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