The Ann Arbor City Council approved a plan
last week aiming to re-develop the current YMCA site located at 350
S. Fifth Ave. Ideas for revamping the building have been an issue
of debate in the city for quite some time, but the affordable
housing units located within the YMCA. The City Council’s
plan ensures the housing units remain in place when the YMCA moves
to its new location. This is the correct action for the City
Council to take, acknowledging the importance of having low-cost
housing — even in bastions of overpriced real estate like Ann
Arbor. In addition, this plan also presents a chance for the city
to increase density and improve its transportation services —
both worthwhile and laudable causes.

Laura Wong

The dilapidated condition of the YMCA building has become
increasingly apparent in past years. Last fall, the YMCA raised $6
million for the construction of a new building, but the City
Council rejected the plan because it failed to compensate for the
loss of the 100 affordable housing units located at the site. The
recently approved proposal, which the Downtown Development
Authority devised, will focus on tearing down the existing site in
sections so that the housing units can be kept in place.

Due to its central location, the transit mall would provide an
important service for those commuting to jobs in Ann Arbor, as well
as for the residents of the housing units located on the site. By
considering the implementation of such ideas, the City Council has
begun to address one of the most important issues affecting Ann
Arbor.

The presence of low-income housing in cities like Ann Arbor is
an issue of concern for many citizens, but it has been
traditionally overlooked. In order to thrive, Ann Arbor must have a
steady stream of workers willing to create a stable economy for
residents and tourists. Ann Arbor’s high cost of living makes
it difficult for people who work in the city to also live in it,
thereby decreasing the appeal of such jobs. Affordable housing
helps to counter this problem. Furthermore, affordable housing
helps to add diversity — already one of the most appealing
aspects of Ann Arbor life — to the city. Maintaining
diversity must remain at the forefront of city politics in order
for Ann Arbor to keep the distinctive flavor that sets it apart
from other large cities.

Despite a lack of specifics concerning the future construction
that will occur at the YMCA site, the city should make sure to
build high. In order to conform to the Greenbelt property tax
passed in November, the density within the city must increase. The
city can begin to increase density this by making certain that this
impending construction project follows the plan to construct taller
buildings.

Affordable housing is a rarity in Ann Arbor, but it is
nonetheless vital to the city nonetheless. In approving the plan to
renovate the YMCA site, the City Council recognizes the importance
of including those less fortunate in the community.

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