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Posted on Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 5:58 a.m.

Ann Arbor DDA says Kline Lot could be future site of parking garage if needed

By Ryan J. Stanton


This image shows the five sites where the Ann Arbor DDA contemplates private redevelopment as part of the new Connecting William Street plan. The DDA believes the Kline Lot at Ashley and William could include a parking garage developed in cooperation with a private developer. Additionally the DDA believes the garages at Fourth and William and Library Lane could absorb parkers who currently use other surface lots in the area.


The Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority sees the city's four surface parking lots along the William Street corridor as "holes" in the center of downtown.

Those holes, according to the DDA, are opportunities to transform the corridor into an attractive and vibrant section of downtown — with streetscape improvements and new developments.

But what about the loss of roughly 340 public parking spaces across the four lots, which bring in hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in revenue?

For instance, the Kline Lot at Ashley and William has 143 spaces and brought in nearly $582,000 in parking revenue last year, according to DDA reports.

Even more parking spaces could be lost if the DDA goes forward with retrofitting the first floor of the Fourth and William parking garage for office space, an idea being considered.


The Palio Lot, shown here, is one of four city-owned parking lots downtown that could be redeveloped. If that happens, the Ann Arbor DDA expects people who use the lots now will be able to simply shift to parking structures that have excess capacity.

Ryan J. Stanton | file photo

Council Member Sabra Briere, D-1st Ward, asked DDA officials at a work session Monday night what the effect would be if the city's surface lots were redeveloped. She said they're popular and make money for the city.

DDA Executive Director Susan Pollay said the DDA believes there's sufficient space in the current system to absorb what's being proposed in the so-called Connecting William Street plan.

But the DDA still recommends reserving the Kline Lot for future discussion about whether to add a parking garage in a manner similar to the public-private deal the city worked out with developer Village Green on the Ann Arbor City Apartments project.

As part of Village Green's development on previously city-owned property at First and Washington, the city is helping to finance a parking garage by issuing $9 million in bonds. Of the 244 spaces, about 72 are expected to be held for residents, leaving 172 spaces for the general public.

Striking a similar deal with a developer on the Kline Lot isn't on the DDA's radar at the moment, Pollay said, but it's an idea to consider in the future if the concern is there's not enough parking.

DDA board member Roger Hewitt said bringing more people to downtown via transit — and even building offsite parking facilities outside the downtown where people who live and work downtown can quickly access their cars but not keep them downtown — is part of the equation.

The DDA also is expecting there will be a segment of the downtown population that has no interest in owning a car at all.

"There are a lot of people around the country who are choosing to live downtown without cars and using things like Zipcar," Hewitt said, noting there are 10 Zipcar locations in downtown Ann Arbor.

"I think a downtown circulator of some type definitely has to be part of the mix," he added, recalling the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority's former Link bus service, which was discontinued in 2009. He said they'd bring it back next week if they had the money for it.

"We've actually had some discussion about that," he said. "It's a big expense."

A market study conducted by one of the DDA's consultants found 500,000 square feet of large floor plate office could be supported in the downtown over the next 10 to 12 years (bringing an estimated 2,500 jobs), along with 1,300 new apartments (in addition to what's already under construction) by 2016. DDA officials expect developers to provide onsite parking whenever possible.


"We imagine that most people would want to live with a car, would feel that they had to live with a car, and that they had to own that car, pay insurance on it, house it, gas it up," said Council Member Sabra Briere, D-1st Ward. "And yet I keep reading that there's a significant segment of the population at all ages that doesn't want that."

Ryan J. Stanton | file photo

But as for where members of the general public might go, for example, if the Y Lot and the Library Lot are redeveloped, DDA officials say they're not worried.

"We expect those parkers are going to shift to other structures," Hewitt said, adding he doesn't expect that to have much impact on the system.

He said there's excess capacity in both the Library Lane underground garage and the Fourth and William garage, and the DDA expects users of the nearby surface lots to move there.

If development occurs on the Library Lot, the DDA's plan notes up to 218 spaces in the new Library Lane garage can be put under contract and not violate bond requirements.

DDA reports suggest the new Library Lane garage has 738 spaces, but Republic Parking, which operates the garage, says it's actually 744 spaces, which includes 33 spots in the surface lot. It's been estimated the garage is about two-thirds full after opening last summer.

DDA officials said the addition of 711 underground parking spaces is what's giving them the opportunity to look at redeveloping the surface lots.

Hewitt said the new garage is filling up faster than expected, though.

"This structure was intended to be excess capacity to encourage growth in the downtown," he said. "It is being used at a much quicker pace than we anticipated."

According to figures presented Monday night, the DDA manages 4,800 parking spaces in seven garages, 1,100 spaces on surface lots and 1,900 on-street metered spaces.

Under an agreement between the city and the DDA, the city's general fund gets 17 percent of gross parking revenues, which translates to about $3.1 million in revenue for the city this year.


Roger Hewitt

"Demand in the system has been strong and continues to be strong," Hewitt said, adding there are about a half-million more hourly patrons now than six years ago.

Hewitt said twice this past year — on the Friday of Art Fair and the Friday of Midnight Madness — the entire system was full. He said that's never happened before.

"All the structures and all the surface lots filled up, so it's a good example of the high demands that we're experiencing," he said.

Hewitt gave council members a look ahead to the coming year, saying automation of the parking system will continue, and the DDA will be looking at new strategies to take some pressure off the parking garages closest to the University of Michigan campus area.

"In the campus area where we have our highest demand and our biggest challenges of trying to figure out how to serve all the partners in the area, we have some ideas for some pilot projects and demand management that we're going to start focusing on," he said.

"And probably for everyone's benefit, there will be no rate increases in either the hourly or the monthly parking rates in the coming year," he added. "We do not anticipate needing to do that."

As part of his report to council, Hewitt also noted more than 4,200 employees at more than 400 downtown businesses took advantage of the getDowntown go!pass program this past year, clocking more than 600,000 go!pass bus rides to and from work downtown.

"So it's not just parking that's in demand," he said. "Demand overall continues to grow."

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.



Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 9:42 p.m.

I always use the Kline lot when I go downtown. It's quick and easy to use for someone who lives on the west side.


Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 8:57 p.m.

My wife always uses the Kline lot. Many women feel much, much safer in surface lots than they do in structures. Muggings and rapes are much more lilely to occur in structures than in surface lots and many women feel vulnerable. Further, surface lots take much less time both in entering and exiting one's vehicle. Leave the lot alone. It is one of the few where many people feel safe parking.

Steve Bean

Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 5:39 p.m.

The DDA's consultants don't understand that we've already entered a deflationary depression in which unprecedented levels of both private and public debt can't be serviced by our anemic economy. Private debt is already undergoing deleveraging in spite of government (Federal Reserve) efforts to counter it and hold off deflation. The signals from the financial markets will become clear before these sites can be developed (if we're lucky), and parking demand will decline. The DDA may not need to raise rates in 2013, but they will soon face the difficult circumstance of falling demand and falling revenues. Raising rates would lead to further demand destruction. Going further into debt for a parking system built to meet past demand is a trap.

Nicholas Urfe

Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 6:29 p.m.

Excellent points. To clarify - raising parking rates will kill traffic downtown, and hurt businesses. However, asking taxpayers to take up the slack and subsidize mega-million dollar parking structures is not a solution.

Ryan J. Stanton

Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 4:01 p.m.

I want to hear from people who regularly use the Kline Lot to park when they go downtown. What is it you like about this lot? Why do you prefer to park there?

Nicholas Urfe

Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 6:32 p.m.

I park there often, in the evening and at night. It is convenient, it is free. It avoids the traffic hassles of main street and of parking structures. The fact that it is free greatly influences my decision to go downtown Repeat - The fact that it is free greatly influences my decision to go downtown Parking garages stink, often litereally. I'm a dude, so safety is less of a concern, but it still is a concern. I feel safer out in the open vs. in a structure. Also, I think structures are less safe for cars, because it is easier for a thief to look around and see that nobody is present to watch.

E Claire

Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 5:48 p.m.

As a woman, I feel safer parking in a surface lot when I'm by myself. May not be reality but many women feel the same. It's also more convenient to exit than a garage; shorter lines, less loops to go round to get to the exit, etc. It's also pretty central, at least concerning the places I visit in the downtown area.


Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 3:36 p.m.

This is just hilarious. All one can do is shake their head and chuckle. Bring it on!

Nicholas Urfe

Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 3:35 p.m.

I keep reading that the DDA is in a huge financial hole, and on the verge of bankruptcy. And if they go into the red, they must be disbanded by state law. Surely those considerations must influence their decision making. Lately, there seems to be a very frantic and desperate rush to add more very tall buildings to downtown - in direct opposition to the majority feedback of taxpayers who live in Ann Arbor.

Nicholas Urfe

Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 3:33 p.m.

"Under an agreement between the city and the DDA, the city's general fund gets 17 percent of gross parking revenues, which translates to about $3.1 million in revenue for the city this year." How does that figure against the yearly cost of the very expensive structure - interest on loans, etc?


Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 3:01 p.m.

Leave the Kline lot alone. Parking in downtown Ann Arbor is a huge pain in the buttocks, seriously, we need the surface parking provided by the Kline lot. As it is now I avoid downtown Ann Arbor, especially weekend evenings because of the parking hassle. You eliminate the Kline parking and it will make a bad situation even worse.

Tom Hollyer

Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 5:15 p.m.

Tanzor, why do you feel that it need to be a surface lot?

Vivienne Armentrout

Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 2:14 p.m.

Hewitt seems to be reserving the use of downtown for those who "live and work" there. Is downtown no longer intended to be a place where residents of the entire city can visit to shop or eat a meal? Our transit system does not accommodate this type of use, yet surely that was the original intent of a downtown - a place with multiple services that people would use and visit intermittently.

Richard Carter

Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 8:19 p.m.

I've got a similar problem in the Huron Parkway/Glazier Way area. I can go South easily (on a good day I can go from there to Arborland in a dozen minutes), or downtown easily... but to go the two miles up Huron Parkway (the main North/South non-freeway on the East side of town) north to Plymouth, I would have to go all the way downtown and back again. It's a little too hub-and-spoke of a system.

Vivienne Armentrout

Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 6:59 p.m.

I take a bus whenever I can. Usually, this is to attend a downtown meeting. However, my local route doesn't run on weekends and ends at 6:30 p.m. on weekdays. During the middle of the day, it runs only hourly. Jack Eaton has explained some of the deficiencies of the system in detail. There are some other issues, such as the fact that there are few bus stops within the downtown area. Again with reference to my local route, the two downtown stops are at the county building or at the Blake terminal. If I want to shop and have a lot of things to carry, I'm not likely to want to walk across the entire breadth of downtown, especially if weather is an issue. The larger point is that we have downtown parking to encourage business downtown, or at least that was the original purpose. We are moving away from the concept of downtown as a center of service for the entire community, and making it an enclosed self-contained unit where only commuters and immediate residents are accommodated. That doesn't seem to be good business in the long term, and it certainly calls into question why the rest of the community should support it.

E Claire

Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 5:59 p.m.

Perfect summary of the problems with our bus system Mr. Eaton.

Jack Eaton

Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 4:50 p.m.

Ryan, the current AATA service is inadequate in multiple different ways for those who might use it for purposes other than commuting to a downtown job. FIrst, the buses run infrequently. If you miss a bus, you are left waiting a half hour or even an hour for the next one. That is not practical for busy people. The local transit system has inadequate service hours. If you wish to use transit to go downtown for dinner and drinks, you need to head home well before 10:00 pm. I don't know about you, but I don't always want to go home that early. On weekends, the service is less frequent during the day and ends even earlier. The very times that someone who doesn't work downtown might use transit is when it is least available or convenient. Another clear deficiency is the routing. Note that you cannot take a bus directly from South Maple to North Maple - you first have to go downtown. (Maple Road has some of the most densely populated areas of town and many retail businesses but gets really marginally useful service) You cannot take a bus the full length of Stadium, you must go downtown and transfer. The route system is a collection of loops that takes you everywhere except where you might want to go.

Ryan J. Stanton

Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 4 p.m.

Is it the hours of service or route alignments, or both, (or something else?) that you think inhibit neighborhood residents from taking a bus to downtown to shop and dine out? When I'm out walking the neighborhoods west of downtown -- for example, along Miller -- I see a lot of people out there hopping on buses to get to and from downtown. Here's a good map of the AATA's routes: Do you think they don't cover enough of the city?

Katherine Griswold

Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 1:57 p.m.

"The Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority sees the city's four surface parking lots along the William Street corridor as "holes" in the center of downtown." Most people outside the immediate downtown area see the DDA as a "hole." Ryan, it would be helpful to know more about the DDA. Maybe an article on the DDA, its members and the business sector each represents. Are any downtown business sectors not represented on the DDA? What are the terms of the board members? What is the mission of the DDA; its history? How is the DDA funded? What are the advantages of a DDA separate from City government?

Ryan J. Stanton

Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 3:51 p.m.

Thanks, Kathy. That's actually a story I've thought about doing for a while. Perhaps some rainy day I'll write it.


Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 2:23 p.m.

That would be a very interesting (and helpful) article.

Larry Baird

Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 1:51 p.m.

Building another parking structure on the Kline's lot would be completely wrong for so many reasons. Ann-Ashley being prime example number one. Even another City Place type agreement would only yield an additional 29 parking spaces (172 new vs. 143 old) and the demand would fall (surface parking demand vs. parking garage) so changes to revenue would be minimal. With UM continuing to build parking structures around town (= more cars), our city leaders need to make a much stronger commitment to "offsite parking" options - such as building more park and ride lots and maybe even building a parking structures closer to the highway. It's good to hear Mr. Hewitt's talk about this type of solution: "even building offsite parking facilities outside the downtown where people who live and work downtown can quickly access their cars but not keep them downtown — is part of the equation." So why not make this the number one priority vs. continuing more of the same downtown?


Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 12:57 p.m.

The DDA should eliminate all parking downtown except for one spot, and then charge a million dollars an hour to park there. There. I just saved you $50,000 in consulting fees....


Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 12:06 p.m.

If you don't have enough of something, and someone wants to take some away, in economics, that causes price instability. Take away the very-much-needed parking spaces that exist now, and I bet we can get to New York levels of parking rates in five years. $5/hour, $80/daily.


Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 11:34 a.m.

First, at Ashley & Main? They don't intersect. Second, it's clear the DDA's strategy is to reduce the available parking so that they can raise parking rates even higher on the few spaces left. All they want is to build 14 story high rises everywhere.

Ryan J. Stanton

Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 1:49 p.m.

The image caption should have said William instead of Main. It's been fixed. Thanks for the catch!