First & Washington Deal Looks Ready

At an operations committee meeting of the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority on Aug. 31, deputy director of the DDA Joe Morehouse noted in his update to committee members that the city of Ann Arbor and Village Green now look ready to complete the purchase option agreement for the city-owned parcel at First and Washington, with construction on the City Apartments project to start in the fall.

Interim city administrator Tom Crawford confirmed for The Chronicle via email that the construction start is now expected on Nov. 3, 2011.

City Apartments is a 9-story, 99-foot-tall building with 156 dwelling units, which includes a 244-space parking deck on its first two stories.

Based on the discussion at the DDA committee meeting, completion of the first two stories of the project is expected to take about a year, with the parking deck to be opened before construction is complete on the stories above. That will be contingent on the deck receiving a certificate of occupancy.

The forward movement on the purchase option and the construction will have a significant impact on the city of Ann Arbor’s finances. The $3.2 million land deal was anticipated to provide $3 million for the financing plan for the new municipal center at Fifth and Huron, which is in the final stages of construction.

At the city council’s Aug. 15 meeting, a short-term financing strategy (an inter-fund loan from the city’s pooled investments) was approved as a contingency for further delays in the deal. The city council originally gave its approval to the selection of Village Green as the purchaser of the city-owned First and Washington lot back in 2006.

The DDA is beginning to transfer monthly parking permits at First and Washington to other lots. And the two Zipcar parking spaces currently at First and Washington are hoped to be moved to the lot at First and William, according to DDA executive director  Susan Pollay.