Ann Arbor Area Community News
Continuing our candidate questionnaire results…
#3 – How do you see Ann Arbor growing, shrinking, and developing over the next 15 years? Where should growth be encouraged or discouraged, and how should the City manage the impacts of these decisions?
Kunselman: I see Ann Arbor being fairly stagnant over the next decade and then possibly picking up. When we review the real estate development cycles in Ann Arbor, it’s pretty clear that every 10 years we peak and crash. My observation is this: during the 60’s, at least 2 very large apartment buildings were built downtown (Tower Plaza and U-Tower). Then the economy tanked in the 70’s and nothing was built. In the 80’s, 3 large buildings were built: One North Main, 301 E. Liberty, and Sloan Plaza. Then the Savings and Loan crash happened and nothing was built during the 90’s (except for the DTE building on Main which was heavily subsidized by DTE). And during the last decade (2000’s) we had Zaragon Place, 411 Lofts, and Ashley Terrace – and subsequently the biggest economic meltdown since the Great Depression leaving no doubt in my mind that there will not be any buildings of significant size being built in Ann Arbor for another 10 years. As for encouraging growth, let’s be real, the only policies Council has promoted to actually encourage building is to subsidize private development with tax abatements, tax credits, partnerships with developers, and direct payments to developers. All of these “tools” have been tried by Council, and none of them have led to any substantial economic growth (i.e. building construction) – in fact, every partnership the City has engaged in with a private developer has failed so far, but those developers that avoided council partnerships have all built their buildings – so, maybe we should take a hint and try something else rather than assigning staff to be “speculative developers.”
Greden: Ann Arbor – along with Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo – is one of three urban centers that will drive Michigan’s economic growth in the coming decade. If Ann Arbor does not prosper and enjoy economic growth, our region and State face serious problems that will have a devastating impact on every aspect of our life, including schools, parks, and human rights. I support the A2D2 plan, which will encourage downtown growth while protecting nearby neighborhoods. I will continue to support initiatives to draw new jobs to Ann Arbor, which – despite the false claims of one of my opponents – cost the City nothing.
(Candidates Bullington, Anglin, and Rosencrans did not provide responses.)
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