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Posted on Wed, May 30, 2012 : 5:58 a.m.

Ann Arbor soon may condemn Hill Street house that's still occupied - by its owner

By Pete Cunningham


The heavily dilapidated property on 143 Hill St. may soon be condemned by the city of Ann Arbor.

Jeffrey Smith |

The city of Ann Arbor soon may condemn a heavily blighted property on Hill Street, but there is a serious complication delaying the process.

The owner still lives in the home.

The dilapidated home - located at 143 Hill St. on the corner of Hill and Adams streets, just east of Main - is owned by Ivan F. Hamm. Though most of the homes in the neighborhood are of the older variety with many student rentals, they are well-kept.

Hamm’s home stands out with most of the yellow paint on the wood-siding chipped off, plastic covering held on by duct tape where windows should be and a wooden shed that appears to have been collapsed for years in the backyard among other signs of general neglect.

Though the lawn seems as though it’s been mowed recently, plants along the home look like they haven’t been trimmed in years.

Ralph Welton, chief development official for the city of Ann Arbor, said several attempts have been made to reach Hamm over the past six months with no success. Welton said none of the information on community development block grant funding has been returned nor have any phone calls, and Hamm has never come to the door when home visits were made.

Condemning the home is a last resort, but one the city may come to soon.

“In the end, if he’s not willing to meet us, we may have to condemn the house,” Welton said. “It’s not what we’d like to do, but we want (Hamm) safe and the home does not appear liveable…there’s no real easy way to do it.”

Though the home has been an eyesore for years and been on the city’s radar, it has slipped through the cracks for one reason or another.

According to Washtenaw County records, Hamm has owned the home since 1980. Paul Robertson - who owned several properties on Adams Street since the early ‘60s before recently selling - said as long as he can remember Hamm hasn’t kept up the home despite pleas of neighbors.

“I really don’t think I could do anything to persuade him to improve it. I don’t think hardly anyone could tell him that,” Robertson said. “I had a lot of handy people working for me over a period of time and (Hamm) would occasionally inquire if they could help out on some things.

"(The workers) always came back to me and said ‘you can’t do a damn thing to (the home), that place will fall down.’”


The back of the home on 143 Hill St. is in disrepair as well.

Jeffrey Smith |

Robertson said when he sold a home that has a backyard bordering Hamm’s for around $200,000, Hamm was incensed that Robertson would sell for that low of a price. According to city documents, Hamm’s home has an assessed value of $114,200, giving it an estimated market value of $228,400.

The front porch on the home facing Hill Street is collapsing, with a makeshift barricade nailed across two front pillars that hold up an overhang. The overhang appears fire-damaged, but Robertson said he never recalls a fire.

“That’s just rotted down over the years,” Robertson said of the porch.

Welton said there is not only concern over the outside appearance of the home. He said neighbors have speculated that hoarding may be going on inside the home.

“It’s not a clean situation,” Welton said.

Welton said housing arrangements would be made should the city have to condemn the house, but that it's ideal to be able to reach family. Hamm’s brother, Eldon, is an Ann Arbor resident.’s several attempts to reach Hamm and his family were unsuccessful.

Jorge Viramontes, who will be a senior at the University of Michigan in the fall, has lived across the street since September. He said he’s seen Hamm parking cars on football Saturdays and occasionally mowing the lawn.

“He keeps to himself,” Viramontes said. “He just seems like a nice, old neighbor guy who’s there, but I’ve never really talked to him.”

Robertson said should the city be forced to action, Hamm won’t appear so nice.

“In my opinion they’ll have to outright condemn it and remove him physically…he won’t go easy,” Robertson said. “But something has to be done, there’s no question about it.

"If nothing else, it’s a fire hazard and not just for him, but for every property surrounding.”

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Contact Pete Cunningham at or by phone at 734-623-2561. Follow him on Twitter @petcunningham.


Madeleine Borthwick

Fri, Jun 1, 2012 : 2:34 p.m.

Ok.....I understand that the city has to do what it has to do, but was it REALLY necessary to put this in the paper? surely you reporters can find something else to do without holding this old guy up to ridicule? I've never yet heard of any reporter winning a Nobel or a Pulitzer prize for this kind of reporting.

Bertha Venation

Thu, May 31, 2012 : 7:49 p.m.

Now that's a pretty large condemn... to cover a house!


Thu, May 31, 2012 : 1:27 p.m.

I created a petition to try and help this man, please sign it and help spread the word!!! -I'm ready for all the hate i'm about to receive.

Silly Sally

Thu, May 31, 2012 : 1:06 p.m.

" the home does not appear liveable" But the city of Ann Arbor has never been inside this home because they have not probable cause to do so. All they have is an ugly exterior, peeling paint and overgrown bushes. I hope that Ivan Hamm sues the city for an illegal search and entering.


Thu, May 31, 2012 : 9:57 a.m.

This is further evidence that the Ann Arbor Assessors office is consistantly iflating home values to increase tax revenue. A more serious crime than not trimming your trees. Neighbors are complaining so the city is looking for a reason to condemn the property and put the guy out on the street. Is that a concern for his saftey or just flexing the cities muscles? whjo defines "living" conditions? This is city bullying. These neighbors should be concerned with the assessor overinflating their home values to increase tax revenues instead of picking on the old guy for not trimming his trees.

Madeleine Borthwick

Fri, Jun 1, 2012 : 2:36 p.m.

amen, brother.


Thu, May 31, 2012 : 12:15 a.m.

When I see this house it brings tears to my eyes. It belonged to my grandmother, Bessie Bertsos. I spent many wonderful years in that house and remember parking cars on the lawn for $2.00 a car for U of M football games. I have many fond memories and often drive by it hoping that something good would happen to it. Maybe something good will happen now.

A A Resident

Wed, May 30, 2012 : 9:45 p.m.

How about if those of us who think this is unjust leave notes on his door, offering to help? In the meantime, I'll make sure to trim my bushes every other weekend, lest my house be condemned! There are houses on my street which aren't maintained nearly has nicely as mine is, but hey, they're not me, and I'm not them.


Thu, May 31, 2012 : 1:26 p.m. I started a petition to try and help this man, maybe help spread the word?


Wed, May 30, 2012 : 9:24 p.m.

This article makes me embarressed to live in Ann Arbor, where town officials abuse power, and reporters... well, enough said!


Thu, May 31, 2012 : 1:25 p.m.


Wed, May 30, 2012 : 9:17 p.m.

If anyone with tools and know-how is willing to get a help effort off the ground I am willing to help.


Thu, May 31, 2012 : 1:24 p.m.

spread this maybe? We can all help!

Linda Peck

Wed, May 30, 2012 : 9:27 p.m.

You are a very nice person and I am sure Mr Hamm would be appreciative of the help. It seems that this is what he truly needs.

Billy Bob Schwartz

Wed, May 30, 2012 : 9:11 p.m.

An elderly man living in his own home and minding his own business. Enemy of society if I ever saw one! Who are these people who know all about someone else's business and pronounce their guess about hoarding and whatever else? Why don't you folks mind your own business and leave this fellow alone? And I consider this article to be shameful. It's as though you decided to make up an issue and go all out, and you did a good job on it. I'm especially glad you showed us a picture of the back of the "dilapidated" house, too, so that we know the place could use a good paint job. Mr. Hamm's home is a disgrace? No. You folks are a disgrace, and should find another all the abandoned eyesores in this city. Leave Mr. Hamm alone. Please.

Linda Peck

Wed, May 30, 2012 : 8:10 p.m.

Something seems fishy here, and it is not Mr Hamm or his house. WIth all of the horrible property on Main Street, abandoned, fire traps, etc., Mr Hamm is living in his own home, his lawn is mowed, and his taxes are paid. Why is the City of Ann Arbor going after him? If they are going to pursue this, and it looks like they are, are they going to go after every single other person doing the same thing? There are plenty of houses like this in Ann Arbor. Is it because neighbors are complaining, or the proximity to the UofM sports venues is bringing it into higher focus? I would really like to know.

Will Warner

Wed, May 30, 2012 : 8:07 p.m.

Hill Street blues :(


Wed, May 30, 2012 : 5:30 p.m.

First of all where is the proof that this house is unsafe? The article does not mention any type of structural home inspection that was done. From the photo, it just appears that the porch is broken. A broken porch does not make the house inhabitable. Untrimmed bushes? really? Also the article insinuates that the man is a hoarder, the photos do not indicate that. Where is the proof? How could this home be any more "blighted" than all the other houses downtown inhabiting students, many who use sheets and blankets as curtains, with untended lawns and parties all weekend? I would rather live next door to Mr. Hamm. Where is our community charity? With all the fraternities and soriorities on campus, and 'help the poor" mentality of Ann Arbor, why cant someone assist this elderly gentleman and help him repair his home? I think everyone that reads this should think about how they would feel in this situation. If no one stands up for Mr. Hamm's rights, who will stand up for ours? To even think of relocating Mr. Hamm is horrifying. Where would he be relocated to? Some cement high rise medicaid housing developement? Oh yea, soooo much better! I am horrified at the entire idea that town officials would swoop in and bother this elderly man who by the looks of it is not bothering anyone, but living on his own, and paying his taxes! My question is who benefits from tearing down Mr. Hamm's home? If they are so worried about "unsafe" conditions, Town officials need to focus their attention on the ever growing homeless camp off of Wagner and Zeeb Rd, which is not only a blight on our town, but also a safety hazard to all of the tax paying Ann Arbor residents who live near there, as well as the children going to schools in that vicinity.

Robert Granville

Thu, May 31, 2012 : 2:32 p.m.

I think it's funny that you call on other people to do what you want done.


Wed, May 30, 2012 : 4:24 p.m.

Looks like art to me, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and with the eyesore "art" the city keeps putting up, at tremendous expense to all Ann Arborites, at least this one pays their taxes. The government here continues to be a laughing stock....sad.


Wed, May 30, 2012 : 4:08 p.m.

I suspect that those defending the homeowner would sing a different tune if they had to live next door to that abomination.


Thu, May 31, 2012 : 10:02 a.m.

So you bully someone into adopting "YOUR" values with your influence and contacts within the city? What a citizen you are.


Wed, May 30, 2012 : 4:03 p.m.

This article has satisfied my curiosity of this house and its owner since I walk pass it every day and have also seen the owner mowing the lawn. But, I feel so badly for the owner since he is obviously living a quiet, private life, and now is front page news. My house isn't perfect, and I would be mortified to be in the spotlight. The good I see coming from this is that he will get assistance and inspire community help in fixing his house.


Wed, May 30, 2012 : 3:46 p.m.

While I agree that IF the property does indeed pose a danger to the surrounding homes, friends of this gentleman should approach him about assistance programs to bring his home up to code, this article, on the other hand, is gossipy and a bit mean-spirited. What kind of journalist reports on people speculating that someone is hoarding? That kind of maligning nonsense should have no place in this story, or in any professional news source. Mr. Cunningham, I think you owe Mr. Hamm, his elderly brother, and all of his friends an apology. And maybe take into consideration that a person of Mr. Hamm's age, caring for an even older brother, may have very real and valid concerns about the kind of life interruptions that bringing their home up to code may pose.


Wed, May 30, 2012 : 2:48 p.m.

There's a nice piece of Art sitting in front of City Hall. Put it in his front yard. People can talk about that instead of his house.

Madeleine Borthwick

Fri, Jun 1, 2012 : 2:38 p.m.

hey, gofigure, is said piece of "art" that fake waterfall?BTW, I agree with you!

Ron Granger

Wed, May 30, 2012 : 2:06 p.m.

How dare he ignore the knocks at his door from people he doesn't know and doesn't wish to speak with! What is the justification for invading this man's privacy and tearing down his house? You don't like his porch? The paint? The bushes? Maybe it is because he doesn't wish to speak with you, and hear your judgements about him?


Fri, Jun 15, 2012 : 6:30 p.m.

@Alex: Apparently you aren't wrapping your head around the overly complex analogy I used. It is illegal to pose a risk to public safety, which there is visible proof of at this house. So yes, if someone saw visible proof at my house that I was manufacturing meth in my basement then by all means the police would be entirely within their rights to enter my home, but thanks for your contribution.

Madeleine Borthwick

Fri, Jun 1, 2012 : 2:39 p.m.



Thu, May 31, 2012 : 10:36 a.m.

@mikeh who says you don't have a meth lab in your basement? Do you want some city official just wandering into your house?


Wed, May 30, 2012 : 8:13 p.m.

What if he has a meth lab in his basement...would that then be justification to enter his house? Obviously this is an extreme example, but having an unsafe house that poses a threat to public safety is also illegal.


Wed, May 30, 2012 : 5:38 p.m.

I never answer my door if it is someone I do not know. I like my privacy. I do not want to be bothered by chipper looking salesmen, petitioners, and other strangers. I don't trim my bushes, being overgrown is a feature, it hides my neighbors. Who are these "town officials" ? I think they need psychological evaluations, and we should inspect their homes, because obviously something is wrong with them, to be bothered by an old man who does not trim his bushes.


Wed, May 30, 2012 : 2:20 p.m.

Is there anything that you aren't against?


Wed, May 30, 2012 : 2:02 p.m.

If the city is looking for an eyesore to demolish there is a nice *uninhabited* mall over on Packard ...


Wed, May 30, 2012 : 1:56 p.m.

Characters like Hamm are what make Ann Arbor "quirky" and "unique" We should embrace yet another cool aspect of this fine city of ours. Besides, when the place falls over into the street, we will have a natural "traffic calming" feature. Win/win for the city and the neighbors.


Wed, May 30, 2012 : 1:56 p.m.

If I had a friend in this situation Id round up my buddies and spend a day cleaning up the outside of the house and the yard. Or maybe even just if he was a neighbor. There have to be a few decent young folks around that area who could take it upon themselves to help out.


Wed, May 30, 2012 : 8:09 p.m.

According to Mr. Robertson in the article: "I had a lot of handy people working for me over a period of time and (Hamm) would occasionally inquire if they could help out on some things. "(The workers) always came back to me and said 'you can't do a damn thing to (the home), that place will fall down.'" I highly doubt that if professionals could not help with the problem, that a few young folks would be able to turn things around for Mr. Hamm and prevent his house from an inevitable collapse.

Laura Jones

Wed, May 30, 2012 : 1:43 p.m.

I understand that the city may well wish the man to be safe, but is he is competent, than a better solution will have to be found. It just seems very wrong to condemn a house around the ears of an elderly man "for his own good". It may be for his neighbors good or the cities, but doubtful its for his good since he is the final arbiter of that. If someone puts a crew together to help, I know many folks who would lend a hand, just say when and where.


Wed, May 30, 2012 : 1:41 p.m.

The absurdity of this discussion is mind-boggling. A resident owns his own place and pays taxes. He presents no danger to others; and while his house is ugly, it is, at the end of the day, his private property. We're actually advocating that the City can throw a man out of his own house, from his own property, against his own will? What are the laws indeed? Who wants to live with the implications of this one? Would it be okay if the porch were fixed? How about if the lawn wasn't mowed? On what basis do the rest of us get to decide when someone can't live on their own property? Somebody call the ACLU!


Thu, May 31, 2012 : 12:52 p.m.

81wolverine: the same can be said with all the old houses near campus that have been converted to "student apartments". I have seen many unsafe and hazardous living conditions when looking for housing for my college students. It makes me wonder who is inspecting these dumps. The bigger question is why is the town focusing on this guy when more than likely ever house on his block is probably the same age as his.


Wed, May 30, 2012 : 11:15 p.m.

Looking at the pictures of the house and extrapolating that the owner has spent a similar amount of money maintaining the inside of the house, it's not a stretch to assume there are no smoke alarms. Also, old houses have NO fire retardant materials built into them, and often have had very little if any updating of electrical systems in the house.


Wed, May 30, 2012 : 5:43 p.m.

Let us remember, all wooden houses can burn down. A broken porch is not a fire hazard. A fire can happen anywhere. This past semester a kid set one of the dorm kitchens aflame at southU. 81wolverine: what makes you think this house, above all others is a fire trap?


Wed, May 30, 2012 : 2:56 p.m.

Assuming that the owner is competent to make his own decisions, however much the rest of us might disagree with them, yes, I would still say this. This house is probably at greater risk for fire than yours or mine. But I increase that risk if I smoke in bed, or if I light a bunch of candles for romantic effect. Those are still choices I can make in my own home. Unless the city determines that my romantic candles represent enough of a hazard that I should be thrown out, of course. That's an absurd example, obviously, but the larger point is that the right to live as one chooses on his/her own private property is a deeply imbedded Constitutional right. Should help be offered to the owner? Of course! Should the risks be made clear to him. Absolutely. Should he be able to refuse the help and ignore the risks? That's the definition of freedom, for better or worse.


Wed, May 30, 2012 : 2:43 p.m.

Will you and others still be saying this if (God forbid) the house burns down around this man because it became an unsafe firetrap and no one did anything about it? In this case, it would also endanger neighbors and firemen potentially.

Perry White

Wed, May 30, 2012 : 1:29 p.m.

"Hamm was incensed that Robertson would sell for that low of a prices. " Typo there, but while you're at it, I'd lose the "of" as well - "...that low a price." And the map is off center, so that the pin for the address is not in the frame.

Tony Livingston

Wed, May 30, 2012 : 1:14 p.m.

Welton and his crew harass landlords for every miniscule maintenance issue but they let this place go for years and years. If you rent in Ann Arbor, the landlord has to march to the drums of city hall but if you own your own house, no one cares whether it is safe or not.


Wed, May 30, 2012 : 7:10 p.m.

and this surprises you why?


Wed, May 30, 2012 : 2:04 p.m.

But the l/l is in the business of providing habitable, safe housing. He has responsibilities to his tenants and the public. When the dirtball fails to clear the sidewalks in winter he's lining his pockets at the public's expense (...mows yard; clears trash; smoke alarms; locks;...)

Ron Granger

Wed, May 30, 2012 : 2:04 p.m.

The difference is the rented property is a for-profit business. And despite their oversight, a lot of rentals in a2 are dives. Without the oversight, it would be much worse.


Wed, May 30, 2012 : 1:09 p.m.

I'm wondering what the laws are in regard to a house that is uninhabitable, on the verge of being condemned, and someone allowed to live in it. Is it safe for habitation? If not, then either it needs to be brought up to code, or the person evicted. What are the laws?

Stan Hyne

Thu, May 31, 2012 : 12:52 a.m.

Yes we should throw him and his brother out in the street, and knock down his house. Then we can tell him it is for his own good. How dare he live there and mind his own business and not even answer the door when the city wants to talk to him.

Wolf's Bane

Wed, May 30, 2012 : 1:05 p.m.

So typical Ann Arbor, we have literally stretches of blighted house (properties) and Churches along Main Street , yet the city has to start chasing down the elderly who clearly need a helping hand and not to be punished for trying to make due. Meanwhile the "developers" responsible for the Main Street Beautification project sit at their pools sipping Pina Coladas with no worries of fines. Typical A2.


Wed, May 30, 2012 : 12:32 p.m.

Wait a minute. This house is owner occupied and the city wants to tear it down? Sounds like a sweet real estate addition for the U coming our way at the expense of an elderly resident who has been paying taxes for how long? Too bad it doesn't look pretty. There are many more UNOCCUPIED houses in the city which are not close to main campus area that the city is doing nothing about and has done nothing about for years. Look at the ghetto mess of unoccupied and boarded up and burned out homes on North Main and Summit when you enter A2. Or how about the structure with the burned down garage at the corner of Kingsley? Going on ten years now.... The list is a whole lot longer. Throwing a taxpayer out of their home for this? Has the city taken a ride down Spring the last decade? How about the creeped out house with the partially plastic tarp roof and the half naked hula barbies in the window and the sign advertising the "genetic Giant"ness of the owner? How about that? Or the corner of North Ashley and Kingsley? Condemned for what? Four years now? Still standing and waiting to be an attractive nuisance for some kid. Or, my personal fav, the Greek church. Yeah. That pile of ghetto just rocks. This is ridiculous. This is about taking for the U and we all know who needs to keep their underserved job there.


Thu, May 31, 2012 : 5:10 a.m.

Now leave the genetic giant out of this... That house is not in this state of disrepair. But I agree with the rest of your list. This may have something to do with the recent availability of federal funds. The city needs single owner, nonconforming properties which it can place in receivership, tear down, then bill both the homeowner and the Feds. I saw the mayor and council in a televised meeting salivating over the possibility of restarting this effort now that funds were available under some federal program. This is not a good turn of events if you value individual property rights. I would gladly join those who would volunteer to make repairs to this place to keep the man in his home. If he wanted the help, that is. Frankly, I don't care if there are nonconforming owner-occupied places like this in town as long as they are not somehow a threat to the health or safety of the community. Ann Arbor can't be all coffee shops and high-rises.


Wed, May 30, 2012 : 12:29 p.m.

It is so sad which way you look at it. If someone organizes the effort sign me up. We all need to extend a helping hand. What I read he is a good person. Good Luck to you sir.


Wed, May 30, 2012 : 12:24 p.m.

Wasn't there a similar situation in Burns Park a few years ago? Neighbors chipped in and helped an elderly gentleman and his brother, if I recall correctly.


Wed, May 30, 2012 : 12:20 p.m.

Am I missing something here ? I can't figure out what the map is for.

Ann English

Wed, May 30, 2012 : 12:44 p.m.

Use the button for panning down, and you'll find Adams Street, which is south of Packard, and south of Madison. The arrow indicator points out the location on Adams just west of Greene Street. I know, I saw the map and wondered why it showed a map of the area NORTH of the house, going no further south than William. I've never been on Adams, but remember where it is from frequently going south on Main before stopping at the Hill-Main traffic light. I wonder if Pete Cunningham thinks we all know the area. When I use the directional arrows, It's usually just to see the area around the subject, not to FIND the location of the subject.


Wed, May 30, 2012 : 12:17 p.m.

The house looks worse than many houses in the wide swaths of rotting neighborhoods in Detroit. We can't tolerate that here.

Middle America

Thu, May 31, 2012 : 1:42 a.m.

So, if a majority of people decide they don't like how your home looks, would you be alright with it being torn down?

The Picker

Wed, May 30, 2012 : 12:01 p.m.

Hello ! I'm from the government, I'm here to help you.


Wed, May 30, 2012 : 2:30 p.m.

No, no. It's Hello, I'm from the government. This is a stick up. Pay up or ship out! You need to be retrained.


Wed, May 30, 2012 : 11:58 a.m.

The city needs to leave this guy alone. He pays his taxes and isn't hurting anyone. He even mows his lawn. So what if he's a recluse and/or a hoarder. The place doesn't smell and the neighbors aren't calling the city. Just leave him alone. It's so much easier for the city to pick on this little guy than to go after the failed developments of the North Main St corridor. I suspect Mr.Hamm will fight the city tooth and nail, like he should, and the city in the end will end up with egg on it's face.


Wed, May 30, 2012 : 12:42 p.m.

Go Navy, You are exactly right and I have no quarrel with your argument. However I do have a problem with how the city arbitrarily decides where and when to wield it's power. As the citizenry demand action on the blighted properties on North Main, the city finds it easier to pick the low hanging fruit and go after Mr. Hamm. The sad truth is that you can't fight city hall...unless you have a bevy of lawyers and a big bag of cash.


Wed, May 30, 2012 : 12:25 p.m.

If this individual lived on his own island, I'd go ahead and agree with your comments. Unfortunately, he lives in a "society" with "other people" around. At that point this man's individual preferences and desires (whatever those might be) come into conflict with the stated preferences and desires of the society within which the man lives. There are reasons we don't allow blighted properties in cities. Mr. Hamm needs only to bring his property up to the minimum standards set forth in advance (that is, they are not arbitrary) and this will all go away. Should he feel that it is better to stand in defiance of community standards, he shouldn't be surprised to find the weight of the law falling against him.

Craig Lounsbury

Wed, May 30, 2012 : 11:53 a.m.

According to the city assessor the house's State equalized value's were: 2010: $95,300 2011: $103,300 2012: $114,200 why do they keep raising the value of a house they say needs to be torn down?


Thu, May 31, 2012 : 10:21 p.m.

the assessor's office is cheating the public with inflated values. the Mayoir says "their doing a good job" but has not "audite" the office to give any "credibility" to that statement. These numbers speak volumes on either outright fraud or incompetence in the assessors office. I want an independent audit to ensure the assessor is in compliance with Michigan law.


Wed, May 30, 2012 : 2:14 p.m.

@Ricebrnr- It's the *land* that's being assessed - not the "improvements" built on it.


Wed, May 30, 2012 : 1:40 p.m.

Well considering that the house can't possibly get the current assessed value at market in it's condition and Brad's statement of the land value.. again what scenario is more likely?


Wed, May 30, 2012 : 1:24 p.m.

@Ricebrnr - All real estate is local. Property itself is unique. A high-rise condominium in Tower Plaza is not in the same housing market as a property near an industrial-use zoned area on Hill Street, for example - just as the property market in Ann Arbor is not the same as the one in Beverly Hills. Thus, it may very well be that values for land such as this are rising.


Wed, May 30, 2012 : 1:15 p.m.

According to the property tax records the value of the land is estimated at $83K. That says they are estimating the value of the building at $145K. Is the assessor smoking crack?


Wed, May 30, 2012 : 12:55 p.m.

GoNavy, That would be more believable if per all the stories in the news didn't indicate that real estate is only just coming back on the upswing. That would be more believable if it weren't for the fact that the city automatically adjusted my taxes/assessments down for the last couple years (and I live in a nice neighborhood). So you could be right...but I think Zig and my answers are more likely.


Wed, May 30, 2012 : 12:34 p.m.

Mr. Hamm's taxes are paid and up to date. No foreclosure here.


Wed, May 30, 2012 : 12:21 p.m.

An alternative explanation might involve the idea that land in the City of Ann Arbor is actually scarce and valuable, and is in fact rising in value.


Wed, May 30, 2012 : 12:07 p.m.

Laying the groundwork to foreclose on unpaid taxes and force the owner out.


Wed, May 30, 2012 : 12:01 p.m.

The answer is obvious. They want him to contest the assessment, bringing him out, or else he just pays the assessed taxes. Win/Win for A2, lose/lose for him.


Wed, May 30, 2012 : 11:38 a.m.

How about the city get the owners to tear down the ABANDONED buildings along Washtenaw and leave this person alone. Clearly the person is still able to live there. Funny how quick to act and dictatorial the city is. If they were truly concerned about his safety, they would be there right now helping fix whatever structural issue existed. How about first condemning tent city and leave this taxpayer alone. City hall of Hypocrisy.


Wed, May 30, 2012 : 3:09 p.m.

I don't thin "Quick to act" is the proper term here considering this house has been falling apart for years. As for "If they were truly concerned about his safety, they would be there right now helping fix whatever structural issue existed." At who's cost? Besides, they tried that. Didn't you read about the block grant offer? Anyway, my house needs a little work too. I'll just contact the City and have them fix it for free too!


Wed, May 30, 2012 : 2:11 p.m.

how about tearing down the half burned house on Main St next to the party store? Way worse than this.


Wed, May 30, 2012 : 11:35 a.m.

Pete, Are you sure the dude's still alive???? Anybody knock on the door?

Susan Montgomery

Wed, May 30, 2012 : 11:34 a.m.

Reminds me of the "Bring Mr. Doyle Home" project back in 2006, I believe, group that repaired the home of an older gentleman who was taking care of his older brother... Though the house started out in better shape than this...

Ann English

Wed, May 30, 2012 : 11:45 p.m.

I don't remember the years of news stories like you do, but photographs of the interior of that home on Granger Street were taken and published, such as broken plaster on the ceilings. James Doyle was initially described as a healthy man living in a nursing home, longing to return to his Granger Street home. His brother's name was Thomas, but he had passed away before James was introduced to us in The Ann Arbor News. Photographs continued to be taken and published in the news as volunteers repaired the interior with masks over their noses and mouths, so they wouldn't react to any overpowering smells or particles in the air within Doyle's house.


Wed, May 30, 2012 : 11:19 a.m.

Tax money is what it slip through the cracks. On the other side of town they made a man tear his fench downwhich looked a whole lot better than this.

Simon Green

Wed, May 30, 2012 : 11:16 a.m.

Wait a minute. The city has assessed the house at a value of $228,400. They must be collecting taxes on that. If they tear it down, they'll lose all that revenue.


Wed, May 30, 2012 : 1:34 p.m.

The land only accounts for $83K of the assessed value.


Wed, May 30, 2012 : 11:41 a.m.

We're not going to tear down the land.


Wed, May 30, 2012 : 11:12 a.m.

I know the owner and he is a wonderful, kind person. He is aged himself and is fully engaged caring for his 96 year old brother. People ought to be careful what they say or imply about others.

Robert Granville

Thu, May 31, 2012 : 2:28 p.m.

You can't be a wonderful, kind person and continually disrespect your neighbors and their property. Mutually exclusive.

Wolf's Bane

Wed, May 30, 2012 : 1:06 p.m.

I agree, these whole thing smacks of typical A2 politics. These brothers need a helping hand, not punishment or fines.

Craig Lounsbury

Wed, May 30, 2012 : 11:55 a.m.

GoNavy, People who are kind to him or consider him a friend can only do so much.


Wed, May 30, 2012 : 11:40 a.m.

If this is the case, I might speculate that his friends have failed him over the years given that it has come to this.


Wed, May 30, 2012 : 11:31 a.m.

If you do know him, then convince him to accept the CDBG assistance so that he can stay in his home.


Wed, May 30, 2012 : 11:03 a.m.

Am I correct in assuming that the CDBG program is intended to provide grants for people to help bring their houses up to code?