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Posted on Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 5:58 a.m.

$88K FEMA grant to help pay for demolition of 721 N. Main buildings in Ann Arbor

By Ryan J. Stanton


A view of the buildings that stand at 721 N. Main looking from the Summit Street side of the property. The large garage structure in the foreground is being considered for re-use, while two other storage structures will be demolished.

Ryan J. Stanton |

The city of Ann Arbor is moving forward with demolition of two storage structures at the city's old maintenance yard at 721 N. Main, the future site of a new near-downtown park.

The City Council voted unanimously Monday night to accept a $87,704 hazard mitigation grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency that will cover 75 percent of the costs. The city is expected to contribute $29,235 of its own money.

The two structures are located in the floodway of the Allen Creek. One is a 5,800-square-foot structure once used by the city for road salt storage, and the other structure is a 7,220-square-foot building once used for large vehicle storage.


This conceptual plan has emerged for future re-use of the 721 N. Main site as a greenway park, as part of the broader Allen Creek Greenway vision.

City of Ann Arbor

A much larger, former maintenance garage facility also stands on the site. It is located outside of the floodway, though still in the floodplain, and is not being demolished.

That facility is being studied for potential future re-use as the city develops a greenway park on the site.

Acceptance of the FEMA grant is contingent upon creating permanent open space by deed restricting the floodway portion of the 721 N. Main property, said Jerry Hancock, the city's stormwater and floodplain programs coordinator.

Hancock noted that's consistent with a City Council resolution from August 2005 that states the area of the city properties at 415 W. Washington and 721 N. Main within the floodway will be included in the new Allen Creek Greenway when the greenway is developed. A task force studying the property has proposed a plan that includes a series of trails and green open spaces on the site.

The city received a planning grant in 2005 to create a flood mitigation plan for the city. The council approved the plan in 2007, which made the city eligible to apply for the hazard mitigation grant from FEMA for the demolition of the North Main buildings.

Hancock said the floodway portion of the site already is encumbered by the Allen Creek Drain, an 8.5-by-14-foot arched culvert under the jurisdiction of the Washtenaw County Water Resources Commissioner, and a 36-inch city sanitary sewer main.

"Additionally, the floodplain and floodway at this site are under the jurisdiction of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and development potential is severely limited," he wrote in a memo to council. "Thus, deed restricting the floodway portion of the property is consistent with stated goals, actions and regulations at the city, county, state and federal levels."

Hancock said there's no timeline for the demolition, but he's shooting to get the buildings down down in tree to four months


City of Ann Arbor

Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for Reach him at or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's email newsletters.



Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 1:52 p.m.

What dose FEMA have to do with flood plains? Why is FEMA buying 2400 armored vehicles that are mine resistant for use in the United States? Do we have a land mine problem in this country? FEMA is everywhere and consumes a large portion of the federal budget. It's no wonder we are in the financial condition that we find ourselves in as a country. I know, if we don't take the money someone else will; that's the rationale that has gotten us to where we are today..............


Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 1:46 p.m.

It's amazing how the City does a good job competing for Federal funds that if we don't get other cities will, that the funds will be used for a good purpose, and all folks do here is gripe.


Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 1:44 p.m.

Good hideaway for a few Megawatt solar farm. @thinker Coastal states wanted $90 billion in federal change for their Climate Change event. Obama had originally asked Congress for $60 billion. Congress approved $51 billion relief for Hurricane Sandy. On top of the $10 billion recovery support they had already passed. The $51 billion package included $274 million for Coast Guard projects in the Bahamas and Great Lakes among other earmarks. If Ann Arbor gave the money back, Congress would probably direct the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to divert the Huron River down to Ohio farmers from a new dam in Dexter. Save Ann Arbor from itself.


Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 1:31 p.m.

So this is a Federal Disaster Zone that requires the Federal EMERGENCY Management Agency to fund it on a priority basis? Just a few weeks after FEMA complained they did not have enough funds to cover the impact of Sandy. Interesting, very interesting.

Linda Peck

Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 1:20 p.m.

However it gets done, it is a good start to a better use of this land.

Basic Bob

Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 1:16 p.m.

Why is hazard mitigation necessary? Because the buildings were put in a bad place, not kept up properly, or need a toxic waste cleanup? Our green mayor and council can only save the environment with federal and state money.


Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 12:42 p.m.

It is to mitgate the effects of future flooding and thus reducing the risk of an emergency to occur. An ounce of prevention - perhaps not the worst use of FEMA funding.


Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 1:15 p.m.

Exactly! Most people think only of emergency response. This is intended to reduce the effects of a future emergency. Mitigation, the first step in the Emergency Management Cycle.


Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 12:40 p.m.

Wouldn't this FEMA money be put to better use helping rebuild after hurricane Sandy?


Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 12:35 p.m.

Get thee with it! I'm looking forward to seeing this project completed. The city nailed it with the Cascades, and I hope they do something memorable with this space.

Fat Bill

Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 12:29 p.m.

"In tree to four months"... yeah, dat'll woik...


Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 11:55 a.m.

I guess it's nice that they got most of the funds to do this from the federal government. How do they classify this project as an "emergency". I've passed them a couple times a week for the past several years and barely gave them a thought. Is there a real plan for how the land will be used in the future?


Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 1:56 p.m.

We are the federal government people, so they got the money from your paycheck..............why don't we look at things this way as a country anymore? Probably the same reason the people of Venezuela are crying over losing their overlord dictator............


Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 1:17 p.m.

I think I'm missing where you are grabbing the "emergency" part. Is it because the word is in FEMA's name?


Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 12:28 p.m.

I was thinking the same thing ( the "emergency" part )


Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 11:27 a.m.

So the city has buildings that it is using federal government, i. e. taxpayers, funds to demolish. This is the type of hand out mindset that needs to change.


Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 3:39 p.m.

Normally I'd fully agree with you. Sending money to DC so they can gift it back for local activities is nuts. But in this case it's their carrot to clear federally defined floodways so I'll cut them some slack.