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Revitalizing Washtenaw County: Two Key Projects Receive RAP 2.0 Grants

October 25, 2023 Regional Updates
Renderings show plans for a six-story affordable housing development at the northwest corner of Catherine Street and Fourth Avenue in downtown Ann Arbor's Kerrytown district. Courtesy of Landon Bone Baker Architects via MLive

In recent news, Michigan celebrated a major boost to its prosperity and infrastructure through the approval of $99.2 million in grant funding under the Revitalization and Placemaking Program (RAP 2.0). This substantial funding, a testament to the state’s commitment to rebuilding and enhancing communities, was made possible through a collaborative effort. We are excited to highlight two significant projects right here in Washtenaw County, which have received well-deserved recognition and support from the RAP 2.0 program.

Ann Arbor SPARK was one of the driving forces behind the equitable allocation of these funds. Our advocacy for regional distribution played a pivotal role in ensuring that vital projects in our region received the attention and resources they needed.

The RAP 2.0 program focuses on breathing new life into communities, particularly by addressing the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and fostering community revitalization. The grants aim to promote population and tax revenue growth through various means, including the rehabilitation of vacant and blighted buildings, the development of vacant properties, and the creation of permanent place-based infrastructure. These initiatives are instrumental in creating vibrant communities that attract talent, offer new housing options, support business development, and provide resources for residents.

One of the standout projects in Washtenaw County is the transformation of the Chelsea Rockwell building. After standing vacant for thirty years, this historic structure, dating back to 1909, is set to be reborn as 51 market-rate apartment units. Thanks to a $1.5 million grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, this roughly $9 million project will restore a century-old building, blending the charm of the old with the conveniences of the new. 

Another notable project focuses on affordable housing near transit in Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti. This collaboration involves a six-story development on Washington Street in Ypsilanti, offering 60 affordable housing units to individuals with varying income levels. Additionally, a second project aims to acquire and preserve a six-story building at the northeast corner of Washington and Pearl streets. This building not only provides affordable space for small businesses, including many minority-owned and nonprofit organizations but also adds to the rich fabric of the community.

These projects, enabled by RAP 2.0 grants, signify a significant step towards enhancing Washtenaw County’s infrastructure and community offerings. Moreover, they emphasize the commitment of the state of Michigan to making our region a better place to live.

Paul Krutko, Ann Arbor SPARK President and CEO, stressed the importance of RAP grants to Washtenaw County, stating, “These grants are a vital investment in our local infrastructure, helping us build the foundation for a stronger, more vibrant community. We are grateful for the opportunity they provide to enhance the quality of life in our region.”

The RAP 2.0 grants are a testament to the collaborative spirit of Michigan’s communities and the commitment to creating vibrant, attractive, and inclusive places to live. These projects in Washtenaw County will undoubtedly play a crucial role in making our region even better for its residents and future generations.