead' the group adds to this and other 'low income' housing, their track record in the past, salaries of company official, etc. Their recent track record hasn't been very stunning.


Thu, Nov 1, 2012 : 2:32 p.m.

Hmm I don't think section 8 housing there would be much better. I don't know anyone who would feel welcomed by a project. How about just knocking them down and leaving the space ope?


Thu, Nov 1, 2012 : 6:38 p.m.

please no more section 8!!!


Thu, Nov 1, 2012 : 2:02 p.m.

Hello Lizzy, thanks for the update. You may have covered this in the article - I read it too quickly - but who owns the property? Whether it's city owned, bank owned, or developer owned, aren't there enforceable property codes that would require the owner to maintain the property free of blight? In other words, whether or not the property owner has decided what to do next on that property, shouldn't that owner at least be required to level the condemned houses (I'm assuming they are condemned) and keep the land at least marginally presentable?

Lizzy Alfs

Thu, Nov 1, 2012 : 2:48 p.m.

Great question @nattiejames. Three Oaks owns the land, however, it looks like there are a lot of legal interests involved. You're right: the property owner is responsible to level condemned houses, but since that hasn't happened yet, the city is making moves to demolish them instead. The city would use money from its blight fund to do so, and then charge the property owner the costs.


Thu, Nov 1, 2012 : 1:31 p.m.

Ironic the day before's "Deals of the Year Award" 2009 - Construction Sector Winner - Near North

Alan Goldsmith

Thu, Nov 1, 2012 : 4:12 p.m.



Thu, Nov 1, 2012 : 1:03 p.m.

FEMA revised the flood plain maps, huh. This seems pretty stupid. Let me ask this - have any locals EVER noticed flooding at the Main and summit intersection? I know that depot street has flooded pretty badly before, but I was under the impression that this part of main street was a few feet higher in elevation. Allen creek is underground in a culvert.... and I've never seen it spill into the street here on Main st. Anyone else?


Fri, Nov 2, 2012 : 12:09 a.m.

There are people who are smart and do this for a living - maybe they know what they are talking about more than the average joe on the street.

Andy Piper

Thu, Nov 1, 2012 : 10:23 p.m.

Given "global warming" and Sandy I wouldn't be surprised it floods in the future.


Thu, Nov 1, 2012 : 6:37 p.m.

i have seen people paddling canoes through this intersection three years ago in heavy summer rains. when we have a good storm the run down summit hill is enormous.


Thu, Nov 1, 2012 : 1:26 p.m.

I have seen water on Summit street that was over the top of car tires.

Top Cat

Thu, Nov 1, 2012 : 12:56 p.m.

Is there enough space for a minor league ballpark ? Millages could then be put on the ballot to build the park, decorate it with art built by Germans and to build trolley lines to and from.


Thu, Nov 1, 2012 : 1:04 p.m.

Better to put the minor league ball park at the location of the failed Broadway Village at Lower Town!


Thu, Nov 1, 2012 : 12:55 p.m.

Three Oaks let the houses deteriorate while planning their various proposed projects. Now the houses have been vacant and neglected for so long that they are hard to salvage. At some point they could have been rehabilitated and used as reasonably priced rental properties. Now the city thinks only two are salvageable. Once the houses are demolished, a new house can't be built on any of the lots in the floodway: "the state prohibits new residential uses in the floodway". But the houses have all been combined into one parcel, and likely have a mortgage lien on the new combined parcel. (Lizzy, can you check this and also if the delinquent taxes are a lien on the new combined parcel or on the individual lots?) So, it may be quite complicated to release a house or two from the liens on the whole project in order to sell them off and have someone rehab them, though It would be nice to see that happen if possible. The alternative is that the entire site gets demolished and waits for someone to buy it, pay off the back taxes and demolition costs, and put in a commercial development.

Lizzy Alfs

Thu, Nov 1, 2012 : 2:42 p.m.

Yes, @my2bits, let me check on those questions.

Jim Mulchay

Thu, Nov 1, 2012 : 12:50 p.m.

If it is unlikely that the site will be developed and the will (and money) is there to demolish the homes I'd suggest that the city could - (1) demolish the homes (2) use some greenbelt money to purchase (or can the city seize the land?) and turn that in to "green space" - maybe a park or dog-run (since those seem to be popular); This may not the the "best" usage but it one option. Another option is to keep it in private hands as long as Ann Arbor is receiving tax revenues on the properties and the checks don't bounce.


Thu, Nov 1, 2012 : 1:48 p.m.

I agree. Make it a green space and get it over with already. Letting this go on for nearly a decade is unacceptable, and both Three Oaks and Avalon Housing have been terrible neighbors. Use Greenbelt money to buy the property for a song at a tax foreclosure auction. Affordable housing on that site was a boneheaded idea from the beginning and they should have known that since new floodplain maps were in the works all they way back in 2004. Now they aren't paying the property taxes? Could this situation get any worse?


Thu, Nov 1, 2012 : 12:50 p.m.

The problem is that if you build 39 units and 15 of them are for low income Section 8 housing you can't make the math work on the project unless you get Federal money. Unless the city drops the low income housing requirement and lets them build something that the free market will support these are just going to set.

Tom Whitaker

Thu, Nov 1, 2012 : 4:17 p.m.

If the property were to be rezoned back to its original R4C (multi-family residential) and O (office) designations, the low-income requirement would no longer apply. The requirement is only there as part of the PUD agreement made for the rezoning granted to Avalon, et al. Rezoning to PUD allowed them to build a bigger, denser building than what the original zoning would have allowed. PUDs, which allow for greater density and some dimensional variances require the developer to provide a community benefit in exchange.


Thu, Nov 1, 2012 : 12:45 p.m.

How about we build a park and move the Bronze Phallus over there? There will be a reflecting pond and the coins tossed in will be the new source of funding for the DDA!

G. Orwell

Thu, Nov 1, 2012 : 12:36 p.m.

Did any of these houses flood in the past? If so, how often? Is flooding once every 50, 100 years that bad? It's not as if these houses are next to the ocean. I've had a flooded basement before. It is no big deal. It takes a day of hard work and a few days of drying. Or, hire a professional. I think it is rediculous for the Feds to dictate where the floodplain is from Washinton DC. They are basically taking the land away from the owner. Why can't the local experts determine where the flood plain should be. What recourse does a land owner have if the Feds arbitrarily determine your property is now in the floodplain?


Fri, Nov 2, 2012 : 12:06 a.m.

They knew these maps were coming. They could have built. They could still build. Classifying the area as a floodplain also allows the owners access to acquiring flood insurance. It makes sense that if your land can flood that you take precautions when you build on it - particularly when considering a residential development.

G. Orwell

Thu, Nov 1, 2012 : 8:09 p.m.

@league There is not global warming. That is just a scare tactic to tax you for breathing. Are you that naive?


Thu, Nov 1, 2012 : 4:23 p.m.

With the climate change, the 50/100 year floods etc, could happen more frequently. Makes no sense to build something that could get flooded out the year after it was built. That just costs us all money.

G. Orwell

Thu, Nov 1, 2012 : 3:27 p.m.

One flooding maybe every 50 to 100 years is no big deal. Cost will not be that extensive unless the homeowner builds an elaborate living quarters in the basement. $2,000 every 50 to 100 years for clean up.


Thu, Nov 1, 2012 : 3:22 p.m.

I would not accept a home with a basement that floods. It is a big deal to me.


Thu, Nov 1, 2012 : 1:28 p.m.

Because the feds have more much experience in creating flood maps. A 1% chance each year that $50K worth of damage will be done to your house is $500 worth of risk per year borne by someone. A lot of it falls on the city/state/feds, so they'd like you not to build in flood plains.

Chase Ingersoll

Thu, Nov 1, 2012 : 12:01 p.m.

This situation is typical of a "market free" or publicly subsidized, rather than a "free market" real estate project.


Fri, Nov 2, 2012 : 12:03 a.m.

Not sure at what you are getting at here, this is about as free market as it gets: No Financing = No Project


Thu, Nov 1, 2012 : 11:40 a.m.

Whoever the developer is that has erected all the nice new houses along Summit should be commissioned. A few years ago, the bottom of Summit where it meets Main was a slum. The Rock Band house has closed and the three neighboring houses went bad quickly. Now, four new residences have been built just West of this intersection, just past the railroad tracks, and a new development is going up on the corner of Summit and Wilt. They are all beautiful properties. These houses were moved into very quickly, so why not add another 4-6 along Main Street? Will this flood plain decision get in the way of new residential developments?


Thu, Nov 1, 2012 : 12:02 p.m.

The Summit houses are not in the floodway. That's the major obstacle for the N. Main house property if you tear them down.

Lizzy Alfs

Thu, Nov 1, 2012 : 11:45 a.m.

@Dahrkannen: I believe the developer of those properties is Tom Fitzsimmons (who is also mentioned in the article above). He has built more than 30 homes/townhomes in the neighborhoods surrounding downtown

Lizzy Alfs

Thu, Nov 1, 2012 : 11:11 a.m.

Readers: Ideally, what would you like to see happen at this site?

Lizzy Alfs

Fri, Nov 2, 2012 : 12:28 a.m.

@1bit: Thank you!


Fri, Nov 2, 2012 : 12:02 a.m.

@Lizzy: I think businesses and shops would be cool here as part of a grander re-envisioning of the north side. By the way, kudos for probably the most informative article I've read on here in a long time. Nice job!

Tom Whitaker

Thu, Nov 1, 2012 : 8:35 p.m.

The County makes the City whole on any unpaid taxes each year.


Thu, Nov 1, 2012 : 7:44 p.m.

The city should just have to eat the back taxes they will make up for it as they always do in parking tickets,lol.

Wolf's Bane

Thu, Nov 1, 2012 : 7:24 p.m.

Ideally the homes should renovated and put back on the market by the owners (failed Developers), new rules and tougher regulations need to be put on the books to safeguard our city from these type of crocked dealings. City Council needs to be upgraded and the Mayor sacked.


Thu, Nov 1, 2012 : 6:36 p.m.

sold at auction and single family housing built. not another park. please.


Thu, Nov 1, 2012 : 5:17 p.m.

It'd be an interesting location for an additional branch library location. The architecture could mimic that of the Pittsfield Branch with respect to the floodplain, and it would offer a walkable community center for the neighborhoods around it, as well as take some of the pressure off of the main downtown location.


Thu, Nov 1, 2012 : 4:51 p.m.

A dog-run or a park would be my choice.

Lizzy Alfs

Thu, Nov 1, 2012 : 2:50 p.m.

@JimmyD - you're right, there aren't easy answers. But it's true, if another developer wanted to purchase the property, the cost would have to be fairly low in order to mitigate the loss of developable land in the floodplain.


Thu, Nov 1, 2012 : 2:42 p.m.

If they can't mitigate the floodplain change the owners are stuck with a non-producing $2.5M investment. The lack of tax payment indicates that they're going to walk. The best path forward is to clear the blight ASAP. The neighborhood has put up with this mess long enough. Next? That's tough given the reduced property size. My best guess is that after declaring bankruptcy the site will be resold at a price point that a new developer can make a go at it. Or the City can buy it and put in a "pocket park" as part of a norther gateway strategy. No easy answers on this one.


Thu, Nov 1, 2012 : 1:16 p.m.

Lizzy, to me the best-case scenario is that Avalon gets back on board with this but I'm not holding my breath....


Thu, Nov 1, 2012 : 10:50 a.m.

I hope Avalon gets back on board.


Thu, Nov 1, 2012 : 6:35 p.m.

as a homeowner in this neighborhood i don't want to see anymore avalon housing here. or affordable anything. how about plain ole housing for folks who pay their own way?


Thu, Nov 1, 2012 : 10:38 a.m.

I'd like to take a crack at it.

Alan Goldsmith

Thu, Nov 1, 2012 : 10:28 a.m.

Can you tell me who we should make the check out to? You know, when Ann Arbor taxpayers foot the bill for tearing these buildings down?


Thu, Nov 1, 2012 : 6:34 p.m.

sell them at auction.


Thu, Nov 1, 2012 : 10:15 a.m.

Blight here in Oz...oooh nooo Toto.......