Washtenaw County, MI – At the most recent Board of Commissioners meeting, Commissioner Andy LaBarre offered a liaison report about the exciting recent news surrounding the Veridian at County Farm housing development. The development is a collaboration between THRIVE Collaborative and Avalon Housing and will be one of the most sustainable mixed-income developments in the nation
His report included highlighting that Avalon Housing had announced that they were awarded funding from the Michigan State Housing Development Authority for 50 units of affordable housing to be constructed as part of the 150-unit development. According to a recent release from Avalon -
“All of Avalon’s units will be affordable housing, for households earning up to 60% of the Area Median Income (AMI). At least thirty (30) of Avalon’s units will be supportive housing units for households with project-based vouchers and incomes up to 30% of AMI who are exiting homelessness. Ten (10) of those thirty units will be reserved for young people experiencing homelessness or housing instability who are served by Ozone House.”
LaBarre also reported that on June 18th, several commissioners, county staff, and other community leaders attended a groundbreaking at 2270 Platt Rd for the property.
“While it is easy to focus on the end goals that this transformational development will have, we can’t forget the decade of work neighborhood residents, county staff, community members, nonprofit leaders, and others have put into this project,” said Andy LaBarre, Vice-Chair of the Board of Commissioner and Commissioner of District 7 where Veridian at County Farm is located. “All of this is possible because of the countless hours these individuals spent doing environmental assessments, coordinating community engagement, developing and reviewing proposed uses, and everything else required of a project of this scale and complexity.”
The 13.59 acre Ann Arbor property was the site of the original County Poor Farm and later become home of the Washtenaw County Juvenile Detention Center. When that building was demolished in 2013, the Board of Commissioners established the Platt Road Community Advisory Committee (CAC) to guide the work of developing ideas for the use of the property staffed by the Office of Community and Economic Development (OCED).
In Summer 2014, a 3-day community design “charrette” was hosted by OCED and a contracted planning and economic development firm to gather intensive community engagement and design ideas from the community. After extensive discussion to establish the community's hopes and goals for the site, discuss potential design options, and develop a defined vision plan for the CAC to bring to the Board of Commissioners.
Two years later, in summer 2016 the board released a request for proposals developed by OCED and the County’s Office of Infrastructure Management to solicit proposals for the purchase and development of the site. After a year of staff review, the commissioners held public interview with finalists and ultimately selected THRIVE Collaborative and Avalon Housing, to redevelop the site. Staff spent the next several years navigating the purchase agreement process to ensure the project would be sold and redeveloped to ensure accountability and maximize impact.
Both THRIVE and Avalon designed this community centered on sustainable living. Examples of this include the development consisting of all electric appliances, the use of solar power, the launching of a bike sharing system, the extensive availability for electric vehicle charging, the creation of native landscapes, the implementation of innovative water efficiency practices, and ensuring that all amenities will be available to all residents of the developments.
“I’m so grateful to the members of the Community Advisory Committee who helped steward the vision of this site as a green, accessible, mixed income community,” said Teresa Gillotti, Director of the Washtenaw County Office of Community and Economic Development. “I’m proud to be able to help deliver on that community vision, along with so many staff from OCED, OIM, Administration and Corporation Counsel. I’m happy for to hear of the funding award and the groundbreaking, but I know the joy will come for many of us when we see the first affordable tenants move in!”