The Ann Arbor News writes about the issue of density in the city of Ann Arbor yet again in a story today, “However city votes, density issues loom.” Underlying the whole story is a generally skeptical tone, and the assumption that only people living way out in suburban developments (and subscribe to the News) are “city residents.” Here’s an example:
“In almost every instance, city residents have opposed higher-density housing, especially when condominiums are proposed near single-family homes.”
Let’s analyze this statement. First, the News is excluding students, over 1/3 of the city, from definition of “city residents.” Have you ever heard students oppose higher-density housing downtown? A few might grumble about particulars: that new housing is too expensive, the buildings are ugly, etc, but in general it’s widely recognized there’s a distinct lack of enough good, inexpensive housing near campus. The article briefly mentions accessory apartments, which the New York Times though important enough to write a story about earlier this month. Oh, that’s right: City Council had already unanimously rejected them in the city!
And they include something I didn’t know about U-M athletic director Bill Martin: he believes in density. Although, perhaps only because it would benefit him as a real estate developer:
“Changes require foresight and nerve, says Bill Martin, athletic director at the University of Michigan and chairman of First Martin Corp., an Ann Arbor real estate development company.
Martin, who also serves on the Washtenaw Land Trust, holds an MBA from the University of Stockholm. Density is an integral part of Stockholm’s master plan, and has resulted in high-rise buildings 10 minutes from the countryside. “Stockholm has had a master plan since the 15th century,” said Martin. Ann Arbor has master plans as well, but according to Martin, has less willingness to accept density.
A supporter of the greenbelt proposal, Martin believes increasing density the only way to foster a healthy tax base necessary to repair aging infrastructure. “We need 1,000 units of housing or more, and not just affordable housing, but all levels. We need three or four Tower Plazas,” said Martin, referring to the 26-story condominium building at the corner of Maynard and East William streets. “