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Posted on Mon, Jul 18, 2011 : 5:51 a.m.

Ann Arbor parking deck construction continues downtown, expected to finish next spring

By Ryan J. Stanton

"Concrete, concrete and more concrete."

That's how Amy Sullivan, project manager for contractor Christman Co., sums up the major work being done right now on a $50 million underground parking structure that continues to take shape next to the library along Fifth Avenue in downtown Ann Arbor.

Crews are hard at work forming and pouring elevated concrete decks, columns and walls for the four-story underground project funded by the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority. Work on the plaza level is expected to begin at the east end in the next two weeks.

The deck is expected to include somewhere around 700 parking spaces. It originally was expected to open in August 2011, but several months ago project officials said, due to a later start, it wouldn't be finished until December 2011 or January 2012.

Sullivan said on Friday the entire project won't be done until spring 2012 now, though concrete work is expected to be done before then. She said there are temperature-dependent items that will need to be completed in more moderate temperatures in the spring.

So what's left to be done? Mechanical, electrical, plumbing, elevator installation, and finishes such as stain, paint, tile, glass canopies, handrails and wayfinding signage.

Also remaining is plaza-level work, including site concrete, sidewalks, furnishings such as bike hoops and tree grates, landscaping and snowmelt systems. photographer Melanie Maxwell captured the following images of the project taking shape this past week:

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 e-mail newsletters.



Tue, Jul 19, 2011 : 4:07 a.m.

Amy sullivan should have said: "Incompetence, incompentence, and more incompetence"...

David Cahill

Mon, Jul 18, 2011 : 5:36 p.m.

When is Fifth Avenue scheduled to reopen?


Mon, Jul 18, 2011 : 4:15 p.m.

I'd look at the pictures, but honestly, after 2 years,I don't want to look at that stupid thing anymore and the slow as molasses "we're gonna take allllll day to do one simple task" work ethic of Christman. There's only partial half-days of labor taking place on that thing...even in moderate tempuratures, and very long lunches by this organziation which is obviously milking the project for every hour and dollar they can get from the city.


Mon, Jul 18, 2011 : 4:12 p.m.

A pure and unmitigated disaster, but it could be accepted with a little more patience by the longsuffering businesses downtown and of course by Ann Arbor residents, if the organization running the project (Christman) could figure out a way to not have to park all their equipment and all their stuff on 5th Avenue. It seems wasteful and hoggish for them to require that entire street and block to be closed for the duration of the project.

Ryan J. Stanton

Mon, Jul 18, 2011 : 3:06 p.m.

I asked the DDA and contractor back in April for any plans or descriptions of what the top would look like absent a development such as a conference center. The image embedded in the following story is the best I got: <a href=""></a>

Vivienne Armentrout

Mon, Jul 18, 2011 : 2:44 p.m.

The delay might be in part due to the sinkholes that developed last spring. So the plaza-level work: has that been fully planned? There has been no public discussion of what the configuration will be, even temporarily. The DDA is still working to plan a process to plan what will be there. (See <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>. Remember the controversy about the hotel-conference center to be placed there? That was so April, but the story might have been more complete if it had cited some of's coverage of that. Thanks for the great slide-show. Much better for the rest of us than having to climb down in.

John Spelling

Mon, Jul 18, 2011 : 4:47 p.m.

Sorry but the sinkhole shouldn't have added much more than maybe a month to this project. If privately developed this parking deck would have been completed in less than a year - easily. Very Sad.


Mon, Jul 18, 2011 : 1:24 p.m.

what a waste

Are you serious?

Mon, Jul 18, 2011 : 1:11 p.m.

Anyone else notice that the structure at 4th and William always seems to have a few hundred free spaces all day long? Wonder who is going to use these new 700 spaces? You can check availability at this website: <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> It seems to be updated in real time.


Mon, Jul 18, 2011 : 12:38 p.m.

There is something we are not being told regarding how long this is taking to complete. It's ludicrous that it's taking this long. Mechanical, electrical, plumbing, elevator installation, etc can't be done in hot weather? I guess cities in the south with even hotter weather (Atlanta, Miami, etc) don't do this kind of construction in the hot weather? If that was the case, those cities wouldn't have any large buildings or parking structures. The level of disruption this has caused and the amount of time it is taking are inexcusable.


Mon, Jul 18, 2011 : 12:26 p.m.

This is Ann Arbor's 'Big Dig'. It will have the same affect on us as the original Big Dig had on tax payers in the NE US. What a waste of our hard earned money. When are we planning to build the City Council reflection pool?

John Spelling

Mon, Jul 18, 2011 : 11:27 a.m.

Almost 2.5 years to build this parking structure? Granted the deck is 4 stories underground, quite the complex construction project. By comparison the Empire State Building has only two basement levels. Oh wait, the Empire State Building also has 86 levels above the ground. And how long did it take to open the doors of the ESB after groundbreaking? 1 Year and 45 Days!


Mon, Jul 18, 2011 : 11:22 a.m.

Myself, I thought the old library lot was fine. Not planning to go out of my way to use this new, most costly one.