Ann Arbor’s sale of Maple Road site sets stage for affordable housing

ANN ARBOR, MI — Ann Arbor is selling a piece of city-owned property to local nonprofit Avalon Housing, setting the stage for more affordable housing coming to Maple Road.

The City Council voted 10-0 last week to approve the $260,000 sale of the 1.15-acre site at 1146 S. Maple Road to Avalon, a major provider of affordable housing in Ann Arbor.

The property, which sits just south of Avalon’s new Hickory Way apartment complex, contains a single-family house, which the city exercised a right of first refusal to purchase for $260,000 in 2019. At the time, Avalon expressed interest in purchasing the property to expand its Hickory Way development, which now consists of 70 units of affordable housing for people with incomes at or below 60% of the area median income.

“Sale of this property to Avalon Housing Inc. will enable them to develop at least 14 units of affordable housing on the site,” Chief Deputy City Attorney Kevin McDonald told the council in a memo last week, noting preliminary conceptual plans include all one-bedroom units and an onsite community space.

Ann Arbor and Avalon officials gathered with community members last September to celebrate Hickory Way as the first development funded in part by the city’s new affordable housing tax. As the second phase of the project was nearing completion, officials alluded to plans for a 14-unit third phase that would bring the total number of publicly subsidized apartments to 84 and that’s what the city’s sale of the land will help do.

“Avalon is excited to have a purchase agreement with the city for Hickory Way III, and we’re grateful for the council’s support,” said Wendy Carty-Saxon, Avalon’s director of real estate development. “We look forward to creating much-needed homes for our neighbors.”

Avalon has requested a period of 33 months to complete due diligence, acquire necessary city zoning and site plan approvals, and secure financing for acquisition and construction prior to completion of the sale, McDonald said. Given the challenges of developing affordable housing and securing financing, including low-income housing tax credits, options for two 90-day extensions are included in the agreement, he said.

While the property sits next to the city’s Hansen Nature Area, city parks staff reviewed the property and did not recommend keeping it for parks purposes, McDonald said. The property scored 28 out of 100, placing it in the 4th percentile of all applications for parks acquisition and in the lowest percentile of all natural area applications, he said.

The city’s community services staff and the Washtenaw County Office of Community and Economic Development support the sale of the property to Avalon to expand the supply of affordable housing in the city, McDonald said.

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