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Posted on Tue, Dec 18, 2012 : 5:59 a.m.

Ann Arbor continuing to pursue greenway vision for 721 N. Main and 415 W. Washington sites

By Ryan J. Stanton


This site plan for 721 N. Main emerged recently. The City Council is following the advice of city staff and the North Main Huron River Corridor Vision Task Force and applying for grant funding for a greenway anchor park at the site from both the Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation Commission and the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund.

City of Ann Arbor

This story has been updated to include the most recent version of the site plan plan for 721 N. Main, as well as clarification from Darren McKinnon about how the grant funding could work.

The city of Ann Arbor has decided to pursue grant funding to develop a greenway anchor park at 721 N. Main, while putting some more of its own money into 415 W. Washington.

The Ann Arbor City Council voted 8-0 on three separate agenda items related to those sites Monday night. Both city-owned properties are part of the vision for the proposed Allen Creek Greenway, essentially a walking and biking pathway running from the University of Michigan athletic complex to Argo Dam and the Huron River.

The council is following the advice of city staff and the North Main Huron River Corridor Vision Task Force and applying for grant funding for 721 N. Main from both the Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation Commission and the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund.

The county grant specifically would fund the construction of non-motorized trails at the 721 N. Main site. If the city's grant application is successful, the awarded funding also could be used as a full or partial match for the Natural Resources Trust Fund grant.

The City Council earlier this year gave the North Main task force a Dec. 31 deadline to provide a recommendation on the best use of the 721 N. Main site and a plan has emerged. It focuses primarily on converting the floodway portion of the site to park use, while non-motorized trails provide access to the site from Felch, Summit and Main streets.

City officials believe the trail features make the project a viable candidate for the county grant since the pathways could link to the future greenway and Border-to-Border Trail along the river. Around the trails would be wet meadow, prairie and other stormwater management features.


This graphic representation by the Allen Creek Greenway Conservancy shows what a greenway anchor park could look like at 415 W. Washington.

The council directed the city's staff to apply for the grants, but the approved resolutions don't include dollar amounts for how much the city is going after.

Sumedh Bahl, the city's community services administrator, said he's hoping to have better cost estimates on the project by the end of this month.

The city could apply for as much as $300,000 from the Natural Resources Trust Fund, but that would require some matching funds, and a county parks grant could count toward that.

Darren McKinnon, a member of the task force, said the county grant also can allow for in-kind services as a match. He said the state grant requires a 25 percent match, which the county dollars could serve as, and that means the city would need $75,000 from the county to apply for $300,000 from the state.

Under a separate resolution Monday night, the City Council agreed to budget an additional $32,583 — on top of $50,000 already budgeted — for work related to 415 W. Washington, another city property where an old warehouse-style garage continues to deteriorate.

The city is entering into a $44,498 contract with Tetra Tech GEO for environmental investigation work and a $26,935 contract with Rueter & Associates Architects for historic structure assessment.

The extra $11,150 budgeted beyond the worth of those two contracts is for possible contingency and the staff costs associated with the work.

Tetra Tech's work will include assessment of the extent of environmental concerns with the property and recommendations for remediation. Rueter & Associates will conduct a historic structure assessment to fully document the physical condition of the structures at the site.


A map showing three city-owned sites that could become greenway parks.

Friends of the Ann Arbor Greenway

The assessment will provide a comprehensive understanding of the current condition and needs, if any, for restoring the structures to allow their repurposing. City officials have been working for the past couple years on a vision for a community arts center surrounded by a greenway park there.

Bob Galardi, president of the Allen Creek Greenway Conservancy, expressed support Monday night for going after grant funding for 721 N. Main. The thinking of city officials is that 415 W. Washington could be next in line after an initial greenway park is developed at 721 N. Main.

"The Allen Creek Greenway Conservancy considers the 721 N. Main project a first step in the overall development of the Allen Creek Greenway from the new East Stadium Boulevard bridges north through the heart of our community to the Huron River and beyond," Galardi said.

Galardi said the proposed improvements at the 721 N. Main site and its connections to destinations both north and south will provide many benefits to the Ann Arbor community, including a safe space for off-street, non-motorized travel and responsible floodway management.

Council Member Mike Anglin, D-5th Ward, noted there have been talks about the Allen Creek Greenway going back many years.

"It's moving kind of slowly, according to a lot of people, but it's still moving forward," he said. "And it's also gaining momentum as time goes on, and I think that's a really important thing for us to realize."

Council Members Sabra Briere, Marcia Higgins and Margie Teall were absent.

Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for Reach him at or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's email newsletters.



Fri, Feb 15, 2013 : 4:48 p.m.

This plan should be implemented if the funds for it are supported through various grants. The warehouses are decaying and the areas are difficult to maintain because they are vulnerable to floods from what I understand. There certainly are other problems in Ann Arbor that require immediate attention but that does not necessarily mean that this project has to be set aside. People should not complain about the abundance of parks but rather appreciate the access we have to these areas. It is often easy to take them for granted when they so common in Ann Arbor. The only thing I have a question about however is whether the Washington and Main Street locations differ at all.


Wed, Dec 19, 2012 : 1:57 p.m.

The former Road Commission building at 415 W. Washington has been an eyesore since it was built. Its a terrible transition between the OWS residences and downtown. The building floods when Allen Creek rises the roof has leaked for 30 years . There is not much salvageable. Something more like the Y would be a much better solution and compatible with the green way .


Wed, Dec 19, 2012 : 9:33 a.m.

I like that they show us where Hiscock is on that map.

Alice Ralph

Tue, Dec 18, 2012 : 11:49 p.m.

In addition to the two appoved resolutions described in this article, there was adoption of the Ann Arbor Climate Action Plan, covered elsewhere. These three agenda items seemed thematically related to me. That's why I signed up to speak in of them at the beginning of last night's City Council meeting. For more information on the larger integrated vision of the Greenway in the the Allen Creek floodplain, you can also go to or the North Main task force and 721 technical committee web pages at These recent actions are good steps toward a more sustainable Ann Arbor.

Ryan J. Stanton

Tue, Dec 18, 2012 : 7:11 p.m.

Please note the story has been updated to include the most recent version of the site plan plan for 721 N. Main, as well as clarification from Darren McKinnon about how the grant funding could work.

Rick Stevens

Tue, Dec 18, 2012 : 5:52 p.m.

Maybe I don't understand all this but I think this really is rooted in the flooding issue. Am I mistaken? No point in building or keeping buildings where floods are likely (esp. with climate change ongoing). I'm not sure (I think I know why) why Ryan chose to ignore this side of things (no mention), but he can jump in here one supposes.


Tue, Dec 18, 2012 : 7:08 p.m.

This is dead on. My understanding is that the part you see concrete plans on in the drawing is all in the floodway, can't be built on and the buildings that are there and not shown in the drawing have to come down. The rest is less clear.


Tue, Dec 18, 2012 : 5:19 p.m.

"a safe space for off-street, non-motorized travel " The Washington site looks like about 800 feet distance, beginning and ending at two busy streets. How are bicyclists supposed to cross the street to connect with these other "greenways"? Are they actually going to walk their bikes across? Or just charge out suddenly as usual acting like a vehicle while using a pedestrian walk. If the latter I anticipate a steady stream of accidents. Are the city planners going to put a pedestrian walkway above (or below) the street? Have the City planners done a needs assessment? I am still waiting to see all those bicyclists using the existing bike lanes that have narrowed Huron etc. I think I saw 3 bicyclists last For the City council's information, a large percentage of the population in this city is over 50, and can't ride a bike for safety and mobility reasons. And are unlikely to start. 99% of the younger people at University don't ride bikes either. Just out of interest - how many of the City council ride a bike to work? Particularly in winter - I think they should all be required to do exactly that.


Thu, Dec 20, 2012 : 8:40 p.m.

Love your logic. There are people who don't or can't ride a bike, so stop putting this stuff in. Hey, along those lines, did you know that "a large percentage of the population" (whatever that is) is under 16, and can't drive a car for state law reasons? I hope the city stops repairing roads, etc, given the obvious and statistically-backed lack of anticipated use. FYI, cyclists may ride in crosswalks with the rights of a pedestrian. It's in the michigan vehicle code. Other questions: where have you seen bike lanes on Huron? And I'd love to see where your 99% figure comes from. Although, with over 40,000 students, that does put us at 400 cyclists, which is slightly more than the 3 you saw on those imaginary bike lanes


Tue, Dec 18, 2012 : 3:41 p.m.

Nice to hear there about the green space. Ryan - is the map cockeyed or is that me? Or is it because it is from a plat?

Dave Koziol

Tue, Dec 18, 2012 : 3:06 p.m.

While I kinda like the idea for an Allen Creek Greenway, two of the people in my office currently park at the 415 W Washington lot. How many parking spots will be lost if a park goes in there, and are there any plans to make additional spots available somewhere else?

Jake C

Tue, Dec 18, 2012 : 3:51 p.m.

Hard to tell from the Google Satellite photo, but it looks like maybe 200 cars could park there on a best-care scenario. It looks like it's basically a big gravel lot with no marked parking spaces, so it doesn't seem very well utilized for any purpose right now. I suppose your co-workers could inquire about parking permits at the lot just a short walk away behind Pizza Pino along 1st St. And the city did just spend a massive amount of money to build a giant new underground parking structure on 5th, maybe they could use that.

Dog Guy

Tue, Dec 18, 2012 : 2:34 p.m.

The stormwater zone at 721 North Main might require frequent mowing at great economic and environmental costs. As 721 is right by the Huron River, water could easily be transferred in to keep the stormwater zone full at all times.


Tue, Dec 18, 2012 : 2:19 p.m.

It is a great halfway point between the day shelter and the Delonis Center!


Tue, Dec 18, 2012 : 2:16 p.m.

Looks great! Hustle up!

Nicholas Urfe

Tue, Dec 18, 2012 : 1:58 p.m.

Ann Arbor has 157 parks, and about 100,000 trees. We love our parks. Anyone who complains about parks and green space in ann arbor might want to move to any other community in southern Michigan. Because none of them compare, and they are all barren in comparison.


Tue, Dec 18, 2012 : 5:59 p.m.

I hear what you are saying, Nicholas. I am all for this green space. However, apparently, you haven't been to Dexter recently (or ever). Green space abounds...plenty of trees, and the new Mill Creek Park and Walkway (that will soon go from Dexter to Hudson Mills Park), are HUGE pluses. Dexter is hardly "barren". We are all very lucky to live in the Ann Arbor/Dexter area, where green space is highly valued.

Basic Bob

Tue, Dec 18, 2012 : 2:21 p.m.

Well they could use at least one decent soccer field. Novi, Canton, Farmington Hills, Pittsfield, even York Township have better. Fuller is unusable for real competitive play due to the lack of grass, bumps, puddles, and no irrigation. But it looks great from the street.

Nicholas Urfe

Tue, Dec 18, 2012 : 1:46 p.m.

What about the parking structure space that the DDA is trying to railroad into another high rise?


Tue, Dec 18, 2012 : 1:41 p.m.

"improvements at the 721 N. Main site and its connections to destinations both north and south " "a safe space for off-street, non-motorized travel " Fluff-speak alert!


Tue, Dec 18, 2012 : 3:12 p.m.

I'm really referring more to the inflated language (fluff-speak) than the project itself.


Tue, Dec 18, 2012 : 3:10 p.m.

Thanks for criticizing all the long hours of work by citizens who wanted to be involved in shaping the future of their community. It's much easier to just sit back and judge isn't it.


Tue, Dec 18, 2012 : 1:51 p.m.

I guess if your name is "North Main Huron River Corridor Vision Task Force" then there is going to be some fluff. Not just a "task force", but a "Vision task force". It doesn't get much fluffier.


Tue, Dec 18, 2012 : 1:28 p.m.

I do like the car wash there it will be sad to see it go, great prices and always clean


Tue, Dec 18, 2012 : 8:46 p.m.

I thought I read somewhere that the car wash is being sold to the city for their greenbelt project? I know I read that somewhere on here


Tue, Dec 18, 2012 : 4:26 p.m.

The car wash is unaffected by these plans.


Tue, Dec 18, 2012 : 12:41 p.m.

This looks great! Thank you to the hard work of those on the North Main Huron River Task Force.


Tue, Dec 18, 2012 : 12:40 p.m.

Isn't this fun... a private sand box for council and cronies to blow much need services $$$ on ....grants ? same fairy land source as " obamabucks " my wallet....


Tue, Dec 18, 2012 : 4:51 p.m.

In what way does any of this look private?


Tue, Dec 18, 2012 : 1:18 p.m.

Wow - grumpy so early. Did you read the article to see where a lot of the funding is being sought (hint: not your wallet)? Did you know anything about the level of public interest in/demand for these types of amenities (hint: it's high)? Did you attend any of the score of public meetings on these proposals and use your voice constructively or are you just now chiming in after the fact (hint: it's option B).


Tue, Dec 18, 2012 : 12:18 p.m.

It looks nice but I'm not sure who would really use it..

Bob Needham

Tue, Dec 18, 2012 : 6:16 p.m.

I'm just curious, what makes you say so? I live nearby and my guess is it would get plenty of use


Tue, Dec 18, 2012 : 4:11 p.m.

This tax-paying walker will use both.

Mike D.

Tue, Dec 18, 2012 : 11:45 a.m.

Looks nice. Can't wait for all the whiners to complain about the cost.


Tue, Dec 18, 2012 : 1:44 p.m.

You mean it is not free?


Tue, Dec 18, 2012 : 11:40 a.m.

It appears that grant funding will provide for this greenway -- if that truly is true, think it is a good idea. If funding for this project needs to come from other sources such as with the art fund, not in favor until all the other needs of Ann Arbor are taken care of such as full staffing of AAFD and AAPD, streets in repair, etc.


Tue, Dec 18, 2012 : 3:08 p.m.

Crime is at a decade low and the AAFD staffing meets federal standards. Yes to the roads, no to the fear mongering on the rest.