The Old YMCA faced on Fifth Avenue, William Street, and Fourth Avenue, sharing a block with the Blake Transit Center and the Ann Arbor Federal Building. As of 2008, the Old YMCA was torn down and a a project named William Street Station was proposed to redevelop the site. After that project fell through, the site was turned into a surface parking lot under the authority of the Ann Arbor DDA as a holding pattern until a new development could be undertaken.
A set of proposals for the Old Y Lot (350 S. Fifth Avenue) was solicited by the Ann Arbor City Council in late 2013. The city faces a balloon payment for the mortgage on the site in late 2013.
An even earlier Ann Arbor YMCA building at 110 N.Fourth Ave still stands (see photo) and is used as the Washtenaw County Annex.
The YMCA and affordable housing
The most important part of the Old Y site in recent history was the 100-room SRO (single-room occupancy) hotel that faced Fifth Avenue, which had been used as semi-permanent housing for very low-income individuals. When the Y moved to its new site, they attempted to sell the Old Y property. AATA bid $3.5m for the site, but the City of Ann Arbor invoked a right of first refusal clause built into the Y's contract to maintain the very-low income housing. With the help of the DDA, the City paid $3.5m for the Old Y in order to guarantee the continuation of affordable housing on that site.
In November of 2005, the SRO hotel portion of the site was closed; due to years of deferred maintenance, the heating system had failed and was deemed unfixable by the City. The City had not intended to keep the Old Y in perpetuity, but sought to find a developer who would continue the existence of the housing in a redevelopment of the site. The developer HDC, in partnership with the supportive housing provider Hope Network, won the bid to redevelop the site, along with the Blake Transit Center site next door. The project, named William Street Station, did not come to fruition.
HDC and the City provided housing for the displaced residents: for the first months after the closing of the Old Y, remaining residents were housed in hotels in Ann Arbor and Canton Township, later moving to a McKinley complex.
2013 Development Proposals
In 2013, with a $3.5 million balloon payment coming due in December, the City again requested development bids for the parcel. The high bid of $5.25 million came from Dahlmann Properties. That bid proposed:
"to develop a mixed-use project on the Y Lot, with destination retail/restaurant space on the first floor, large-plate office space on the remaining lower floors, and residential apartments on the upper floors ... [with] substantial landscaped open space designed by nationally known landscape architect SmithGroup JJR of Ann Arbor and maintained by the developer," he said. "SmithGroup JJR designed the fountain and gardens in front of the Campus Inn, which had been a featureless concrete slab when Dahlmann Properties purchased the hotel that had previously been in receivership."
A January 2014 story noted that the sale should is expected to by March 1, 2014.
In the news
- Old YMCA, coverage from the Ann Arbor Chronicle
- Old Y Lot, coverage from the Ann Arbor Chronicle
- Asbestos removal to begin at YMCA, Ann Arbor News, March 2008
Downtown Development Authority officials opened six bids Tuesday for the job of demolishing the building, which is owned by the city of Ann Arbor. The bids ranged from a low of $362,912 by Adamo Demolition Co. of Detroit to a high of $872,276 by Beal Inc. of Ann Arbor. The DDA will have a special meeting March 12 to award the bid, DDA Executive Director Susan Pollay said.
- Ann Arbor News, 3 November 2013: Dahlmann proposal includes 'substantial' open space and 'grand fountain'