41-page draft plan outlines new vision for Ann Arbor's South State Street corridor
A draft copy of the Ann Arbor's new South State Street Corridor Plan was unveiled at Thursday night's meeting of the city's Planning Commission.
The 41-page document prepared by the city's staff outlines a new vision for the 2.15-mile stretch from Stimson Street to Ellsworth Road — a major corridor that connects Interstate-94 to downtown Ann Arbor and Pittsfield Township and includes a diverse mix of land uses.
"This was a resolution to recommend to council that it get distributed to neighboring jurisdictions and other public entities so they can react to it and have another voice in the process, in case they weren't involved previously," Chairman Kirk Westphal said of the commission's action on the plan.
City of Ann Arbor
Westphal said the corridor planning process — a collaborative effort by community members, businesses, the University of Michigan and the city of Ann Arbor — was one of the more thorough public stakeholder input processes he's seen during his years in Ann Arbor.
"The city does well in general, and this was an exceptional collaboration between lots of private interests, as well as amongst city staff and residents in this area," he said.
The plan envisions a vibrant and diverse corridor with a mix of land uses that are interconnected so that users can move safely and seamlessly by foot, bicycle, transit and automobile.
"It's a corridor with a fragmented history development-wise, ranging from outmoded research parks on the south end all the way to more retail-oriented uses on the north end," Westphal said. "So I think it has lacked identity to some point, and perhaps commerce has suffered as a result of that. So I think what this does is just clarify our vision for what we might like to see there in the future."
Among the plan's many recommendations:
- Evaluate the feasibility of utilizing vacant parcels for alternative energy generation
- Evaluate the feasibility of integrating public art along the corridor
- Develop incentives for more stringent energy efficiency standards that encourage all new buildings to have solar-ready rooftops
- Develop conceptual images for public space improvements, streetscape changes, signage and lighting
- Identify characteristics that distinguish the corridor and highlight destinations and themes that connect to the city at large
- Develop a South State Street logo and color template
- Evaluate utilizing open land for community gardens
- Assess and improve high-crash areas along the corridor
- As housing is integrated into mixed-use areas, encourage the expansion of affordable housing options
- Develop safe non-motorized systems, including continuous, connected and maintained bikeways, and redevelop and maintain sidewalks throughout the corridor
- Utilize lighting and signage improvements to help define the character of the corridor
- Establish high-visibility pedestrian crossings throughout the corridor
- Turn State Street into a boulevard between Eisenhower and I-94 to enable safer automobile, bicycle and pedestrian movement
- Consider utilizing vacant parcels for athletic fields and recreation facilities
- Preserve appropriate parcels of land for public open space, parks and walking paths
- Assess traffic circle options (roundabouts) for high-crash areas along the corridor
- Develop a pedestrian and bicycle path along the Ann Arbor railroad that will connect the planned Allen Creek bikeway to Pittsfield Township through the corridor
- Identify and apply for grants that will bring financial support to projects that improve the streetscape, including street lights and signage
- Replace DTE street lights with high-efficiency LEDs
- Partner with SPARK to help facilitate development and redevelopment along the corridor
- Explore the development of a Business Improvement District that allows businesses along the corridor to pay additional fees to fund improvements along South State
- Anticipate and plan for future light rail transit or bus rapid transit along the corridor
- Increase sanitary sewer capacity throughout the corridor as necessary
- Improve stormwater management and drainage along the corridor
- Evaluate innovative parking solutions to decrease congestion and utilize land more efficiently
- Resurface roads in the corridor
- Conduct a detailed traffic analysis of the corridor and identify high-priority intersection improvements
- Annex remaining township parcels along the corridor
- Encourage the incubation of small businesses
- Promote mixed land uses (residential and office or residential and ancillary retail) along the corridor
- Promote commercial development in specific areas along State Street
- Enhance street systems operations including light timing, turn lanes, and signage
Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for AnnArbor.com. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to AnnArbor.com's email newsletters.