The recent rush of new residential buildings in downtown Ann Arbor might lead some to believe that the 716 more units under development might overkill. Those folks might be surprised to learn that a new study commissioned by the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority
has found that not only are those apartments and condos needed, but by 2019, 1,800 more housing units will be needed to meet downtown demand.
Not surprised by this is the DDA itself. According to DDA Executive Director Susan Pollay, they hear from people all the time who want to live downtown but found the number of available units to be low. A study like this, Pollay says, not only gives the DDA the ability to advocate for the kind of development needed downtown, but also demonstrates demand for future developers, such as the need for 90,000 to 100,000 square feet of additional office space.
"It gets the numbers out there - vacancy is lower all the time and office rents continue to rise," she says. "While we may not see a new office building immediately, these numbers help to communicate to developers and business owners to keep an eye on things, because there is a growing opportunity in downtown Ann Arbor."
Also mentioned in the report is an average price tag of $1,500 per month for a one-bedroom apartment in downtown Ann Arbor, which is out of reach for households earning between 50 and 80 percent of downtown's Area Median Income. Study author 4ward Planning attributes the elevated rents to the growing desirability of living there. Whether or not meeting the demand with additional units will result in more affordable options, Pollay says, is difficult to tell. A forthcoming Washtenaw County Housing Needs Assessment will hopefully shed more light on the topic later this year.
Source: Susan Pollay, Ann Arbor DDA
Writer: Natalie Burg