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Posted on Thu, Sep 8, 2011 : 5:59 a.m.

8 houses along North Main Street in Ann Arbor soon to be demolished for $15M project

By Ryan J. Stanton

Near_North_Perspective color rendering of building in context viewed from southeast looking south.jpg

A rendering of the proposed Near North building along Main Street viewed from southeast looking north.

Image courtesy of developer

Eight houses along Main Street just north of downtown Ann Arbor are expected to be demolished soon to make way for a $15 million affordable housing project.

The 39-unit Near North development, which has been in the works for years, is finally moving forward, according to a representative of nonprofit Avalon Housing Inc.

"We've secured all of our financing," said Avalon's Michael Appel. "We're waiting on bids to come in from subcontractors and we need to make sure that our price works within our budget, and then we would close. We hope to close in the next four to six weeks."

The eight houses at 626-724 N. Main Street will come down as soon as possible, said Appel, who was instructed by one city official on Wednesday to please do so "with much haste."

"We're excited to break ground," Appel said. "It has overcome a lot of hurdles and we're not happy about the time it took. We would have rather seen the houses come down a while ago, but we've had to work with multiple funding sources and changes in governmental funding."

The Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority renewed its financial commitment to the project on Wednesday, pledging up to $500,000 in assistance from its housing funding.

The DDA first approved the grant in January 2010, but it expired on June 30, 2011. It's now being extended through Dec. 31, 2013, offering the same deal: $400,000 plus an extra $50,000 if the project achieves Silver LEED certification or $100,000 for Gold LEED.

The vote to extend the grant was 7-3 with DDA board members Newcombe Clark, Roger Hewitt and Russ Collins dissenting. They weren't opposed to the project, but said they wanted more information before giving the DDA's staff approval to draw up a contract.

Board members Bob Guenzel and Keith Orr were absent.

Avalon, a nonprofit housing corporation, is developing Near North with its for-profit partner, Three Oaks, as a mixed-use development.

The project is expected to provide 24 apartments affordable to households with low incomes and 15 supportive housing apartments with project-based Section 8 rent subsidies.

DDA officials said the new housing units are going to be within a quarter-mile radius of the downtown district — the area within which the DDA can provide housing fund support. They expect many tenants in the apartments are likely to work and shop downtown.

Grand Rapids-based Rockford Construction has been hired as the general contractor for the project and is now bidding out subcontract work.

Two local union representatives — Tom Yaks of Local 190 Plumbers and Pipefitters and Ron Motsinger of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers — urged DDA board members on Wednesday not to approve the grant agreement for Near North absent a commitment from the development team to employ local skilled trades workers.

"Our contractors are hurting for jobs," Motsinger said, suggesting Rockford Construction is going to hire out-of-area contractors.

Near_North_Perspective color rendering of building in context viewed from northwest looking south.jpg

Another perspective of Near North from northwest looking south.

Image courtesy of developer

DDA officials said they didn't think they could dictate those kinds of terms. Appel noted early bid packets show only about a quarter of bids came from subcontractors from the western side of the state while about three-quarters were from Southeast Michigan.

"We've worked with our general contractor from the beginning to make sure they understood the local market, that they were in touch with the unions, and that their bid list included local firms that were qualified," he said. "I believe they did that."

Washtenaw County Commissioner Rob Turner, owner of Turner Electric Service Inc. in Dexter, told DDA officials he agreed with statements made by the union officials.

Turner said his own company was asked to bid on subcontract work related to the project but didn't receive the request until about a week before bids were due.

"We tried to get a set of plans online to see what the project was to see if we could try to pull it together," he said, adding the plans were only available in Grand Rapids and Bloomfield Hills.

"Does that sound conducive of wanting to have local contractors bid this job and be involved in this?" Turner said. "No."

Appel said Turner's story didn't jibe with what he's heard.

"My understanding from talking with our general contractor is the actual bid solicitation went out a number of weeks earlier than that," he said. "Followup phone calls were made to find out who was interested during the bid period. I don't believe anybody got only one week's notice."

While some DDA board members pushed for a postponement of the grant extension, Appel told DDA officials the overall project relies on the $400,000-$500,000 commitment.

According to the resolution approved by the board, the grant payment is contingent upon receipt of a certificate of occupancy, waiver of all liens, and an agreement with the local Office of Community Development to manage income verification for all residential units.

The DDA's board also voted 10-0 on Wednesday to appoint Bob Guenzel chair and Leah Gunn vice chair for the 2011-12 fiscal year. The board also passed a resolution honoring outgoing DDA Chairman Gary Boren for his service on the board since 2003.


Another image showing the project footprint laid over a satellite image.

Image courtesy of developer

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.


Wolf's Bane

Mon, Sep 19, 2011 : 2:38 p.m.

A $15 million affordable housing project at this price? I'm sorry, that just doesn't add up? While we all feel pretty badly about the impending additional welfare cuts to over 12 thousand Michigan families, I fail to see how this development will help any of these folks (or any other families for that matter) without the city or private agency hemorrhaging a ton of money? Please, someone explain this to me in the simplest terms?


Sat, Sep 10, 2011 : 12:54 a.m.

Note to all union officials, it's a free country so stop trying to interfere with government business. Isn't undue influence peddling illegal. I don't understand how union get to charge for membership, hold meetings to use member dues to influence elections, or city developments, use hard core persuation tactics to get members to vote for a certain candidate, like commissioner Turner and then have that official promote the cause at the expense of taxpayers. We have outlived a democratic society with this special interest coddling.


Fri, Sep 9, 2011 : 4:27 a.m.

rediculous all around


Fri, Sep 9, 2011 : 4:12 a.m.

I think this should be a one-party state and nation: the Republicans would simply euthanize all the low income people (and their children, can't forget the children!). This would solve the problem of low income housing --- until the next Republican generated recession created more low-income (worthless dirt) people. This would just continue until only wealthy people living in posh neighborhoods w/o sidewalks are left: Pure Nirvana!


Fri, Sep 9, 2011 : 2:22 a.m.

And how far will the school children be to the closest school? Greater than 1.5 miles? Walking along or across main if less so?


Thu, Sep 8, 2011 : 9:17 p.m.

I flew thru the article, but I don't recall anything about the supersize liquor store destined for a chunk of ground floor retail in this development. Or that our new neighbors will be mostly single men. A kind of halfway house. Next to a childrens park. Yay! Funny how this never would happen in Burns Park.

Silly Sally

Fri, Sep 9, 2011 : 11:31 a.m.

There is a store on the corner, next to the project. Single women with kids qualify, then have their unemployed boyfriends move in with them. They invite their drug dealing buddies over... "nough said.

Vivienne Armentrout

Thu, Sep 8, 2011 : 9:12 p.m.

Unfortunately most of the commenters here do not seem familiar with the long history of the project. The site plan was approved in 2009. Some useful documents were included with the DDA packet and are now available online here: <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> Some financial data (unfortunately not quite up to date) and the site plan are there.


Thu, Sep 8, 2011 : 8:09 p.m.

Nice how the hundreds of homeowners who didn't want this sort of problematic development in their neighborhood were just bulldozed by DDA...Also, it reeks of cronyism to only allow Bloomfield and G.Rapids developers access to plans early-on I suspect it's the &quot;who's a Conservative Supporting Business Entity/Christian Crusader from the Right Parts of Michigan&quot; not &quot;Local Talent First, or Gawd forbid, Union workers...we can't have fair-wages!&quot;

zip the cat

Thu, Sep 8, 2011 : 5:40 p.m.

&quot;Your contractors are hurting for jobs&quot; I wonder why! Could it be that you've priced yourselves out of the market. Most local or non local contractors cannot afford to pay your out of control wages and benifets. I think its time you woke up and started working for less wages like everyone else has to do. 15 or 20 bucks a hour sounds better than zero bucks an hour.


Thu, Sep 8, 2011 : 5:20 p.m.

I see the DDA is doing a two step to circumvent the fact that this property is out of its boundaries. I think DDA money should remain within the boundaries and none of this extensions stuff. And of course the DDA funding is a &quot;grant&quot; not a loan. Why should this development get a freebie to the tune of $500k? Avalon is a non profit, does that mean these properties will be off the tax rolls? If not then this is going to cost more than the half mill. And what happens if this project fails, if it runs in the red? Will the city have to bail it out like the Y fiasco?


Thu, Sep 8, 2011 : 5 p.m.


Wolf's Bane

Thu, Sep 8, 2011 : 4:43 p.m.

Sweetheart deals between the city and developers will not move our city forward!

Tom Teague

Thu, Sep 8, 2011 : 4:42 p.m.

It isn't correct to say that the DDA is spending $384K a unit. The DDA is providing a grant of $400,000 -- roughly $10,000 per unit. That grant also includes incentives that can add another $100,000 or about $2,500 per unit. These will be apartments, not privately owned homes. Objecting to the project and the expenditure of DDA funding is fine, but please stick to the facts. @Hot Sam - you're excused because you found your missing zero. In fact, you get bonus points for checking your work and fessing up. But, could I borrow that calculator next tax season?

Tom Teague

Thu, Sep 8, 2011 : 6:46 p.m.

djm - Like you, I wish that the article had more information about that. My post was more to address a comment or two in which folks suggested or implied that the DDA was footing the entire bill. One of those comments has gotten voted up onto the &quot;Leader Board&quot; even though it contains an egregious math error that inflates DDA's contribution by $14.5 Million.


Thu, Sep 8, 2011 : 6:22 p.m.

and what will the qualifications be to move into this complex? I'[m assuming it will be Section-8 qualified. I live in low income housing and work to pay my downtown rent. I have neighbors that pay $250 toward $780 for a small 1 bedroom....government picks up the rest. But only is A2 would $42-$44K annual income for a couple be considered low income.

Dog Guy

Thu, Sep 8, 2011 : 4:35 p.m.

What is the police response time to this location?


Thu, Sep 8, 2011 : 3:55 p.m.

As long as our mayor and all of city council remain in office, we will have many, many more projects like this. Once built, I think we need many pieces of art nearby, as well as a 'no car idling' zone, signs about bikes keeping their speed down while zig-zagging between local residents walking on sidewalks and maybe a new parking garage.


Thu, Sep 8, 2011 : 3:54 p.m.

Get used to it folks. Making money off the backs of the poor is quite the growth industry. The private sector taking Gov't money to do the job that Gov't used to. What a great deal! long as the funding is there. Building affordable housing at nearly $400,000 per unit just doesn't make sense to me. Can somebody please explain?


Thu, Sep 8, 2011 : 2:53 p.m.

I have long felt that builders of apartment complexes and, especially, builders of low-income housing should be required to build at the same time a small grocery store in the vicinity. Writers are correct that this location has no close-by affordable food stores. Look also at the Carrot Way housing on Dhu Varren Rd. How do those people get to any place convenient? It is probable that many of the occupants don't own cars.... it is just not realistic to have people taking the bus to buy groceries all the time. How much can one or two people carry in bags on a bus? Those of us who have been to European cities know that there are little grocery stores around every corner. In some cases they are very, very tiny, but they have what you need. It makes it so convenient to pick up groceries, and they have fresh fruits and vegetables too. These small grocery stores would also be a wonderful small business opportunity. I would really like to see fresh thinking on this aspect of the housing problem.

Unemployed Electrician

Thu, Sep 8, 2011 : 2:47 p.m.

Per Avalon: &quot;We worked with our general contractor from the beginning to make sure........ that their bid list included local firms &quot;that were qualified.&quot; There were alot of local firms and workers that just finished building the Mott Children's hospital. I wouldn't think we would have to travel clear accross the state to find qualified contractors and workers to build an apartment building!


Thu, Sep 8, 2011 : 2:30 p.m.

The newly not-homeless' daily commute for aggressive downtown panhandling is cut to a few yards. Main St. Liquor is in for a windfall. The only thing that troubles me is that with this project approval the DDA is leaving tracks so plainly, and so consecutively inimical to the actual interests of downtown Ann Arbor and its residents (what with the $50 million unnecessary hole next to the Library, and the creation of 400 homeless folks by financing the demolition of the YMCA) that I'm afraid a juicy Federal investigation likely looms on the near horizon. This could be extremely inconvenient for the dedicated public servants actually running the DDA.


Thu, Sep 8, 2011 : 2:16 p.m.

Building low-income housing next door to the liquor store? Expecting low-income tenants to purchase their groceries at Kerrytown, the most expensive groceries/fish/meat in town? Who are the folks that are trying to pull the wool over our eyes?


Thu, Sep 8, 2011 : 1:59 p.m.

&quot;Our contractors are hurting for jobs,&quot; Motsinger said. - - - so lower your price like everyone else does. . . can't you compete?

A2 Daft

Thu, Sep 8, 2011 : 1:52 p.m.

Several thoughts: What an awful location for this type of housing. Almost as bad as the now dead William Street Station project. Is this the image we want at the entrance to the city? It's not a pleasing area to drive through as it is. Comments about the lack of outdoor activity space are also correct - go play in traffic on N Main. Isn't it time to get some fresh thinking and new blood in ALL areas of local government? The City Council and Mayor are ineffective and puppets of the political group that put, and keeps them in power. The County Board spends most of it's time dealing with petty small issues or putting out fires instead of developing a strategic plan to lead and grow the County out of the mess it's in. Perfect example of not seeing the forest through the trees. Finally the DDA is a joke and the fact that they and the City can't cooperate or agree on items of importance and prioritize the best long term way to use their funds. So, Mr. Gunnel has had a terrific caterer in public service. Gunn sits on multiple elected and appointed boards all across the city. They and their colleagues have dug us into deep hole based upon implementing policy geared toward a small, but vocal minority of advocates with an often extreme left wing position instead of what is best for all of us in the long run. Look at other communities in the area that are better off financially and have better infrastructure then we have (yes they do exist in Michigan.) They have pursued a strategic plan with a vision of what they want their community to be. They have built their policy around that strategic plan and spent their money wisely in support of the longer term objective. Interesting, but this sounds like how you'd run a business. Has anyone realized that government is a business only with a different set of customers?

A2 Daft

Fri, Sep 9, 2011 : 1:42 a.m.

@Bluefire- I agree with your comment. It was a poor choice of words on my part. I actually worked fro local government in Ann Arbor and am aware of the different customers. Thanks for clarifying.


Thu, Sep 8, 2011 : 5:22 p.m.

A2 Daft, while I take no issue with the majority of your comment, I feel compelled to note that government is NOT a business. (I am so tired of this meme.) The profit motive drives business; it should NOT drive government. Government exists, in large part, to attend to the needs of the state and its citizens that cannot be met by others due to the size, complexity, and COST of attending to those needs. Government is a service provider more accurately analogized to a non-profit entity than to any business. If government were to be run in the same manner as a business, we -- the citizens, voters, inhabitants of this country -- would lose all services the provision of which did not result in the earning of a profit as well as any protection afforded us by any type of government oversight (goodbye clean water and air, reasonably safe food, medication and work environments, etc.). Potential tautology aside, business is business, and government is government; they are not the same and, quite often, operate with conflicting motives. Working toward the relentless pursuit of profit is not a &quot;vision&quot; I want for my community.

Disco D

Thu, Sep 8, 2011 : 1:49 p.m.

Where is the Historical Commission when we need them? They were able to stonewall Zingermans over demolishing a garage built around the same time as these houses. Who can stop this folly?


Thu, Sep 8, 2011 : 1:21 p.m.

If I'm standing to the southeast and facing south, wouldn't I be facing AWAY from the building?


Thu, Sep 8, 2011 : 1 p.m.

If our tax dollars are going into this project, our city/area workers/companies should be working on the project. I think the whole thing is dumb.

Christy King

Thu, Sep 8, 2011 : 12:58 p.m.

I hate to see these boarded up buildings blighting the view of our city as you enter it from 14, as I have to see them each and every day, usually twice. But I also hope there are strict codes of conduct for how the facilities are treated by the occupants. The sad truth is that part of the reason people shudder when you get into Section 8 and subsidized housing discussions, is that the recipients of these programs tend to not seem to take care of their property. A cursory look at any of the Section 8 housing areas of A2 would prove my point. Take Glenndale for instance (off of Dexter Rd almost to N.Maple, I was looking for an affordable rental close to Central campus and there was a really nice home that was incredibly priced situated on the middle of this street. Upon turn onto the the street to see it I quickly learned why, as most of the street is occupied by Section 8 residents. It was dirty, there were garbage cans and old grills in the driveways, un-kept yards, people (in the middle of the work day) sitting on the porches with hordes of children running everywhere screaming, older men standing at the end of the driveways (waiting for an invisible bus?) and every one of their eyes were on me when I pulled up to the house I was viewing. The owner said she couldn't get anyone to rent it and looked around and back at me. I could feel her pain, as a single (female) parent, I didn't want it either. I wish this wasn't the case and that my experience was isolated, and this is not in any way to say that because someone is low-income that they are dirty or can't keep their home or yard clean, BUT, I have yet to see an income-based housing complex that holds their tenants to any strict level of decorum, for lack of a better explanation. Being that this is the first look over 110,000 people see of our town when they first enter Ann Arbor on Game Day, I truly hope that there are some hefty rules placed on how this community is allowed to conduct itself. You know?

Christy King

Fri, Sep 9, 2011 : 2:24 p.m.

@Tru2Blu76 Thank you for sharing that with me. I have never been to either of those properties, but I am really happy to hear how they conduct themselves. I wish that was the standard model that they all aspired to. Maybe someday they will be? Perhaps Avalon will hold this project to a new standard and show myself and any other doubters that sometimes perceptions are incorrect and with new hope people can do great things. Because I sure like to think that way.

Christy King

Fri, Sep 9, 2011 : 2:10 p.m.

@jared, I have a friend that works for Avalon, and if they are any bit as venerable as she is, then I have no doubt that they are not an &quot;underhanded&quot; outfit. But my issue is best explained by @Jojo B, its the practice that I don't like. Before those houses were left to wither, perhaps they could have been purchased and lived in by someone needing a home? Which isn't to say that there aren't enough homes for sale already or that I disagree with low-income housing, because neither of those are the case. My biggest concern is what I will circle back to in my original commentary though, because I don't want to spiderweb into making it sound like I disagree with the entire project-I don't, and I am not savvy enough with numbers to step out of myself to comment on what I think other experts know far more about than I do. I hope it stays clean. Otherwise, they can build cross-walks for pedestrians and add a light for the &quot;lawlessness&quot; and a bus can always be taken to a reasonably priced supermarket. I personally don't want to piss all over a project just because I question one aspect of it, you know?

Jojo B

Fri, Sep 9, 2011 : 1:28 p.m.

@Jared -- Well-respected or not, the problem with this practice, especially in bad times, is that crappy abandoned houses are left to rot for years before anything happens to them. It would be a nicer practice to demo them upon purchase or maintain them so the people that live in the neighborhood won't feel like they're in a rundown war zone.


Fri, Sep 9, 2011 : 4 a.m.

Christie, I strongly agree with your views on imposing some standards of conduct and neatness on subsidized housing residents. But I have to point out such facilities as Miller Manor and Baker Commons - both run by Ann Arbor Housing Commission under HUD rules. I 've visited both places many times and know some residents quite well: these apartments ARE managed by on site personnel and at times there are AAPD officers living on the premises. In both places: everyone (it's multiracial) thinks of themselves as part of a community of responsible people and think of their neighbors AS neighbors. Loitering is never permitted, residents who don't follow the rules ARE evicted and replaced by people whose backgrounds are investigated. THAT, I agree, is how all low-income housing should be run.

Jared Collins

Thu, Sep 8, 2011 : 6:22 p.m.

Christy, please consider the fact that Avalon is a very well respected organization in our community. They bought the properties for the land, not as rental properties, and razing them was them was the plan from the beginning, they were open and honest about it even before they purchased them.

Christy King

Thu, Sep 8, 2011 : 5:43 p.m.

I know, I am pretty crappy at sarcastic innocence. This practice really gets my goat.

Jojo B

Thu, Sep 8, 2011 : 4:31 p.m.

@Christy: This is a common practice in Detroit. Buy up unwanted buildings and sit on them until it becomes profitable to do something with them. Don't waste your time and money maintaining or fixing them up, because your eventual goal is to demolish and replace with something grander. But in a bad economy, you may be sitting on that land for quite some time. In the meantime, the local residents can enjoy viewing the decay, but you don't have to worry about that if you're an absentee speculative owner.

Christy King

Thu, Sep 8, 2011 : 1:33 p.m.

ordmad (sorry, it won't let me nest below your comment), so they bought them to let them sit so they could tear them down? I know this sounds gullible and naive, but &quot;On purpose?&quot;


Thu, Sep 8, 2011 : 1:12 p.m.

These houses were NOT blighted until they were bought by the current developer and left to rot on the vine.


Thu, Sep 8, 2011 : 12:46 p.m.

The numbers that the developer provided to get this thing approved in the first instance tell a very simple story. The developer bought these houses at the very top of the housing market bubble; when it burst, his only way to make a profit was to build units at the current 350k +/- each; there was no way the project would have been approved for condos, etc..., because it doesn't fit in with the neighborhood (that idea had been rejected by the City before); so the developer adds Avalon lipstick to this upside down project, brings in our tax dollars, and gets to build this building which, in the end, will house just a dozen or so more folks than the current houses on the property will. And, oh yah, the 15 million dollar price tag includes a handsome profit on a speculative real estate deal that, without our tax dollars, he would have lost his shirt on. Very sad.


Thu, Sep 8, 2011 : 12:39 p.m.

Would this project be going forward if Avalon was not involved? I doubt it. Its easy to vote against a greedy developer. Who can vote against a project that includes &quot;affordable housing&quot;? The more accurate term is subsidized housing. Someone is going to pay the difference between the market rate and the discounted rent that is collected. It might be the other tenants who's rent is inflated or a reduction in property taxes that would be collected. Can someone explain to me why its good for the city to have artificially low price housing stock in the city center? Would it be better for the city and residents of a subsidized project be located near shopping centers and bus routes, instead of restuarants, office buildings and boutique shops that dominate the downtown area? I think the answer is that its the only way the developer could get the project built for political reasons and not the merits.

Pam Bethune

Thu, Sep 8, 2011 : 12:36 p.m.

39 units for 15 million dollars. That means the DDA is spending $384K per unit!!!! There are houses in my neighborhood selling for FAR, FAR less and we live in a very nice neighborhood. If this is MY tax money going to pay for this, someone should be fired. Buy 39 houses instead.

Tom Teague

Thu, Sep 8, 2011 : 5:14 p.m.

The DDA is not building these or spending the amount you cite. The DDA is spending between $10,000 and $12,500 per unit through a grant with incentives. Avalon, a non-profit housing organization, is spending approximately $384K per unit to build 39 apartments. You should take a look at Avalon's site -- <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> -- to get an idea of how it funds projects.

Hot Sam

Thu, Sep 8, 2011 : 12:35 p.m.

At 1.5 Mil, it comes out to less than 40K per unit...sounds like a pretty good deal... I'll bet a couple of beers the final tally is way more...any takers???

Jonny Spirit

Thu, Sep 8, 2011 : 2:48 p.m.

Your to quick! I thought I had a free beer. HA HA HA

Hot Sam

Thu, Sep 8, 2011 : 12:37 p.m.

Why can't we retract these things??? Its actually almost 400K per offer still stands...

Pam Bethune

Thu, Sep 8, 2011 : 12:33 p.m.

Assuming the previous poster is correct in his number, $250K per unit is absolutely criminal as well as stupid. There are MANY houses in this city going for far less.


Thu, Sep 8, 2011 : 12:23 p.m.

I'm a bit confused, &quot;A color rendering of the proposed Near North building along Main Street viewed from southeast looking south.&quot; Should that say looking northward?

Ryan J. Stanton

Thu, Sep 8, 2011 : 5:39 p.m.

Thanks. We fixed that. The perspective language was taken from the developer's actual caption on the image in the plans. But obviously, you're right, that's looking north, not south.


Thu, Sep 8, 2011 : 12:18 p.m.

Presently the DDA does not have enough revenue to cover expenses, especially servicing the underground parking structure bonds, so where will the DDA find $500,000 for its grant? I imagine as a non-profit organization that Avalon Housing Inc. will not have to make TIF payments. Therefore, the DDA will not receive any new revenue when Near North is completed. I find the City's commitment to affordable housing confusing. The income limitations appear arbitrary and intended to accommodate low income workers who wish to live near their menial jobs in Ann Arbor. Business owners in Ann Arbor may be concerned that access to such employees will be insufficient without new construction. The target number for available affordable housing in Ann Arbor has not been provided, as far as I know. Furthermore, affordable housing is plentiful in Ypsilanti which is only 20 minutes from most areas in Ann Arbor using the excellent AATA services. Finally, I must agree with a previous poster that the location of the Near North development will leave residents several miles from any shopping areas and grocery stores. Most residents of Near North should have earnings that are not sufficient for owning or operating personal vehicles. Expect frequent turnover of leases at Near North as the residents become frustrated with their isolation.

The Picker

Thu, Sep 8, 2011 : 12:13 p.m.

We're going to have to add a lot more parking meters to pay for this turkey! The zealotry with which this project is being pursued, smells fishy. Someone is cleaning up on it ! The numbers have been left out of this article so the public won't notice that these&quot;affordable&quot; units are pushing a quarter of a million a pop. I'm sure there are many houses around town that could be purchased for the needy at a cost far below this projects. This would allow the residents to maintain some sense of dignity by not being clustered into institutional housing and improve the general housing stock of the city.


Thu, Sep 8, 2011 : 11:39 a.m.

DDA couldn't dictate that local workers should be hired to do the local work, but yet DDA can decide how much local workers park, and how much they pay to park, and then give those monies to this project. I just don't get it really.


Thu, Sep 8, 2011 : 11:21 a.m.

Whenever I see the term subsidized housing I have to cringe. How can housing ever be equitably distributed when a limited resource is targeted to what ultimately must be arbitrary qualifications? No matter how you set the limits people are squeezed to meet the standards or bust- this is the very root of social engineering. I know a person who was denied subsidized housing because she had the audacity to work one full time and one part time job to better herself. Unfortunately her vigor disqualifed her from meeting the terms the housing she sought- she could have just quit one of her jobs and qualified but refused. I know another person who did meet the qualifications and gloated about his ability to play the system. This fellow worked a part time job [mostly for the benefits] and cash business that allowed him to qualify. As it turned out the cash job was a combination of drug dealing and theft. He now lives with his mother up north somewhere. We all want to help suffering people but when a specific group is benefitted at the expense of the whole we get... well we get a mirror image of what our politicians in Washington are bestowing upon us. This end turns ugly.


Thu, Sep 8, 2011 : 5:13 p.m.

You guys make a good point and one I first had concerns about. Because of the city council's Holy Grail type quest is affordable housing, Ann Arbor has become a city for the rich and the poor and those in between have to live somewhere else and commute in to work.

Christy King

Thu, Sep 8, 2011 : 12:42 p.m.

I ran into the same situation many times. I don't exactly make enough to afford a hefty rent of $900 and upwards, but I also don't qualify for any &quot;reduced or subsidized&quot; housing. It's frustrating because the majority of those that do also are the types to leave their trash and grills on the lawn.


Thu, Sep 8, 2011 : 12:37 p.m.

&quot;I know a person who was denied subsidized housing because she had the audacity to work one full time and one part time job to better herself.&quot; Jeffersonian Thats the same reason I cant get welfare, I make to much money. If only I knew when I was going to college and bettering myself that it would prevent me from getting free stuff, but I will make sure my kids dont make the same mistake I made. (sarc)


Thu, Sep 8, 2011 : 11:20 a.m.

I like the name Near North. But what Andy says is true. Not exactly an area where you want your kids playing in the street.

Tom Joad

Thu, Sep 8, 2011 : 11:01 a.m.

Near North, awful name. 15 million is plenty expensive to provide affordable housing


Thu, Sep 8, 2011 : 10:44 a.m.

Exactly where are the bus service locations for this affordable housing project? This area of Main St. isn't easy to get in &amp; out of unless, that is you're heading out of town. God help anyone trying walk across the street or stop out front anytime during the day and especially the rush hours. This is a somewhat unpatrolled and lawless area, people don't abide by the speed limits as they rush to get in or out of town. Not much within walking distance with regards to consumer needs (fresh produce, groceries, jobs, etc). But hey, great idea (on paper).


Thu, Sep 8, 2011 : 2:09 p.m.

Knights, Kerrytown, Fourth Avenue Co-op, the Farmer's Market, and Zingermans are all within walking distance. Alas, these are not quite the places at which the shrinking lower middle class can shop let alone the poor. This isn't a question of what is within walking distance, it's a question of being priced out of the market in Ann Arbor, for everything.


Thu, Sep 8, 2011 : 12:28 p.m.

&quot;God help anyone trying walk across the street or stop out front anytime during the day and especially the rush hours.&quot; The dumbing down of America continues, so now we cant even cross the street cause we are so stupid? And dont forget Knights market only a few short blocks away. I guess we are to lazy to walk that far?


Thu, Sep 8, 2011 : 12:27 p.m.

Anything is within walking distance if you have enough time.


Thu, Sep 8, 2011 : 12:18 p.m.

You're too cynical. Unpatrolled? The cops watch for speeders in the Recycling Center driveway. Lawless? This isn't Baghdad, its Ann Arbor. The police station is 1 mile from here. Hardly lawless. When I lived on Summit, I walked across that area of Main St. every day, and did so without God's help. It wasn't even Difficult! And no jobs? its a 10 minute walk from downtown. There is also a Wheeler park, conveniently located just one block away, and Hunt park only five blocks away. And like I posted a minute ago, there are bus stops on Summit and on Main, less than a three minute walk from this place. Come on Andy, these are all non-issues.


Thu, Sep 8, 2011 : 12:07 p.m.

Or almost right across the street, either on Summit or by the Community Center...


Thu, Sep 8, 2011 : 11:40 a.m.

Kerrytown and the Farmer's Market are within walking distance for fresh produce. It's on an AATA route - walking downtown takes 10 to 15 minutes. I don't understand the &quot;Not much within walking distance&quot; comment.