Opinion: Heritage Row project would help preserve the past, not destroy it
Since when is density near downtown a negative? I returned to town on Sunday to catch up with local happenings in Ann Arbor.com. I was appalled and surprised to learn of the fiasco of the City Council in refusing Alex de Parry’s Heritage Row proposal.
As I understand from the Ann Arbor.com coverage on Sunday, the Heritage Row development was friendly to the architectural integrity of the neighborhood as well as providing attractive housing options with hidden parking near the center of town. City Place, the fall back option which amazingly has already received council approval, would destroy the character of this historic neighborhood.
I don’t understand the logic of these decisions. Everything I’ve read about the re-vitalizing of older towns tells me that vibrant towns that attract young professionals, rather than losing them as we now are in Ann Arbor, require a possibility of affordable housing in or near downtown. I understand local special interest groups and neighborhoods resist change, but our city government must look beyond the short-term demands of these groups and think about the future. Historical preservation that calcifies the city in the past is not the answer.
De Parry’s Heritage Row presents the compromise of renovating and preserving the century old houses that many of us remember visiting when they were private homes while providing additional housing so needed if Ann Arbor is to have the appeal that a young, dynamic work force seeks. I used to live in an historic house and was a member of the Ann Arbor Historical Society. I’ve been involved with the Downtown Historical Street Markers and am very supportive of the value of the Historical Society in preserving important local landmarks, but having never heard of German Town until the neighborhood mobilized to prevent change, I think that de Parry’s project is one that will vitalize the neighborhood and therefore assure its preservation in a way that merely preventing change will not. My hope is that the City Council will review its position and realize that its obligation is to the viable future of Ann Arbor not just its historic past. Jan Barney Newman Ann Arbor