David Cahill suggests that Sunday’s News article on the leveling off of the local housing market provides cause to doubt the assumptions of County-wide growth and in-migration used in the City’s Calthorpe process (and, frequently, around here). He writes:
Much of the impetus behind the Calthorpe Downtown Development Strategies Project comes from projections from the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG) showing a likely large increase in the population of Washtenaw County and the City of Ann Arbor over the next decades.
« Previous Article Daily Building Gets Millions From Alum
Next Article Stop the Raid on Student Aid »
An article in the Sunday, October 9 issue of the Ann Arbor News, entitled “So many houses, so few buyers”, may provide a reality check on these projections.
An oversupply in housing that has been troubling other southeast Michigan communities has hit Washteaw County in full force. The result has been stagnant home values for the past two years.
. . .
Experts say the poor Michigan economy, coupled with a flood of new houses, has created the strong buyer’s market.
. . .
There has been a construction boom in the area in the past decade, but that has not been followed by a commensurate population boom. The result has been an excess supply of homes.
. . .
Lorne Zaleskin, CEO of Bruce Building Co., an Oakland County builder who has done work in Washtenaw County, says he thinks the Ann Arbor area is overbuilt and will experience a major correction.
. . .
Indeed, permits for new construction in the county are down 36.5 percent through August compared to 2004.
Bearing these statements in mind, how are we to determine the validity of the SEMCOG projections? Can we look at the validity of past SEMCOG projections for Washtenaw County and Ann Arbor? When did SEMCOG start making its projections? How close were they to the ultimate reality?
What are the objective criteria for an area being “overbuilt” in housing? Does Washtenaw/Ann Arbor meet those criteria? Should the Calthorpe study include a “really low growth” scenario in addition to those drawn from the SEMCOG projections?