Arbor Update

Ann Arbor Area Community News

City Council: The Return of the Return of City Place

21. September 2009 • Juliew
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City Council: Monday, September 21 at 7:00 pm.
Ann Arbor City HallAgenda


  • Resolution to approve City Place Site Plan and Development Agreement
  • Near North PUD Public Hearing (continued from 9/8/09 City Council meeting)
  • Dominick‚Äôs area rezoning from R4C to PUD
  • Resolution to disclose Council e-mail from November 1, 2000 to September 8, 2009 at no public charge
  • Plastic bag ban

  1. How can I sign up for one of the affordable units that are going to be built in this new development that was recently approved?

    Have they developed a waiting list yet for this affordable housing?

       —AATA Bus Rider    Sep. 22 '09 - 04:16PM    #
  2. You should contact Avalon Housing.

       —Vivienne Armentrout    Sep. 22 '09 - 04:30PM    #
  3. This is the information from the Avalon website:

    How to Apply
    Due to the critical shortage of affordable housing in Ann Arbor, we received nearly 600 applications when we opened our list in April, 2005. We are not currently accepting new applications.

    If you are already on our wait list and want to check the status of your application, please call our office at (734) 663-5858.

       —AATA Bus Rider    Sep. 22 '09 - 09:22PM    #
  4. Were you looking for the workforce development units in the just-approved project? They should start a new list for that. Maybe call the phone number and ask when they will be taking names for those units, or the method to apply. Obviously it’ll be a while before they will be available.

    Also, have you contacted the Community Development department for general assistance in finding affordable housing? I’m not sure what you are looking for but they might be able to provide some pointers.

       —Vivienne Armentrout    Sep. 22 '09 - 11:03PM    #
  5. I’d like to respond to a comment on City Council’s Near North approval from AU’s own Chuck W which can be found on a page over there:

    Well done. I’m glad to see that there was a compromise reached between the developers, Avalon, and the neighborhood. It would have been easy to dig in and not compromise, I think this shows how development should work.

    I fully & happily concur with his concise phrasing — save for the final half-sentence, where I’ll split some hairs and beg to differ.

    Near North didn’t show how development should work as much as it showed how it did work, in spite of everything. On the whole, the process played out as highly dysfunctional. Over a period of years, as Near North evolved, it took the city down an odd, twisting, unpredictable road until it finally arrived at a place where ‘the workforce’ could at last get its own place. It was a peculiar, chaotic collision of economic circumstances and varied local interest groups that managed in the end to somehow cook up a very worthwhile housing project. Included among the volatile “ingredients” for this wayward — but ultimately successful — “recipe” are:

    > A severe recession
    > A free-falling regional housing market
    > Desperate developers looking to recoup land costs
    > Nearby homeowners upset by initial project size
    > A nonprofit managing local housing for lower incomes
    > A City Council overly favorable toward downtown projects
    > City activists overly inclined to oppose all such projects

    Mix and stir. If the resulting combination doesn’t explode violently across the communal kitchen, your city will soon find itself the proud owner of new workforce housing for the non-yuppie masses. What we had in Near North was a fortuitous situation where no one party or faction could leverage a decisive political victory, so everyone involved found themselves prodded by circumstances toward new ideas, negotiation and compromise. Luckily, enough key folks agreed to go this direction as Chuck indicates.

    * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
    However, if anything is more dysfunctional than housing development in A2, it has to be the country’s policies as a whole. As is the case with health care, our dear nation lags far behind western Europe and Canada in civilized options for the non-rich. Our local difficulties in providing workforce and low income housing on the local level reflect a similar, and usually greater, lack of priorities and planning by federal and state administrations.

    Using Canadian health care as a rough model, what’s needed is ongoing planning involving close coordination at the federal, state and local levels, in which renters, homeowners, activists and developers (for-profit and nonprofit) also have an active, meaningful role in decisions. We decide what we need in the way of housing, and then go out to plan and subsidize it. As is the case with health care, social security, public education, and so on, it’s a fool’s plan to rely solely on private business to handle this basic need — it’s like relying on the stars & planets to always align in just the ‘right’ way.

    Locally, City Council is mostly concerned with big civic and commercial developments. The dominant activists among the Council’s opposition derive their energy from a desire to dot the downtown landscape with as much park space as they can. As a result, on both sides affordable housing enters the political mix mainly as an afterthought. It’s treated like a charity given occasional, ritualized public attention, similar to a United Way campaign.

    So, to create additional workforce developments & retrofits in the foreseeable future, it appears we’ll just have to have (to once more evoke Tom Hayden’s 60s phrasing) two, three, four, five, many Near North projects. If what it takes to get this type of local project accomplished is the repeated, opportunistic exploitation of a special mix of political, social & economic dysfunction — then so be it, I suppose.

    Were the theatrical likes of Brecht and Weill still with us today, they could undoubtedly create fine satiric dialogue and lyrics based on The Deuce’s full range of local political ingredients. Almost no one would be spared.

       —yet another    Sep. 24 '09 - 04:45AM    #
  6. What is the current status of Tom Whitaker’s efforts to protect Germantown?

       —John Dory    Oct. 5 '09 - 01:36AM    #