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Posted on Sun, May 26, 2013 : 7:05 a.m.

Blight fixes on North Main benefit Ann Arbor's northern gateway

By Staff

Demolition crews worked on Ann Arbor’s North Main Street again last week, targeting six vacant houses.

The properties were an eyesore, creating an image of blight for visitors and residents entering the city from M-14.

As those properties come down, we’re reminded of another blighted building on North Main: The former Greek church, which was demolished in September 2012.

Both properties were targeted for ambitious redevelopment by private developers. The church property, where developers planned a mixed-use condominium project called The Gallery, was eventually listed for sale. An affordable housing partnership was created for the development of the other property, with the resulting plans - called Near North - envisioned to replace the six homes and two more, which remain intact.

Those efforts failed too, leaving the community to watch the buildings deteriorate and local government to step in to remove them.

There are other parallels: Neighbors rallied against the original plans. The properties entered foreclosure. And, with the deterioration, both provided examples of why the city and county have to stay focused on blight prevention.

We saw some missteps along the way, like a missed grant for the Near North demolition.

But the result with both properties is positive for the community.

Last week, as heavy equipment moved onto the Near North property, Ann Arbor’s Planning Commission gave unanimous approval to the Kerrytown Place condominium project planned for the Gallery property. It’s a project by a local developer who worked with neighbors to generate plans that they would welcome.

We hope that the newly vacant land a few blocks north of that property finds the same fate: a productive use that neighbors and city officials agree fits on the site.


Cendra Lynn

Mon, May 27, 2013 : 7:33 p.m.

Blight?? Really?? I notice no one signed their name to this article. I am unaware that anyone has been hurt by the buildings on N. Main St. I know many people who have been hurt by the newly-installed blight on S. Fifth Ave., and many who will be by the monstrosity at Division and Huron. Blight has to do with living conditions and ambiance. Just look how much positive ambiance has been added by that underground parking structure on Fifth Ave.


Mon, May 27, 2013 : 1:48 p.m.

This article would have been better if it summarized WHY all the efforts failed along the way. Otherwise, it's just a feel-good short article that reports facts, not an opinion piece.

Richard Wickboldt

Mon, May 27, 2013 : 12:36 p.m.

With all the many articles and discussions about the north and south main street city entrances/gateways; inferring that visitors are turned off and may not want to visit AA. I ask; does anybody know of people who have actually turned around and left the city as they drive Main Street or any other city gateways. Gosh the Big House fills to the brim and with tailgate overflow at each game.


Mon, May 27, 2013 : 10:22 a.m.

Editorials are supposed to have positions, not just restate previously reported facts.


Mon, May 27, 2013 : 1:08 p.m.

I think the opinion is "Tearing down crummy-looking buildings make things look less crummy". I also think part of it reads "sure it took forever to do anything and then the city goofed up the paperwork for the grant, but now we're going to 'look forward'".


Sun, May 26, 2013 : 3:54 p.m.

"The properties were an eyesore, creating an image of blight for visitors and residents entering the city from M-14." Now need to work on the "image" presented- by the massive parking lot-surrounded landscrapers, unkempt gas stations. and all the crappy, dilapidated strip malls- to visitors entering from State St, Jackson, A2/Saline Rd, Washtenaw, etc... The Main Street entrance is probably the most pleasant we have. Except for the access off of M-14, which is a debacle.


Mon, May 27, 2013 : 4:09 a.m.

No thumbs down from me, I agree, the Main Street entrance from the North of Ann Arbor provides the best views of Ann Arbor, surrounded by greenery, a quick exit- but dodge the potholes, a view of the river and the wooded hillsides, some funky houses, then, a few stoplights later you are downtown on Main Street. I love coming into the city from the North. Of course, here are many new, ugly buildings in the skyline now. And I hope that we don't have to spend a bunch of money on "Welcome to Ann Arbor" signs.


Sun, May 26, 2013 : 2:07 p.m.

How is that plan of turning Detroit's vacant land in to farm land going ? The city needs to do more then just knock empty buildings down, they need to be replaced.


Mon, May 27, 2013 : 12:14 a.m.

Kyle - since it is flood plain a park visible from North Main would be good. And resell any leftover land for new homes.

Kyle Mattson

Sun, May 26, 2013 : 3:46 p.m.

Hi Paul- I'd suggest going back and reading some of the past coverage of this site, the property is now in the expanded flood plain which may be a large obstacle for any major future redevelopment on the site. One question I have for readers is, if the property is not developed in the near future what would you like to see become of it? A small park, parking lot, etc etc...


Sun, May 26, 2013 : 1:30 p.m.

Great to see some progress on cleaning up this area. Keep up the momentum, please AA city authorities.


Sun, May 26, 2013 : 12:50 p.m.

And the Georgetown mall demo! And didn't they knock down a "decades-closed" gas station on the west side recently? Congrats to A2 for clearing out the blight.


Sun, May 26, 2013 : 1:40 p.m.

The only problem with the Georgetown Mall demo is the distinct possibility that the developer will actually get it together enough to build something else there.