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Posted on Thu, Nov 29, 2012 : 5:59 a.m.

Ann Arbor DDA in final stages of Connecting William Street plan for five downtown properties

By Ryan J. Stanton


The Library Lot atop the city of Ann Arbor's new underground parking garage off Fifth Avenue (as viewed from the fourth floor of the Ann Arbor District Library next door) is one of five city-owned properties downtown that are being positioned for redevelopment as part of the Connecting William Street initiative, which the Ann Arbor DDA is wrapping up after a year of work.

Ryan J. Stanton |

After a year of planning and public outreach, efforts to devise a strategy for redeveloping five city-owned properties in downtown Ann Arbor are nearing the finish line.

A draft framework will be presented at the Downtown Development Authority's meeting on Wednesday, and included will be a recommendation to put the former YMCA property at the corner of Fifth Avenue and William Street up for sale first, said DDA Director Susan Pollay.

"We will be recommending we need to pursue that as quickly as possible as the first site. That includes hiring a broker," Pollay said this week.

That's an idea first put forward by City Council Member Stephen Kunselman, D-3rd Ward, earlier this year. At the time, other council members wanted to wait to hear from the DDA, which has been overseeing a major planning process known as Connecting William Street.

The name derives from the fact that all five properties being studied either directly abut or closely connect with William Street, which the DDA hopes to transform into a more active, pedestrian corridor with ground-floor retail and restaurant spaces topped by new offices and other development.


This hypothetical scenario presented by the Ann Arbor DDA at a meeting in September shows what the Y Lot at Fifth and William might look like with eight stories of office and ground-floor retail, while the Library Lot across the street (above the city's new underground parking garage) shows a seven-story hotel with ground-floor retail. This was the medium-density scenario. Another showed less density and another showed more.

Courtesy of Ann Arbor DDA

The DDA's work on the Connecting William Street initiative this past year has progressed well, Pollay said, and emerging now is a broad vision for what to do with the five city properties. DDA officials believe the Y Lot is a good candidate for a large floor plate office building.

"What the Y Lot contributes to the overall plan likely will be the commercial piece of it — ground-floor retail or restaurant and commercial uses above," Pollay said. "Everything about it seems to work well to have that. Having an office on that location probably will be a good use."

The other properties being looked at include the Library Lot atop the city's new underground parking garage off Fifth Avenue, the ground floor of the Fourth and William parking garage, the smaller Palio Lot at Main and William, and the larger Kline Lot at Ashley and William.

In addition to restaurant, retail, office, residential, lodging and open space uses, the DDA has identified support for some type of cultural or performance arts venue. Pollay said the Kline Lot and the Library Lot are the two properties where the public has indicated that might be best suited.

The DDA and its consultants, working under the direction of the Ann Arbor City Council, are refining a set of recommendations for all five properties. After additional input from the DDA's board and more feedback from the public, a final plan is expected to be presented to council in early 2013.

Pollay said it's likely the DDA's governing board will vote on a set of recommendations on Jan. 2 and those will be presented to the City Council during a Jan. 14 work session.


This hypothetical scenario presented by the Ann Arbor DDA at a meeting in September shows what the Kline Lot could look like with dense development.

Courtesy of Ann Arbor DDA

"I'm very proud of the DDA and the community," Pollay said. "We obviously are still not done. We need to go to council and hear what they want, and ultimately they are the deciders."

DDA board member Joan Lowenstein, a member of the Connecting William Street leadership and outreach committee, said there have been some surprises during the outreach phase.

"One thing that was interesting was that the people who participated really seemed to want more density than I would have thought," she said. "For example, on the Palio Lot, most people wanted to see a building there and I kind of thought more people would want it to be a very small building, kind of leave it the way it was, but more people wanted kind of a mid-sized building there."

Lowenstein said having some kind of really active retail use on the bottom floor is going to be key for all of the Connecting William Street properties.

"And other than that, it will be just what the market will dictate," she said. "We really don't want to see any more student apartment buildings. Workforce residential, large floor plate office space — those are the things we're really focusing on."

First focus is Y Lot

Given that a $3.5 million balloon payment is due on the Y Lot next December, Pollay agreed with Kunselman's arguments from earlier this year that it makes sense to focus first on selling that property, which the city bought in 2003 with the intention of seeing it redeveloped.

The City Council passed a resolution in October that stipulates the net proceeds from the eventual sale of the Y Lot, after recouping costs, will go to the city's affordable housing trust fund.


Map courtesy of DDA

Hypothetical scenarios the DDA presented to the public back in September showed as many as eight stories of office development with ground-floor retail on the Y Lot. A more ambitious scenario included a 13-story development with 74 housing units and a 330-room hotel.

Pollay said those scenarios are being refined, taking into account a broad range of feedback received over the past several months from various stakeholders. The DDA is aiming to have one or two more opportunities in December for members of the public to provide input.

Lowenstein said the exact process for selling the Y Lot hasn't been decided yet, but she said there would have to be some kind of restrictions on what could happen with it.

"For instance, we would want someone to build pretty quickly," she said. "We wouldn't want somebody to buy it and just hold on to it for years and years."

As for the Library Lot across the street, a grass-roots group called the Library Green Conservancy, which has been at odds with the DDA, still has a goal of seeing a downtown central park developed there. The group argues the DDA in its surveys and scenarios as part of Connecting William Street has excluded the option of a true park space from consideration by the public.

"When people ask for a park in response to a rare open-ended question, their responses are not counted by the DDA," Mary Hathaway, a member of the group, wrote in a recent email to "The time to correct this sham process is now."

The group conducted its own analysis of the open-ended responses in a DDA survey to show there actually is strong support for a public park or open space.

DDA officials say they're cognizant of the need to balance new development and open space. But rather than using the exact word "park," Pollay said, the DDA has been consistent in arguing there should be a substantial amount of "open space." She said that might be better in the form of a plaza space that's open to the public but maintained by private business.

She pointed to Campus Martius Park in downtown Detroit, which is managed by a nonprofit conservancy that secures private funding from the park's neighbors and supporters to operate year-round activities, including a popular outdoor ice skating rink in the winter.


Of three scenarios presented for the Y Lot at Fifth and William at a meeting back in September, this had the highest density. Also shown in this image are possibilities for the Palio Lot, left, and the Library Lot, right, though the description of a 13-story development pertains to the Y Lot.

Courtesy of Ann Arbor DDA

No matter what is developed on the Library Lot, DDA and city officials maintain a "no-build zone" on the southwest corner of the site will be a public plaza about 5,130 square feet in size — or 1.25 times the size of Sculpture Plaza at the corner of Fourth and Catherine in Kerrytown.

"A pretty large plaza is going to be planned no matter what, and hopefully whoever purchases that property will be in charge of that so we will have a public space there at no public cost," Lowenstein said, noting Library Lane also could be closed down during events to create more space there.

The three hypothetical scenarios proposed for the Library Lot earlier this year included (a) four stories of office and ground-floor retail, (b) a seven-story hotel development with ground-floor retail, and (c) a 14-story project with office space, 72 housing units and an anchor retail tenant.

Lowenstein said she thinks the Library Green group is overstating the community's desire for a large central park on the Library Lot.

"I think they're kind of drumming it up among themselves," she said. "No one has ever wanted that to be a park — except when we started looking at development there, then that group emerged. I think it's a very small group and I don't think it has widespread support."

Lowenstein said there would be major opportunity costs if the city made the Library Lot a park since millions of dollars already have been invested in foundational support for a large building.

"And these properties are worth millions and millions of dollars to the city," she said, "so the city would have to look at what opportunity would be lost if any of these properties were not developed."

Streetscape improvements needed

While the plan for Connecting William Street counts on private developers investing in new projects on city-owned lots, the DDA knows some public investment will be required, too.


The smaller Palio Lot at the corner of Main and William is one of the five properties being studied. DDA officials said they've heard support for a mid-sized building there.

Ryan J. Stanton |

"From our side, the DDA has a commitment to making that area development-ready," Pollay said, adding there already have been major upgrades to water and electrical capacity in the area.

Pollay said William Street now could use some streetscape improvements to make it more walkable, and the city might consider adding bike lanes. She said the city also might need to increase the sanitary sewer capacity before a dense housing development could occur along the street.

The DDA might hire a landscape architect firm in 2013 to help come up with a design to improve the streetscape, including adding lights and replacing trees, Pollay said.

Though the Ann Arbor District Library's plans to build a new library at the corner of Fifth Avenue and William Street were shot down by voters on Nov. 6, Pollay said the downtown library will continue to be the prime anchor on William Street and will help attract investment on the city lots.

"It is a library that continues to be an absolute center of gravity in the downtown," she said, adding what the city and DDA do must be supportive of the library's vision.

As for discussions around transforming the Palio Lot or other areas into public plaza spaces, an idea Mayor John Hieftje expressed support for recently, Pollay noted the city's Park Advisory Commission recently held a retreat and one of the topics of discussion was more public open space in the downtown. She said the DDA welcomes any advice from PAC on that.

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.



Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 2:09 p.m.

for joy,for joy more poly foolery.


Fri, Nov 30, 2012 : 1:03 a.m.

The DDA maintains that it is in favor of open space and places for public events. Really? How many people could attend an event on that itty bitty green spot in the drawings? And other than that teeny tiny green spot, there is no green on those drawings. And in the next breath, a DDA member says, "Workforce residential, large floor plate office space — those are the things we're really focusing on." Ah, so. That might just be why there was no question in the DDA survey regarding a park, because the DDA really didn't want to hear what the public thought. A lot of answers to the open ended questions in the DDA survey expressed the desire for s p a c e to meet and socialize: grass, benches, paths, perhaps a skating rink, playground equipment, a pond for sailing boats. But DDA members have chosen to ignore these wishes? Why? What is there to fear? Not only that, one member denigrated the Library Green Conservancy. Dirty pool kids. Put your house in order, and LISTEN to the public.

Eco Bruce

Fri, Nov 30, 2012 : 1:01 a.m.

The Diag is two blocks East. The Greenway will be two blocks west. The Mighty Huron and the Border to Border to Border Trail are eight blocks North. Is it true that you all want to DRIVE downtown and park (in a surface parking lot) to visit a PARK? I don't get it.


Fri, Nov 30, 2012 : 2:44 p.m.

Think of a downtown park as the 1% for public art that people will actually ENJOY. Trees, grass, maybe a fountain, tables to sit on and enjoy the view and eat your lunch.


Fri, Nov 30, 2012 : 6:40 a.m.

many wish to continue to walk/bike or yes drive into town....and engage in various activities without the noise,wind,traffic exhaust and congestion,noise,backups[and lack of infrastructure] that go along with excess development , thoughtlessly promoted.The 'experience' of having a downtown of a certain character that is not systematically destroyed,construed or mal-aligned for special commercial gain by a few is a right of the taxpayers. the DDA is blatantly ignoring the will of the peopleand is engaged in permanently changing the fabric and characteristics of A2.

Eco Bruce

Fri, Nov 30, 2012 : 1:33 a.m.

The Diag belongs to the taxpayers of the State of MI. If you want to hang out, eat lunch, throw a frisbee or go to Top of the Park, you can.


Fri, Nov 30, 2012 : 1:08 a.m.

Yes, we want to be able to drive downtown, park, shop, go to the library, have lunch and then walk or sit in an environment that is right there. And, by the way, the Diag is a bit farther than two blocks away, and it is not OURS, it belongs to that University and is not available for townie events.


Thu, Nov 29, 2012 : 9:07 p.m.

The DDA has to be the most self-absorbed, clueless, incompetent group I've ever seen in Ann Arbor. And that's saying a lot


Thu, Nov 29, 2012 : 8:27 p.m.

Susan, Joan, and City Council: Yes dense build is ok, so can we use the land savings to pleaase have a few blades of grass in the IMMEDIATE downtown area, not just "open space" aka - more hardscape...we have enough concrete. The future residents you target will demand this...look at the nation wide trends ( The Diag, Campus Martius, The Belt Line in Stop, etc). Please, no more hardscape...we are tired of sitting on conctert planters...


Thu, Nov 29, 2012 : 7:53 p.m.

I think the following statement pretty much sums up the agenda of the DDA. "Lowenstein said there would be major opportunity costs if the city made the Library Lot a park since millions of dollars already have been invested in foundational support for a large building." In other words, the DDA decided they wanted a tall building on that site (the Valiant conference center) so they invested money to support that building. And now they are using the cost of that foundational support as a reason to put another tall building on that site. As I recall, the Valiant conference center plan was put in place without community input. But the public spoke and the Valiant plan was quashed. Now, once again, the DDA has a plan based only on their own money-making agenda and are ignoring the community's wish for a park. They say it is only a small group who want a park, but what about the Calthorpe Study which also recommended a downtown park? And what about the many people who expressed their wish for a park in the open ended questions on the DDA survey? I encourage everyone to read Mary Hathaway's piece on that survey. I know the mayor likes to say the Diag is that downtown park, but we are not fooled. The DDA is all about making money, not about quality of life. I say we abolish the DDA and start thinking about preserving the values that make Ann Arbor such a wonderful place to live. Thank goodness for the Historic District Commission or our entire history would have been destroyed by now because of greed.


Thu, Nov 29, 2012 : 8:48 p.m.



Thu, Nov 29, 2012 : 7:53 p.m.

It is time to seriously examine the relationship between the DDA and the City of Ann Arbor - its elected officials working on behalf of their taxpayers. .All of the DDA revenue should go into the City budget and then be selectively returned by Council vote for specific studies and projects on an as-needed basis. Like the Housing Commission in Ypsi, the DDA process and its member qualifications must become more transparent to eliminate any cozy business corruption attempts.

David Cahill

Thu, Nov 29, 2012 : 7:46 p.m.

Tsk. Lowenstein just can't stop insulting the public, can she?


Thu, Nov 29, 2012 : 6:36 p.m.

Which out state consulting firm is doing this study? Which out of state landscape architect might be hired in 2013? Just wondering, I can guess they don't use local firms, they never do!


Thu, Nov 29, 2012 : 6:08 p.m.

The DDA and our city government don't care what the people of this city want. All thee care about is pushing their own agenda. Also, doesn't that structure next to our library look suspiciously like a hotel & convention center?


Thu, Nov 29, 2012 : 6:04 p.m.

On another, more interesting website, I wondered why- since the scope of this project is bordered by Huron, William, Ashley and Division- were the library, bus depot and now Middle Kingdom lot and (that nice old house next door) NOT included in the "Connecting William Street" planning? If the DDA were capable of proving how all this helter-skelter development were going to integrate into one, harmonious gestalt one day, they may have an easier time getting support. The only aspect people were allowed to vote on (on the "Connecting William" website) was the height of the buildings. Thanks. It would also help if the public were included BEFORE all decisions were made. Will there will be any audit of the voting that went onto the website? Or will they just do what the developers want and the vote was just to quell the rabble? At least that's what I expect from this cabal. Nobody elected these people and yet they are deciding, by themselves, what Ann Arbor will be like for the next generation- which is about the useful life of the crappy buildings being built these days. The esthetic life of these structures is far less than that. Like that monstrous federal building.


Fri, Nov 30, 2012 : 2:37 p.m.

Yes, I know, but that should not stop the city from imposing design requirements for private development. These public spaces will be sold off to private entities as well. The city could also buy those lots and include them IF their intention were to enforce design unity harmony of any kind.


Fri, Nov 30, 2012 : 4:20 a.m.

The bus stop and Middle Kingdom properties are privately owned. "Connecting Williams Street" only involves city-owned properties.


Thu, Nov 29, 2012 : 6:04 p.m.

Abolish the DDA! Who hires these people anyway?!? They think they have the best interest of Ann Arbor citizens, but they really don't. Not a lot of people will be using the building. It seems that a lot of A2 citizens don't like this project, I hope there is someway to stop it before the project has begun.


Thu, Nov 29, 2012 : 6 p.m.

Personally, I don't think this is needed so it seems like a boondoggle, but no one asked for the public's opinion. Whatever. If they want to waste their money than that is their problem. I hate how there is going to be some more construction, the stadium bridge just opened up after (what 2 years? something like that) and now there is going to be even more construction. Great.

Stephen Landes

Fri, Nov 30, 2012 : 12:40 a.m.

"Their money"? The money is ours -- yours, too -- so what the DDA does with it should be of vital concern to you.


Thu, Nov 29, 2012 : 5:44 p.m.

DDA IS IN DESPERATION MODE! (PART TWO) But all the above development possibilities are speculative, meaning that no paying occupants of any of these projects have been identified at this time. Chuck Skelton, a local hotel/hospitality expert, debunked the feasibility claims of the Valiant Partners' 12-story hotel/conference center proposal. The facts which Skelton presented remain unchanged and challenges the expectations of profitability of the DDA's plans. When these proposed enterprises fail no TIF dollars will be received. The DDA will still face insolvency and extinction by fiscal 2015. In the process of encouraging massive construction, the DDA wants to use tax payer money for incentives such as site development including upgrading utilities. Hopefully, financing of underground parking will not be considered even though building on the four sites will eliminate significant parking. Parking for residents of new residential units and for hotel patrons may not be convenient and may require use of the Library Lane parking structure. Being underutilized now, the Library Lane parking structure will probably accommodate hundreds of cars on a long term leases, if allowed by the municipal bonds which built the structure. The time required to sell the properties, approve construction and complete building will likely not produce the TIF payments necessary to satisfy the DDA's debt requirements in time to stave off insolvency. Unfortunately, under the present scenario, as the DDA is terminated, the architectural appearance of Ann Arbor will be permanently changed and not for the betterment. Also the city will continue to suffer financially from the lingering debt obligations so carelessly negotiated by the DDA.


Fri, Nov 30, 2012 : 2:33 p.m.

Agreed except for: Unfortunately, under the present scenario, as the DDA is terminated, the architectural appearance of Ann Arbor will be permanently changed and not for the betterment." This has been going on for quite a while. I would not expect the architecture to improve under the watchful eyes of the DDA board. Developers mostly build to maximize profit. Ann Arbor has been no different. There is a master development plan but it has been ignored.


Thu, Nov 29, 2012 : 5:41 p.m.

DDA IS IN DESPERATION MODE! (PART ONE) IMHO, DDA director Susan Pollay and DDA board member Joan Lowenstein, spokespeople for the DDA, are desperately trying to save the DDA from insolvency which may occur in two years when annual budget deficits finally exhaust its reserve fund. For a number of years, the DDA has spent an average of $2 million more than the revenue it collected. Its reserve fund once held $10 million dollars but has been reduced to about $4 million after being drained to cover DDA deficits. With little expectation at this time for increased revenues and with fixed liabilities exceeding revenues the DDA is destined for insolvency by fiscal 2014 or 2015. At that time the DDA must be disbanded and its liabilities will pass to the City. If the City budget can not absorb the additional debt payments then the City will request a millage or income tax from its tax payers. The DDA can not avoid its own "fiscal cliff" by increasing parking fee revenue, one of its two sources for money. So the DDA's only chance to eliminate its excess liability expenses is to increase its second source of revenue, TIF payments. TIF, or Tax-Incremental Financing, is determined by the tax valuations of downtown properties which increase in relation to the size of developments on the properties. So big buildings will bring more TIF money to the DDA than will smaller buildings. TIF payments could increase markedly if a 15-story hotel were built over the Library Lane parking structure, if a similar structure were built in the Kline parking lot and if a smaller version were constructed on the Paleo property. A large seven story mixed business-retail building with hundreds of thousands square feet of space built in the Y-parking lot could bring large TIF payments also. And in order for these TIF payments to be timely in staving off DDA insolvency, these recommended projects must start quickly.


Fri, Nov 30, 2012 : 2:28 p.m.

This is certainly a big part of the push to tear down and rebuild the library. You could sense the panic when that started to turn against them.

Stephen Landes

Thu, Nov 29, 2012 : 5:19 p.m.

Why not just gin up a virtual downtown Ann Arbor in Sim City and play out the scenarios -- see which one gets the virtual populace to cheer. At least it would approach being a dispassionate, data-driven experiment following some objective rules. I'll bet a park would win hands down -- virtually.


Thu, Nov 29, 2012 : 5:17 p.m.

It's high time someone (anyone?) investigated the DDA & developer connections & coziness. It's obvious to me that the DDA has either been bought by out of town interests or at the very least confused as to what is in the best interests of our town. Tall buildings, out control concrete & out of town interests are not why we choose to live here. City council should take note and block much of the DDA's advice. I am not convinced these people work for us; I would like to see some evidence on how they're feathering their nests, for it sure seems like it. I swear the DDA won't be happy until rent is over $50 a square foot and there's a TGIChilibees on every corner.


Mon, Dec 10, 2012 : 7:30 p.m.

I agree uabchris, but difficult to do when you work 70 hours a week just to afford health insurance & a mortgage.


Thu, Nov 29, 2012 : 8:40 p.m.

We have to attend the council meetings, library lot group meets and demand to be heard...


Thu, Nov 29, 2012 : 4:57 p.m.

I want a grocery store downtown. Pick a spot DDA..make it happen!


Fri, Nov 30, 2012 : 11:37 p.m.

On the other hand, food-wise you can get about everything you need in Kerrytown and the Co-op. Butcher, baker, fish market, produce stand, etc. Kinda like being in a real city.


Fri, Nov 30, 2012 : 2:23 p.m.

The Kline lot might work for that. That was not one of the DDA options, of course, because they don't care what the people who live downtown want. In Washington, DC there's a Whole Foods in a spot quite a bit smaller than that with a parking deck on top: It is a magnet for the whole area. Could do the same thing if Produce Station wanted to open another store...


Thu, Nov 29, 2012 : 4:31 p.m.

A vest pocket Manhatten in the works here in Ann Arbor. Why stop at 13 or 15 or 20 stories, lets do 40 or 60 story buildings - really give the residents a view! Parks, who needs parks, paint some sidewalks green and add some daisy patterns to the overall paint scheme. Density, sweet density - another 2,000 to 5,000 6 bed student units, so the UofM can double enrollment and keep building - we can't let Texas have the largest university enrollment, now can we? After all who needs charm - we need money, keep them dollar dollar bills rolling in. /sarcasm - off/


Thu, Nov 29, 2012 : 4:31 p.m.

Unless I'm missing something, the broad brush here is that the DDA doesn't have any clear idea of what citizens want. They don't have a good handle on what uses for individual properties look like. But they want to stipulate use in the sale of properties, including the 5K sq/ft plaza on the "Y" lot. Ummm.... Density and public and/or green space are no incompatible, but they require a clear sense of mission. Ever been to Central Park in Manhattan? The (smaller scale, obviously) comparable spot in downtown Ann Arbor is, um, well ... we have a few concrete plazas here and there ....


Sun, Dec 23, 2012 : 6:05 a.m.

I think you're rather clueless there, brimble. We have the Arboretum, which is larger than central park. We have many parks in Ann Arbor, nestled into all of the neighborhoods around town. Especially on the West Side. You should perhaps check it out. We have a few parks near downtown, and there is west park not far from downtown (a few blocks) so, wow, what was your point again? I do agree with you that there should be more downtown green spots. The trees and plants that they removed from in front of the library have been missed. And they did drop the ball on making the library surface lot into a green space. But I believe they still plan on putting a building on top of that. Just haven't figured out how to do that and not get voted out the next election. Also, they are afraid the bums and homeless derelicts will take over the space like they've virtually taken over liberty plaza, which is a lousy design for a downtown park anyways.


Thu, Nov 29, 2012 : 3:08 p.m.

Oh, great. imagine trying to eat one's "pasta-con-pollo-y-fungi" at Palio with construction going on right outside your booth....really adds to the ambience.


Fri, Nov 30, 2012 : 11:54 p.m.

A nice Chianti would probably be the remedy!


Thu, Nov 29, 2012 : 2:58 p.m.

Why can't we put some publicly accessible green-space on top of a building or two? Imagine a garden on top of a building or even a skating rink up there. Granted, the costs to develop and maintain such space might add a few million to the overall cost of a structure. But then everybody gets what they want: urban density, additional storefronts, and a unique public space. Why should all the views of the surrounding landscape be accessible to privately-owned offices and residences or parking lots?


Thu, Nov 29, 2012 : 2:38 p.m.

The sooner the DDA is abolished, the better for Ann Arbor.


Thu, Nov 29, 2012 : 6:02 p.m.

So True!!!


Thu, Nov 29, 2012 : 2:37 p.m.

Look how many terrible buildings you can see in that photo. Here comes a bunch more. Only bigger.

Ron Granger

Thu, Nov 29, 2012 : 2:29 p.m.

Put another way: The DDA is spending your tax dollars to lobby and market for out of town interests.

Ron Granger

Thu, Nov 29, 2012 : 2:27 p.m.

The DDA is a very small group, pushing an agenda for a bunch of out of town developers. The DDA is actively trying to silence any effort to create greenspace downtown for the actual residents of this town. We need to start pushing back against their agenda. Picketing their meetings would be a good start.

Ron Granger

Thu, Nov 29, 2012 : 3:42 p.m.

@PB: "seemingly impervious to any data that stands contrary to that agenda." Indeed - failing to provide an option in their surveys for parks is clearly an effort to stack the deck against having the data.


Thu, Nov 29, 2012 : 3:15 p.m.

Agreed. Two of the questions that I would like to see actively answered are: 1. How do we hold the DDA accountable to the public, rather than the merely private interests? 2. How do we collectively express the public interest that opposes a preconceived and predetermined agenda that is seemingly impervious to any data that stands contrary to that agenda. Picketing or other actions at DDA meetings is an idea, but there obviously needs to be an appearance en masse if there is to be any substantial effect - and even then, I expect there will be DDA denial and resistance.


Thu, Nov 29, 2012 : 2:21 p.m.

How much of our tax payer dollars are being used to fund this? Why can't we simply get out of the DDA business and let the planning commission do its job by working with investors to develop these propereties at no cost to the city? All the DDA does is pay fat salaries to political appointees and then make economically unfeasible decisions. More tax payer dollars being flushed down the toilet to no purpose.

Dog Guy

Thu, Nov 29, 2012 : 2:20 p.m.

Transforming William Street into a pedestrian corridor is an opportunity for the DDA to modify its credit-card parking machines to also loudly and aggressively solicit contributions. William St. could become Tin Panhandler Alley.

Vivienne Armentrout

Thu, Nov 29, 2012 : 1:55 p.m.

I attended a presentation on Campus Martius presented by Concentrate in which we were first treated to an explanation of what "open space" means in downtown Ann Arbor. Kirk Westphal (Ann Arbor planning commission) first explained that Sweetwaters', for example, is open space or at least public space. In general he defined public/open space as anywhere people can gather, including the sidewalks of Main Street. Amy Kuras (Ann Arbor park planner) explained how there was no money for new parks and I think she also brought out Sculpture Park as a comparison to that tiny public plaza they are talking about. Of course, Sculpture Park is only a vestpocket area for a few people to sit. It is not amenable to any kind of public gathering. The wonderful public space that is Campus Martius in Detroit ( - 2.5 acres - was barely given any time in the presentation. DDA members have had a scornful opinion of parks and open space from the beginning. It conflicts with their objective to build the very densest structures possible. I wrote a blog post about one of their early meetings in which they explained about their concept of open space. At that time, they were also saying that Palio parking lot could be used for events. See which also shows how little park area we have in the whole Central Area , not just downtown.


Thu, Nov 29, 2012 : 2:41 p.m.

"Open space" must refer to a place to spend money like every other project the DDA gets their mitts on. It's not human activity if money isn't being spent.


Thu, Nov 29, 2012 : 1:39 p.m.

What? NO! NO! A THOUSAND TIMES NO! DDA: Stop tearing things up! Start bringing in businesses to EXISTING places! SHEESH!

Julie Campbell

Thu, Nov 29, 2012 : 1:21 p.m.

A park or something similar like an ice rink is a completely logically thing to put next to a library. Many families and children go to the library it would be fabulous to have something next door that is recreational as well. The area could use a little "green" too it is currently a SEA of CONCRETE.

Eco Bruce

Thu, Nov 29, 2012 : 1:45 p.m.

Well, it is a city.


Thu, Nov 29, 2012 : 1 p.m.

Most people in Ann Arbor couldn't pick the DDA board members out of a lineup. The way things seem to be going, they may have to.


Thu, Nov 29, 2012 : 3:11 p.m.



Thu, Nov 29, 2012 : 12:51 p.m.

Maybe someday , on another planet in another time . these people will get a " real " job...but don't count on it as long as they can tap your wallet...


Thu, Nov 29, 2012 : 12:33 p.m.

No public space on palio lot, it would be a magnet for street people. I like a boutique hotel if room for it or put offices and retail there. City should find best way to bring revenue not take revenue away and tranform it to non income producing property. Mixed use with in town condos would work too. On another topic, why is vacant building across from ymca not torn down. Ice rink and parking would be good there, no? At least until a better use is found.

Cendra Lynn

Thu, Nov 29, 2012 : 7:20 p.m.

And street people are to be driven away? Out of sight, out of mind?

Bob W

Thu, Nov 29, 2012 : noon

I hope these "development " plans include parking space and not count on the new underground parking to help satisfy ANY of the residential needs.


Fri, Nov 30, 2012 : 11:30 p.m.

Not on the bus. I gave up on car commuting and I feel like I got back 10 years of my life. That may not be true, but it feels that way to not start every day stressed out from traffic and wondering whether I'd get to park. Good riddance.

Bob W

Thu, Nov 29, 2012 : 5:46 p.m.

Tim, me thinks you don't have to try to find parking very often.


Thu, Nov 29, 2012 : 2:43 p.m.

I wish people could get off the parking mania.

Susan Montgomery

Thu, Nov 29, 2012 : 11:58 a.m.

... and for comparison, those of you who do want to see a big building of some sort in that lot, vote this one up...


Fri, Nov 30, 2012 : 11:53 p.m.

@Veracity: It must've been the wording of the ballot proposal.


Fri, Nov 30, 2012 : 6:21 a.m.

I think many voters are confused about how they should vote.

Susan Montgomery

Thu, Nov 29, 2012 : 11:57 a.m.

Re. new library parking lot area - Just because they chose to spend tons of money for foundational support without asking if people wanted it is no reason to continue in that direction. "No one has ever wanted that to be a park ... I think it's a very small group and I don't think it has widespread support." If you disagree and would like to see a park next to the library, vote this comment up, let's see what kind of support this idea has. Just curious...

Susan Montgomery

Fri, Nov 30, 2012 : 4:02 a.m.

Checking in at the end of the day, and looking at total votes up (hover over the voter score to see how many up and down votes a comment got). As of 11 pm Thursday: 45 votes for Park next to the library (and 13 votes down) 17 votes for big building next to the library (and 30 votes down) There you go then, Ms. Lowenstein.


Thu, Nov 29, 2012 : 11:43 a.m.

Seven story building on top of an underground parking lot! Close the DDA.


Fri, Nov 30, 2012 : 11:25 p.m.

There are many other issues besides engineering ones, but thanks for that perspective.


Thu, Nov 29, 2012 : 5:31 p.m.

To what are you objecting? From an engineering perspective, this is a non-issue.


Thu, Nov 29, 2012 : 2:46 p.m.


Chip Reed

Thu, Nov 29, 2012 : 11:16 a.m.

Joan Lowenstein says, "I think they're kind of drumming it up among themselves." Is this a case of the hankie calling the pillowcase white (or something...)?


Thu, Nov 29, 2012 : 3:09 p.m.

the flat sheet calling the fitted sheet........?


Thu, Nov 29, 2012 : 2:47 p.m.

The doilie calling the maid's apron...?