County OKs 618 S. Main Brownfield Plan

Following a public hearing at its Aug. 1, 2012 meeting, the Washtenaw County board of commissioners approved a brownfield financing plan for a $39 million residential development at 618 S. Main St. in Ann Arbor. [.pdf of brownfield plan] Two commissioners – Felicia Brabec and Yousef Rabhi – voted against the plan. Rolland Sizemore Jr. was absent.

Previously approved by the Ann Arbor city council on June 18, the project’s brownfield tax increment finance (TIF) plan works in conjunction with a $650,000 TIF grant (paid over a period of four years) awarded by the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority board at its June 6, 2012.

Both the brownfield TIF and the DDA grant work in a similar way – in that the developer must build the project and pay the new taxes on the project, in order to receive the financial benefit. The brownfield plan includes developer reimbursements of $3.7 million over 26 years. Also during that period, the plan includes $462,864 of tax capture for administrative fees to support the operation of the Washtenaw County Brownfield Redevelopment Authority. An additional $457,741 of tax increment proceeds will be contributed to the Local Site Remediation Revolving Fund.

Work covered by the brownfield plan includes: site investigations for characterization of soils and dewatering if water is encountered during excavation; disposal of soils; demolition of buildings and removal of existing site improvements; lead and asbestos abatement; infrastructure improvements like water, storm sewer and sanitary sewer upgrades, street repair and improvements to streets; and site preparation like staking, geotechnical engineering, clearing and grubbing.

According to a staff memo, the project will create 80-100 temporary construction jobs, and 4-5 full-time, and 6 or more part-time, permanent jobs. Taxes from the Washtenaw County annual millage will increase from about $2,028 to $69,614 after the tax increment financing period is completed.

The only speaker at the Aug. 1 public hearing was the project’s developer, Dan Ketelaar. The 7-story building will include 190 units – which will be marketed to young professionals – plus two levels of parking for 121 vehicles.

Before the board’s vote, both Brabec and Rabhi praised the development, but said they were voting against it because of concerns about affordability. They did not feel that most young professionals would be able to afford living there, and stressed the importance of having more affordable housing in the downtown area.

This brief was filed from the boardroom of the county administration building at 220 N. Main in Ann Arbor. A more detailed report will follow: [link]