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Posted on Tue, Sep 20, 2011 : 6:48 p.m.

Ann Arbor agrees to sell land to AATA for $90K to help with rebuilding Blake Transit Center

By Ryan J. Stanton

The Ann Arbor City Council approved a deal Monday night to sell a portion of city-owned property at 350 S. Fifth Ave. to the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority.

The city will get $90,000 for the strip of land measuring 6 feet wide by 132 feet long and sitting immediately adjacent to the Blake Transit Center.

The AATA asked to purchase the land to use it in the development of a new transit center planned for the site. The agency plans to get started on a $5.5 million project to rebuild the Blake Transit Center starting in spring 2012 and finishing by spring 2013.


John Hieftje

City officials said the additional land will provide AATA several benefits, including accommodation of additional buses on site, additional outdoor program space, potential relocation of above-ground utilities and improvement of the overall urban character.

In terms of outdoor program space, city officials cited bicycle lockers, landscaping, seating, a recycling and refuse area, and informational signage.

Mayor John Hieftje expressed support for the Blake Transit Center project and chalked up the sale of land as an example of intergovernmental cooperation.

"The AATA serves us very well in our community. It's one of the busiest bus services in the state and continues to increase its ridership," he said.

The city-owned property — the former site of a YMCA building — is bound by William Street and Fourth and Fifth avenues. It's currently used as a surface parking lot managed by the Downtown Development Authority. The strip being sold is used for electrical utilities.

According to city officials, DDA Executive Director Susan Pollay was advised of the offer made by the AATA and had no objection to the sale. The sale is not expected to change the number of parking spaces in the lot or impact the city's ability to develop the land in the future.

Commonly referred to as the "Y Lot," the larger property is one of a handful of city-owned surface lots downtown that the DDA is working to master plan for future redevelopment.

In addition to being adjacent to the Blake Transit Center, the Y Lot sits across from the Library Lot, another city-owned parcel where the city is building a new underground parking structure with hopes for seeing development on top. Additionally, there have been talks of tearing down and rebuilding the library immediately adjacent to the Library Lot, though those plans were put on hold in late 2008 because of the economic downturn.

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, Sep 27, 2011 : 3:42 p.m.

@treetowncartel @Bogie AATA is very fortunate to have strong community partnerships to help with trash cans and bus stops. Stops that have trash cans usually have been "adopted" by nearby community members, local businesses, or organizations who agree to look after the stop, take care of the trash, and alert AATA to serious issues (<a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>. This helps reduce maintenance costs and empowers people to be proactive about the transportation network. If there's a stop that is not being well maintained, we encourage people to let us know by emailing


Wed, Sep 21, 2011 : 6:58 p.m.

&quot;Mayor John Hieftje expressed support for the Blake Transit Center project and chalked up the sale of land as an example of intergovernmental cooperation.&quot; Is John Hieftje for real? When AATA wanted to buy the whole YMCA lot to expand, the city had to overbid for the lot because it fit into John's Utopian belief that the site had to house low income residents. The city wasted millions of tax payers money in order to purchase it, demolish it, clean it up do to environmental hazards and then to house the former residents a year or more. The site was not developed and now is just a parking lot. Now John wants to champion that it was intergovernmental cooperation when in the first place the city should have never purchased the YMCA and allowed the AATA to purchase it. What a hypocrite.


Wed, Sep 21, 2011 : 2:55 p.m.

This is really not needed when if they look at Ypsi transit center it could use some sprucing up as well. If they are going to use the money then this will be well worth and placed. I do agree though, when are they going to stop blocking up 5th ave?


Wed, Sep 21, 2011 : 2:31 a.m.

@ treetown, It's not AATA that is leaving trash at bus stops; it's patrons. How about the people, who ride the bus, do like most. Hang on to your trash, put it in your pocket, and dispose of it properly. I personally, do not want to see my tax dollars paying for a transportation specialist to pick up trash. I have an idea, get a hold of the county sheriff, and have jail inmates pick it up. As far as the money the 90000 goes, it makes me nervous. Whenever money is transferred between two government entities, there arrises a lot possibilities of corruption.


Wed, Sep 21, 2011 : 1:31 a.m.

So the AATA construction will start at the same time the parking garage is supposed to be finished. Then maybe when the AATA building is done they'll be ready to build a conference center or whatever is going over the parking garage in spring of 2013. Then by the time that's done maybe they'll be ready to start the new library they've been hoping to make. So we should expect Fifth between Liberty and William to be open and free of construction some time by 2016 or so. Fantastic.


Wed, Sep 21, 2011 : 1:30 a.m.

Since we ae on the topic of AATA, is it possible for them to a) place trash cans at their bus stops, b)send som people around to pick up after their users or c) both? The bus stops by me are constantly deposited with trash. I get a little tired of subsidizing a program that contributes to urban blight.


Wed, Sep 21, 2011 : 1:23 a.m.

&quot;Intergovernmental cooperation?&quot; I would have been more impressed if the City, Library and AATA (and DDA?) would have worked together for a vision for the whole area rather than what's in the works or proposed. Got an old library? Let's replace it with a new one! (I know, on hold for now) AATA needs upgrading? Let's do this as a standalone project! Library Lot? Let's build more parking (and a building on top!) My tax bill has line items for all the appropriate administrative bodies above -- I wish they could have come up with a more creative vision for the area rather than independent replacement projects. At one time (as I recall) it looked like the AATA would be building a transit center with a meeting/boardroom, the Library ideas had rooms for community use and a conference center was proposed -- all independent projects seemingly without much effort to complement each other and make efficient use of resources (land and tax dollars!).