By Jessica Webster
In early 2016, some residents in Ann Arbor's west side Water Hill neighborhood got a note from HGTV, alerting them that the home and garden cable network had purchased a home at 730 Spring St. and would soon begin renovation work.
Within weeks, crews had removed the roof and most of the interior of the small, one-story home. Plans filed with the city showed that the 1925 bungalow would be expanded from 840 to a still-modest 1324 square-feet. An additional bathroom and a powder room were to be added, as well as a two-story entry, skylights and a covered front porch.
The big question remained: What show was this house being prepared for?
We've got our answer. HGTV will be giving away the home at 730 Spring St., as part of the network's annual Urban Oasis home giveaway sweepstakes.
This is the seventh home HGTV has given away as part of its annual Urban Oasis sweepstakes. Previous home locations were in New York, Chicago, Boston, Miami, Atlanta and, most recently Asheville, North Carolina.
Urban Oasis executive producer Ali Booker said that Ann Arbor was chosen for this year's giveaway because of its energy and connection to the University of Michigan.
"I think they're always looking for cities that just have a certain fun vibe," said Booker. "Places that are close to a vibrant downtown community, and walking distance to that downtown community. Places with great restaurants, great things to do, and year-round activities. This one is particularly great because of the University of Michigan and all that they bring to the community. I just think it was on the short list of really cool, hip cities for doing an Urban Oasis."
HGTV crews worked with students from University of Michigan's School of Natural Resources and Environment to design and implement sustainable and native landscaping.
HGTV host Matt Blashaw was on site at the Spring Street home in late May, filming with U-M Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture, Stanton Jones and a group of his students to begin the work to transform the deep, sloped backyard.
Jamie McArdle and Andy Sell, both students in the landscape architecture master's degree program at U-M, said that a native species rain garden was the best solution for the steeply-graded yard.
McArdle explained that they chose plants that could "be a benefit to the ecology of the area and be a natural habitat" while also handling stormwater runoff.
"We looked at plants that had the most impact for wildlife, so not just nectar plants for butterflies and bees and other pollinators but also the larval hosts too," said Sell. "We've got plenty of milkweed for monarch butterflies, for instance."
McArdle said that they were careful to choose plants that would add interest to the backyard through all of the seasons.
"A lot of people associate native plants with weeds, or with things that aren't very visually appealing," said McArdle. "We wanted to make sure that our rain garden is aesthetically appealing as well as functional."
Construction and filming at the Spring Street house was scheduled to wrap up in late June, and a one-hour special about the house will air in September. We'll have more information on specific dates as it comes in.