The gathering on Wednesday evening at the Ann Arbor Community Center to discuss a proposed affordable housing development had been publicized as a 2-hour long “community design charrette.” But the 35 or more immediate neighbors and other interested parties who attended the meeting filled a bit more than the first hour asking questions that addressed the topic of the developer’s motives, the projects’ consistency with the mission of the non-profit partner on the proposal (Avalon Housing) and the conformance of the project to the city’s various planning documents.
Architect Damian Farrell was eventually given the chance to project live images from his design software onto the wall, and manipulate them to illustrate changes that had been made as a result of the previous two charrettes. But the ensuing conversation on design elements was also interspersed with concerns about topics from the first hour.
Two and a half hours into the meeting, a man stood and said: “I am homeless.” He’d heard people pick at the project, he said, but he hadn’t heard anyone ask this question about it: “What can we do to help?” It was more than three and a half hours after the meeting started when the last of the post-charrette conversational pods headed out the door.
By Jan. 21, the project team hopes to be able to submit responses to any of the city planning staff’s concerns expressed after the project’s initial review, which began after the project was submitted in December. Near North could come before the city’s planning commission as early as Feb. 19.