Ann Arbor Eyes Edwards Brothers Land

Ann Arbor city administrator Steve Powers and city attorney Stephen Postema have been directed to gather information to help the city council determine whether to purchase the 16.7-acre Edwards Brothers Malloy property on South State Street.

The direction came after the city council met in a closed session for about half an hour during its Jan. 6, 2014 meeting, and then emerged to pass the resolution. [amended Edwards Brothers resolution on Jan. 6, 2014]

The resolution provides direction to explore options to make the purchase financially feasible. That means finding a way to finance a $12.8 million deal. The sale of the Edwards Brothers property on South State Street is currently pending to the University of Michigan for $12.8 million, in a deal that was announced in a Nov. 27, 2013 press release. The business – a fourth-generation Ann Arbor publishing and printing firm – had signaled its intent to put the property on the market in late July.

But a right of first refusal on the property is held by the city of Ann Arbor as a condition of a tax abatement granted by the city council almost three years ago, on Jan. 18, 2011. Purchase by the university would remove the property from the tax rolls. Washtenaw County records show the taxable value of the property at just over $3 million. In his remarks on the resolution made at Monday’s meeting, mayor John Hieftje cited the city’s clear interest in maintaining the property on the city’s tax rolls.

According to the tax abatement agreement, the event triggering the city’s 60-day right-of-first-refusal window is a formal notification to the city by Edwards Brothers. Some people not affiliated with the city reportedly believe that this took place on Nov. 26 – but as of early December, there was not consensus on the city’s side that notification had taken place on that date. The 60 days in question are 60 business days, so if the council acted by its second meeting in February, that issue would be in any case moot.

Updated at 2:27 p.m. Jan. 9, 2014: According to city administrator Steve Powers: “The City is operating on a timeline to provide notice to Edwards Brothers prior to February 25, 2014. This calculation is made from Nov. 27th, 2013.”

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]