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Posted on Sat, Jun 18, 2011 : 6:11 p.m.

25 residents discuss future of former juvenile court property on Platt Road in Ann Arbor

By Lisa Carolin


The exterior of the front entrance of the vacant detention facility on 2270 Platt Road. A meeting was held with community members to talk about the future uses of this property on Saturday.

Angela J. Cesere |

Ideas for what to do with the 13.5 acre site that formerly housed Washtenaw County's Juvenile Court range from renovating the two buildings on the property to use as office space to demolishing the buildings and turning the property into green space for a bird center or a dog park.

Washtenaw County Commissioner Yousef Rabhi, D-Ann Arbor, led a community forum today at the vacant facility located at 2270 Platt Road, which was attended by 25 people.

"It's most feasible economically to not have these buildings any more," Rabhi told the group.

He added that it is likely the buildings will be demolished, though some in the audience asked for time to explore alternatives, like renovating the buildings. The concern is that the cost required to repair the buildings would exceed the cost of demolition.

"We're all concerned about maintaining our quality of life," said James D'Amour, who lives nearby.

Half a dozen people spoke up in support of putting a bird center on the property, which is located by County Farm Park. Among them was Carol Akerlot, who has lived in the area for 40 years.

"Once urban space is gone, you don't get it back," she said.

Jeannine Palms suggested using the space for growing food for the community. Brian Love asked to create a home for Ann Arbor's curlers on the property. Joanne Hastings, who runs Summers-Knoll K-8 school located close by, said that she'd like to see the property used to connect people of all ages to nature.

There are two buildings on the site- the 45,320 square-foot Juvenile Court Building and a smaller building. The Juvenile Court staff moved to the downtown county courthouse in May, and the juvenile detention portion was moved to Hogback Road eight years ago.

Ultimately the decision on what to do with the property will be made by the county's Board of Commissioners. Rabhi says that a few commissioners want to sell the property, one wants to build affordable housing on it, one wants to turn it into park land, but none of them wants to keep the two buildings.

Rabhi wants to create a community e-mail list to stay in contact with residents interested in staying updated about the property. He can be reached at 734-548-5159 or at



Tue, Jun 21, 2011 : 10:35 p.m.

Tear down the buildings if that's cheapest. Use it as part of County Farm Park, which is also country property. If it is ever needed by the county again, it could be available. Definitely don't make it commercial property. Traffic around there is horrible as it is. Georgetown is a much better bet. Plus there's flooding just below that property when it rains hard and that's a further traffic problem.


Sun, Jun 19, 2011 : 6:22 p.m.

Why not temporarily leave the area as a low maintenance field (visibility is low anyway) until ann arbor funding returns and something better than commercial property can happen. I am for something more public in the long term than just selling it off.

David Cahill

Sun, Jun 19, 2011 : 3:41 p.m.

The land is County land. Also - the picture is of the court building itself, not the detention center - which, as the article points out, is on Hogback.


Sun, Jun 19, 2011 : 3:41 p.m.

The county should sell it to a medicinal medical marijuana cultivator and use the land as a pot farm. This will continue the Greenbelt program that many Ann Arbor residents strive for preserving open space.

Tim Belcher

Sun, Jun 19, 2011 : 3:01 p.m.

I have pretty intimate knowledge of the structures on the site and the smaller building has significant roof problems and degraded ceiling and wall issues. The other is very outdated and would require extreme renovation measures requiring nearly complete interior demolition that would outweigh costs to demolish both buildings in their entirety. As a homeowner whose property backs-up to the site, I would love to see it become part of County Farm Park and a bird or butterfly sanctuary would be nice. However, a dog park isn't a pleasant vision for the property. Georgetown is proposed to have housing as part of the renovation so I'm not seeing the need for additional housing to be constructed here. Additionally, Packard Road the main street to service Georgetown is much more viable than the section of Platt we are talking about here.

John A2

Sun, Jun 19, 2011 : 12:31 p.m.

Rent it to Dawn Farms, and/or Home of New Vision, for a hundred dollars a month, and make it a juvenile drug rehab. At that time the farm can make the changes it needs to do it. They get grants and we are in the clear for what ever cost. They can maintain the building and grounds and make it a small farm type of setting. Small animals, like chickens and goats. We need to be rid of it and will no longer have the expense to keep it up. The kids will be responsible for the property maintenance. This will get the self centered youths out of themselves. It will also lower the costs of rehab and give youths a chance some can't afford to get. This way we can keep the property and do something GREAT with it.


Sun, Jun 19, 2011 : 5:54 a.m.

Unfortunately I am familiar with the building. It was filthy and infested with bugs, especially silverfish, since at least 1992, and no doubt many years prior. It was designed to be a bland, utilitarian building--the kind of environment that sucks motivation and morale right out of you. Even with a remodeling I can't see how it could be improved. Not to mention the legacy of the site. "Juvenile Home" is just a euphemism for a lock-up. There were certainly sexual assaults, stabbings, suicides, etc. in that building. That's public record. Just tear it down. It could be a beautiful site, especially if it was allowed to revert to nature.


Sun, Jun 19, 2011 : 3:57 a.m.

Scissors is right. The area bounded by Platt, Washtenaw, Packard, and Carpenter was poorly planned for traffic management and remains poorly managed and maintained. It seem that vacating for greener pastures is the order of the day. Commissioners play games with developers until they bail out and while Commissioner Rhabhi is starting a dialogue, I'd rather have them starting construction on Georgetown Mall but the commissioners screwed that up. The bike path on Washtenaw is good but will mostly serve the commuters working at the U of M while there remains no sidewalks on either side of the road between carpenter and Arborland Mall.


Mon, Jun 20, 2011 : 2:28 a.m.

county commissioners delayed the issuance of brownsville credits for georgetown. i'm not confused epengar, you are not complety informed.


Sun, Jun 19, 2011 : 5:31 a.m.

You're confusing the city government (which oversees Georgetown Mall) and the county government (which owns the real estate discussed in this story).

Berda Green

Sun, Jun 19, 2011 : 3:33 a.m.

do what ever


Sun, Jun 19, 2011 : 2:43 a.m.

These buildings don't look run-down, although I'm sure there's more than what meets the eye. It certainly don't look as bad as the property on Packard (currently a blight, formerly known as Kroger at Georgetown). It's hard to believe that the cost of renovation exceeds the cost of bull-dozing. Has anyone, outside of Rahbi, looked closely at the renovation need? On another note, who owns the land? Washtenaw County or City of Ann Arbor? What's the benefit to Ann Arbor citizens if the land is sold? If the land is sold what's to prevent it from becoming an eye-sore (see property on Packard, previously known as Kroger at Georgetown). And lastly, this property is located on an awkward section of Platt Rd. I see patrol cars lurking on Platt while waiting for errant drivers to make left-hand turns off west-bound Washtenaw onto Platt. The intersection at Platt & Huron River Drive is questionable at best and used by many drivers to avoid the intersection at Washtenaw & Huron River Driver (yes, I know, it's very confusing). The entire section of Washtenaw Rd encompassing the shopping center known as the place where Whole Foods resides, Arbor Land (where Border's used to reside) and the entrance/exit ramps for US-23 is a unmitigated boondoggle and a daily traffic jam. Does anyone take this into consideration when contemplating further development of the area? I doubt it. This property should remain a low-traffic interest until the powers-that-be get their act together and focus on 1) traffic flow in the area, 2) benefits to Ann Arbor citizens, and 3) cost, cost & cost.


Sun, Jun 19, 2011 : 5:18 a.m.

The land is owned by the county, not the city.


Sun, Jun 19, 2011 : 2:14 a.m.

It's not city property.


Sun, Jun 19, 2011 : 5:10 a.m.

The land is owned by the county.


Sun, Jun 19, 2011 : 2:31 a.m.

then the state should sell it. if a park or sanctuary etc go in ann arbor will get stuck with the bill for maintaining it sooner than later. sell it.


Sun, Jun 19, 2011 : 2:08 a.m.

Sell it. We don't need another park (for birds or anything else) when we are broke as a city. Sell it. Sell it ASAP.