Tuesday, June 19, 2012
Since we last posted to this blog, we have changed the name of our neighborhood group from North Central Property Owners (NCPOA) to North Central Neighborhood Association (NCNA).
For more news on North Central, visit us on Facebook and ask to join our Facebook Group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/208344159239840/
Sunday, April 4, 2010
Clark and Helminski paint themselves as advocates for a generation of creative young professionals who just don't like any of Ann Arbor's 25,000 rental apartments--and who therefore, they claim, need a civic handout. This handout would take the form of a zoning giveaway that would greatly increase the value of--wait for it!--the developers' property.
Helminski and Clark could build dozens of new apartment units on their site "by right" within the present zoning. But they don't want to do that. Though they paid R4C and M1 prices for their property, they're demanding the right to develop it at downtown densities.
Their first, 11-story design would have been right at home on the D1 downtown core. Their current, 5-story plan would fit nicely in the D2 zone at the edge of downtown. Yet they pretend to have no idea why people are opposed to building it in an R4C neighborhood--Clark characterizes the public opposition as "an unforseen gauntlet."
NCPOA opposes the Moravian. Like Near North, it trashes both the current zoning and the Central Area Plan, which for more than 30 years have protected the Near Downtown Neighborhoods as a "downtown greenbelt" of residentially-scaled and -landscaped homes and apartments. Approving this institutionally designed and scaled building would instantly change the character and scale of the neighborhood from family-friendly to urban.
Like Near North, the Moravian is the right building in the wrong place. There are plenty of sites in the D1 and D2 zones where buildings on this scale are appropriate and welcome. For reasons known only to themselves, Helminski and Clark chose instead to buy land outside downtown, then panhandle the city to rezone it.
Now that it looks like the city may not give them what they want, they're pouting as if they've been deprived of an entitlement. Childish, self-righteous, and whiny, they dishonor the generation they claim to represent.
Wednesday, March 31, 2010
NCPOA wrote to City Council on March 28 to oppose the Moravian's "blatant violation of both current zoning and the Central Area Plan....In accepting Near North, our biggest fear was that it might set a precedent for allowing future, even bigger projects. If the Moravian is approved, our fears will be realized, and another family neighborhood will be annexed to downtown."
Read our full letter here.
Last summer we asked, "If downtown doesn't end at Kingsley Street, where does it end?" Now we ask Council same question on the south side of downtown--if downtown doesn't end at William Street, where does it end?
Thursday, October 8, 2009
Bill Godfrey of the Three Oaks Group has delivered their signed and notarized agreement to control commercial use in the Near North development.
As agreed in negotiations with NCPOA prior to City Council's action on the project, Three Oaks will implement deed restrictions to assure that there will be no increase in commercial use on the southeast corner of Main and Summit. NeNo's proposed commercial space will be built only if the existing party store is permanently removed.
This is the final step in implementing our agreement with the developers. Now that it's complete, we'll be taking down our lawn signs. The signs are fully recyclable--the paper in the paper bin, the frame in the containers bin. I'll be picking up signs this weekend from people who don't have email, and can get yours too if you'd like--just let me know.
The fight over giant PUDs isn't over. Other developers also want to put Downtown buildings in Ann Arbor's Near Downtown Neighborhoods, and too many members of Planning Commission and City Council seem eager to help them. NCPOA will continue to defend the planning and zoning that protect "Downtown's Greenbelt."
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Monday, August 24, 2009
“The [Near North] project is on a main road where the placement of such a building is not only permissible but expected”
And No, an industrial-style, five-story building ten feet from the sidewalk is not “expected” just because Main Street is “a main road.” Like every other street leading into downtown, Main Street is zoned differently in different places.
The photo above shows the 500 block of W. Liberty. Like the proposed Near North site in the 600 block of N. Main, it is two blocks from the DDA boundary. Whether you go into town on N. Main or W. Liberty, Washtenaw, Packard, South Main, or Jackson/Huron, every "main route" begins in fringe commercial near the city limits and ends in downtown commercial in the urban core. And in between, every street passes through a green, tree-lined neighborhood.
This is no accident. Since the 1970s, the city has protected the residential character of the near-downtown neighborhoods. It’s permitted redevelopment--the North Central neighborhood has added more than sixty bedrooms in the past twenty-five years--but always within setback and height limits that preserve a residential landscape by leaving room for mature trees. Thanks to the city’s foresight, North Central joins with other near-downtown neighborhoods to form a “greenbelt” surrounding the urban core.
No one “expects” a building like Near North on Packard in Burns Park, on Liberty in the Old West Side, or on Washtenaw in the Oxbridge neighborhood. Nothing in the city’s planning or zoning “expects” it on this block of North Main, either--which is why the city planning staff has consistently opposed the project.
When the Three Oaks Group first proposed a supersized condo on this site five years ago, they falsely claimed that our neighborhood was in Main Street’s industrial zone along the river. This time, they’ve falsely claimed it’s downtown. Unfortunately, some naive new urbanists believed them.
The truth is that Near North will cut a gash in downtown’s greenbelt. It will reverse decades of good planning, and badly hurt both our neighborhood and the city.
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
When I've talked to people at Zingerman's about NeNo, they say the city needs its "workforce housing." As an example, several have told me their own employees would like to live closer to the Deli. Yet no one there was interested when I told them that Mrs. Seeley had a newly refurbished 2-bedroom apartment for rent. Her house is one short block from Kerrytown, and two from the Deli.