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Posted on Sat, Sep 1, 2012 : 3:09 p.m.

Development team cancels plans for Near North affordable housing project in Ann Arbor

By Ryan J. Stanton

The Near North development and the 39 affordable housing units it promised to bring to Main Street — just north of downtown Ann Arbor — won't be going forward now.

In a letter sent to Ann Arbor officials on Friday, Avalon Housing's senior developer Michael Appel explained the reasons behind the development team's decision.

"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," the letter reads.


One of eight boarded-up houses that were to be demolished for the 39-unit Near North affordable housing apartments. The project won't go forward now, but city officials still are making preparations for demolition.

Ryan J. Stanton |

The City Council approved the project nearly three years ago, and for a while it was expected to break ground in early fall 2010, but there were repeated delays.

The apartments, designed for low-income residents, were to take the place of a row of eight boarded-up houses that currently welcome visitors to Ann Arbor from the north. City officials say they still intend to move forward with demolishing the houses soon.

"It's disappointing because the project, as it was conceived, really would have provided an excellent welcoming site to Ann Arbor from the north," said Council Member Tony Derezinski, D-2nd Ward.

"We were really hoping that could eventually tie into some of the other projects going on to beautify that entrance to the city," he said. "This was a major part of it with a beautifully conceived building complex with residential use, which would take the place of some very dilapidated structures."

Derezinski said hopefully a project of the same quality will take its place. He said it's hard to say how long it might be before something else could happen on the property.

"I have a feeling, though, with a lot of other projects that are going now, that someone will come along and see the value of that area," he said.

City Council Member Sandi Smith, D-1st Ward, said Near North's demise is sad, but it gives more strength to an affordable housing proposal she'll be bringing to council on Sept. 17.

The proposal, which the Downtown Development Authority is expected to chime in on at its meeting on Wednesday, calls for transferring proceeds from the sale of city-owned properties downtown to the city's housing trust fund to help with future affordable housing efforts.

"It is extremely challenging to build affordable units in the downtown or in the near downtown and we need to address our policies and really look at it and find a better way," Smith said. "We are having tremendous difficulty building affordable units in or near the downtown."


City Council Member Sandi Smith, D-1st Ward, said Near North's demise is sad, but it gives more strength to an affordable housing proposal she'll be bringing to council on Sept. 17.

Ryan J. Stanton |

Smith said she understands there is some resentment from neighbors that the development team let the eight houses fall into a state of extreme disrepair over the last several years while they tried to make the Near North project work. Now those houses are lost.

"There was housing already there that was affordable," Smith acknowledged. "But it really was not quality housing stock. Avalon is trying to bring quality affordable housing to the city."

Appel explained in his letter to city officials that affordable and supportive housing projects typically have complex financing structures that involve multiple funders and regulatory agencies.

"For Near North, the challenge of bringing these funding sources together proved impossible within the timeframe allowed by our tax-credit financing," he said.

Appel said changes in the Federal Emergency Management Agency's floodway boundaries earlier this year dealt a major blow to the project, making it ineligible for essential federal affordable housing funds and leaving a financing gap that could not be addressed within the completion deadlines.

"We are aware that the project's delays have raised community concerns, and greatly appreciate the patience and cooperation of our partners at the city of Ann Arbor, Washtenaw County, and especially the neighbors of Near North," the letter reads. "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."

Appel said Avalon Housing, which partnered with Three Oaks Group on the project, remains committed to expanding the availability of affordable housing in the community and looks forward to being involved with future efforts in that regard.

As for the prospect of the property remaining vacant for the foreseeable future after the houses demolished, Smith said it's better than what's there now.

She noted the project sits across from 721 North Main, a city-owned property the city hopes to eventually transform into a greenway park. Smith is a council representative on a new task force that is looking at ways to improve the North Main corridor and connect it with the Huron River.

"I'm very sensitive and aware of that corridor," Smith said, expressing hope that good things are yet to happen along North Main Street.

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.


Rob B

Tue, Sep 11, 2012 : 12:09 a.m.

Avalon is just as responsible as three oaks. They have thier own team of rehab specialists,architects,engineers, and have been actively seeking funding for this project for at least three years. They also have an even more controversial project for as many years at 1500 Pauline. How much MDSHA,HUD, and city money been given over the years to Avalon towards these failed projects, and where is the money now? Someone should be accountable for this. Although a wonderful concept Avalon is by design, perhaps future dollars could go to other organizations to help the needy with better managment teams.


Tue, Sep 4, 2012 : 6:07 p.m.

Middle America "I highly doubt the mayor's plan is to rely on votes from the poor. Historically speaking, poor people don't have a very high turnout during elections." LOL you want to complain about Shepard145, low income and poor that do not even care to take part in the right to vote but have NO problem to take my hard earned money! I am tired of working so they can have a TV in every bedroom, yes my husband worked for HUD in Detroit and again and again this is what he saw, you should would not beleive what "Free Money" can buy!


Tue, Sep 4, 2012 : 4:58 p.m.

True not all low income are addicts but many are and many low income do not take pride in their living quarters. That being said a lot of Section 8 is because of bad landlords. I totally agree low income housing and crime (and blight) go hand-in-hand it is a fact of life and the north entrance to Ann Arbor is NO place for low income housing.

Jay Thomas

Mon, Sep 3, 2012 : 10:26 p.m.

The per unit cost of this project was SO MUCH MORE than what you could buy a house for in the city. Good riddance.

Middle America

Mon, Sep 3, 2012 : 8:14 p.m.

Socialism IS a common form of government. Have you ever heard of that Europe place? LOL


Sun, Sep 2, 2012 : 6:47 p.m.

In the discussion of the August 31 story on monies obtained by property sales going toward affordable housing, I post that A2 already has quite a bit per a city website: Ann Arbor already has 17 locations with 67 buildings and 355 low income rental units with 1 to 5 bedrooms: Does anyone know if these units are self supporting by the rents tenants pay with whatever grant assistance the city gets? Or does affordable housing consume general fund revenues that could be put to essential services (police, fire, etc). If they are self sustaining that would ease my concerns, particularly in that the waiting lists are full. Any property that becomes city property comes off the tax rolls too. Seems as though if you are rich you can afford to live in Ann Arbor. If you are poor the city will help you live in Ann Arbor. But if aren't either you can't afford it. Isn't govt supposed to help everybody?


Sun, Sep 2, 2012 : 6:15 p.m.

I love this story...


Sun, Sep 2, 2012 : 7:38 p.m.

Seems jumped the gun on that "Deal of the Year" award! Do they have to give the trophy back?

David Cahill

Sun, Sep 2, 2012 : 5:10 p.m.

Other big projects that were never built: Metro 202 Tierra on Ashley Thompson Terrace


Sun, Sep 2, 2012 : 4:13 p.m.

May be a blessing in disguise.


Sun, Sep 2, 2012 : 1:42 p.m.

On 4th ave just behind theses homes are some new large luxury homes, and also on summit just west of thier are the colorful condo homes. have a developer copy those summit homes thats attractive look. for Avalon housing send that bunch to ypsi.

Middle America

Mon, Sep 3, 2012 : 9:54 a.m.

Yeah, how dare the poor wish to live in Ann Arbor! They can only come near Main Street to wash your dishes, right "richh"? How disgusting.

Dog Guy

Sun, Sep 2, 2012 : 1:36 p.m.

Derezinski and Smith are applying for appointment to paying commission seats.


Sun, Sep 2, 2012 : 1:44 p.m.

They'll probably be part of the DDA by Christmas.


Sun, Sep 2, 2012 : 1:21 p.m.

Yeah, let's listen to Derezinski and Smith about what to do. The lame duck twins are just trying to throw an affordable housing "hail Mary" on their way out with the DDA joining in the charade.

Hot Sam

Sun, Sep 2, 2012 : 1:17 p.m.

If flood plains were an issue, we wouldn't have the Delonis Center...


Sun, Sep 2, 2012 : 1:45 p.m.

That's exactly right. If enough money coupled with influence is involved, any city regulations such as zoning quickly fall by the wayside.


Sun, Sep 2, 2012 : 1:07 p.m.

Three Oaks is getting off light here. That development group bought the houses, which were not in good shape but were inhabited at that time and could have been updated. Three Oaks had a couple different plans to develop the properties. While pursuing those options, it left the houses vacant and unmaintained. When the market turned sour, it found itself with a huge investment, vacant houses and no market to build anything. It brought in Avalon to save the day by pulling in various sources of funding based on Avalon's good reputation. By then the houses were pretty far gone. A for-profit company made a bad investment (which does happen sometimes in capitalism), that for-profit company is the one responsible for letting the houses fall into terminal disrepair, and it is who will get the bill for the demolition. I think people are too hard on Avalon and city officials in their comments. The history of this property is primarily a failure of a for-profit private company.

say it plain

Sun, Sep 2, 2012 : 8:18 p.m.

I agree about this being bigtime blame for Three Oaks, but it was still a bad bad move for the city to get involved, and none too wise for Avalon. Seeing all the comments here from people saying "oh ,send *those* people off to Ypsi" and such loveliness, even as these same folks fail to realize that Avalon runs *small* housing units in their own neighborhoods with no problems, makes it seem to me that their older model of small integrated-into-the-surrounding units are the way to go. For many many reasons. I hate to think that folks like Smith and Guenzel and Derezinski might be able to drum up even more support for the idea that affordable or supportive housing must leave Ann Arbor because of the failure of this 'grander' scheme project, but that might be exactly the situation they've left themselves in. Maybe they're fine with that, I guess we'll see...


Sun, Sep 2, 2012 : 12:48 p.m.

Affordable housing would never be a welcoming site to any city. The only perspective that makes it look all right is that it replaces abandoned property. The simple facts are that Ann Arbor is a very expensive city. Buying land and building are exceptinally expensive thanks to the city's interference. It should be obvious that "affordable" housing simply isn't affordable to build.


Sun, Sep 2, 2012 : 12:43 p.m.

Let the developer sell them or build on the land. Without any taxpayer subsidies. If it is such a great location the developer should be able to recoup their investment. That is, assuming it wasn't a stupid purchase in the first place made on the real estate bubble. We need housing that will generate property taxes, not subsidized housing that won't. At the rate the City Council is increasing property taxes, whilst surrounding communities are all dropping theirs, we will need every penny to pay for the new artwork.


Sun, Sep 2, 2012 : 12:02 p.m.

why do affordable when high price makes so much more sense.


Sun, Sep 2, 2012 : 11:15 a.m.

If they had stayed on schedule, this years changes to the flood way boundaries would have been a non-issue... Any incentives given to a developer need to have time restrictions and be conditional on the developer completing whatever they agreed to do. For example, give them a tax break when they demolish and cleanup the area. Require completion in x months.


Sun, Sep 2, 2012 : 5:30 a.m.

" it was conceived, really would have provided an excellent welcoming site to Ann Arbor from the north," said Council Member Tony Derezinski" Look, I'm not against affordable housing as a concept, but let's not get ridiculous. Whether he meant "site" or "sight," this is typical of the Fire, Aim, Ready mentality of this council. "This'll be awesome! Just do it, it'll be great, I can make any grandiose claim about it!"


Sun, Sep 2, 2012 : 5:14 a.m.

Ryan you buried the lede - flood plain boundaries.


Sun, Sep 2, 2012 : 3:25 a.m.

Studies show that liberals rarely give to charities and are famously stingy - see Joe Biden and Al Gore. They will not waste their own money on the poor but are happy to hand out the money of taxpayers by the billion. Poverty is not to be solved by individual fortitude, but the nations' daddy, "the government", taking cash from the check books of one group and gifting it to another in exchange for votes at the ballot box. Ask Detroit how well that's working for them.

Middle America

Mon, Sep 3, 2012 : 8:16 p.m.

Shepard, you're either a troll or you can't read.


Mon, Sep 3, 2012 : 3:53 p.m.

Sorry Mic, the debate is over and it's now fact that leftist democrat liberal cranks give far far less money to charities then conservatives and Republicans. That nonsense about surfing the net and counting up hits for each side is hilarious though - sounds right doesn't it? LOL If you don't mind, I'm going to borrow that one for topics that chafe liberals the most: ...well, some say that with his terrible grades at Occidental Collage, obama entered Columbia University as a foreign exchange student from Indonesia. I googled it and most of the posts I saw confirmed it so I'm looking forward to the national press investigation! LOL


Mon, Sep 3, 2012 : 3:17 p.m.

Sounds like someone on the night shift has a crush on me! LOL My life on the ethereal time line will have to remain a mystery, but you can consider me timeless. I'm visiting to impart wisdom to the lost and clueless who fancy themselves educated by the corrupt, leftist, democrat media operatives claiming to be reporters. …pretty much all the networks except that one so many fear that dares to cover the truth, including stories unflattering to their hero obama. LOL ..where he is concerned, truth always leads the socialist democrats to hate. much hatred and fear compels them to lie about Romney and Ryan rather then admit their failures, apologize to the American voters for 4 years of incompetence and withdraw from the race.

Middle America

Mon, Sep 3, 2012 : 10:15 a.m.

There is not one national level politician I support, "shepard145". I know it sounds pretty wild, but everyone who disagrees with you is not an Obama lackey. LOL!!!

Middle America

Mon, Sep 3, 2012 : 9:53 a.m.

The companies who should be our enemies are the ones who provide you with "news". You really do not have the capability of original though, shepard145.

Middle America

Mon, Sep 3, 2012 : 5:55 a.m.

Funny that you mention retirements and nothing else. Sounds like someone is getting close to retirement, that magic time when you assure yourself that you are 100% right about everything and that everyone around you no longer matters. It is the only issue you care about since you're wearing blinders.

Middle America

Mon, Sep 3, 2012 : 5:53 a.m.

Call me whatever name you want, I don't care if you're childish. Enjoy your ignorance. Keep on chugging along and promoting corporate interests! Read this carefully: I compared you to a teenager because you say "LOL" all the time. Seriously, it is funny when you do that. I imagine you are a teenager who discovered Fox News yesterday and then decided to talk about all of your "opinions" on


Sun, Sep 2, 2012 : 8:59 p.m.

Wow, lower class Middle America is just full of advice today! Looks like you're working hard to help make my posts more compelling to young girls 14 and up and less friendly to "the corporations". Which corporations should be our enemies - the ones that employ hundreds of millions of Americans fund millions of retirements or those mythical evil corporate friends of Dick Cheney! LOL (that did feel radical! Too cool dude!)


Sun, Sep 2, 2012 : 6:35 p.m.

Go to Google. Type in "conservatives give more to charity" and your search will return several stories that speak to Shepard's statement. Then type in "liberals give more to charity." You will see you get pretty much the same results as your first search.


Sun, Sep 2, 2012 : 3:46 p.m.

You're mixing three different groups here dude. First off, camp "somebody lookit me" was not full of brain trauma cases, the mentally ill and other indigents. In a discussion like this, those with legitimate care needs should not be lumped with the "don't want to work" class, junkies and other slackers; and those families with parents between jobs in need of temporary help. That is a tired old strategy employed to confuse already confused politicians into throwing taxpayer money at one more issue they don't understand. With regard those who are mentally ill, blame the liberals dog. In the 1960-70's hippie shrinks practicing the psychological arts (poorly) decried institutions that took care of these people for life. The planets aligned with politicians of the day looking to cut spending and BAM, those institutions were shut down like magic. The occupants were dumped into yet to be defined group homes….and then when that did not work out so well, the street. Another in a long list of liberal failures once again leaving the adults/taxpayers to clean up their mess. The fact remains that the best place for the "don't want to work" class, is Detroit, a city that has a generations old bureaucracy in place to pay generations of Americans who decline to work. Vacant neighborhoods, ethnically diverse politically correct schools, legions of social workers plentiful liquor and narcotics all just waiting for AA slackers to make a new lives for themselves, their teen children and their teen children… The problem is not their lifestyle – no need to re-invent that wheel dude – it's their location.


Sun, Sep 2, 2012 : 2:51 p.m.

@Shepherd145/ A lot of these people in Avalon housing have great stores of "individual fortitude" demonstrated by, among other things, dealing daily with the consequences of brain disorders. Life, every day, is a challenge, a struggle, that rivals any you will ever see. Many occupants of Avalon housing also hold down jobs while struggling with such illnesses. To suggest a lack of "individual fortitude" shows a great level of ignorance about this population If individual fortitude could solve the poverty they find themselves in, they would not ned this housing! Avalon does great work in providing necessary housing, and supporting those who dig deep every day to have a meaningful life and contribute positively in ways that they can.


Sun, Sep 2, 2012 : 2:46 p.m.

Yea, that sounds right if you cherry pick the years right? ..but we know a democrat web site would never be such a bunch of corrupt haters right? LOL ...and a young, brilliant, ethical family man with 3 kids vs an old fool entrenched in DC for generations.....yea, Ryan and Biden are the same.... LOL Many studies also show that obama drones suddenly forget how to use Google when looking for information unflattering to their dear leader obama. Keep goose stepping along with his central planning government, I'm sure your obama-bucks are in the mail! LOL


Sun, Sep 2, 2012 : 1:17 p.m.

Studies from that well-know think tank: Fox & Friends


Sun, Sep 2, 2012 : 12:19 p.m.

Paul Ryan gives less of his income than Joe Biden.

Middle America

Sun, Sep 2, 2012 : 4:28 a.m.

Shepard heard of these studies one time somewhere or something so it must be true. Toss in a nonsensical statement about Detroit and there you go - a comment with no substance whatsoever left by someone who has no clue what is going on in the world.


Sun, Sep 2, 2012 : 4 a.m.

Care to post even a single link to suppoert your "studies show" claim upon which the balance of your argument rests, or will you let your silence speak for itself?

Dog Guy

Sun, Sep 2, 2012 : 2:34 a.m.

A hundred people now must delay their plans to move to Michigan.


Sun, Sep 2, 2012 : 2:08 a.m.

How many more affordable housing units could this kind of money buy toward the edges of Ann Arbor? Two, three times as many units at the same price? I really don't understand the logic of siting affordable housing right smack downtown on the most expensive land. We fund an excellent transit system that can take people wherever they want to go, so why the need for downtown? For people who don't drive, there isn't even a grocery story to walk to!

Rod Johnson

Sun, Sep 2, 2012 : 6:38 p.m.

Is this not toward the edges of Ann Arbor? There are half a dozen houses farther north, maybe, then you're on 23. It's certainly not downtown.

Middle America

Sun, Sep 2, 2012 : 7:03 a.m.

North Main Street isn't really "right smack downtown". The few affordable units this project proposed weren't 2,500 square foot lofts right above all the popular restaurants further south on Main.


Sun, Sep 2, 2012 : 3:54 a.m.

With all due respect, you kind of missed the point: The millionS in taxpayer dollars to fund this project would have only added a half dozen or so more affordable rooms than already existed and were being rented on the property before the developer boarded them up let the blight begin.


Sun, Sep 2, 2012 : 1:58 a.m.

Too bad the employees the U of M and AA restauranteurs depend upon will continue to be able to live close to their workplace.

Middle America

Sun, Sep 2, 2012 : 8:20 p.m.

Again, what are you talking about? "On the bus." What are you saying?

Basic Bob

Sun, Sep 2, 2012 : 5:46 a.m.

On the bus.

Middle America

Sun, Sep 2, 2012 : 2:46 a.m.



Sun, Sep 2, 2012 : 1:54 a.m.

As a homeowner in thus neighborhood I would like to say that I am thrilled this project is dead. But, I can't because it sounds like there is another, even worse, proposal from Ms. Smith on the way. We do not need more 'affordable housing' in this neighborhood. We need I -Work -For - A - Living housing. Avalon is our worst neighbor and I have no desire to see more of it. The rotted ghetto on Main ( gracefully acknowledged by Ms. Smith to somehow annoy taxpayers in this neighborhood- Goodness, I cannot understand why?) is equally Avalon's as well as the developer and the City's fault. I say Avalon owes a minimum of cleaning up the formerly not good enough for freeloading houses. That's really a minimum. And Ms. Smith needs to get a new, lower pedestal for herself. The thinned air has harmed her reasoning ability.


Sun, Sep 2, 2012 : 2:26 p.m.

What about the "I-Work-For-A-Living" But-I-Can't-Afford-Housing.? The oblivious self righteousness of the fortunate few kills me...

Middle America

Sun, Sep 2, 2012 : 9:21 a.m.

Sorry for saying that Basic Bob's claim makes no sense. I am sure the city did not do what he claims. Why would the city do that? Why would they want one of the main arteries feeding into the city looking bad? That is illogical.

Basic Bob

Sun, Sep 2, 2012 : 5:45 a.m.

I bet the city told Avalon not to bother cleaning up the abandoned property, the city will take care of that. Just be patient. Whoever owns them now needs to clean it up and *give it* to someone that will take care of it.

Middle America

Sun, Sep 2, 2012 : 2:25 a.m.

The Avalon owned housing on and around Pontiac Trail are very well maintained. Just because people are low income doesn't mean they are lazy and don't work as hard as the rest of us.

say it plain

Sun, Sep 2, 2012 : 2:11 a.m.

Avalon maintains a couple of properties on N. Main Street that seem to be in fine repair...weren't the boarded up nasty wrecks in question actually initially bought up by the for-profit developer Three Oaks LLC? It seems that whomever convinced Avalon that this project would be a good one for them to get involved with did them a big disservice...maybe those people are some of the same who are now going to try and "make it up" to them by setting up a funneling of money from city properties, so long as they are willing to head "out of town"?!


Sun, Sep 2, 2012 : 1:39 a.m.

Those who decide to live off taxpayers until the gravy train runs out certainly celebrate when another "affordable housing" project is announced. Often well meaning young developers learn painful lessons when cost, market and desire for free stuff (paid for by the "working class") conflict. Anther victory who ignore the obvious conflict in the words "permanent affordable housing". Such "professional voters" continue to drag down the economy as democrats cultivate and leverage them as a meaty voting block on a carpet of lies. Those who want to live off the working class looking for low cost housing are invited to move to Detorit - they have plenty just waiting for your warm bodies.

Middle America

Mon, Sep 3, 2012 : 5:48 a.m.

But leaguebus, shepard was told that voter fraud is a huge problem. Heard it somewhere, so it must be true!


Sun, Sep 2, 2012 : 6:57 p.m.

Shep and his crew are dealing with the Professional Voters, too. Come up with unneeded ID rules to disenfranchise these denizens of society at the ballot box. The Republikan party is 95% white and you espouse all the same welfare claptrap that the upper crust has been saying for years. The bottom line here is that as the rich cut taxes to "create jobs", crash the economy with unregulated fraudulent home loans and unethical investment practices, the poor and now, the middle class suffers. You say you have empathy for the middle class but call the poor, cheaters and parasites. What do you plan to do with the poor besides starve them out?


Sun, Sep 2, 2012 : 2:56 p.m.

just a tad over dramatic

Middle America

Sun, Sep 2, 2012 : 6:56 a.m.

I highly doubt the mayor's plan is to rely on votes from the poor. Historically speaking, poor people don't have a very high turnout during elections.

Basic Bob

Sun, Sep 2, 2012 : 5:43 a.m.

Shep makes a great point. Does the mayor look out for the poor? Never. But he counts on them for votes.


Sun, Sep 2, 2012 : 5:02 a.m.

"professional voters" -- I guess the unemployment rate would be pretty low if that made any sense


Sun, Sep 2, 2012 : 3:19 a.m. for something – "professional voters" do nothing but vote themselves more stuff paid by those of us who work, gifted to them by democrats cultivating them like livestock. However I have great empathy for are those who work hard, married, laid off and need some help until they find a job and are back on their feet. Those are people who deserve our help and prayers. Those who have no intention of working – see camp "somebody lookit me" but demand a lifestyle to their liking with an AA address but paid for by others need severe restrictions that force them back to work or out of Michigan.

Middle America

Sun, Sep 2, 2012 : 2:24 a.m.

"Professional voters" are really good at voting or something, I guess.

say it plain

Sun, Sep 2, 2012 : 2:12 a.m.

the part I find most amusing is "professional voters" lol...

Middle America

Sun, Sep 2, 2012 : 2 a.m.

You have the most ignorant opinion of low income people possible.


Sun, Sep 2, 2012 : 1:10 a.m.

Face it. A2 is not an affordable housing type of town. Too may freebies have been given away to the university so all available real estate is heavily taxed, non-profits, charities, churches are out and luxury condos and houses are in.

Rod Johnson

Sun, Sep 2, 2012 : 6:35 p.m.

I didn't read Tim as saying it *should* be that way, just that it *is* that way. Everyone can add "alas" or "thank god" to their taste.

Basic Bob

Sun, Sep 2, 2012 : 5:41 a.m.

Yeah, that's it. Poor people can't afford to live here, anyway. Wrong, there is lots of low-income housing in Ann Arbor. Most of it is on the edge of town (N. Maple, Ellsworth, Packard) so we can pretend it's actually someplace else. I don't think N. Main is the right place to put it, but to suggest we raise the housing prices and rent until regular folks have to move out of town is a bit harsh - what we call "progressive" I guess.

Linda Peck

Sun, Sep 2, 2012 : 12:15 a.m.

Whatever is built down there, it needs to be good for the long term, not building(s) thrown together, built cheaply, or seen as "affordable housing." Affordable housing often means subsidized housing. I would prefer something built that is viable as a business to stand on its own in this community and be profitable. I am sure there are ways to do this.


Sun, Sep 2, 2012 : midnight

This is a pity. I reckon had this housing been for the middle class or wealthy, plans would still be in progress.

say it plain

Sat, Sep 1, 2012 : 11:38 p.m.

Thinking about @Jack Campbell's claim about low-income or supported housing not 'belonging' downtown...and seeing that indeed Avalon (try their website!) has developed/bought/maintains smaller properties scattered in downtown and near-downtown locations... it makes me wonder about this 'conclusion' coming from Sandi Smith. I am very suspicious of any pronouncements about real estate coming from her, she being a realtor and all. She is invested in the idea that anything near downtown is 'unsuitable' for assisted living, is my guess, and I am actually aware of some of those properties shown in the Avalon catalog and don't know of any problems people have had with the tenants others have contradictory accounts? Why isn't the obvious downturn in this real estate market a great time for Avalon to buy up some of those near-downtown homes and provide more small supported living houses? I fear that Smith and others of the DDA are vested in planting the notion that any 'affordable' housing near downtown cannot be done, when it seems to me here that the issue was something else entirely (or close to it...there was a silly real estate bubble and a sale to a developer looking to install yet more luxury, etc...), and more about 'grand schemes' that didn't pan out instead of meeting needs. The timetables for financing being complex and so on were, it seems from Appel's statement, as much to do with it as anything approaching the DDAs implications about 'prime' real estate.


Sat, Sep 1, 2012 : 11:32 p.m.

This just makes me sick. This reeks of incompetence, plain and simple. Why spend more money to tear down the houses at all now? Why not spend the money to have Avalon fix them up and rent them as affordable units? With $500,000 from the DDA this would be easily doable. If you tear down the buildings in the flood way (like the one that burned in 2010 right next to the party store) NOTHING will ever be rebuilt there. Instead, the houses will come down and the city will assess the property owner for the demo cost which is....themselves! Public note to the city. You are not a developer. Stay out of that business because it is embarrassing us and wasting our money.

Middle America

Sun, Sep 2, 2012 : 1:53 a.m.

Those houses are probably way beyond repair.


Sat, Sep 1, 2012 : 9:34 p.m.

"Appel said changes in the Federal Emergency Management Agency's floodway boundaries earlier this year dealt a major blow to the project, making it ineligible for essential federal affordable housing funds and leaving a financing gap that could not be addressed within the completion deadlines." Can't make chicken salad from chicken crap my grand dad always said. Affordable housing is dependent upon public funds and a functional government that doesn't over regulate. Unfortunately at this time in our history we have neither..........


Sun, Sep 2, 2012 : 2:01 a.m.

I don't see how this could be a barrier at all. The Big White Architectural Well-Connected Masterpiece at 201 Depot floods its parking lot 4X yearly, 4 ft deep--------- and that didn't hold back THAT development plan. Martin pays out when there are 4 or 5 cars totaled each time, and AA makes plenty of tax money in the process regardless. Everyone wins! Unless you loved your vehicle, of course.

say it plain

Sat, Sep 1, 2012 : 11:28 p.m.

Well, in fairness to whomever regulates this stuff, I can imagine wishing to avoid putting on the public-responsibility roles land in a flood plain, no?


Sat, Sep 1, 2012 : 8:10 p.m.

This was a taxpayer funded debacle to begin with that would have only yielded a handful more affordable bedrooms than the houses on the site already provided. Instead, the developer let the houses rot so it could call them blighted. When it was clear that there was no way the City would allow it to build the huge, luxury condos that it wanted and needed to build to get the top of the real estate bubble dollars it paid for houses (the City emphatically said no previously to the proposed condo development), it brought Avalon on board and the City was shamed into saying yes to a building that was way out of character, size and scale with the rest of the neighborhood and in no way, shape or form came close to meeting the zoning requirements. And who was going to pay for that building which came with a square foot construction cost that exceeded that of most of the luxury developments in town: me and you through State and Federal grants and I believe $500,000 from the DDA. So now what do we have: a bunch of old houses that the City (meaning me and you again) are about to pay to take down with some hope of getting paid back at some point and then a big empty eyesore of a lot. In the end, the initial developer (Three Oaks) made a bad real estate investment at the very top of the bubble like a lot of other folks. No great crime there.. Still, whatever happens next, please, please, please, let's not use tax dollars (City, DDA, or State), to bail it out. Enough, as they say, is enough: if you're in the business of taking risks and you fail, you should pay the consequences, not look to taxpayers to not only bail you out, but actually pay you a profit.


Sat, Sep 1, 2012 : 9:56 p.m.

Welcome to Ypsilanti's " water street project".. that now has the city in a mess. Sounds a little bit familiar.


Sat, Sep 1, 2012 : 9:41 p.m.

Much of this is all a matter of public record and was put before the Planning Comission. No one had the temerity to report in depth on the fiscal dynamics of Avalon joining the development team and who can blame them: it's a great organization that does wonderful work. It just showed little regard for how it proposed to spend public dollars and the neighborhood in this one instance.

say it plain

Sat, Sep 1, 2012 : 8:25 p.m.

That deal sounds like juicy graft story to me--the Three Oaks group having "Avalon housing" join in and thusly subsidize its bad move? Has that all been covered by local media already? Did the city facilitate that coming together? Are we all done with this sort of thing now or can we expect more of it given that we keep re-electing this Mayor and he keeps picking this DDA's officials?!

say it plain

Sat, Sep 1, 2012 : 7:55 p.m.

So, here is the official announcement that Near North cannot go forward. But the houses will be demolished anyway. Which of course clears the way for a more lucrative development, especially if a park will be installed across the way, no? This seems like an interesting plan to, "socialist" rhetoric as @Chase Ingersoll injects aside, have it both ways. This could be good, or it could be slyly manipulative...I'd love to see deeper analysis and investigation here from the journalists, especially as Smith and Avalon and the DDA make their further 'proposals' about the corridor and the overall plan for city-owned properties and the sale thereof. I can imagine the DDA meetings: What if, what if, the affordable housing not-for-profits cabal can get a new fiefdom paid for by--oh the simple beauty of it!--a constant pushing of this idea that we just cannot *have* affordable housing anywhere close to downtown anymore. Because, you know, Ann Arbor has made so many "best X" lists and all! Too expensive to have anything but student and/or high-end professional housing and martini bars and so on. BUT, we can offer to sell the city properties to the highest bidder, whatever loans they can manage in the market (probably for more student housing too! saturation will happen, but only once developers are off the hook having made their profits and gotten out!), and then appease those concerned with 'human services" and help them buy some edge-of-town properties plus hire some social workers to man the support offices. A win-win! Perfect! More firmly establishes the idea Smith and the DDA might like to promote that Ann Arbor has become the upper East Side and we need to make it clear where that part ends and East Harlem begins, as it were. Squeezes out any consideration of a 'middle class' as well, but hey someone needs to aspire to those little "poor housing stock" structures surrounding the city center too!


Sun, Sep 2, 2012 : 12:43 a.m.

no more million dollar condos , plese!


Sat, Sep 1, 2012 : 9:35 p.m.

They'll probably buy the land with grre belt money or turn it into a park............what's your best guess?

Jack Campbell

Sat, Sep 1, 2012 : 7:49 p.m.

Glad to hear this. Beautify the entrance to the city with section 8 housing, half of it for addicts, are you kidding me? Affordable housing DOES NOT belong downtown, period.


Mon, Sep 3, 2012 : 11:33 p.m.

Affordable housing does not mean addicts - as a fresh out of college person looking to start a family on $50k a year - it's nice to buy downtown versus having to get a small condo out in the surrounding towns and commute in.

Middle America

Mon, Sep 3, 2012 : 5:42 a.m.

Mike, marijuana is not addictive. Also, figure out how to properly use ellipses.

Middle America

Mon, Sep 3, 2012 : 5:40 a.m.

So half of the few affordable apartments in the development were for addicts, Jack? Oh no! What would we do with them around? There are recovering addicts everywhere. They are not some hidden group of evil people out to get you. Grow up.

Jack Campbell

Sun, Sep 2, 2012 : 9:34 p.m.

Middle America and others, Please read the previous story about this property. Half of the apartments were to be used to house recovering addicts. Thanks.

Middle America

Sun, Sep 2, 2012 : 8:18 p.m.

"Low income housing and crime (and blight) go hand-in-hand. Just a fact of life." Of course, you have no data or anything to back that up though.


Sun, Sep 2, 2012 : 6:15 p.m.

Exactly Jack! Low income housing and crime (and blight) go hand-in-hand. Just a fact of life. Does not belong in downtown.

Middle America

Sun, Sep 2, 2012 : 4:38 a.m.

Addicts became part of the story when Jack Campbell mentioned them. Not all low income people are addicts. You are horribly judgmental. Thanks to Mike for chiming in with his usual nonsense too. I am surprised he didn't mention how he thinks everyone is attacking the rich like he usually does. Anti-thug: "you jude eddiction and poverty intill " What? please take two seconds and read what you typed before you post it. It isn't that hard.


Sun, Sep 2, 2012 : 12:43 a.m.

well in Ann Arbor you jude eddiction and poverty intill it happens to you!!

say it plain

Sat, Sep 1, 2012 : 11:27 p.m.

How did addicts become part of this story exactly? Did you know that the plan was specifically for folks with substance abuse issues?! Just for your edification, Avalon already operates housing downtown... Research them just a little, you'll see they run a number of properties in regular ol' houses on regular ol' blocks downtown and near downtown...


Sat, Sep 1, 2012 : 9:36 p.m.

Don't be down on the addicts. They can't help it, it's a disease and beyond their control...........almost forgot gotta go pick up my medical marijuana card...............

David Cahill

Sat, Sep 1, 2012 : 7:44 p.m.

The demise of this unlamented project is the latest failure in a long line, including: Broadway Village Near North The Gallery Glen Ann Place William Street Station Library Lot Conference Center Fuller Road Station 42 North Hopefully this failure marks the end of an era of unnecessary, overly expensive, and economically unjustified ventures. People should feel free to post additions to this list.


Mon, Sep 3, 2012 : 1:14 p.m.

Add the debacle that was the city buying the Y building for a huge price, then realizing after buying it that it was in atrocious shape, tearing it down, and then paying triple the previous rents for its former occupants.

Chase Ingersoll

Sat, Sep 1, 2012 : 7:26 p.m.

Socialists wanting it both ways. They want anti market "socialized" housing projects, even while they want the high property tax rates. Even the poor would be better off if they would just let the market work rather than patting themselves on the back for their grandiose manipulations paid for by the tax payers.


Thu, Sep 6, 2012 : 2:08 a.m.

Wow, shep, that's some serious revisionism. 2006? Want to run a quick check on (socialist-inspired, I'm sure) wikipedia to unscrew your mistaken notion of presidential election years?


Mon, Sep 3, 2012 : 10:45 p.m.

Yup, I've heard that the socialist Europe place is on the edge of financial collapse after establishing their socialist state a decade ago and spending more money doing it then they will create for decades into the future. Now they're hoping German taxpayers can bail them out – sound familiar? LOL Meanwhile before your hero and his stooges came to power in 2006, the USA produced more than 25% of the world's stuff with just 4.3% of the worlds people and the highest standard of living for the most people in the history of the world. …that's the economy obama and his stooges think they can fix with their central planning 'cause, having never actually worked for a company a day in his life, he's just so smart. LOL

Middle America

Mon, Sep 3, 2012 : 8:15 p.m.

Socialism IS a common form of government. Have you ever heard of that Europe place? LOL


Mon, Sep 3, 2012 : 3:43 p.m.

As you write, socialism is a "common form of government" (LOL) so why shouldn't your hero embrace who he REALLY IS and, just like his opposition to homosexual marriage, "evolve"? Maybe socialism is a better form of government then one forced on us by that annoying Constitution and Bill of Rights. GOOD! SAY IT! …or explain that he's not a socialist – that he views businesses as a government resource to fund SOCIAL JUSTICE, places Union rights ahead of share holders, constructs the mountain of lies necessary to socialize 1/7 of the US economy, assures us business they "didn't build that" and spends trillions of borrowed Communist Chinese dollars to fund union thugs and green fantasies the market has no need for. …so maybe he's just a real special kind of crony capitalist - make your case on his behalf! LOL …and lets not forget that off mic he assured Putin's stooge Dmitry Anatolyevich Medvedev, that once he's re-elected he will have much more flexibility to, presumably, disarm the United States national defense. Certainly he's already handed the Russians our missile defense shield during his APOLOGY TOUR, receiving nothing for the US in return other then the hope that they will like him, rather then view him as a weak kneed fool. ….don't you wonder if he showed Medvedev his Nobel Peace Prize medal back at the hotel??!! LOL

Middle America

Mon, Sep 3, 2012 : 10:07 a.m.

Further, "thru" is not a word no matter what all those McDonald's signs say.

Middle America

Mon, Sep 3, 2012 : 10:05 a.m.

Look, "shepard145", not everyone who disagrees with you is a Socialist. Prior to the election of Obama/cable news telling you what you think a Socialist is, you had most likely never heard of Socialism. If you think Obama is an actual Socialist, you should just stay away from political discussions because you can't even grasp the definition of a common political ideology.


Sun, Sep 2, 2012 : 8:36 p.m.

That's the point but many can't see realty thru the fog of their government love! LOL He's revealed himself a socialist once again when, against his handlers orders, he left the scripted teleprompter. Obama lovers apparently don't know that American businesses and workers paid the teacher, built the roads, the internet etc.. NOT OBAMA and NOT THE GOVERNMENT. His context is far more important then the sound bite since it tells those listening much more about him. …something the goose-stepping government press will never do. The bizarre hysteria over the financing of the stadium (16 years ago!! LOL) where the RNC convention for 3 days is hilarious. This is a big internet hit with the far left clawing for some lame issue to cling to since obama has no actual accomplishment to run on. Without exception, every such sophomoric reference to stadium's "public funds", blatantly ignores voter and Florida Supreme Court approval!! LOL Really, your hero obama has the nation $16 trillion in debit and a dead economy and funding of a stadium 16 years ago is what you're all worried about?? - LOL


Sun, Sep 2, 2012 : 2:46 p.m.

Too funny, SHEP! Did you know that the arena that the GOP held it's convention in was paid for with over 60% TAXPAYER money, ie: socialism. Did you know that they, and the dems, will get almost 18 million taxpayer dollars for their conventions, : socialism. Did you actually ever read Obamas full statement, not the one line pulled out of context? -"If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you've got a business -- you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn't get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the internet. The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together. There are some things, just like fighting fires, we don't do on our own."


Sun, Sep 2, 2012 : 2:24 p.m.

So nothing your hero obama says matters to you? I guess that explains how you could support him one mug of Kool-Aid at a time, while endlessly excusing his absurd statements. …but I should be thinking about "real issues"? LOL What, pray tell, do you think "real issues" are? The list of obama failures runs into multiple pages, but I guess those are not "real issues" for you? Crony capitalism: massive bankruptcies of phony green energy schemes using billions of dollars borrowed from the Chinese and mailed to obama campaign blundlers like Solyndra? Does that difference – democrats are massively corrupt – equal an "issue" for you? Sixteen trillion in debt? Failure to pass one budget in 4 years and the only one he attempted SO MASSIVELY EXPENSIVE IT RECEIVED ZERO VOTES IN CONGRESS? I have to say, your attempts at insight fit your avatar well. I only teach the teachable and save the savable. You go vote for obama in hopes of collecting more free stuff (paid for by others) and the rest of us will try to United States for the next generation.

G. Orwell

Sun, Sep 2, 2012 : 12:32 p.m.

@whatsup You need to distinguish between capitalism, which is good, and crony capitalism, which is bad. We are currently under crony capitalism or fascism where large corporate interests and our government have colluded to destroy the middle class. Bush, Obama, Clinton are all puppets for corporate interests (i.e. companies like Monsanto and the military industrial complex). Capitalism is what made this country so great.


Sun, Sep 2, 2012 : 11:12 a.m.

It's that tea party mentality that continues to manifest itself everywhere including the presidential election. Students and middle to upper income people are entitled to housing but NOT the poor. Sounds and smacks of discrimination and veiled bigotry to me.

Middle America

Sun, Sep 2, 2012 : 4:03 a.m.

Shepard, you eat up all the garbage that is fed to you to distract you from real issues. That one time the president said this or that or whatever. None of that matters at all. You should try to think critically about real issues and not just agree with the talking heads you stare at on your TV. That would be hard though. Just stay focused on your perceived differences between political parties. Don't think too hard, you might get a headache.


Sun, Sep 2, 2012 : 3:32 a.m.

....yeaa, you've not much learnin when it comes to economics eh? LOL I'll throw you a bone though: Those bones that so confuse you are paid for by the taxes paid by business and their hundreds of millions of employees - NOT OBAMA. ....and we are not capitalists, we have a market economy. The irony about that rare slip of obama truthfulness when he explained that business owners did not build their success is context. The context of his comments supports the fact that he ranges from a socialist to vast ignorance of how this country works. The roads he refers to were paid for by business through taxes, but he seems clueless of that. ..he really thinks the government builds roads!! pathetic.


Sun, Sep 2, 2012 : 3:26 a.m.

You are correct - good comment Chase.


Sun, Sep 2, 2012 : 2:06 a.m.

CAPITALISTS wanting it both ways. Maximizing profit by getting someone else to foot the bill for their for-profit enterprise. Big business is the first to suck off the public tit, and the first to cry foul when the source of their nutrition is pointed out. I also am glad this was shut down.

Middle America

Sun, Sep 2, 2012 : 1:51 a.m.

Unusual Suspect, I think tom swift jr. was employing something called "sarcasm" in his comment. Google it - it isn't too complicated.

Ann English

Sat, Sep 1, 2012 : 11:44 p.m.

I had to read your second paragraph twice to understand that by "they," you mean the proud, arrogant city politicians. They want a project put in so they will feel good about themselves, not because there is any demand for it. "Compassion," in the eyes of socialists, is always, only, something that GOVERNMENT has for the poor, never private charity. Letting the market work is FREEDOM, which requires the politicians to be stripped of their selfish power and strangling regulations repealed. Being free does require personal responsibility and taking risks, but socialists' dreams of life without consequences will never become reality.

Unusual Suspect

Sat, Sep 1, 2012 : 8:58 p.m.

"po' people" Why does racism need to be a part of your post?


Sat, Sep 1, 2012 : 8:52 p.m.

I thought rand and this way of thinking was the way to go too....then I turned 16.

tom swift jr.

Sat, Sep 1, 2012 : 8:36 p.m.

Yep, it was them darn po' people that caused this... can't we just move them out the other side of the tracks where their ol' "grandos' manipulations" aren't so visible to us real folk!


Sat, Sep 1, 2012 : 8:01 p.m.

Nice sounding big words signifying nothing.

say it plain

Sat, Sep 1, 2012 : 7:34 p.m.

Wait, you envision "the poor" actively "patting themselves on the back for their grandiose manipulations"?! Wow, that takes a lot of imagination!