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Posted on Thu, Jul 22, 2010 : 6:04 a.m.

Ann Arbor officials pushing forward with evaluation of hotel and conference center proposals for Library Lot

By Ryan J. Stanton

Ann Arbor resident Alan Haber says he plans to continue pushing for the development of an urban park on the downtown Library Lot.

Haber, one of the authors of the Ann Arbor Community Commons proposal rejected earlier this year by a city advisory committee, appeared before the City Council Monday night hoping to revive discussion of his idea.


Alan Haber is hoping to revive discussions of an urban park on the Library Lot site.

Ryan J. Stanton |

"I continue to persevere on the question of the commons on the Library Lot," Haber said, criticizing the city's Library Lot advisory committee for failing to move forward on evaluating the remaining development proposals for more than four months.

Haber said he worries the process is going nowhere. And if no development happens above an underground parking garage now being built at the Library Lot, the site will revert back to a surface parking lot. Haber argues instead for a park.

The Library Lot advisory committee, led by City Council Member Stephen Rapundalo, narrowed a pool of six proposals down to two in January, rejecting Haber's idea for a park and three others. The two remaining proposals both call for a hotel and conference center development, an idea that doesn't appear to have strong support from the council due to the financial risk it would require from the city.

Rapundalo confirmed the default plan would be to turn the Library Lot back into a surface parking lot until a plan for development was adopted. He said the City Council would have to discuss Haber's idea to make it a park instead.

"The case would have to be made why we should consider something other than the surface lot," Rapundalo said. "But doing what he wants, in effect, would be an end run around the intent of doing a development on that property."

The Library Lot is located on Fifth Avenue between Liberty and William streets, adjacent to the downtown library. The city owns the 1.2-acre property, where an underground parking structure is being built.

City officials hope to find a suitable development proposal for what goes on top of the parking structure.

Rapundalo said the city is close to signing an agreement with a consultant to help evaluate the feasibility of the two hotel and conference center proposals, which were submitted by Valiant Partners and Acquest Realty Advisors.

After the consultant is hired, he said, a series of meetings will be held with stakeholder groups like the Ann Arbor Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, Ann Arbor SPARK and the Ann Arbor District Library. He said the city may even have the consultant sit down with both Valiant and Acquest to discuss their proposals.

"I know the consultant had a while ago developed some series of questions after having done a fairly extensive assessment of the proposals," Rapundalo said.

“With a little bit of luck," Rapundalo said, perhaps the consultant will be able to come to the committee by mid to late August and "we will pick up at that point." He said the committee has a process to complete and won't be reconsidering Haber's idea.

City Administrator Roger Fraser said the goal remains to do something with the site that will stimulate the downtown economy. He thinks that could be accomplished in any number of ways, including a hotel and conference center, an office complex or residential housing — but not a downtown park.

"It would get a very limited use by a small number of people. It's mostly passive uses," Fraser said of Haber's idea. "We think this site has potential to serve as an economic stimulus for the downtown and help ensure the health of our downtown businesses The idea is to get more people coming into the downtown on a regular basis, people who are involved in the downtown 24-7."

The Downtown Development Authority has provided $50,000 to the city to hire the consulting firm. Rapundalo said the DDA, with the use of an intern, will conduct a comparative analysis to complement the consultant's work.

Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for Reach him at or 734-623-2529.


Stephen Lange Ranzini

Mon, Aug 2, 2010 : 3:07 p.m.

@Otto For its out of town guests, University Bank recommends Bell Tower Hotel and if that is busy Campus Inn, and while a bit pricey, they are very nice. Both are in walking distance of everything downtown. Not everything good needs to have a national brand behind it. Buy local, shop local!


Fri, Jul 30, 2010 : 9:17 a.m.

Ever try to place a visiting business guest in a full service hotel in Ann Arbor? The Briarwood mix is an embarrassment to a community with this level of economic activity. Either low end chains with Wendy's as the dining option or the Sheraton (ughh!). Place a full service hotel downtown and it will be a draw as a lodging and a meeting site due to the high level of dining and entertainment options within a safe walking distance.


Wed, Jul 28, 2010 : 6:39 p.m.

Doctor Strangelove, I like the idea of something like Hart Plaza in Detroit. When I worked in downtown Detroit it was indeed a great place to take a brown-bag lunch and be part of the numerous events they had there. I think the grocery store idea, an urban forest, a community garden, or a Hart Plaza type design would all be great. They are all human-scale designs, not industrial scale designs. They'd be in keeping with Ann Arbor as a community. If well designed, any of these things would work. It's frustrating to have politicians at all levels and both parties ignore these types of concerns over the corporate-type interests of builders and contractors who want large scale projects. Enough! I'm voting for politicians that I think will implement people-scale development, or maybe just leave things alone if we cannot afford them.


Mon, Jul 26, 2010 : 6:58 a.m.

And, since a certain local hotel owner is now a Hieftje supporter, maybe he's the one that wants the new digs for $.20 on the new construction dollar cost, or less...; 0

Rod Johnson

Sun, Jul 25, 2010 : 9:56 p.m.

aes--Yep, the front of the library was reconfigured to add a ramp in the "other" direction from the existing ramp because pedestrian traffic is going to have to come from the south for the next year or so due to construction. That's why the planters were removed. I don't know about the safety issues--give Josie Parker a call.

Dr. Strangelove

Sun, Jul 25, 2010 : 6:23 p.m.

People should not think more Liberty Plaza when thinking about the Commons above the Library lot; they should think about something like Hart Plaza in Detroit (one of the jewels Detroit has to offer.) Hart Plaza is great because it allows some awesome events to be held there that have the effect of bringing a community together. People are always citing the quality of life as a reason to live in Ann Arbor; a commons like Hart Plaza that provides a venue to hold community wide events would certainly contribute to an improvement in quality of life for Ann Arborites.


Sun, Jul 25, 2010 : 3:59 a.m.

I am wondering why the pretty planter in front of the library with all its lovely trees was completely removed--to be replaced by a dangerous-looking bi-level walk that people can fall off. Was that intended to be a ramp? Does it meet safety codes for ADA purposes? Shouldn't there be a railing or sides to it?

Rod Johnson

Sat, Jul 24, 2010 : 10:25 a.m.

Peter--correct, that is not the case.

Dawn Nelson

Sat, Jul 24, 2010 : 7:40 a.m.

An urban forest will help offset all the emissions from the vehicles and improve air quality downtown. The Great Lakes Environmental Law Center took legal action against the city of Ann Arbor because the city didn't conduct an environmental impact analysis of all the vehicles that will make use of the parking structure. Is this analysis being done? This is a recent case, with an agreement in April to do this analysis. An urban forest would address what the city has agreed to evaluate- the environmental impact of more emissions. The idea of an urban forest or commons is not that unusual- it is sometimes called a piazza.


Fri, Jul 23, 2010 : 10:05 p.m.

Ryan, you state: "When polled by back in January, a majority of the 11 City Council members acknowledged hesitations about the city financing a $9 million conference center (as proposed under the Valiant proposal). Several, including the mayor, even said they're adamantly opposed to it." Unfortunately, I think they are just getting around the issue that citizens care about, the use of any public money at any time, by careful wording and leaving loopholes. While it may not include direct financing, there are likely plenty of loopholes that will eventually the use of public funds. For instance, if a privately-funded conference center fails, are there any circumstances under which the city will have any financial obligations? At the federal level, for instance, we just bailed out the banking industry so they wouldn't fail. I live in Ann Arbor and don't want to have to choose between a horrible, run-down eyesore downtown and having to pay to bail out a project that is failing. I'm not in love with the park idea, either. I just hurry past the Liberty Park. I'm glad the homeless have a place to congregate, but being aggressively approached for money by some of those who hang out there does not make it an appealing place to be. I don't see what's to prevent a park that's quite near other places where homeless people congregate from becoming like the Liberty St. park. A community garden might make use of the land in a different way. Small businesses would be ok, too, depending on the businesses.

Peter Clark

Fri, Jul 23, 2010 : 7:09 p.m.

For some reason, I thought the lot was to be used for a new main branch library. Is that not the case?


Fri, Jul 23, 2010 : 11:41 a.m.

"... but a park is fiscally irresponsible." At this time, the conference center proposals hold great promise for fiscal irresponsibility on the part of the city. As they stand (please correct me if I'm wrong), both proposals currently on the table call for the city to plunk down additional millions in public money to subsidize a big private development. Practically speaking, a developer's demand for "public-private partnership" means that the city must provide corporate bailout money up front, long before any red ink starts to flow after project completion. One has to wonder why the city did not summarily dump any such proposal until the developer saw fit to humbly revise it, removing any insistence on public funding. While at times I get irritated with neighborhood activists who choose to base their actions on narrowly-defined homeowner interests, at some point Roger Fraser will likewise have to understand that he doesn't actually own downtown. And, quite honestly, the only clear answer to his own arbitrary criteria for the library lot really is to construct a 24-7 casino. ------------------ While not holding strong preferences concerning the future of the library lot, I think some kind of mixed use arrangement sounds quite reasonable. It would be nice to accent the well-used library by designing a park-like space across from its busy entrance. The area's design could also accommodate outdoor activities sponsored by the library and community groups. Next to this space could sit a small-ish community center building managed by the city or the library. The rest of the area might include tree-lined walkways, a bit of retail (a grocery?) and even some residential (e.g., Heritage Lot Apts., built with asphalt siding and on-site Heritage Parking).


Fri, Jul 23, 2010 : 10:08 a.m.

Once one knows they've made a mistake in their navigation, is it prudent to continue along the knowingly failed and flawed route? How much money will we spend before the stupidity of our current path is acknowledged by the "leaders?" Here we have an unneeded garage that now "mandates" the Hieftje Hotel and Conference Center. If the city had brains and "man dates" they would cut their losses now. Stop the garage construction, fill in the hole, make a central park... It is highly likely that the city will pay for the total development of garage, hotel, and conference center, selling it to a bottom-feeding investor for $.20 on the construction dollar, in a post-bankruptcy situation. There will be great angst and misery along the way... Tally Ho (Hall)!


Fri, Jul 23, 2010 : 8:39 a.m.

Anyone out there remember the children's book about the happy little house out in the country? I don't remember the progression of the story but the picture I remember the most was of this sweet little house between two huge skyscrapers at the end of the book. Made me think of Jerusalem Garden in this argument. If something has to be built on the library lot, it should be in tune with the height of the other buildings in the area. Not some huge monstrosity that would overshadow and overpower the rest.I am all for a little market there, complete with parking in front. I think it would fit right in.


Fri, Jul 23, 2010 : 5:38 a.m.

I agree with Mr. Ranzini's argument that parking capacity was sufficient to meet demand, but past follies are sunk & irrelevant. The city/DDA need a building on top of the structure. I don't know if it should be a convention center/hotel, but a park is fiscally irresponsible.

Vince Caruso

Thu, Jul 22, 2010 : 8:18 p.m.

A convention center would be a 'Major Loser' for the City as has been said time and again by educated residents. It will be a long term drain on the budget (they never pay their way), blight the neighborhood (very little activity at the site except for the very few days of the year it is in use) and is only really wanted by the few who want the city to pay for and provide them with bragging rights and over sized meeting place. This is another example of who is running the city and if this gets built it will not because the citizens of Ann Arbor have been begging for it while we are in a major economic depression. Like the New City Hall disaster the tune will keep changing till it will be sold as a 'Make Work' project that will cost the tax payers inordinate amounts of money and produce another ugly building we never needed. The group running against this insider council would be the best bet to break up this losing proposal and others they have privately arranged without tell us about, like this convention center.


Thu, Jul 22, 2010 : 7:19 p.m.

I don't like the conference center idea for many reasons, most of them mentioned above. My vote would be for The Commons idea, all on one level: trees, benches, maybe a fountain, a little bandshell or gazebo for events. I'd also suggest, if it hasn't been suggested already, that the upkeep of gardens be done by a group of volunteers. You could probably get students in Landscape Architecture to draw up the plans. My 2nd choice for that area would be a mixed-use thing: grocery, retail, offices, residential.

Rod Johnson

Thu, Jul 22, 2010 : 6:45 p.m.

A vote for Hieftje on August 3 is a vote for the conference center AND for a lot of other things. A vote for Lesko is a vote against the conference center AND for a lot of other things. That is the complex reality.

David Cahill

Thu, Jul 22, 2010 : 6:23 p.m.

A vote for Hieftje on August 3 is a vote for the conference center. A vote for Lesko is a vote against the conference center. That is the brutal reality.

Rod Johnson

Thu, Jul 22, 2010 : 4 p.m.

Wow, awkward. Alice, I'm not in your district, but if I were I might be looking for a candidate with a less fragile ego about now.

Ryan J. Stanton

Thu, Jul 22, 2010 : 3:33 p.m.

@Alice Ralph I have noted in multiple stories that you and Alan Haber are the co-authors of the report. And in this story I correctly called Alan Haber "one of the authors." I'm sorry if you feel if there was any intent on our part to leave your name out. I assure you that's not the case. It's just that Alan Haber was the one who publicly spoke on the issue before the City Council.


Thu, Jul 22, 2010 : 3:28 p.m.

All the more reason for thoughtful Ann Arborites to exorcise the city from the grasp of Satanic forces when offered the opportunity to do so in the not too distant future...!

Alice Ralph

Thu, Jul 22, 2010 : 3:17 p.m.

@Ryan. As a fellow writer, you know how much time a project can take to complete. You know about the importance of attribution. Since I authored and submitted the "Commons" proposal, you have not properly attributed it to me. Alan Haber and I are co-signers, but he was out of town for a significant portion of the time during which the proposal was prepared. I even emailed you privately last fall to say that I was surprised that you did not call me when you were unable to contact Alan Haber [because he was out of state]. I gave you my telephone number. You did not respond. I ignored a second instance. Now, as a candidate for District 11 County Commissioner, I am beyond the period to which those in the article refer. However, your continuing lack of attribution undermines the fact that I wrote the proposal, properly submitted it and stood with Alan for the public interview, as a public service. I am still concerned about public process with regard to the Library Lot, but I am quite open-minded as to the character of an open space or urban park. [One of the comments here, refers to one of the models I used. Might they have read the almost 30-page document?] I was just at the Diag this morning and find that it is one of our best spaces, but it is not really ours, being surrounded and controlled by the University. Ann Arbor, not its administrator, should decide what works for our town. If an urban park, its character should be shaped, at minimum, by context and good sight lines so that the critical mass includes and improves Liberty Plaza. I do not have time to defend the proposal right now. If the public is unwilling to defend its own space, then we will effectively forfeit it [and maybe subsidize private profit]. I do not think we have too many parks, but I do think we have quite enough surface parking areas, almost unversally agreed to be a poor use of valuable land. Yes, of course Council is timing their actions. It would have been nice if this issue were timed better for my own campaign. "All I want for Christmas" is credit for the commitment I made in time and funds to serve a public process for the dispostion of public land. I've received private compliments from those who know. I can no longer accept the public impact of improper attribution. If we really want to stretch the discussion, what about a right-sized grocery store or neighborhood business services, partially below ground with underground delivery area? I proposed a park-like setting. But, as I said, I'm open to public discussion, with proper attributions all around.

Vivienne Armentrout

Thu, Jul 22, 2010 : 2:06 p.m.

@ "rusty" - the Diag does not belong to Ann Arbor. It is part of the University of Michigan and though we may pass through as pedestrians, we may not make material use of it. Perhaps you are a student and still have some title to it, but it is not a commons for townies. I remember when the Art Fair spilled over onto the Diag - wandering jugglers, etc. The UM put an end to that. They have control over their own property, after all.


Thu, Jul 22, 2010 : 1:51 p.m.

One of the tragic elements of the Hieftje Hotel and Conference Center is that it totally destroys the adjoining historic district... The city could care less as it mocks, and laughs at the plight of, the neighboring property and business owners... with truly crappy proposed new construction (giant Sanford Magic Rub Eraser aka as Valiant Hotel aka Hieftje Hotel). The city has ruthlessly held the feet of those same owners to the proverbial historic district fire. Owners struggle in perpetuity, and at great expense to renovate, remodel, and operate those properties. The true city government value of historic districts in Ann Arbor is revealed in the city's plan for the library lot site... where city government's view of modern a2 and historic district are buffered only by the shadow cast on the historic district by the unneeded and unwanted modern midrise building that will be constructed...

David Cahill

Thu, Jul 22, 2010 : 12:59 p.m.

Ryan, if you believe what some Council members say I've got a bridge in Brooklyn that might interest you. Here is the likely scenario: After the August primaries, whoever wins, the Council Party will approve a conference center because it's what they want. Don't bother confusing them with fiscal realities. Mayor Hieftje may vote no, but he won't use his veto because he never has. After the November elections, depending on who wins, the Council Party may still have enough votes to push follow-ups like the issuance of the bond through. Mayor Hieftje will continue not to use his veto. Mayor Lesko, on the other hand, will veto any follow-ups, her veto will be upheld, and the project will die.

rusty shackelford

Thu, Jul 22, 2010 : 12:39 p.m.

As for this "commons" nonsense, Ann Arbor already has a de facto commons called "the Diag." It's open to the public and provides lots of space to loll about, converse, etc. We don't need more empty space in the core city.

rusty shackelford

Thu, Jul 22, 2010 : 12:36 p.m.

Trade that property for the Heritage Row properties. Council gets to preserve its (dubiously designated) historic houses, developer gets land of equal or greater value to put new apartments on. Downtown businesses get more consumers. Boom. Everybody's happy. Or, at least, it will force Carston to think up another excuse to oppose any residential building for no reason. As for grocery store idea--there are already 3 or 4 of them within 6 blocks.


Thu, Jul 22, 2010 : 12:34 p.m.

In merrie olde England, the commons was a meadow where the peasants kept their sheep. We already have an ordinance welcoming chickens within the city limits. The no-growth crowd is really determined to turn Ann Arbor into a hick town.

Vivienne Armentrout

Thu, Jul 22, 2010 : 12:24 p.m.

@David Cahill, it is the House of Representatives (U.S.) Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Domestic Policy subcommittee.


Thu, Jul 22, 2010 : 12:19 p.m.

If you want people 24-7 bringing money into the town make it a casino...


Thu, Jul 22, 2010 : 11:47 a.m.

Love the food store idea!

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Thu, Jul 22, 2010 : 10:55 a.m.

Underground parking costs 5x surface lot parking, so if nothing will be built above and we didn't need the parking in the first place because the demand for parking the DDA's consultant had projected never materialized due to the intensification of the 10 year Michigan Depression, why did the DDA put $44 million of the $55 million spent on the project into this big hole in the ground??? I would assert that the other $11 million of the taxpayer's funds was also wasted because there was no need for additional above ground parking at that location, especially since the surface parking lot across the street where the old Y used to be was hardly ever used before the library surface parking lot was closed.


Thu, Jul 22, 2010 : 10:41 a.m.

Richard C, my words exactly. At Liberty and Division, once you are in there you are trapped. I haven't been near there in a while, but does it still have the port-a-john? Lovely. No eating lunch there. I think there would be traffic through the proposed urban park. From the library to wherever they have parked, or patrons might want to sit and get right in to the books they have borrowed. And bus riders whose destination is the State Street area, and back. And it would be an open air park.sort of like the Diag. a few shade trees scattered here and there, maybe a playground structure for the kids who have had to be quiet in the library. And two ways out. Kathryn, a grocery store is just a great idea! A small market, maybe a Polly's, would be ideal.

Stephen Landes

Thu, Jul 22, 2010 : 10:35 a.m.

What is obvious from all the discussions the City is having is that we have no long range plan of what we want the City to be and what we need to get there. It's time to force the "city planners" to work with city residents to come up with a long term plan, so we aren't asking these same questions time after time. Oh, wait, we did that and it was a futuring exercise that we held all over Ann Arbor. I guess those studies are collecting dust on someone's shelf in city hall these days. By the way, there is no excuse for the city to be spending any money developing real estate -- that's what private developers are for. If they don't see a profit in doing the job then there is NO CHANCE that the city will make money doing it themselves.

David Cahill

Thu, Jul 22, 2010 : 9:57 a.m.

Ted, to what "Domestic Policy Subcommittee Hearing on Taxpayer Financed Stadiums, Convention Centers and Hotels" are you referring? Is this a federal government group, or a Michigan government group? Or something else?

Ryan J. Stanton

Thu, Jul 22, 2010 : 9:50 a.m.

When polled by back in January, a majority of the 11 City Council members acknowledged hesitations about the city financing a $9 million conference center (as proposed under the Valiant proposal). Several, including the mayor, even said they're adamantly opposed to it.


Thu, Jul 22, 2010 : 9:20 a.m.

We're still holding out for the proposal comprising an ice skating rink with cafes and other small shops--reminder of Rockefeller Center in NYC. This is not the right location for the projects the City Council currently has under review, nor are they financially feasible.


Thu, Jul 22, 2010 : 9:15 a.m.

I agree with Seldon......Liberty plaza x 10.....nice.

Richard C

Thu, Jul 22, 2010 : 8:58 a.m.

An Urban Park is very appealing - especially if it can be shown that it won't have a "homeless problem" like the nesrby park on Liberty & Division does. Why does the park at Liberty & Division have a "problem"? To my mind, the UofM Diag doesn't have a "problem" - but how is it different? Does the Liberty & Division park have a "problem" because it is a "linear" park (because of the way the ramp twists back and forth) making it impossible to escape pan-handlers (and leaves you feeling like you're trapped in a pit at the bottom?) Is it because the UofM Diag has more foot-traffic, creating a different population mix? Other than the Library itself, there isn't a lot of reason for foot traffic in that space.

Ted Annis

Thu, Jul 22, 2010 : 8:39 a.m.

Folks, One more time... there are no data or studies that support the concept of a downtown convention center as an economic engine. The DDA has none, the Visitors and Convention Bureau has none, the City has none, the Chamber has none. Studies have shown just the opposite. The following is from the Domestic Policy Subcommittee Hearing on Taxpayer Financed Stadiums, Convention Centers and Hotels: "The public justification for public financing, including construction financing with tax exempt bonds, is that it is an investment that brings jobs and consumers to a City's downtown. Academic research on the value to downtown development, however, has universally concluded that stadiums, convention centers, and hotels do not increase economic activity in downtown areas." I submit to you that a surface plaza (park) would be an excellent draw that would enhance the Revenues of existing downtown businesses.


Thu, Jul 22, 2010 : 8:38 a.m.

@ Marshall Applewhite, in the past, numerous projects that have required a millage and/or higher taxes have been approved by both conservative and liberals alike. True. Now, is probably not the best time to ask citizens to cough up more money; they clearly didn't like the school millage increase nor the German art idea. But, I do think that one of the reasons Ann Arbor is a bit of an Oasis in this otherwise sad State is that more social minded projects have been encouraged and supported by the good people of A2; it is what sets us apart from everyone else! You can laugh, but take a good look at everything we have here in A2 and then think about how we got? Laughable? Hardly. A hotel and conference center is not acceptable simply because we have the University which has far more space available in existing buildings and as already indicated, we have a ton of hotels all around the city. I challenge you to go to Briarwood and start counting!


Thu, Jul 22, 2010 : 8:29 a.m.

"... the goal remains to do something with the site that will stimulate the downtown economy..." Mayor/council/DDA idea of economic stimulation is entirely different than that of citizenry. Government economy is solely about tax revenue/collection. Although the Hieftje Hotel and Conference Center is not feasible from a private sector point of view (no subsidy = no private sector building), it is sweetly lucrative in the city's tax revenue/collection perspective... and not in the way they want anyone to imagine... These projects will drive the city to collect more taxes following the failure of Hieftje Hotel and Conference Center. The city is obligated to pay... and the "city" is not the government... it is the taxpayer... The Hieftje Hotel and Conference Center is vital for the city's future plea and justification of "essential" new taxes... Sadly, "essential taxes" have nothing to do with "essential services" in a2...


Thu, Jul 22, 2010 : 8:17 a.m.

An urban park is a very poor use of this site. A commercial presence makes far more sense - short term and long term. A hotel would be a huge draw and make this area economically viable to other nearby businesses. I hope the council makes the right decision.


Thu, Jul 22, 2010 : 7:57 a.m.

I'm not sure how yet, but would be willing to be that ultimately millions of dollars of taxpayer money will go into funding another of City Council's pet projects.


Thu, Jul 22, 2010 : 7:56 a.m.

"the goal remains to do something with the site that will stimulate the downtown economy" After reading the article on the non existant construction in the area, I think the city council would want to rush one of these projects through to stimulate the downtown and local economy! How long do they need to study the plans? (its been years)


Thu, Jul 22, 2010 : 7:53 a.m.

How about a grocery store (right across from the bus station!) that would support the growing number of downtown residents?


Thu, Jul 22, 2010 : 7:52 a.m.

There's already an urban park right by this location, and it's so fully occupied by the homeless that nobody else goes there. My bet is this one would be the same.

Marshall Applewhite

Thu, Jul 22, 2010 : 7:07 a.m.

Rasputin, Your assertion that people are willing to pay even higher taxes for more parks is laughable. There are already too many parks, and few of them are properly maintained as is.


Thu, Jul 22, 2010 : 6:58 a.m.

Furthermore, I think if we had more community based projects like, for example, Urban Parks more of us would be willing to pay higher taxes. I know that for the sake of quality of life, you can have more of my paycheck any day!


Thu, Jul 22, 2010 : 6:55 a.m.

The Hotel and Conference development makes perfects sense from an accountant's perspective, but from a quality of life standpoint, I find the whole thing rather unfortunate. Alan Haber is right, an Urban park is a far better solution given the location of the underground garage and would be distinctly similar, albeit smaller, to Chicago's millennium park which a glorious celebration of the outdoors and the community. I hope City Council Member Stephen Rapundalo will reconsider this proposal.

A Pretty Ann Arbor

Thu, Jul 22, 2010 : 6:44 a.m.

There are so many hotels on the outside ring of the city that have conference areas and LOTS of FREE parking on site. So WHY would anyone want to use a hotel in the city, with expensive parking? Let's not forget all of the panhandlers that will be attacking the people staying at the hotel for money. Pretty much any day I walk that street I get at least one panhandler asking for money, lots of sob stories (lies) etc. to get me to give them money - guess they don't remember they tried the same story last week on me. People will remember us as the city they don't want to come back to for a conference. It takes an average of 3 owners of a hotel before there is a why is the city wanting to get into the hotel business?


Thu, Jul 22, 2010 : 6:32 a.m.

Boondoggle - the whole thing from the beginning.


Thu, Jul 22, 2010 : 5:40 a.m.

Hieftje and crew are waiting for a post-primary date to announce city FUNDING of the Hieftje Hotel (above the council luxury garage) and Conference Center (atop the affordable housing "Y" site). After all, they are "dollar rich" and "sense poor." There's good reason for all of the budget surpluses... They have been earmarked for other use.