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Posted on Wed, Oct 3, 2012 : 1:54 p.m.

Ann Arbor DDA agrees to give $260K for new roof and energy efficiency upgrades at Baker Commons

By Ryan J. Stanton


Baker Commons, located on Packard Street just east of Main, is about to get a new steel roof thanks to funding from the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority.

Ryan J. Stanton |

A low-income public housing project geared toward elderly and disabled residents in downtown Ann Arbor will get help from the Downtown Development Authority to pay for a new steel roof.

The DDA's governing board voted 10-0 on Wednesday to chip in $260,000 for upgrades at Baker Commons, a 64-unit building managed by the Housing Commission at Packard and Main.

"To me this is a no-brainer. It is an investment in sustainability," said DDA board member Sandi Smith, who also serves on the Ann Arbor City Council.


Jennifer Hall

Ryan J. Stanton |

"This is housing that is already within the downtown, so it really is to our advantage to make sure that it stays nice," added DDA board member Joan Lowenstein.

The $246,000 for the roof replacement will come from the DDA's housing fund. An extra $14,000 for other items, including energy efficiency upgrades, will come from the DDA's TIF fund, which is the tax-increment financing revenue the authority collects from downtown properties.

The $14,000 will cover $6,000 for programmable thermostats, $3,000 for occupant sensors for interior lighting and $5,000 for construction management services.

Jennifer Hall, the city's Housing Commission director, appeared before the DDA board on Wednesday to make a case for the commission's grant request.

Hall said the existing asphalt roof has been patched numerous times throughout the last couple of years and water has been leaking and damaging the rafters below, as well as leaking into tenant units. She said the roof has rapidly deteriorated and must be replaced before winter.

"Instead of continually putting the cheapest products into our buildings that don't last and have high maintenance, we're trying to actually put in more durable, green products," she said, adding a steel roof makes sense for the six-story building. "The roof should last 50-plus years.

The DDA's housing fund was created to help meet its goals of strengthening downtown by encouraging a wide diversity of residences. Baker Commons is in the DDA district.

DDA officials said most of the tenants at Baker Commons are elderly or disabled, and they're regular users of the downtown.

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.



Fri, Oct 5, 2012 : 7:03 a.m.

I'm OK with my tax dollars used for this......they arn't DDA dollars in my mind....they're city tax and revenue dollars.


Thu, Oct 4, 2012 : 7:23 p.m.

Baker Commons was built in 1982, so the original roof lasted 30 years, with some patching done. The roof was a very cheap roof. Metal roofs are VERY expensive. It comes, perhaps with a 50 year warranty. Ms. Hall states it is a 50+ year roof, but I doubt the warranty is any longer than 50 years. There are now higher quality, thicker asphalt roofs that come w/ a lifetime warranty. (of course I realize that all warranties are riddled with fine print exclusions, but with that steep of a pitch, I am confident that 40 years is a cinch. And the price is probably about 1/2 of a metal roof. Also, after 40 more years, Baker commons will be over 70 years old, considerably older than the library that many want torn down. And Baker Commons has been maintained by the Ann Arbor Housing Commission. The AAHC apartments on Pauline had to be torn down at ~65 years old. So, why spend double for the roof.

A A Resident

Thu, Oct 4, 2012 : 9:17 a.m.

I question whether elderly residents, and complicated computerized thermostats, are an ideal combination.

Michael Christie

Thu, Oct 4, 2012 : 3:39 a.m.

Not bad the DDA throwing in $250K this week, see the other story, well at least in reporting days. Must be nice to be an appointed group that answers to no one and throws money around. I have a story for you...What % of the new parking structure is occupied and for how long per day? $50m for a parking structure seems like the story should stay fresh in the media, however I doubt that anyone has it in them to write about it.

Kitty O'Brien

Thu, Oct 4, 2012 : 2:29 a.m.

Years ago I sat on jury to resolve a lawsuit between 2 of Baker Common's tenants. Witnesses told of the illicit activities associated with this building. Several tenants had their adult relatives "staying" with them despite not being approved to live in the residence. I was quite stymied to hear of the drugs and drinking that went on in a low-income housing project for seniors.


Thu, Oct 4, 2012 : 12:54 a.m.

Alright, whose bright idea was it to put a low-income housing project on some of Washtenaw County's most valuable land? Build the projects farther away on cheaper land, sell the lot for a windfall, then collect property taxes for eternity on the expensive real estate that will be built on it.


Fri, Oct 5, 2012 : 7:01 a.m.

Wow! Pretty callous Cathy.


Wed, Oct 3, 2012 : 10:39 p.m.

Good to know some upkeep to prevent the building from deteriorating. It would be a black eye to the city and City Counsel who go out there way for Art funding and beautifying the city anywhere or anyway they can, to let this building decay just because it's low income housing would be hipocrasy.


Wed, Oct 3, 2012 : 7:59 p.m.

Where did the money come from? The DDA "Stash"? Democrats are great at spending other peoples money! (How do I know that they are Democrats you ask? The DDA is appointed by the Mayor and he is an Extreme Fringe Democrat.)

Top Cat

Wed, Oct 3, 2012 : 6:38 p.m.

"the DDA's housing fund", "DDA's TIF fund"...I wonder how many more funds they have ?


Wed, Oct 3, 2012 : 8:37 p.m.

Hmmm ... that budget says $22 mil in income, $24 mil in expenses. That's a $2 mil loss next year for the DDA.

Ryan J. Stanton

Wed, Oct 3, 2012 : 7:03 p.m.

Two more.