Ann Arbor's Main Street makes list of best streets in nation
Ann Arbor's downtown Main Street has been recognized as one of the Top 10 streets in the nation.
The American Planning Association, which recognizes excellence in planning, announced today that Ann Arbor's main downtown thoroughfare made the list in its 2009 Great Places in America: Streets contest.
"South Main Street is downtown Ann Arbor's center of activity and community gathering place," the association states on its Web site. "The continuous rhythm of detailed masonry building storefronts right at the sidewalk's edge contributes to an exciting pedestrian environment. The City of Ann Arbor's continuous efforts to preserve these buildings — most housing locally owned businesses — ensures that the street's unique appearance and character remain intact."
The American Planning Association has offices in Chicago and Washington, D.C.
Ann Arbor Mayor John Hieftje and Susan Pollay, director of Ann Arbor's Downtown Development Authority, relayed news of the honor at today's DDA meeting.
"I'm enormously proud - we all are," Pollay said. "Our Main Street is an absolute centerpiece of our community and to have it cited nationwide as one of the great streets is a source of enormous pride and something that we've all known about and now it's great that others are finding out about it as well."
City officials said Main Street was singled out for its forward-looking planning and development aimed at helping lower the city’s carbon footprint. Among other things, the city is increasing housing density, preserving historic buildings and increasing transportation choices along Main Street, city officials said.
Hieftje said the award is a culmination of extensive public involvement in developing city policies that help to preserve the historic fabric of Main Street. About 80 percent of the structures along the three blocks of South Main designated a 2009 Great Street are protected by the city-designated Main Street Historic District that was established in 1989.
South Main Street, which was part of Ann Arbor’s original city plat in 1824, has always been integral to the central business district, city officials said. In 1982, the community established tax increment financing through the DDA to fund streetscape and infrastructure improvements, including widening sidewalks, planting trees and installing pedestrian crossings.
Other streets that made the 2009 Great Streets list (in no particular order):
â€¢ Broadway Street, Skagway, Alaska.
â€¢ President Clinton Avenue, Little Rock, Arkansas.
â€¢Â Front Street, Bath, Maine.
â€¢Â Front Street, Traverse City, Michigan.
â€¢Â Haddon Avenue, Collingswood, New Jersey.
â€¢ Main Street, Greenville, South Carolina.
â€¢Â Duke of Gloucester Street, Williamsburg, Virginia.
â€¢Â North Main Street, Wheeling, West Virginia.
â€¢ East Newberry Boulevard, Milwaukee Wisconsin.
Ryan J. Stanton covers government for AnnArbor.com. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 734-623-2529.