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Posted on Fri, Nov 13, 2009 : 6 p.m.

City evaluating six proposals for development of Library Lot in downtown Ann Arbor

By Ryan J. Stanton

Six groups beat a Friday afternoon deadline to submit proposals for development of the Library Lot in downtown Ann Arbor.

City Administrator Roger Fraser said the proposals will be opened and analyzed Monday morning.


The footprint of the Library Lot site.

The six groups that turned in proposals include the following, but exact details aren't yet known:

• Valiant Partners LLC, a group of investors who previously made known their intentions to propose a large-scale hotel and conference center plan.

The group includes Bruce Zenkel, an investment banker and developer from New York, and Michael Mailkin, an attorney from New York. They are being represented locally by Ann Arbor business consultant Fritz Seyferth and attorney Bruce Elliott, both former University of Michigan football players who played under coach Bo Schembechler from 1969-71.

• Campus Inn owner Dennis Dahlmann's company, Dahlmann Properties, which owns and manages several major hotels in the Midwest.

• Jarratt Architecture, a Metro Detroit design firm that's been involved in several large hotel projects in the Midwest. The Ann Arbor Country Club and the Sheraton Ann Arbor are included in its portfolio.

• The Beztak Companies, a Farmington Hills-based company that has developed high-end apartment communities in Michigan, Arizona, Florida and North Carolina, including Briar Cove in Ann Arbor.

• Acquest Realty Advisors Inc., a Bloomfield Hills real estate company whose list of clients includes, among many, the Hilton Hotel Corp.

• Ann Arbor Committee for the Commons, a grassroots group of citizens who prefer to see the site remain a public commons area. The group is headed up by Ann Arbor resident Alan Haber.

Dee Lumpkin, the city's procurement assistant, said an evaluation committee will review the proposals and schedule interviews the week of Dec. 7. The evaluation committee is expected to recommend a proposal to the Ann Arbor City Council during the week of Jan. 15.

Lumpkin said she didn't think copies of the proposals could be released while under review. A Freedom of Information Act request by for copies of the proposals is under review by the City Attorney's Office and the city's FOIA coordinator.

The city owns the land on South Fifth Avenue, on which the Downtown Development Authority is currently building an underground parking structure. The city hopes to see new development atop.

Attempts by on Friday to reach developers and community members who submitted proposals were unsuccessful.

The only people who could have submitted proposals were those who attended a mandatory pre-proposal meeting at city hall in late September. A total of 43 people penned their names on the sign-in sheet at that meeting.

Susan Pollay, DDA executive director, said she had no new information on the proposals submitted Friday. She said it's her understanding the proposals were requested in electronic format and may be posted online.

"I'm just excited in this community," Pollay said. "We have some fabulous developers and we are working very hard to prepare the site. The project that the DDA is doing is enormously important - we're bringing the utilities and really setting the stage for something great."

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



Mon, Nov 16, 2009 : 12:29 a.m.

This is a great idea Moose and one the city tried out about 4 years ago. Right after the County told the city they needed to move the District courts out of the county's courthouse the city appointed a task force to find a spot, either existing or to build on, for the courts and police. After about of year of work the committee came back and recommended they build it on the lot next to the Library with a parking structure under it. They held a public hearing and I was there to say it was a good idea but there were 25 people who said it was a terrible place for a courthouse so the city kept looking and finally settled on the spot next to city hall after looking at something like 10 sites. The city had been looking off and on for a place to build a new police station pretty much since the Larcom building was put up in the 60's. It was originally not supposed to house the police for very long so they put them in the basement until a new building was in place but it never happened until now.


Sun, Nov 15, 2009 : 11:49 a.m.

The Library lot, the downtown branch of the AAPL, the Federal building and USPS and historic Kempf house was the perfect location for the new Courts and Police building located in a public commons. Indeed, that would have been a much better location for a public sculpture. Imagine a governmental center, accessible by public transportation, with loads of parking, in a central location for most of the public services people in the city use on a daily basis. Imagine! Imagine what could have been if they had been open and honest with the public instead of going behind the public's back with a deal that was done before the first shovel of dirt was turned. Instead the city spent about $50+ million on an ugly addition to a poorly designed and dysfunctionally operational City Hall. And now the City want to stick the public with another $55 million parking structure built expressly for a publicly subsidized, privately owned, for profit, Conference Center of dubious need. This is the main reason why we need to change the process the city politicians and administration currently uses to decide what to do with public property and how to pay for it. There is a distinct lack of vision and leadership in city hall. Or is that vision and leadership there to serve the interest of big developers instead of city residents?


Sun, Nov 15, 2009 : 7:57 a.m.

Lets build something that generates lots of tax revenue! We have enough open land. The taller the better!

Marvin Face

Sat, Nov 14, 2009 : 8:55 p.m.

Cahill and Sidney on the outside as usual.. I reiterate: you will all be surprised, and debate will ensue.. FOIA to your hearts content.

Karen Sidney

Sat, Nov 14, 2009 : 3:57 p.m.

The RFP requires separate envelopes for the purchase/lease proposal and for the description of the project. It's the purchase/lease proposal that is restricted by the RFP, not the description of the proposed project. The RFP specifically states that the proposal is subject to FOIA and is not deemed proprietary. The envelopes with the purchase/lease proposal have not yet been opened. As soon as they are, they should be available to the public. Since the purchase/lease proposal is only 10% of the weighting, in theory, the purchase/lease proposal will not matter unless the scoring on other areas is very close.

David Cahill

Sat, Nov 14, 2009 : 3:09 p.m.

The City's request for proposals (RFP) forbids the submitter of a proposal from distributing it to anyone but the City. So the submitters' hands are tied: if they make their proposals public, they are disqualified. A real advance for transparency. 8-) I hope Ann's FOIA request succeeds in blasting loose the proposals.


Sat, Nov 14, 2009 : 3:07 p.m.

I see that Dahlmann is involved. Maybe he'll move that POS Ypsi train station on the site.


Sat, Nov 14, 2009 : 2:17 p.m.

Re: "just because the only the greenies/NIMBYs attended the meeting, it does not mean that is the consensus," I would support a referendum.

Karen Sidney

Sat, Nov 14, 2009 : 1:54 p.m.

There is no legal basis for withholding the bids. The Michigan Freedom of Information Act makes all public records subject to disclosure unless there is a specific exemption. The exemption that applies to bids is as follows: "A bid or proposal by a person to enter into a contract or agreement, until the time for the public opening of bids or proposals, or if a public opening is not to be conducted, until the deadline for the submission of bids or proposals has expired." Since both the public opening and the bid deadline have passed, the bids must be disclosed to the public. The city should immediately provide copies to and post them on the city website. The decision process for what is to be built on this site is already corrupted. Emails show the city and DDA were in discussions with one of the bidders months before the RFP was issued. City staff told prospective bidders that answers to questions provided to some bidders might not be provided to all bidders. Now the city says the bids may not be disclosed until after the committee has decided which one to recommend. What is the purpose of keeping the bids secret? Does the city plan to break the law by letting one of the bidders change their bid?


Sat, Nov 14, 2009 : 12:34 p.m.

Proposals are one thing.... Obtaining financing is another.... Commercial real estate is in peril across the country, especially in MI.... Well, don't be bothered about that... We have no conference space.... Actually, we have amazing conference space... U of M has been hosting conferences and symposiums for decades. In addition to their own hosting, they also rent space to corporations, non-profits, and public. Conference space in Ann Arbor is ample, affordable, and available.. This fact has been left out by leaders such as the mayor and council. However, JH is likely dreaming of the day that the Hieftje Conference Center opens... with a $1 mil statue out front.... Did you hear that sound? Crumble... crack... crunch... whump... Oh, don't mind that... It's the sound of the Stadium Bridge falling down... Hey, watch out!


Sat, Nov 14, 2009 : 12:17 p.m.

SH1 - just because the only the greenies/NIMBYs attended the meeting, it does not mean that is the consensus. Does the vast majority beleive we need a new City Hall with a $300,000 water sculpture - I doubt it. Also, "we" approved the Greenbelt with the understanding that we would get density downtown. Now the NIMBYs are fighting that too. I also find the perception that Ann Arbor has a "progressive" attitude to be laughable. Every proposal for change is fought. People, like EOM, are terrified of change - often in the name Greenspace or "keep A2 quaint & little" or many more excuses.


Sat, Nov 14, 2009 : 11:59 a.m.

Well genius it would help for bike riders, joggers when trying to cross the street. Do you people really not see all the stupidity and wasteful spending going in ANN ARBOR or you just turning a blind eye like most people inclueding the Mayor and city council.


Sat, Nov 14, 2009 : 11:14 a.m.

Eric, How will eliminating a right turn on red throughout the city cut waste? All that would do is create bigger traffic backups. Can you give us some justification, candidate, as to what purpose this would serve?


Sat, Nov 14, 2009 : 11:06 a.m.

I went to pretty much every meeting where I could give my input on what kind of development should go in the former library lot. The vast majority of citizens speaking at these meetings said they wanted green space, a commons are, a plaza, etc. No one wants a towering inferno there, yet that's what the finalists all specialize in. Thank you, City Council, for letting us give our input while you emailed each other with your own ideas.


Sat, Nov 14, 2009 : 9:25 a.m.

A2 realilty. I am just trying to bring things to light that the city needs to start addressing.Face it people it is time to stop all the city waste that is my only point.


Sat, Nov 14, 2009 : 8:24 a.m.

Eric64 - I don't understand your list of grievances. I appreciate your comments on some of the matters, such as questioning the usefulness of the greenbelt commission, etc. I don't understand how a list can contain that point and simultaneously complain about people turning right on a red light (which is legal). I think that we should continue to be able to turn right on a red light. Also, it is highly unlikely that we can cut costs and simultaneously expect the mayor to create jobs to help unemployment. Those two things oppose one another.


Sat, Nov 14, 2009 : 8:20 a.m.

One of my concerns about developing this area is the increased traffic flow in the area. Many times it's tough enough to wheel your way through town. If there is going to be a conference center there, it will only aggravate the situation.


Sat, Nov 14, 2009 : 7:20 a.m.

Hey Marvin. Why are you ignoring the city debtand all the other IGNORANCE going on in the city.


Sat, Nov 14, 2009 : 1:34 a.m.

please not a commons area/park. if you want a gathering place, why not try liberty plaza? or if not that, whichever spot downtown you currently like to relax and meet friends? if you want green space, how about the diag? or ingalls mall? both of them are a short walk away from this spot. or better yet, how about the countless neighborhood parks throughout the city? people pay a premium to live downtown because they want to experience an urban lifestyle and they're also the type of people that are more than willing to walk a few blocks to find green space to laze about on or meet friends at a coffee house or restaurant. an open area or park will end up being a waste of highly valuable downtown space and end up being a mid-block shortcut for pedestrians and bicyclists and a wasteland during the winter months. why not have it developed? get some property tax revenue out of it and if it becomes, in part, residential (i'm hoping for mixed use residential/commercial), then you'll have more people living downtown and spending money in downtown businesses. i know that development will be assailed by those who like the status quo and consider ann arbor to be a "quaint, little" town. just because we have a small town feel doesn't mean we have to be small-minded with how we view the city's future because we're not exactly that small either. you want quaint and little, try chelsea. that's a wonderfully quaint, little city. there are three parts to what makes ann arbor arguably the best place to live in michigan: 1) the university. love it or hate it, ann arbor wouldn't be what it is today without u of m, 2) a progressive-minded population, and 3) an appealing downtown. develop downtown to the hilt, people. keep the neighborhoods the way they are, tree lined and dreamy. but when you get downtown, make it a real downtown, okay? i'm glad to see that surface lot go... it felt like something that belonged countless other characterless michigan cities from canton to livonia. but not ann arbor. like it or lump it, we're different. we actually have a downtown so let's do it up right then, shall we?

Marvin Face

Fri, Nov 13, 2009 : 9:51 p.m.

There's a little surprise in there, just you wait. Everything is not as it appears and this will open some nice debates on these pages very soon.


Fri, Nov 13, 2009 : 9:38 p.m.

Those are just some of things see that need to be addressed, that continue to be ignored every year. We need a New Mayor and voted out city council we need more carrying people who listen to the residents when we speak.


Fri, Nov 13, 2009 : 9:29 p.m.

Hey People ask yourselves why the city ignores the following and on going city wide problems then ask your self why..Hello People.I have a top ten list of things the city needs to address 1 Start current issues like street and sidewalk repairs have you seen street drains that are covered with leaves and trash are you wondering why the streets flood.And why the city ignores it. 2 the city needs to do something about cell phone drivers, if you are driving get off your stupid phone. 3 turning on red should not be allowed anywhere in the city. 4 the lazy people who continue to litter city sidewalks with shopping carts leaving them anywhere they want to. 5 the city debt and the high unemployment rate.What has the city really done about it.What is the Mayor really doing about it. 6 If the city is so in debt how come you never here the Mayor and the city council taking a pay cut.Instead the clueless city council lays off police and fire department employee's. 7.How can the city afford to build a new city hall or add on when the city debt gets bigger every year.And buy new police cars.Makes you wonder does it not. 8 why does the city need a green belt commision and a downtown development authority departmen among other wasteful departments.Do we really need all these commission's and departments just more city wasteful spending. 9. It is time to flat out stop spending and focus current problems. 10. People it is just time to step up and deal with everyone that is corrupt and wasteful in the city which continues to grow more and more everyday I hope people all of this as true and speak up to the city and get them to finally start dealing with current issues I hope to get some positive feedback.Sincerely Eric.M


Fri, Nov 13, 2009 : 9:18 p.m.

Really?! TOWERS in Ann Arbor? Skyscrapers full of hotel rooms, fancy shops, and luxury living? Sounds like the Ann Arbor I know and love....oh, wait, no it doesn' sounds like another really bad idea that NO ONE in the neighborhood wants and something we certainly don't need. I don't live downtown, but I've lived here for 40 years and am not sure why such buildings are even being CONSIDERED in our quaint little town. Key words: quaint, little


Fri, Nov 13, 2009 : 9:11 p.m.

Not me I find the city's actions completely one sided the city does not care what the residents say or want.wake up people.


Fri, Nov 13, 2009 : 8:46 p.m.

Do you people realize that the City is unable to repair decaying roads and sewers? Do you realize that the City has 100+ parks? Do you find it offensive that the City generate tax revenue?


Fri, Nov 13, 2009 : 8:04 p.m.

This is public land. Why is it that there's such a push for private development? Our only downtown open space is Liberty Square and the wedge near No Thai in Kerrytown. Why does the City's desire for development have to happen on land owned by the City? Unfortunately, it looks like the decision has already been made for development (can't get a parking structure w/o having a way of paying for it and the garage is a go... so it looks like the public land give away is certain). Main St, on the days when it's closed, will be our 'open space.'


Fri, Nov 13, 2009 : 6:15 p.m.

It would be much nicer for Downtown Ann Arbor if the library lot was converted into some sort of beautiful public square. Unfortunately, that does not seem to be one of the choices under consideration. This could prove to be the waste of a golden opportunity...


Fri, Nov 13, 2009 : 6:13 p.m.

All articles above show the wasteful things the city keeps doing.