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Posted on Tue, Apr 10, 2012 : 5:59 a.m.

Ann Arbor DDA counting on $2M increase in parking revenue to get through next year

By Ryan J. Stanton


Courtesy of Ann Arbor DDA

The Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority is planning to dip another $2 million into its cash reserves to get through a deficit budget in the next fiscal year.

At the same time, DDA officials are predicting a $2 million — or 12.5 percent — jump in parking revenues due to rate increases and growing demand.

DDA officials presented the authority's budget for 2012-13 during an Ann Arbor City Council work session Monday night. The new fiscal year starts July 1.

The DDA has two main sources of revenue: parking fees and tax-increment financing, which is the increase in property taxes that result from new construction downtown.

The DDA's budget for 2012-13 shows revenues of $22 million and expenditures of $24 million. On the revenue side, $4 million is coming from TIF captures and $18 million is coming from parking fees, which DDA board member Roger Hewitt called a conservative estimate.

That's up from $16 million this year.


DDA board member Roger Hewitt presents the authority's 2012-13 budget to the Ann Arbor City Council Monday night.

Ryan J. Stanton |

The DDA is planning on a $500,000 increase in expenses for parking operations primarily due to the new underground parking structure opening on Fifth Avenue in July.

The authority also is predicting a $600,000 increase in parking capital costs and a $700,000 increase in bond payments. The latter is primarily due to another parking structure being built in conjunction with Village Green's apartment project across from the Blind Pig.

Hewitt told council members the authority has a 10-year plan to manage the improvements being made to downtown and its parking system.

Major infrastructure requires years of saving, Hewitt said, so the DDA has had budget surpluses in years past and now is running deficit budgets and digging into its reserves to fund major projects like the $50 million underground parking structure.

"The demand in the parking system is expanding and actually we're very fortunate the new structure is coming on line now because we need it," Hewitt said.

Council Member Jane Lumm, an Independent who represents the 2nd Ward, asked what major projects the DDA is thinking about taking on five to 10 years from now.

Hewitt noted the DDA's fund balances are low and need to build back up, so the DDA isn't thinking about taking on any other major projects for at least five years.

"In fact, likely longer than that," he said.

Even if the DDA dips $2 million into its reserves in the next budget, Hewitt said the authority is projecting a $4.4 million fund balance remaining at the end of June 2013.

In his presentation to council, Hewitt — at times joined by DDA Executive Director Susan Pollay and Board Chairman Bob Guenzel — gave an overview of the DDA's 30-year history, including a detailed look at how the DDA spends the money it collects.

"So what do we do with all of the money we get? That's what a lot of people would like to know," Hewitt said, pointing to more than $100 million in downtown infrastructure investments the DDA has made in parking facilities, sidewalks, alleys, plazas and lighting.

He summed up the DDA's mission by saying it's to undertake public improvements that have the greatest impact in strengthening the downtown and attracting new private investments.

He pointed to more than $300 million in private investments in the downtown since 1982, representing more than 3 million square feet of new construction.

The downtown district's taxable value has grown from $89 million to $386 million during that time and four high-rise developments are under way now, Hewitt noted.

"It certainly isn't all because of the DDA," he said. "But I think if we had not put this infrastructure in place, we wouldn't be seeing this kind of development."

Hewitt clarified just how much of the downtown tax base gets channeled to the DDA, saying the DDA captured 17 percent of the $22 million in taxes paid by downtown property owners for 2011-12, while the rest went to other taxing authorities.

"There's sort of a misconception that we collect all of the taxes in the downtown. That's far from the truth," he said. "We just get the first year of increase for new construction."

Taxes collected due to increases in taxable value — because of inflation or property sales — go to the city and other taxing authorities but not the DDA, Hewitt noted.


Courtesy of Ann Arbor DDA


Courtesy of Ann Arbor DDA

Hewitt recalled when the DDA took over the operation and maintenance of the city's parking structures and surface parking lots back in 1992. It was a decade later in 2002 when the DDA took over the operation and maintenance of parking meters.

The DDA channels 17 percent of downtown parking revenues to the city's general fund, and those revenues are increasing as the DDA raises parking rates.

The DDA recently raised some of its parking rates in February and is planning to implement another series of rate hikes in September. The on-street parking meter rate is going up to $1.50 an hour after already jumping from $1.20 to $1.40 last September.

Hewitt ran through a long list of work the DDA has funded over the years, including improvements to Liberty Plaza at the corner of Liberty and Division, Hanover Park at Packard and Division, and Sculpture Plaza at Catherine and Fourth Avenue.

He also pointed to major repairs to the historic Kempf House on Division Street, historic facade grants to the Hands-On Museum and Michigan Theater, grants for historic markers downtown and repairs and solar panels at the Farmer's Market.

At the city's request, the DDA also tore down the former YMCA building at Fifth Avenue and William Street and put in a new permeable pavement parking lot.

The DDA also has repaired deteriorating sidewalks throughout the downtown and installed barrier-free curb ramps and facilities for bicycle and moped/scooter parking.

"We put LED street lights in the downtown," Hewitt added. "The first downtown in the nation to have LED street lights."

Hewitt said a lot of people might not be aware that the DDA also has done some major alley repairs, making the passages between downtown buildings pedestrian-friendly.

He highlighted additional streetscape improvements along South University, State Street, Washington Street, Main Street, Fifth Avenue, Division Street and in front of city hall and the downtown fire station. The DDA also paid to install downtown wayfinding signs.


Mayor John Hieftje said many people enjoy downtown Ann Arbor and tend to think it's always going to be there, but that takes a lot of work by the DDA.

Ryan J. Stanton |

"Basically if you've come to downtown Ann Arbor, if you've walked on a sidewalk, the DDA probably built that sidewalk," Hewitt said. "If you've parked in a parking structure, you're able to do that because of the DDA. We've really completely rebuilt most of the public infrastructure in the downtown."

Mayor John Hieftje said many people enjoy downtown Ann Arbor and tend to think it's always going to be there, but that takes a lot of work by the DDA.

"Having a vibrant downtown is one of those pillars that upholds our economy," he said. "It's like having a good solid school system. It's like having great parks system. It's like having all the cultural amenities of Ann Arbor. Downtown is one of those pillars and those ripples go out to the edges of the city and I'm sure they go out into the townships."

Hieftje said one of the positive signs lately is that more companies with 10 to 20 employees are choosing to locate downtown and they're growing to 40 or 50 employees. And as the underground parking structure has progressed, he said, the city is getting more inquiries from larger companies interested in considering downtown Ann Arbor again.

"Whereas a few years ago, without that parking in sight, they weren't willing to do that," Hieftje said.

Council Member Sabra Briere, D-1st Ward, said she's still waiting for a market-driven parking rate structure where areas of greater demand cost more than areas of lower demand.

Hewitt said the DDA hasn't moved forward as rapidly on that initiative because its attention has been on finishing the underground parking structure.

Briere also said she wants the DDA to move all of its parking meters to the solar-powered kiosks that have been installed around some parts of the downtown. Hewitt said that's the goal and funding is the only reason it's taking a while to accomplish.

Commenting on upcoming expenses, Hewitt said the DDA is planning on making two $400,000 affordable housing grant payments for two projects: the Near North affordable housing development on Main Street and Village Green's Ann Arbor City Apartments, which will have some affordable units. The DDA also is planning on making a $1.6 million payment for the parking structure being built as part of the Ann Arbor City Apartments project.

"We do not pay anything on the Village Green project until there's a certificate of occupancy," Hewitt noted. "It's uncertain whether that will happen this fiscal year or not, but we're putting it on our books this fiscal year so we are prepared for it should they get that certificate."

Hewitt noted the DDA gives about $500,000 a year to help pay for the city's new municipal center. The DDA also funds the go!pass and getDowntown program to the tune of $600,000 a year and runs a grant program that helps businesses make energy efficiency upgrades.

Parking system improvements funded by the DDA have included everything from solar-powered pay kiosks to electric car charging stations and major rebuilds of parking structures.

The DDA constructed the Liberty Square and Ann-Ashley parking structures and undertook major repairs to the Maynard parking structure. Hewitt also highlighted major repairs and an addition to the Fourth and William parking structure.

Three parking structures were so deteriorated that the DDA had to tear them down and replace them completely, Hewitt said, naming the Fourth and Washington, Forest Avenue and First and Washington structures. The latter project is just getting started.

Meanwhile, the DDA is finishing up the new 700-space underground parking structure set to open in July along Fifth Avenue between Liberty and William streets.


Courtesy of Ann Arbor DDA

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.



Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 3:03 a.m.

Ann Arbor is "The first downtown in the nation to have LED street lights." "Having a vibrant downtown is one of those pillars that upholds our economy," he said. "It's like having a good solid school system. It's like having great parks system. It's like having all the cultural amenities of Ann Arbor. Downtown is one of those pillars and those ripples go out to the edges of the city and I'm sure they go out into the townships." Now I have more reason to love Ann Arbor.


Wed, Apr 11, 2012 : 5:26 a.m.

"Commenting on upcoming expenses, Hewitt said the DDA is planning on making two $400,000 affordable housing grant payments for two projects..." Not sure we can afford these grants, DDA :/

Gale Logan

Tue, Apr 10, 2012 : 7:42 p.m.

Meanwhile Downtown Ann Arbor thrives as the number of visits has increased by 700,000 per year in just 5 years, despite a terrible recession. Sure, businesses go but others come along. Why do you think the rents are so high? The rents are high because the best downtown in the state and well beyond sets the market. Very, very happy to see the much needed new parking structure almost complete, paid for with dollars dedicated to be spent downtown along with parking fees. If you're not going downtown, great, a better parking place for me, my family and friends.


Tue, Apr 10, 2012 : 9:05 p.m.

You got my vote. Too bad the DDA did not publicize how much of the parking revenues are estimated to come from out of town visitors, who in effect help subsidize our parking garages. City council is too busy with other matters to effectively manage the parking system.


Tue, Apr 10, 2012 : 8:40 p.m.

"Much needed" because so many times the structures were all full when you went downtown. The only "Vote Up"s you will get on your comment is your own.

Vivienne Armentrout

Tue, Apr 10, 2012 : 6:23 p.m.

The statement about taxes captured by the DDA is misleading. The school taxes became unavailable to any TIF authority following the passage of Proposition A. The SMART zone harvests school taxes and is a subset of those. (That goes to SPARK.) If you take the tax portions that the DDA actually has legal access to, they are taking about 35% of the taxes from downtown (without the actual amounts of tax, I was limited to adding up percentages). The statement that they get "only" the first year is also misleading. The DDA acquires the tax base from any new construction downtown. Any amount due to inflation is then reverted to the original taxing jurisdictions. Proportionally, this is a tiny amount. Let's suppose a new building has a TV of $100,000. (Of course most will be much more.) The DDA adds $100,000 to its tax base, and keeps that valuation for the rest of the time it remains chartered. So the initial gain in total TV due to the new construction is lost to the city, the library, the county, and WCC. Let's suppose that the next year, because of inflation that building is assessed at $105,000. The other taxing entities now add $5,000 to their tax base. (Remember, DDA keeps the $100,000.) But what if assessed values go down or do not increase that much? Too bad for the other units of government. Recall that the special millages (roads, greenbelt, parks, etc., and solid waste) are included in the taxes that go to the DDA instead. So it isn't just "the city" that loses this tax revenue, but all those programs which voters approved for specific purposes.


Wed, Apr 11, 2012 : 2:32 a.m.

"The school taxes became unavailable to any TIF authority following the passage of Proposition A. " That's not true. There are hundreds of TIF authorities statewide capturing school taxes.


Tue, Apr 10, 2012 : 10:11 p.m.

You last paragraph is startling. Thanks for the entire comment and especially for that last paragraph.


Tue, Apr 10, 2012 : 5:59 p.m.

What is shocking to me is how overwhelmingly unpopular the DDA is despite's best efforts at a fluff peice. Sort the comments by "most popular". "dot" and "lifelong a2" fall near the bottom and the 41 comments from less satisfied commentors rise. Why do the citizens of aa put up with M Hiefjie and the DDA?


Tue, Apr 10, 2012 : 5:02 p.m.

Unfortunately the subterranean parking structure could have cost half as much if a superstructure strong enough to support a 12-story hotel on top was not included. Since parking fees will be insufficient to cover bond servicing costs the City must apply TIF payments and likely require a special millage or city income tax.


Tue, Apr 10, 2012 : 3:53 p.m.

Did the DDA invent the internet too? What a joke, the DDA leaches off the hard work of others and takes the credit for it all. Disband this non-elected unaccountable body that ignores the will of the people. They are insulting to the REAL people who have made Dtown what it is, these clowns are chocking it off!!!

Raylan Givens

Tue, Apr 10, 2012 : 2:31 p.m.

Anyone else notice that the sidewalks are falling apart? These are the ones that they replaced on State St Area 6 years ago.


Tue, Apr 10, 2012 : 10:15 p.m.

Oops. I think it's Civilian Conservation Corps.


Tue, Apr 10, 2012 : 10:13 p.m.

For those who don't know, CCC stands for (Community?) Conservation Corps, a Federal work program during the 1930's (thus "CCC 1933).

Marshall Applewhite

Tue, Apr 10, 2012 : 7:48 p.m.

It is funny how some relatively new sidewalks are falling apart, and others are stamped with "CCC 1933" and still in relatively good condition. It's obvious that they are capable of doing much more quality work and choosing not to.

Honest Abe

Tue, Apr 10, 2012 : 1:52 p.m.

This must encourage all kinds of folks to come visit Ann Arbor.......geesh! This city is frickin ridiculous. I know I avoid AA at all costs. Mainly due to the parking. So glad to hear the DDA is "counting" on people to either get ticketed or pay more.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Tue, Apr 10, 2012 : 1:35 p.m.

@Lifelng A2: It's not so rosy as you think. I love living downtown, but the value of our condo (a typical example) has dropped over 25% over the past year while the prices of homes in A2 elsewhere are generally rising. Perhaps a serious lack of fire safety - no tower truck and a ladder truck that goes in and out of service - is a contributing factor? What about the aggressive panhandlers and shoplifters? What what about the drug dealers and users? What about the graffiti vandals attacking our building? What about the rapidly increasing and high cost of parking near our home for our guests? Walking around, I see lots of vacant store fronts. What about 10 level 4 sex offenders who live at the homeless shelter downtown? I could go on... Downtown A2 could be a lot better if we had properly staffed fire safety and police, including a serious anti-graffiti effort until the problem stops and daily bicycle patrols downtown starting with a visit each morning to the Delonis shelter to find out which new grifters have drifted into town and who caused what trouble over night.


Tue, Apr 10, 2012 : 1:30 p.m.

i park downtown and pay for parking everyday. now i will not be parking downtown due to the increase in parking rate, and telling every one of my friends to do the same. this is ridiculous. i hope they fail miserably


Tue, Apr 10, 2012 : 1:23 p.m.

The DDA is the most pointless waste of money in this city. What is it that they do, that can't be done by a regular government body that is answerable to the city via elections? Their existence is nothing but cronyism in our city politics. Throw the bums out and lets get our tax dollars back in the hands of the public.


Tue, Apr 10, 2012 : 1:16 p.m.

Great, the DDA is running a deficit after putting that unneeded parking structure by the Library (not to mention disrupting traffic for over 1.5 years). Clearly they will have to raise parking fees to cover their loss. Ann Arbor parking fees are already about twice that of other similar municipals. Does anyone else feel the DDA is out of control here? Come on Ann Arbor government, is there anyone there that has leadership ability to steward the tax dollars correctly? When is it okay to continually cut visible public services (trash, police, fire) when there is such waste going into these kinds of things?

Ron Granger

Tue, Apr 10, 2012 : 1:09 p.m.

Why are we paying $6 million a year on "debt service"? How much of that is due to the $50M parking structure boondoggle?

Will Hathaway

Tue, Apr 10, 2012 : 1:07 p.m.

When the Library Lot is described as a "new 700-space underground structure," a little additional information would help put that in context. As has been pointed out before, the old, Library surface lot had about 195 spaces. According to the DDA, the new lot will have 677 underground spaces. The new, mid-block street "Library Lane" will have about 12 metered spaces and the "temporary" surface lot on top of the underground structure will return about about 36 spaces. The total number of post construction "Library Lot" spaces (under and above ground) is 725. The net increase in spaces is 530. It would be more accurate to say that the project will bring 530 additional spaces as well as replacing the 195 that were lost from the old Library Lot. If the cost of the project (likely to be in excess of $50,000,000) is divided by the net gain in parking, then the 530 "new" spaces cost about $100,000 each to build. My understanding is that this is more than double the typical cost for constructed parking. Clearly part of the added value is that most of this parking is located out of sight - who wants a view of a parking structure after all? The question the DDA and City Council will decide is what goes on top - on the "roof" of the Library Lot? Will it be a privately funded development? Local downtown development experts say that the cost to build on the Library Lot is too high (and the experience with the failed proposal to build a conference center hotel supports that argument). For a $50 million investment, it seems the public should get a better return in terms of a beautiful, unique street level amenity.


Tue, Apr 10, 2012 : 12:45 p.m.

I love dining, shopping for certain items, and being entertained in downtown Ann Arbor. It's clear, based upon the weekday and weekend evening crowds, that others from the region do too. The DDA does a good job building, maintaining and operating Ann Arbor's parking facilities. I fear that if the City still directly handled downtown parking things would be much, much worse. Let's thank the volunteer DDA board members for their all-too-often thankless efforts aimed at bettering our community!


Tue, Apr 10, 2012 : 2:44 p.m.

I'd don't think that the individuals at DDA are volunteers -- funding is expended to keep them in offices and salaried.


Tue, Apr 10, 2012 : 1:26 p.m.

i'd rather my tax dollars be spent in a forum that is answerable to the public. The Library Lot construction is a perfect example of quid pro quo politics. There is no legitimate reason that Christman Construction should have gotten that contract. It's yet another example of the largess of the DDA and their ulterior motives (i.e. funneling cash to their friends).


Tue, Apr 10, 2012 : 12:43 p.m.

With an anticipated revenue shortfall of $2 million, which will be purportedly covered by dipping into a DDA "reserve" fund, all unnecessary spending should be pared from the budget. One expense item that should be closely scrutinized are the "grants and transfers" that will be awarded. According to the 2010-2011 budget published on the DDA's website, the DDA spent $895,686 for grants and transfers in that fiscal year. The 2012-2013 budget earmarks $1.5 million for "grants and transfers" for an increase of $604,314. The 2011-2012 budget is not included in the website. For instance, the DDA could have saved the $407,000 grant provided to Zingerman's Deli last year which is purportedly being used for Brownfield remediation (that is, demolition of a small burned-out building located behind the main store and within the planned expansion area). The grant will also pay for LEEDS certification and possibly sidewalk replacement and signage. This kind of grant was described as extraordinary for a private business and was not intended to be repeated with other businesses. A listing of the grants intended to be distributed next year will be interesting to examine.


Tue, Apr 10, 2012 : 12:28 p.m.

The parking garages need more staffing. Last night it took me 50 minutes to get out of the Maynard Street garage. While most businesses might comp you being understaffed and having infuriatingly slow service, Republic Parking and the DDA still take your cash. In fact, they made more because hundreds of people were stuck in the garage.


Tue, Apr 10, 2012 : 7:16 p.m.

Too funny Townie - there was plenty of idling. And the backup was so bad that many people turned their engines off. I was stuck in the same place for about 20 minutes before the lengthy line slowly began to move. I got in my car at 8:35 and didn't exit the garage until 9:25. I realize that judging how many people will be in a garage on a given night can be difficult. The Michigan Theater showed a film that drew 1,200 and the garage was packed as a result. But what other business would keep customers penned in for nearly an hour and then still charge them? Worse, charge them more because of the awful service?


Tue, Apr 10, 2012 : 2:05 p.m.

Not to mention idling...

Lifelong A2

Tue, Apr 10, 2012 : 12:22 p.m.

Wow, based on all the naysayers commenting here, one would think Ann Arbor's downtown is dying. Oh wait-- the opposite is true. Downtown is thriving. New employers are moving in. New housing units are being built/renovated. Restaurants keep opening and have long waits. Parking garages and lots are often full. Whatever the Mayor, Council, and DDA are doing is working. And Briere is right: go to a demand-based parking system and install more solar-powered kiosks so those of us who shop downtown can use our credit cards. Both are long overdue.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Tue, Apr 10, 2012 : 10:48 p.m.

@Marshall Applewhite: an identical condo to mine sold last month at a price 25% below what an appraisal about a year ago indicated the value of my condo was. FYI, I bought my condo in 2000 at a much lower price...

Marshall Applewhite

Tue, Apr 10, 2012 : 7:39 p.m.

@E Claire I'm well aware of how the city places a "taxable value" on property each year, but in reality that is just a number manipulated in order to gain "enough" tax resources from the collection of Real Estate parcels throughout the city. I'm interested if Mr. Ranzini is aware of the actual market value of his property......... Methinks that he either purchased at the top of the bubble, or just doesn't actually know the market value.

E Claire

Tue, Apr 10, 2012 : 4:14 p.m.

You must not own a home Marshall. The city assessors office sends a tax assessment each year, which shows the taxable value of your home. Not the same as what an appraisal would show but still gives the homeowner info on how much the value has gone down. My house is worth half of what is was in 2005.

Stupid Hick

Tue, Apr 10, 2012 : 2:39 p.m.

The banker speculates recent changes in fire department staffing is what caused the value of his condo to drop? Any analysis to support that? How do you know "uncertainty about regulations" (LOL) isn't the cause?

Marshall Applewhite

Tue, Apr 10, 2012 : 2:32 p.m.

@Stephen Ranzini How do you know what the "value" of your condo is exactly? Have you placed it for sale?

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Tue, Apr 10, 2012 : 1:24 p.m.

@Lifelng A2: It's not so rosy as you think. I love living downtown, but the value of our condo (a typical example) has dropped over 25% over the past year. Perhaps a lack of fire safety - no tower truck and a ladder truck that goes in and out of service - is a contributing factor? What about the aggressive panhandlers? What about the graffiti vandals attacking our building? What about the rapidly increasing and high cost of parking near our home for our guests? Walking around, I see lots of vacant store fronts. What about 10 level 4 sex offenders who live at the homeless shelter downtown? I could go on... Downtown could be a lot better if we had properly staffed fire safety and police, including anti-graffiti and bicycle patrols downtown.


Tue, Apr 10, 2012 : 12:48 p.m.

Except for the vacant retail stores along Liberty Street.


Tue, Apr 10, 2012 : 12:20 p.m.

72 / 12.5 = 5.76 5.76 = years needed to double current parking rates, at 12.5% annual increase rate. Welcome to reality, brought to you by the good old "Rule of 72." Welcome to the downtown from our "DDA!" Ka Ching!


Tue, Apr 10, 2012 : 11:56 a.m.

I never go downtown anymore. Paying for parking or worse yet having to deal with tickets isn't worth the hassle. Brighton has some great areas to eat, Chelsea and Dexter offer nice quaint atmosphere for a dinner, Whitmore has the lake, and Saline is not crowded and has a nice downtown. But if you enjoy giving your hard earned cash to the government go for it. Especially all of you evil 1%ers...............


Tue, Apr 10, 2012 : 9:02 p.m.

In addition to those, there are restaurants in Ann Arbor that aren't downtown. There's also Northville and areas between here and there.


Tue, Apr 10, 2012 : 11:52 a.m.

Well, I guess we're all anti-everything in Ann Arbor. The DDA is not transparent and unnecessary and expensive. Ann Arbor itself may as well throw in the towel because it no longer has anything to offer except restaurants, panhandlers and expensive parking. And Ann does poor reporting. i find none of those things true. The City needs the DDA because it needs volunteers to handle the business which the DDA handles, which was described in the article, honestly and transparently. I do agree Ann Arbor needs retail, but who can afford the rent asked by out-of-town owners? I don't like panhandlers but they are not inherent to Ann Arbor. Parking is not more expensive in Ann Arbor than most other cities. does poor reporting, but that's probably your fault because you started getting your news on line instead of in a paper! Why are you guys still here?


Tue, Apr 10, 2012 : 9 p.m.

Visiting in the much larger city of Columbus, Ohio recently, the cost of a downtown parking meter was 75 cents an hour.


Tue, Apr 10, 2012 : 1:04 p.m.

Do you actually live here? Most of the downtown real estate is locally owned and has been, in many cases, for generations. The DDA is the single most clouded entity in our city government and serves at the leisure and for the benefit of the mayor's office. Panhandling has been a major issue for several years now and has been a helper in putting some businesses out of business in Ann Arbor - look at Liberty. Look at that problems we have on Main esp. in the summer months. Parking in Ann Arbor per hour is more expensive than any other city in the state. Grand Rapids and Birmingham also have real downtowns and they do not charge anywhere near to what the DDA is charging. Charges are also based in those cities on the location of the parking. Ann Arbor charges more per hourly meter than DC. We are one of just a few areas with a downtown that is still surviving (by the skin of it's teeth) in a state ranked amongst the worst economically in the country. Panhandling, excessive spending by government and gouging potential customers will not help revive our local economy. It will eventually kill it.


Tue, Apr 10, 2012 : 11:37 a.m.

OH NO !!!! Toto I don't think were in Kansas any more...keep voting in stupid and pay the piper ...thank god for the malls and other shopping and eateries smart enough to leave the yellow ??? brick road...


Tue, Apr 10, 2012 : 1:37 p.m.

the funny thing is, we don't vote for the DDA.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Tue, Apr 10, 2012 : 11:27 a.m.

On November 30, 2011, reported: "Despite seeing increased parking demand and raising parking rates, the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority is on the verge of running a deficit in its parking fund — a circumstance that would violate state law... Alan Panter, a certified public accountant from Abraham & Gaffney P.C., offered an overview of the DDA's latest audit during a committee meeting on Wednesday... The audit shows the DDA's parking fund had a balance of $104,821 at the end of the last fiscal year on June 30." How come no update on that? Will they violate the law in FY 2012 or FY 2013 as they run this projected $2 million deficit? Will the extended delays in finishing the "Big Dig" cause further losses? See:


Tue, Apr 10, 2012 : 2:38 p.m.

From previous articles I've read, it appears that DDA can do whatever it pleases, to collecting taxes that they were not supposed to collect, to holding the city hostage when sharing parking revenues stating that if DDA were to go into the "red" the city would bail them out. Something just is not right with this.


Tue, Apr 10, 2012 : 11:11 a.m.

This is a made for TV view of the DDA. All members of the DDA are chosen by and serve at the leisure of Mayor Hieftje. The structure on 5th is months behind schedule and has all but ruined at least two local businesses which were thriving pre-construction. Parking per hour fees in e.g., Birmingham, MI are between .50 and $1 per hour depending on the location of the ca 1,267 meters. Sabre Briere is about the only one making anything close to sense right now. Base parking on location and do away with the gorging of potential customers by the city before they even get to a local business. Oh, and vote Hieftje out in November. It's time to go.


Tue, Apr 10, 2012 : 1:32 p.m.

Birmingham also gives the first 2 hours of parking free.


Tue, Apr 10, 2012 : 10:54 a.m.

The city won't be getting any parking revenues from us. Downtown Ann Arbor has nothing to attract us. My wife & I used to enjoy going into town. We would look in the shops and walk around. Now we avoid the area completely. The lack of any interesting shops, aggressive panhandlers and cost of parking will keep us away. From our point of view, Downtown Ann Arbor is dead. Also, I don't understand the need for so many redundant city governments. DDA, City Council, Mayor, City Manager. Most of these people are appointed, not elected. Their actions have a large impact on the quality of life in this city. Mostly not for the better.

Marshall Applewhite

Tue, Apr 10, 2012 : 2:27 p.m.

I get a kick out of people who live in surrounding communities trying to make empty threats about coming downtown. Judging by what I've seen lately, parking is still a bargain and there are many people willing to pay for it.

Chip Reed

Tue, Apr 10, 2012 : 10:44 a.m.

Gosh, the DDA sounds wonderful! Why wouldn't everybody just love them?


Tue, Apr 10, 2012 : 10:40 a.m.

The above story is a pretty rosy "made for public consumption" view of the DDA. I wonder what the real story is.

Stupid Hick

Wed, Apr 11, 2012 : 12:16 a.m.

Ok, now I get it. How aggravating!

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Tue, Apr 10, 2012 : 10:39 p.m.

@Stupid Hick: Because I ran into the two editor/owners on the street and asked them (it was over a week later)!

Stupid Hick

Tue, Apr 10, 2012 : 2:46 p.m.

@stephen, I'm confused. If the Chronicle wouldn't even email you to tell you why they wouldn't allow your post, how do you know the reason is because they "disagreed with me and, they didn't like my facts because they didn't agree with their point of view, and didn't want to correct their error"? I don't get it. Did you hire your own journalist to investigate?


Tue, Apr 10, 2012 : 1:15 p.m.

At any real publication, nobody needs to edit the editors. Only here where they seem to be into crowdsourcing the editing/proofreading/fact-finding/etc.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Tue, Apr 10, 2012 : 11:43 a.m.

@Brad: while I agree that the news coverage of meetings at the Ann Arbor Chronicle that they cover is more detailed, almost a transcript, when I tried to post a comment pointing out an error, they refused to post my comment because they *disagreed* with me and, they didn't like my facts because they didn't agree with their point of view, and didn't want to correct their error. They wouldn't even email me to tell me why they wouldn't allow the post. That isn't serious journalism, sorry! For me, has greater merit because it lets us post comments that are critical of the reporters when they make a mistake and the editors quickly change any article that contains an error! Who edits the editor at the Chronicle???


Tue, Apr 10, 2012 : 11:32 a.m.

Want the real story about the city government? Try the Ann Arbor Chronicle.


Tue, Apr 10, 2012 : 10:32 a.m.

Frankly, I do not understand why the city of Ann Arbor has a DDA. My one and only experience working with them was very unsatisfactory. I say close them down and put the funding back into the coffers of the city fathers and have them operate the city as they are supposed to do. Sorry, but I believe DDA is a waste of citizens dollars.

Ron Miller

Tue, Apr 10, 2012 : 10:32 a.m.

Increase in parking revenue? It won't be any of my money. I won't be going downtown.


Tue, Apr 10, 2012 : 3:38 p.m.

These kind of statements make me laugh. Why would you live in this town if you don't take advantage of the culture, events, shops and food that makes it a destination? If you 'never" go downtown than you never go to the Farmer's Market, attend street fairs/festivals, go to museums, music events etc. If you live here you're paying high taxes to take advantage of nothing the town has to offer. Move to the suburbs then - please.