St. Nicholas Rezoning Process Won’t Start

A process to change the current PUD zoning on the former St. Nicholas Church property on North Main Street will not start before the land is put up for public auction on Sept. 6, 2012. That was the result of an Ann Arbor city council decision not to act on Aug. 20, 2012.

The property is being offered at auction by the Washtenaw County treasurer at a cost of $365,051, which covers back taxes and demolition costs. Demolition is expected to begin in the coming weeks. [See also Chronicle coverage: "Rezoning Process for North Main Site on Agenda"]

The city council voted down a resolution at its Aug. 20 meeting that would have begun the rezoning process by directing staff to prepare to rezone the property to D2 (downtown interface). The resolution got support only from its sponsor, Stephen Kunselman (Ward 3).

The reasoning by the majority of the council was that the current planned unit development (PUD) zoning of the property increases the likelihood that the property will actually be purchased. The property has an easement on it held by its neighbor to the south for 57 parking spaces, which poses a challenge for future development. Authorized by the city council in 2006, the PUD zoning would allow construction of The Gallery, an 11-story building (158 feet tall) that would include 224 parking spaces and 123 units of residential housing, 18 of which would meet the definition of affordable housing derived by a formula based on area median incomes. The D2 zoning has a height limit of 60 feet.

If the property does not sell at the Sept. 6 auction (which concludes on Sept. 11), the property will be offered again for auction in October. If it does not sell after the second auction, it will revert to the city.

Assistant city attorney Kevin McDonald explained at the Aug. 20 council meeting that in any case it would not be possible to complete the rezoning process before the first or the second auctions – due to the noticing requirement for all the relevant public hearings.

This brief was filed from the city council’s chambers on the second floor of city hall, located at 301 E. Huron. A more detailed report will follow: [link]