89.1 WEMU

Issues Of The Environment: Veridian At County Farm Project Moving Forward

Nov 18, 2020

Matt Grocoff
Credit Wikipedia Media Commons / wikipedia.org

THRIVE Colloborative founder Matt Grocoff imagined a community built around affordable housing and sustainable energy, and he called the project "Veridian at County Farm."  Ann Arbor City Council, in October, gave final approval to the project.  Grocoff joined WEMU's David Fair to discuss where the project is, when it will be ready for move-in, and the broader and more grand vision for the future of sustainable development. 


Overview

  • In October, Ann Arbor City Council gave the go-ahead to a housing development that Ann Arbor officials say could be a shining example of sustainable living and inclusivity is now officially approved.  The Veridian development aims to be a mixed-income, net-zero community that can inspire similar communities throughout the nation.
  • Plans for Veridian include: 100% all-electric development, powered by solar with no gas lines or combustion appliances of any kind and front porches facing a greenway guiding you into miles of wooded trails.  Landscaping is viewed as a means of reviving ecosystems and 30% of the landscape will be dedicated to food production.  The neighborhood will include a multifunctional community barn, greenhouse and retail center with coffee shop and a full service Farm Stop grocery where you can purchase produce from local farmers year-round.
  • At Veridian, two thirds of the homes (99 units) are being developed for sale at market rate and the neighboring parcel with one third of the homes (50 units) will be developed by a local non-profit (Avalon) for low-income tenants including some who have formerly experienced homelessness.  (Council approved a $1 payment-in-lieu-of-taxes arrangement so Avalon will not pay annual property taxes for its part of the development).  To encourage human powered living, the neighborhood will have abundant bike storage, a bike maintenance shed, EV Bike share, EV Car Share, and more.
  • THRIVE Collaborative founder Matthew Grocoff said, “We will not be defined by the unsparing consequences of climate crisis, but by how we respond as the window of opportunity for action closes.  Veridian at County Farm creates the inspiring vision of a fossil fuel free future in which neighborhoods operate as elegantly as forested ecosystems.”  Construction is expected to begin in 2021. 

Veridian at a Glance

Veridian at County Farm is nestled on County Farm Park with 130 acres of woods, trillium-lined trails, gardens and playgrounds.  It is targeted to be one of the nation’s first mixed-income net zero energy communities, and is creating one the nation’s first Living Community Challenge Master Plans.  It will be a 100% all-electric development, powered by solar with no gas lines or combustion appliances of any kind.  Your front porch faces a greenway guiding you into miles of wooded trails.  Landscaping is viewed as a means of reviving ecosystems and 30% of the landscape will be dedicated to food production.  Your neighborhood will include a multifunctional community barn, greenhouse and retail center with coffee shop and a full service Farm Stop grocery where you can purchase produce from local farmers year-round. (Source: *directly quoted* https://thrive-collaborative.com/press)

Veridian: A Living Community Challenge Neighborhood

THRIVE Collaborative is transforming the site of a former youth prison in Ann Arbor, Michigan into one of the world’s first Living Community Challenge neighborhoods.  The Living Community Challenge is an expansion of the Living Building Challenge, the world’s most rigorous green building standard. 

Veridian at County Farm is targeted to be a mixed-income net zero energy communities: 100% all-electric, powered by solar, with resilient energy storage and no gas lines or combustion appliances of any kind. It is located in Ann Arbor, Michigan, adjacent to a 130 acre park with miles of forested trails, community gardens and play spaces.  Front porches face a greenway guiding residents into miles of trillium-lined pathways.  Landscaping is viewed as a means of reviving ecosystems and food production will be integral to the neighborhood with food-producing native species, like hazelnuts and paw paws, in addition to lanes lined with fruit trees and community gardens.

THRIVE Collaborative founder Matthew Grocoff said, “We will not be defined by the unsparing consequences of climate crisis, but by how we respond as the window of opportunity for action closes.  Veridian at County Farm creates the inspiring vision of a fossil fuel free future in which neighborhoods operate as elegantly as forested ecosystems.”  Construction is expected to begin in 2020. 

The neighborhood will include a multifunctional community barn (salvaged and restored from a nearby 1840s farm), a garden tool share-shed and retail center with coffee shop and a Farm Stop grocery where customers can purchase 100% local produce, meats and dairy exclusively from local farmers and producers year-round. 

Research shows that living close to people from a variety of incomes and backgrounds leads to substantially better lives, measured by real economic gains, greater educational attainment, and improved health.  At Veridian, two thirds of the homes (99 units) are being developed for sale at market rate and the neighboring parcel with one third of the homes (50 units) will be developed by a local non-profit for low-income tenants including some who have formerly experienced homelessness.  To encourage human powered living, the neighborhood will have abundant bike storage, a bike maintenance shed, EV Bike share, EV Car Share, and more.

United Nations Sustainable Development Goals - Honor

Veridian at County Farm is being honored in the United Nations gallery for Accelerating the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  The Earth Institute at Columbia University selected Veridian at County Farm to be included in their Local Projects Challenge in collaboration with the UN.  It is among fewer than 100 exemplary projects from around the globe that are being highlighted to demonstrate how we can meet the UN Sustainable Development Goals.  These projects will be featured at the 2020 World Urban Forum in Abu Dhabi.  Download the UN SDG Veridian at County Farm project 2 page PDF.

Allowing Public to Invest in Equity Raise for Site Development

THRIVE Collaborative is proud to offer a unique impact investment opportunity in the construction of Veridian at County Farm.  THRIVE Collaborative is working with Localstake to help accelerate sustainable real estate investment and give access to historically underrepresented investors. (https://localstake.com/businesses/veridian-at-county-farm)

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— David Fair is the WEMU News Director and host of Morning Edition on WEMU.  You can contact David at 734.487.3363, on twitter @DavidFairWEMU, or email him at dfair@emich.edu