ANN ARBOR, MI — The Ann Arbor City Council is being asked to put over $1.5 million from the city’s new affordable housing tax toward two Avalon Housing developments.
Jennifer Hall, Ann Arbor Housing Commission executive director, recommends the city allocate $1.1 million to help the local nonprofit build 50 affordable apartments and a community center at 2270 Platt Road in a project called The Grove at Veridian.
Avalon also plans to request city millage funds to provide supportive tenant services after the apartments are built and occupied, Hall told council in a memo, indicating Avalon anticipates making an annual service funding request of about $310,000 starting in fiscal year 2023-24.
Twenty apartments at The Grove at Veridian would be set aside for households with incomes up to 60% of area median income, while 30 would be supportive housing for households with incomes below 30% of AMI, Hall said.
The other Avalon development Hall recommends the city help fund is Hickory Way Apartments at 1130 S. Maple Road. Avalon is seeking $300,000 from the city to help construct 36 additional apartments in the second phase of an 84-unit project, plus $124,364 for supportive tenant services.
Half the additional apartments would be restricted to households with incomes up to 50-60% of AMI and the other half for households below 30% of AMI, Hall said.
“Supportive housing services are grounded in a housing-first philosophy and focus on maintaining housing stability as well as enhancing tenants’ quality of life,” she wrote in a memo to council. “Eviction prevention efforts for high-risk tenants are prioritized and coordinated with property managers.”
City Council will consider the funding allocations at its next meeting Monday, June 7.
City voters approved a 20-year affordable housing tax last November and much of the $6.3 million in annual revenue is expected to go to Housing Commission projects, including efforts to redevelop city-owned lots downtown like the old Y Lot next to the Blake Transit Center where a high-rise is planned.
Hall’s memo to council explains how the city’s millage funds would be supplemental funding for both Avalon projects.
For Hickory Way, total development costs are about $10.8 million, with $8.3 coming from low-income housing tax credits and various amounts from other sources, including Washtenaw County HOME funds, Federal Home Loan Bank funds, a conventional loan through Chelsea State Bank and $450,000 in other city affordable housing funds.
For the The Grove at Veridian, Avalon’s total development costs are projected to be about $17.5 million. Avalon is seeking $13.5 million in low-income housing tax credits, plus additional funding through Washtenaw County HOME funds and a conventional loan from Old National Bank.
For both projects, remaining financing gaps would be covered through deferred developer fees, Hall said.
Community centers at Hickory Way and The Grove at Veridian are expected to provide a range of programs and activities designed to help tenants build skills, develop tenant organizations, foster peer support and connect with volunteers and community services, Hall said.
“Tenants will be able to access computers, internet, phones and faxing services in the center as well,” she wrote to council.
In furtherance of green development objectives, Avalon also has committed to not having any combustion appliances and the all-electric buildings would allow the possibility of transitioning to renewable energy sources, Hall said. Avalon plans to seek net-zero energy certification for the community centers and Enterprise Green certification for the overall developments, she said.
The 50 affordable apartments and community center Avalon plans to build next to County Farm Park is part of a larger redevelopment plan called Veridian at County Farm. A group called the Thrive Collaborative is partnering with Avalon and has plans for 99 market-rate housing units of various kinds with a vision of creating a solar-powered, mixed-income, sustainable-living community.
After City Council approved plans for the Veridian development last October, Avalon Housing Executive Director Aubrey Patino called it a tremendous milestone. The prospect of moving 50 more families into permanent affordable housing means now more than ever amid the pandemic, she said.
The development will have multi-generational impacts on quality of life of those who live there, and it offers transit access to both Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor, she said.
“For all the attention that Veridian is paid for being innovative and inclusive, I hope that in time this model will reflect a new normal that we’ll come to expect of others,” she said.
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