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Posted on Tue, Sep 21, 2010 : 1:15 p.m.

Tax foreclosure auctions end Wednesday for Wellesley Gardens condos and Milan development property

By Paula Gardner


Today's tax foreclosure auction includes 33 acres in Wellesley Gardens condominiums in Pittsfield Township, representing phase two of the 427-home project. The minimum bid is $1.2 million.

Paula Gardner |

The last of Washtenaw County’s scheduled online tax foreclosure auctions started this morning, sending two significant local properties across the auction block due to unpaid taxes.

Undeveloped and approved land in the Wellesley Gardens condos in Pittsfield Township and Uptown Village in Milan will be available to the highest bidder through early afternoon on Wednesday on

The minimum bids: $1.2 million for Wellesley Gardens Phase II and $193,327 for Uptown Village.

The two development parcels reflect how much demand once was forecast for new construction in Washtenaw County.

And the results of the auction may forecast the county’s development trends for coming years.

Wellesley Gardens is a 427-condo project located on Michigan Avenue west of US-23 in Pittsfield Township, where 206 units were built.

And Uptown Village once was part of a wave of residential development in Milan, where in 2003 at least 1,000 new homes were in planning in Milan, York Township and Monroe County’s Milan Township.

The community - which straddles the Washtenaw and Monroe county border - had been targeted for growth due to its location near US-23 south of Ann Arbor and near Dundee.

Besides the 304-home Uptown Village subdivision on Arkona Road developed by Delcor, the project once had a commercial portion with 190,000 square feet of retail space. Unconfirmed rumors from that area kept rising that Kroger Co. was considering the shopping center.

“This is a quality growth area,” said Charles Bludworth, vice president of development for Ramco-Gershenson Inc., at the time. “There are a number of retailers who would want a presence there.”

But the pace of home sales in Milan never caught up to the projections. In August, 8 homes and 0 condos sold in the Milan Schools, according to the Ann Arbor Area Board of Realtors. The average list price on those 8 homes: $93,675.

In Uptown Village, lots have been listed for sale at $5,000. And recent home listings - not foreclosures - show a three-bedroom, 1,970-square-foot house for $150,000.

In comparison, the Ann Arbor area condo market is more robust: 44 units sold in August. However, that number is down from 55 a year earlier and down from 97 in August 2005. The average purchase price is $154,971; in 2005, the median purchase price was $184,900, according to AAABOR.

Some of the existing condos in Wellesley Gardens were among 516 condo building permits issued in Washtenaw County in 2005. From 2000 through today, building permits have been issued for just less than 3,000 condos in the county.

Today, the existing condos are listed in the $109,000 to $125,000 range.

A developer buying the 33 undeveloped acres could build 218 condos already approved, or come up with a new plan for the land, zoned for multifamily use. The property is in the Ann Arbor school district and has an Ypsilanti mailing address.

Development land in the Ann Arbor school district once sold at a premium and it still holds up relatively well today, after the housing downturn.

But the key to that is “relatively.” Several unfinished projects could be described as troubled, even as some construction rebounds in pockets.

Meanwhile, the cost of each project is a relative bargain, too. At Wellesley Gardens, the $1.2 million cost represents a significant carrying charge, presuming years before new construction is viable there.

And the Uptown Village minimum bid of $193,327 is $6,236 per acre. Once carrying costs, roads and improvements are added, that’s close to the most recent market price of $5,000 per ¼ acre homesite.

County Treasurer Catherine McClary has said the pricing reflects the back taxes owed and fees associated with the auction, not speculation of value.

But whether any bidders bite on the deals - and the risk associated with owning vacant development land - remains to be seen on Wednesday afternoon.

Meanwhile, the third online auction in this week’s offerings is for 63 non-contiguous units at Liberty Square condos in Ypsilanti Township.

The minimum bid is $299,926, and the buyer will have to demolish the units.

The township has condemned the 151-unit property, and now appears headed to court due to owners’ violations of orders to repair or demolish the units.


Paula Gardner

Tue, Sep 21, 2010 : 3:56 p.m.

Here's some information on the tax foreclosure process:


Tue, Sep 21, 2010 : 3:51 p.m.

The headline reads "tax foreclosure". It is not a foreclosure since banks do that when one doesn't pay their mortgaage. It should read tax repossesion as none of us own our property. Try not paying the property taxes imposed by others and see what happens. The government will come and kick you out on the street and sell the house you have been paying for back taxes and nothing else. And yes you will still be on the hook for the mortgage even though you don't have your house anymore. Loose your job pay the property taxes. Have a finacial meltdown pay the property taxes. What other tax is there that takes without consideration for your income and ability to pay? Income tax is based on income, business tax is based on profits made, I believe, and sales tax is on items that you buy (without income you will be paying very little in sales tax). An income tax to replace the property tax would the most fair system. Remember the University of Michigan pays no property tax and the State of Michigan does not make up the shortfall, we do. The University of Michigan has property worth billions and none and then they buy another piece of our taxable land and it goes off the tax rolls which must make up. Also the "green space" that is being bought the property taxes on that land decreases since it will not have development value. The list goes on.


Tue, Sep 21, 2010 : 1:53 p.m.

I was a home owner and lived in my home in Liberty square, I got nothing for my home, my house was paid for and now I have to start all over again, because the manager wouldn't fix the areas that needed repaired what was our dues for?? For the manager and his wife to go on vacations once a month or so. I was one of the home owners that paid there $175.00 a month and got my home condimed and had to move all because the manager which is Joe Koenig made sure he was paid first for being the manager and that left nothing for any repairs that was needed. I lived in my home for over 25 years and what do I have to show for it??? Having to buy another home with no money from the one I had to leave because of the manager