Friday, February 4, 2011
At times it can be difficult to follow the long histories of many Ann Arbor development projects. I'm not entirely sure how long the back and forth over Heritage Row/City Place has been going on, but it looks like plans for the project are going to be submitted to the city a fourth time in the very near future. Here is what I understand:
1) de Parry [the developer] has the rights within the current zoning code to build "City Place."
2) Nobody--de Parry, the city, or current residents--likes "City Place."
3) de Parry needs to get eight council votes to get the property (properties?) zoned as a PUD, because a sufficient number of residents signed a petition against the rezoning.
4) Being zoned a PUD would allow a different development, "Heritage Row."
5) Some residents, including the neighborhood association, are opposed to "Heritage Row" for reasons including: looming structures being next to their property lines, loss of historical structures, and an adverse impact to adjoining properties.
Currently de Parry owns the properties that will be used for the project. One of the houses is among the oldest in Ann Arbor, but it is generally agreed that they are in a state of disrepair. There is a heated debate going on over the proposal. De Parry and a pro-density crowd are on one side; the Germantown Neighborhood association, their allies and historic preservationists are generally opposed to the current state of the plans.
An argument against the project is that Ann Arbor already has plenty of housing and plenty more is already going to be built: Zaragon II, The Village Green across First Street from the Pig. I don't think this is true, though, at least on the affordable end of things. Yes, we have seen construction of new apartments and condos downtown in recent years. But at the same time, Dexter and Saline have rapidly grown into commuter communities for local workers. Despite the new construction, there are still very few inexpensive rental options.
In general, I would like to see the density of Ann Arbor increase. It is a much better alternative to having the suburbs sprawl out. I also think medium density residential, like Heritage Row, is more attractive at the moment than larger apartment buildings.
It seems as though there is fierce debate over almost every development project. I think, in general, this is a good thing. Having a city of passionate and engaged citizens is important. Sometimes though, it's hard for me to figure out what grievances are specific to the plans for the project, and who just does not want anything to be built/change.
Heritage Row developer making fourth attempt to sway Ann Arbor City Council on project
The De-Evolution Of Local Development
Posted by Ben Connor Barrie at 10:08 AM