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Posted on Mon, May 20, 2013 : 8:15 p.m.

Excavation underway on blighted North Main houses

By Chelsea Hoedl

Excavation on six boarded-up houses along North Main Street has begun.

The project, which was approved by the Ann Arbor City Council in February, is being funded by Ann Arbor’s dangerous building fund. No state funding was granted and as of April 15, the estimated cost for project completion is $90,000.

The buildings, which are located at 626-724 N. Main St., are owned in partnership between Three Oaks Group and Avalon Housing. There are eight boarded-up homes in total, but only six were declared dangerous buildings by the city. The southernmost houses will remain.

The houses being knocked down were supposed to make way for Near North, a $15 million affordable housing project, but the project was canceled due to financial troubles.

City Administrator Steve Powers told City Council previously told demolition and restoration of the site would take nine weeks.



Wed, May 22, 2013 : 12:29 a.m.

So I will throw this question out to the readers! A couple weeks agao ran a story about the planning commission and how they hope to bring some affordable housing to south State Street down by Briarwood. The article mentioned some possible land uses and also a multi story parking deck at Briarwood that would free up some land for this housing. It was all speculation at the time, but the story made some good points. So this story mentions that this land where these properties are being demolished was set aside for some affordable housing. This begs the question, why NOT use THIS land for the AFFORDABLE housing initiative the City wants? I can connect the dots in less than 30 seconds. Why can't the people who run this city?


Wed, May 22, 2013 : 12:54 p.m.

I believe it's because FEMA redrew the flood plain maps making it very expensive to build on these properties now.

pooh bear

Tue, May 21, 2013 : 4:09 p.m.

it's too bad there is no information about the houses themselves. They are quite old, dating from the Civil War era to the 1890s and many were built by Ann Arbor's original Irish settlers. There ought to be a little more depth in the article--the houses have over 100 years of stories to tell! It's really a missed opportunity.


Tue, May 21, 2013 : 6:13 p.m.

They did not have to be lost. Three Oaks chose to leave them vacant while trying to get a couple of different projects approved and started. They could have been rehabbed had they not been left to rot for so long.

jim c

Tue, May 21, 2013 : 1:45 p.m.

Between the journalist writing the article and the editor whose job it is to know the meaning of words, it is amazing to me that neither know the difference between the meaning of demolition and excavation. And this how you guys make your living?

David Cahill

Tue, May 21, 2013 : 1:15 p.m., the link on the home page says "Demolition underway". However, both the story headline and the story text still say "Excavation".

Paula Gardner

Tue, May 21, 2013 : 1:22 p.m.

Yes - a commenter pointed out early this morning (and I have to agree) that excavation wasn't used correctly. What we're talking about here is demolition. I changed it in the display headline early this morning, so that's what people see on the homepage. We try to avoid changing the 'real' headlines when possible. This seemed like a situation where it was OK not to. I apologize for the confusion.


Tue, May 21, 2013 : 12:45 p.m.

Quick summary: Three Oaks and Avalon promised to demolish these houses a long time ago. The property is in foreclosure now, so Three Oaks and Avalon don't have to pay, but whoever buys the property from their lender will have to pay. The city is fronting the money for this, and will get paid back, but it could be quite a while.


Tue, May 21, 2013 : 6:11 p.m.

Three Oaks purchased them all before Avalon was involved. So, no there was no grant money at that time for the purchase or any rehab. I do not know what grant money Avalon may or may not have received for the planning of their development that failed.


Tue, May 21, 2013 : 4:19 p.m.

Do you know if Avalon or 3 oaks recieved grant money to purchase these properties and rehab them? if so are they responsable for repaying that money?


Tue, May 21, 2013 : 11:07 a.m.

Is it typical that the owners of the property that is being demolished with tax money don't have to forfeit or sell the property? I'm confused about how Avalon/3 Oaks can still own tjhis preoperty with no penalty and no required compensation to the city. Shouldn't they have to lose these preoperties instead of paying for them with our money, then having us demolish the houses for them with our money? Let me guess what step # 3 is; they build NEW apartments with our money.


Tue, May 21, 2013 : 11:14 p.m.

Thanks Ordmad. But this property is not in foreclosure, I believe. So I assume that to keep it from going IN to foreclosure, Avalon/3 Oaks would have to pay that demolition cost lien as well, right? So they have nothing to gain from letting the city pay for demolition, right? (other than just always being able to use free money to do anything anyway)


Tue, May 21, 2013 : 3:55 p.m.

Property is in foreclosure during the period when Avalon/3 Oaks has the right to pay off the entire amount (or work a deal) and get the property back from the bank. When the period expires the bank owns it outright. Whoever then buys it from the bank has to pay the lien for this work, any unpaid taxes on the property, etc....


Tue, May 21, 2013 : 11:01 a.m.

I drove by and saw the digger out in front of one of those houses yesterday and was thrilled. But the digger isn't moving. 9 weeks for demolition and restoration. I guess that's why. It would make sense to just take down all 8 houses, as I'll bet the other 2 will become dangerous by the time the 6 are down.

Gale Logan

Tue, May 21, 2013 : 6:56 a.m.

Yes, the city will eventually be reimbursed for this expenditure.

original perp

Tue, May 21, 2013 : 3:25 a.m.

Suggest changing "Excavation" to "Demolition". Just basic construction terms that will keep people from wondering why the blighted houses are being dug-up. Yes, the basement walls and existing foundations will need to be excavated, but only after the houses are demolished and removed. (only trying to help you Chelsea/ . .)

Paula Gardner

Tue, May 21, 2013 : 9:30 a.m.

Good suggestion; makes sense.

Jonathan Blutarsky

Tue, May 21, 2013 : 1:30 a.m.

I'm upset ANY public funds had to be used. The last time I checked I pay taxes to both the city and the state. Does the city put a $90K lien on the parcel that accrues a hefty interest penalty? If not this seems like just more corporate welfare.


Tue, May 21, 2013 : 2:54 a.m.

Yup. - you are correct.

Nicholas Urfe

Tue, May 21, 2013 : 12:31 a.m.

@Brad: was it because our local government bungled the paper work?


Tue, May 21, 2013 : 1:44 p.m.

This sure sounds like bungling to me:

Gale Logan

Tue, May 21, 2013 : 1:18 p.m.

Ordmad has it right.


Tue, May 21, 2013 : 2:53 a.m.

The charge will result in a lien on the property that will get paid before it can be used. Patience and accuracy please.


Tue, May 21, 2013 : 1:43 a.m.

Yup again.


Tue, May 21, 2013 : 12:27 a.m.

So why was it again that no state funding was granted? Or put another way, why are the taxpayers on the hook for $90K to take care of the Avalon/Three Oaks problem?

Gale Logan

Tue, May 21, 2013 : 1:17 p.m.

The city puts a lien on the property and eventually gets paid or maybe they own it.


Tue, May 21, 2013 : 1:43 a.m.