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Posted on Tue, Jun 7, 2011 : 5:59 a.m.

Village Green gets new price for city land to build apartments in downtown Ann Arbor

By Ryan J. Stanton

city apartments.jpg

Village Green's plan for Ann Arbor City Apartments, which includes a public parking component.

The Ann Arbor City Council voted unanimously Monday night to give Village Green Residential Properties LLC a $100,000 break on the price of city-owned land downtown the developer wants to buy to build new apartments.

"For members of the community curious about the status of this project, the short story is the project is continuing to move ahead," said Tom Crawford, interim city administrator.

Crawford said the city expects the sale of the land will happen in either late August or early September with construction starting thereafter. According to a project timeline from last fall, the city had been expecting the sale to happen by June 1.


Interim city administrator Tom Crawford discusses the Village Green project with council members Monday night.

Ryan J. Stanton |

The mixed-use project includes apartments and a multi-story public parking structure to be owned by the city of Ann Arbor.

The city had long intended to sell the property at First and Washington to Village Green for $3.3 million, and its budgeted $3 million of that toward the police-courts building addition to city hall.

After Monday's vote, that price is now $3.2 million. The reason for the change has to do with flooding issues that are being addressed through revisions to the foundation design, specifically how it will handle the below-ground water table.

"Since this project is in the Allen's Creek area the water table and flooding issues are of great importance to the city and the developer," reads a memo prepared by Mary Fales, senior assistant city attorney, and Crawford.

"The city, working with the DDA, desired a 'bathtub' design for areas where the water table could rise to meet the deck's foundation," it says. "This design in essence prevents water from entering the structure and is similar to how the DDA designed the Fifth Avenue structure."

Fales and Crawford said it's in the city's best interest to avoid the risk of on-going pumping by extending the "bathtub" design to encompass the entire foundation. The added cost of the design change is estimated to be about $250,000.

Since a portion of the foundation would have required the "bathtub" anyway, city staff recommended the City Council agree to contribute $100,000 toward the design change. The developer would be required to fund the remaining $150,000.

Village Green has plans for an 11-story (8 above grade) project called Ann Arbor City Apartments that includes a 244-space parking garage in addition to 156 apartments. The Downtown Development Authority will manage the public parking that is being built as part of the project.

Council Member Stephen Kunselman, D-3rd Ward, questioned why the city was taking a $100,000 hit for the design change when he thought the DDA should absorb the cost. But most council members agreed it was a fair deal since it's the city's asset.

The city entered into an option-to-purchase agreement with Village Green in February 2007 and it was last amended in August 2010 to extend the term of the option to June 1, 2011. The city administrator later exercised authority to extend the timeline to Aug. 30, 2011.

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 e-mail newsletters.



Tue, Jun 7, 2011 : 8:40 p.m.

Can someone give me an idea of the rendering direction? I assume by the slope that I am looking south, but if so, what is the "structure" just east of the bldg and where are the surrounding bldgs?

Christy Summerfield

Tue, Jun 7, 2011 : 6:24 p.m.

Gee, I wish the city would make sure my basement stops flooding every time there's a heavy rain!


Tue, Jun 7, 2011 : 6:11 p.m.

Ponycar: Maybe the person cares because the lot is owned by the City (e.g. the taxpayer). The taxpayer should have a say in how its property is used. The sale likely will effect that area. So, residents should ask questions.


Tue, Jun 7, 2011 : 4:27 p.m.

Has anyone given thought to the noise the clubs across the street generate? They were there first and they should be allowed to continue doing business despite residential property sprouting up in front of them. The city should stand by these stalwarts of Ann Arbor culture, unlike they way they have not supported Jerusalem Garden & Earthen Jar.


Tue, Jun 7, 2011 : 4:20 p.m.

I don't think the situation is as bleak as some of you anti-development folks make it sound. The survey, as noted was about condos and hotels, not apartments. According to the NY Times, people all over the country are opting for apartment living instead of home ownership because of the changed financial situation and the dropping value of homes. Fine apartments, in a desirable community such as Ann Arbor, may go over very well. Housing is flat, but many folks are now opting for apartment living.


Tue, Jun 7, 2011 : 3:59 p.m.

I am thinking that $3.2 M would get them the land, but no spaces in the parking garage? The residents would have to lease them just like any other structure in the city? If this is true, sounds like a good deal to me.

Wolf's Bane

Tue, Jun 7, 2011 : 3:54 p.m.

As many have already stated, do we really have demand for this PUD? I know times are tough, but the city really has other alternatives to make money than by allowing this PUD to go up? For example. sell the golf courses, but spare our another have empty PUD?


Tue, Jun 7, 2011 : 3:03 p.m.

This reminds me of the story about the guy who builds a brand new house (or courthouse perhaps) before selling his old house/property first. Now, unfortunately because of current market conditions, no prospective buyers (or apartment developers for that matter) can find the necessary financing to purchase the old house/property and so this guy gets stuck with the cost of owning and maintaining two houses/properties into the foreseeable future. Luckily our story has a much better ending because Ann Arbor is apparently immune from the current financial crisis occurring across the country and state and what is another $3 million in debt anyways? Personally, I won't believe this project "is moving along" until the check is in the bank.

fight hunger

Tue, Jun 7, 2011 : 2:40 p.m.

i wonder if they would let me move in there whenit gets bulit and where is it going be built at


Tue, Jun 7, 2011 : 2:25 p.m.

OK Pollyanna's, First, I believe this building takes up the majority of the block bounded by Ashley and First, and Washington and Liberty. Not all of it, but most of it. First, the need for the space: That determination is up to the developer. Why do you care? Second, the studies of need and the financial difficulties mentioned seem to be in regards to hotel rooms and condos, very different from apartments. How is the City paying for the construction of the parking structure? You mention the interest on a $9M bond issue. The City is issuing a bond to build this structure? I didn't see that in the article. Even so, maybe the property taxes brought in on the building will pay some of that bond expense. As for reserved parking, I'm guessing these spaces won't be free. There are 156 apartments and 244 spaces so there will probable be more than 100 spaces available for the general public. Traffice should not be too much of an issue. Remember, there was a parking structure on this site before and there weren't many problems than, that I recall.

Tom Joad

Tue, Jun 7, 2011 : 1:31 p.m.

What a massive mistake. That area is already heavily congested with Y traffic, drop-offs and parking. Imagine what a nightmare it would be on Kiwanis Saturday. This project will radically change the character of the OWS neighborhood.


Tue, Jun 7, 2011 : 1:30 p.m.

I have three questions for the DDA and City Council: First, and foremost, does demand exist for a 156 apartment building downtown? How is the demand measured? A detailed and thorough feasibility study done last year by Chuck Skelton, a hotel expert, identified no demand for a similar hotel proposal offered by Valiant Partners. City Council rejected that plan. Projections for population growth downtown are flat and other recently built apartment buildings have had financial difficulties resulting in several being resold for considerably less money than they cost to construct. Secondly, the underground parking structure will be built with Ann Arbor tax payer dollars since the present TIF revenue and parking fees are insufficient to cover the $945,000 annual cost for servicing of the $9 million bond issuance. Very likely City Council will be forced to propose a special millage or a city income tax. Finally, does the DDA plan to assign parking spaces for the sole use of the Village Green Apartment patrons? How many spaces will be reserved and how much will Village Green be required to pay for the privilege? Will that be legal if the bonds issued have tax preference? Commercial and residential growth downtown is desirable but should involve endeavors that are likely to succeed. Presently, Ann Arbor demographic and economic characteristics are not favorable for a Village Green apartment development. Certainly, Ann Arbor tax payers should not be required to finance private construction irregardless of the probability for the projects' viability.

Elaine F. Owsley

Tue, Jun 7, 2011 : 12:21 p.m.

Where, exactly, is this to be built?


Tue, Jun 7, 2011 : 11:02 p.m.

Right across the street from three (not one, not two, but THREE) busy, loud night clubs on the corner of First Street and West Washington.


Tue, Jun 7, 2011 : 8:25 p.m.

Right up against the west wall of Mark's Carts or whatever the little bit of Brooklyn is called...

Vivienne Armentrout

Tue, Jun 7, 2011 : 1:05 p.m.

More precisely, it is the gated parking lot that one enters from First Street - the lot currently serves permit parkers only though I think it has been used by patrons of nearby establishments at night.

Ryan J. Stanton

Tue, Jun 7, 2011 : 12:37 p.m.

First and Washington