April, 2021   Elections Have Consequences, Council's activist majority wants to change the face of the city-and they're moving fast to do it, by James Leonard, The Ann Arbor Observer

This spring and summer, they plan to advance resolutions to develop affordable housing on city-owned property downtown, including the former YMCA site and parking lots at Ashley and Willam and Fourth and Catherine, using last year's affordable housing millage to help pay for it. They want to make it much easier for homeowners to build "accessory dwelling units." And they're looking to advance a "transit oriented zoning ordinance" that would allow more intense development along major bus corridors, including Plymouth, Washtenaw, W. Stadium-Maple, and the State and Eisenhower area. If all are adopted, the changes could add thousands of housing units to the city over the next few years.

February, 2021   HouseN2Home, Volunteers are turning affordable apartments into comfortable homes, by Anita LeBlanc, Ann Arbor Observer

HouseN2Home originated in 2017, when Logue received a text from a single mother who had secured affordable but unfurnished housing. Logue pulled together a group of friends who dug into reserves from their own homes and purchased items from thrift stores to outfit the house. They found the experience so rewarding they began doing the same for other formerly homeless people.

7/12/2020   Disruption in Ann Arbor: It’s a Promise. (2) by Vivienne Armentrout, Local in Ann Arbor

Growth and real estate development are the source of wealth. And it is likely that current residents are not considered to have much of a place in this scenario.

1/6/2020   Ann Arbor’s small-town look fading as downtown reaches toward sky, by Ryan Stanton, MLive

The Downtown Development Authority in 2013 estimated 4,849 residents were living within its boundaries, up 56% since 2000.


As of July 2018, that number was up to 7,670, representing about 6% of the city’s population.


Since then, roughly 1,500 more beds have been added in the downtown area, and new high-rises report being 99-100% occupied.   With several more high-rises in the works, downtown appears to be on its way to surpassing the 10,000-resident mark.

1/6/2020   Timeline: Ann Arbor’s downtown housing boom and what’s to come, by Ryan Stanton, MLive

12/4/2019   Ann Arbor OKs tallest high-rise in over 50 years, by Ryan Stanton, MLive

The zoning premiums that enabled the developer to build taller than the normal 180 foot height cap required including 72 affordable housing units for people earning 60% or less of the area median income..


Ann Arbor stood firm and got 6.

11/13/2019   Remembering how Ann Arbor saved the Michigan Theater 40 years ago, by Ryan Stanton, MLive

- About 200 photographs and links to stories tracing Michigan Theater history back to its 1927 founding.

11/5/2019   Council OKs affordable housing incentives for Ann Arbor developers, by Darcie Moran, MLive

Under the newly approved three-tiered system, developers will get a 150% bonus in allowed floor area ratio in the D1 core downtown district and a 100% bonus in the D2 district if they make 15% of residential floor area affordable housing.  On the next level, developers with 20% affordable housing will get a 300% bonus in D1 and 200% in D2.  Developers with 30% affordable housing can get a 500% floor area bonus and a 15% height increase in D1. There is no such option in D2.  The current rules allow an additional 0.75 square foot for each square foot used for multi-family dwellings and an extra 3,000 square feet for each affordable housing unit.  Developers must maintain the affordable rates for 99 years and they can pay fees to cut their affordable housing requirements in half.


City Planning Manager Brett Lenart noted there are no provisions to limit micro-apartments or so-called “poor doors” for those paying less rent.

9/19/2019   Latest look at new high-rises proposed in downtown Ann Arbor, by Ryan Stanton, MLive


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This table - from a May 14, 2019 Ann Arbor city council work session - shows the target housing

budget by income level, based on the Ann Arbor metropolitan area's median income.


9/19/2019   How should Ann Arbor fix its affordable housing shortage? by Lauren Slagter, MLive

Housing that costs more than 30 percent of a household's income is considered unaffordable, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. 


In 2012, housing was a cost burden for 29 percent of Washtenaw County homeowners, and renters are more likely to have unaffordable housing costs, according to Washtenaw County's 2015 housing affordability and economic equity report.

8/30/2019   9-story hotel proposed on Firestone site in downtown Ann Arbor, by Ryan Stanton, MLive

7/8/2019   High-rise developer buys property from Michigan Theater for $3M, by Ryan Stanton, MLive

The property includes an old car dealership building that in recent years has housed a camera shop and tattoo parlor, as well as bathrooms and office/storage space for the theater.


This same area in Ann Arbor News photos from the 40s and 50s.

5/20/2019   50 years later, 26-story Tower Plaza still Ann Arbor's tallest building, by Ryan Stanton, MLive

Tower Plaza wins the award for most buttons of any elevator in Ann Arbor.


Continue reading for an overview of Tower Plaza’s complete history, a look at historical photos showing its construction in the 1960s, and more, including current photos showing what it looks like today both inside and out, as well as a discussion of how the building has changed and what’s coming next.  See links to photographs and Ann Arbor News stories and contemporary editorials.

4/3/2019   3,137 new affordable housing units needed in Ann Arbor area by 2035, report shows, by Ryan Stanton, MLive

Ypsilanti cannot remain the de facto affordable housing policy for Ann Arbor, according to a new report telling a tale of two cities.


Economic inequality and segregation between Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti is bad for Washtenaw County, and local leaders must make tough policy decisions to reverse the current trend and expand the supply of affordable housing in the Ann Arbor area, according to a 55-page affordable housing needs assessment report.


"For Washtenaw County, this means persistent (if not worsening) gaps in the conditions that lead to income disparity and lost economic output," the report states, adding: "To be in the 90th percentile (income) in Washtenaw County is to be white, and to be in the 10th percentile is to not be white."


Any concentration of households in the 90th percentile in one location is a de facto guarantee of a concentration of households in the 10th percentile in another, the report states, adding: "If the former results in demand for housing that so outpaces supply that values rise at a greater rate than do the incomes for anyone below the 90th percentile, housing becomes decreasingly affordable for all but those at the top."

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1/29/2019   Block-long redevelopment planned on Ann Arbor's Main Street, by Ryan Stanton, MLive

Documents submitted to the city show plans for a block-long redevelopment with 235 apartments and 11,315 square feet of retail space along the east side of Main Street, starting at William Street and going all the way down to Packard Street.

12/26/2018   19-story high-rise proposed behind Ann Arbor's Michigan Theater, by Ryan Stanton, MLive

In addition to the 19-story high-rise, the development team also is proposing an adjacent six-story building behind Sava’s Restaurant that would include 20 workforce-housing “micro units” accessible via a walkway off Washington Street.  Between both buildings, the 241 apartments and 20 " micro units" provide about 500 total beds. 


For those apartments, pods, and 500+ beds, 121 parking places are provided.

12/12/2018   See latest plans for block-long redevelopment on Ann Arbor's Main Street, by Ryan Stanton, MLive

11/8/2017   House that can be built in a day is 30 times more affordable than a Beijing apartment, by Maria Dermentzi, Mashable Genius Moments

"People's Architecture Office" (PAO) was commissioned by a young Chinese newlywed, Mrs. Fan, to renovate her family home in a historic Hutong neighborhood of Beijing. This was not a common renovation, but rather a complete re-invention of the traditional courtyard house where Fan used to live.


Built using PAO's proprietary panels that come with integrated wiring, this plugin house can be assembled within a day even by regular people following an Ikea-like process to plug all the panels together. The only tool that is needed is an Allen wrench. According to PAO, this house is 30 times less expensive than buying an apartment in Beijing.



5/23/2017   Is a state-level solution needed for affordable housing in Ann Arbor? by Ryan Stanton, MLive

In hopes of addressing economic inequality and segregation between Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti, local officials two years ago set goals of adding 3,137 affordable rental units in Ann Arbor and Pittsfield Township over the next 20 years, while growing demand for market-rate housing in the Ypsilanti area by 4,187 units. So far, progress on meeting those goals has been slow.


Rep. Yousef Rabhi, D-Ann Arbor, agreed socioeconomic segregation is a major problem in Washtenaw County.  He said there's not enough affordable housing in Ann Arbor and the city is being gentrified, pushing out lower-income people. He said the current state of affairs is unacceptable and needs to change.

 December, 2005   Our Town versus Big City, by Vivienne Armentrout, The Ann Arbor Observer

Hall is particularly keen to eliminate the need for rezoning, a time-consuming and uncertain process, especially for planned unit developments (PUDs), in which the city and developer negotiate what amounts to a unique zoning ordinance for the site. Planning manager Mark Lloyd says many developers decide to seek PUDs for flexibility. But Hall says that PUDs also extend the time it takes to  review a project, and force developers to make concessions. Rick Hills, a U-M law professor who presented a lecture on zoning as part of the public discussion on the downtown, says that the  recent trend in zoning practice is toward transparency, where a set of rules is plainly set forth and developers who follow those rules can develop by right—without negotiation. Hall says she is a big fan of this transparency. But Hills also cautions that the type of zoning that involves negotiation—like PUDs—is the only way cities can get concessions they want. Making zoning by right deprives cities of a potent tool. This has certainly been the case for Ann Arbor, where the city has extracted substantial contributions for affordable housing from developers in the PUD process under the “public benefit” clause



1/1/2021   Utility Fees vs the Bolt Decision, by Vivienne Armentrout, Local in Ann Arbor

 6/27/2018   Ann Arbor Water and Sewer Cost of Service Study Final Report, Stantec

Presentation to City Council can be found is available here.  Or you can view the full presentation on YouTube.


Ann Arbor Public Serivces Administration

Ann Arbor Public Services Administration:  Cost of Service Study for Water and Wastewater


The result, as the Stantec study notes, was that costs were transferred from multifamily residential users to single-family users.

8/15/2017   Income Taxes and the Local Government Quandary, by Vivienne Armentrout, Local in Ann Arbor


2/10/2011   Ann Arbor’s Budget: The Case for a City Income Tax II, by Vivienne Armentrout, Local in Ann Arbor

1/9/2011   Ann Arbor’s Budget: The Case for a City Income Tax, by Vivienne Armentrout, Local in Ann Arbor

I still remember the unwelcome position in which I found myself on the Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners when the first state budget cuts started coming down and we were helpless to save many worthwhile programs.  I personally voted to lay off at least 200 staff in one year.  Trust me, if you run for office, choose a growth period to do it in.

1/5/2011   Ann Arbor DDA: Tiffs and TIF, by Vivienne Armentrout, Local in Ann Arbor  (The Ann Arbor Chronicle links no longer function.)