DDA to City: Use Land Sales to Support Housing

An effort by city councilmember Sandi Smith to restore a former policy on proceeds of city-owned land sales got a boost from the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority board at its Sept. 5, 2012 meeting.

The policy would direct proceeds from the sale of city-owned land to support affordable housing. The DDA board voted to support a resolution that reads in relevant part: “[T]he Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority encourages the Ann Arbor city council to direct a percentage of proceeds from the sale of the city owned surface parking lots in the downtown to the city’s housing trust fund, to be used to support sustainable, affordable housing.” The phrase “a percentage” was added as an amendment by the DDA board at its meeting.

Smith, who represents Ward 1 and also serves on the DDA board, had used her communications time during the city council’s Sept. 4 meeting to announce publicly that she’d be bringing a resolution to the council on Sept. 17 that would establish a policy of depositing proceeds from city-owned land sales into the city’s affordable housing trust fund. That had been preceded by an email she’d send to her council colleagues the week before.

At their Sept. 5 meeting, DDA board members were keen to establish the idea that “proceeds” meant “net proceeds” – after any debt had been paid. Smith also appeared to indicate that details of the resolution for the city council to consider are not finalized. But the resolution might include a provision that the DDA would forgo repayment of investments it’s made on city-owned property for the purposes of defining “net proceeds” – for example, the cost of demolishing the old YMCA building or interest payments the DDA has made on the loan that was used to purchase the former Y Lot at Fifth and William.

The policy Smith is calling for would represent a return to a previous policy that was rescinded in 2007. That policy dates back to 1996. [For detailed Chronicle coverage, see: "City Council to Focus on Land Sale Policy."]

This brief was filed from the DDA offices at 150 S. Fifth Ave., Suite 301, where the board held its meeting. A more detailed report will follow: [link]