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Posted on Wed, Dec 5, 2012 : 2:57 p.m.

Connecting William Street: Draft plan emerges for 5 city-owned sites in downtown Ann Arbor

By Ryan J. Stanton


This draft plan for five city-owned properties was presented Wednesday at a meeting of the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority.

Ann Arbor DDA

Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority officials on Wednesday released a draft plan for redeveloping five city-owned properties in the downtown.

Many hypothetical ideas have been floated over the past several months for the properties the city owns along the William Street corridor between Ashley and Division streets.

But the new Connecting William Street plan, recommending a focus on moderate- to high-density residential and office projects, marks the first unveiling of a specific set of site-level recommendations.

Amber Miller, the DDA's planning and research specialist, received a round of applause from DDA board members at the end of her half-hour presentation.

Miller said the plan is to take the draft recommendations out to the public for additional feedback through Dec. 20. The DDA's governing board is expected to vote on the recommendations on Jan. 2 and then those will be presented to the City Council at a Jan. 14 work session.

The five properties being studied include the Library Lot atop the city's new underground parking garage off Fifth Avenue, the Y Lot across the street at the corner of Fifth and William, the ground floor of the Fourth and William parking garage (the DDA thinks it could be retrofitted for office space), the smaller Palio Lot at Main and William, and the larger Kline Lot at Ashley and William.


Proposed scenarios for urban open space.

Ann Arbor DDA

All five of the sites are currently used as public parking facilities, but the DDA believe there's potential for reeling in private investments in new restaurant, retail, office, residential, lodging and open space uses, as well as some type of cultural or performance arts venue.

Images presented Wednesday show high-density projects with a focus on office space for the Y Lot and the Library Lot, with active ground-floor uses such as retail or restaurant.

A more moderate-density plan for the Palio Lot includes also includes a focus on office space with an active ground-floor use.

Further west on the Kline Lot, the DDA's draft plan recommends a focus on residential development with an active ground-floor use.

The plan encourages the City Council to dedicate a percentage of the land sale proceeds for each site into the city's affordable housing trust fund.

The City Council in April 2011 authorized the DDA to take responsibility for facilitating the process for redeveloping the properties included in the Connecting William Street area. The DDA pulled together previous studies and existing plans in the process of doing its work with a land use economist.

"We weren't starting from scratch. This Connecting William Street is an add-on to what's already been done," said DDA board member Joan Lowenstein, who worked closely on the project.

Miller said the DDA tried to find alignment between the community's desires, project viability and the public benefits and costs of particular ideas.

She said the community feedback confirmed alignment with adopted plans, suggesting density belongs in the core and what people want to see is a vibrant and active sidewalk experience.

Mayor John Hieftje was among those applauding the plan unveiled Wednesday. He said he's looking forward to it coming to council for approval.

"It's obvious that there's been a lot of work done," he said. "There's been a whole lot of public input that's gone into the process. It seems pretty apparent that everybody's being consulted."

Hieftje said there's no rush on adopting the plan, but he said the city likely will move swiftly to sell the Y Lot since a $3.5 million balloon payment is due by next December.

The goals of the Connecting William Street project have been to create strategies for transforming five parking sites into uses that will better serve the community and improve the development process for city-owned sites, providing clear expectations for developers and the community.

"The goal from the beginning of the project was the vibrancy of our downtown and doing what we can to enhance it," said DDA Executive Director Susan Pollay.

On a pedestrian level, Pollay said, William Street right now doesn't have much use other than people walking to the library or walking to the Blake Transit Center.

"If we are successful, we have another area in our downtown that has vibrancy, another area where people can come downtown and have a good time, another area where people can live and make a life for themselves, another area where people can get jobs," she said. "We're taking a piece of our downtown that right now does not have a lot of those activities and making it possible."


Ann Arbor DDA

Wednesday's presentation talked about the potential density for each site in terms of "floor area ratio," which is a development term used to describe the total square feet of floor area in a building divided by the total square feet of the lot on which the building is located.

For instance, the plans showed floor area ratios ranging from 400 percent to 700 percent. What that translates into in terms of building height is not an easy answer, Pollay said, but developments pushing 700 percent FAR could be about 12 to 14 stories tall.

The DDA found 500,000 square feet of large floor plate office could be supported in downtown, along with 1,300 new apartments downtown by 2016. A market research report indicates a hotel would be supportable with the area having the highest hotel occupancy rate in the past 25 years, but the plans presented at Wednesday's meeting don't outright recommend a hotel.

The DDA's market research shows strong demand for restaurants, but it says retail generally should be small in scale with the exception of recruiting an anchor tenant such as Apple.

Miller said a priority for Connecting William Street is improving the pedestrian environment and the spaces in between buildings. The DDA proposes streetscape and transportation improvements to create comfort for pedestrians, cyclists and others to enhance the feel of the area.

Part of the strategy includes having the DDA create a plan for continuing to accommodate convenient public parking as development occurs on the sites. The plan proposes some kind of public parking be included in conjunction with development on the Kline Lot at Ashley and William.

Miller said that should not include surface parking and underground parking is encouraged. If above-grade parking is planned, she said, it's important to minimize visibility from the street.

The plan identifies cultural use as a priority for the area, but it says it might not be appropriate for all sites and projects. The draft plan also suggests the city and DDA consider exploring an analysis of the urban open space needs for the downtown and create a recommendation for the renewal of Liberty Plaza and then determine if there are additional downtown open space needs.

A scenario included in Wednesday's presentation shows two urban open spaces planned for the Library Lot and the Y Lot with a mid-block connection linking the two properties.

The plan for the Y Lot recommends exploring building over the Blake Transit Center, underground parking and a possible connection to the Library Lane underground parking garage.

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 email newsletters.


alan haber

Sun, Dec 9, 2012 : 9:05 p.m.

Here, like outside our bubble, in the big world, it is the 1% and the 99%. The cabal of developers, bureaucrats, real-estate speculators etc want to do their will, leave their legacy and make their money. The people who live here, and want a live-able human scale real time town can protest, testify, whistle in the wind and jump in the river, for all they care. This is too bad, very sad. These are very nice people up in our 1%, friendly, cultured, rational and professional, except they have gotten cataract filters in their eyes so every thing is seen though money, which is what counts, and that's how come they know that they know best. Having watched, and endeavored to participate in this democracy, become sham, for at least 10 years, since before the old "y" was marked (publicly) for the wrecking ball, my witness is: they don't listen! From the Mayor and the mavens and machers in the DDA, to their obedient staffs, the consistent, continuing call and hope from Ann Arbor residents and neighbors for some kind of downtown green, community commons, park, garden, fountain, "destination" to discover, etc, is so much idealistic drivel, agitated by pests like me and some other commenters here, irrelevant in the face of the money that can be made, new taxes needed, the financial crisis, etc. The "Leadership Outreach Committee" and its staff have ignored the "surprising" "unexpected" response to open ended opportunities in their survey desiring a park of some sort on the Library Lot. From the original and defeated "Valiant" proposal for a hotel conference center, they have not increased people public space at all, same cement plaza in the south west corner, no green. They interpreted their mission from the City Council to propose a building on every site. This was not specified in the city council resolution, which gave them the charge of an integrated development plan serving the best interest of the city. They ha

alan haber

Sun, Dec 9, 2012 : 9:10 p.m.

the last few words got cut off: They have failed. the 99% need to speak up

Vince Caruso

Thu, Dec 6, 2012 : 5:53 p.m.

It looks more and more like the ruling party is trying to move Detroit to Ann Arbor. Detroit -another throwaway city and population to add to the US list. Small towns/city's have real value, but not enough to Outoftown developers who want to make them BIG. And the heck with liveabiltiy or human scale. Where is the greenspace for all these 20 + 30 somethings who are going to want to go for a walk, play with the kids and pets, relax, ... without driving 20 miles to the Greenbelt. The UM (!) even did a study recently in downtown AA (!) and a AA Greenspace (!) that showed that a walk in a green space is better than antidepressants, and not the walk down the AA city streets. The DDA is clearly broken and wasting tax dollars, time to reinvent the DDA or lose it.

lou glorie

Thu, Dec 6, 2012 : 7:02 p.m.

Good points Vince. A simple fact of life, that Lowenstein and Gunn seemed to have missed in their schooling, is that everyone matures. The young and restless of today will be pushing strollers tomorrow. Ann Arbor is not Plearure Island, even though the boosters of the high-rise dream seem to be pushing this bizarre idea that our town must be the site of 24-7 pounding, throbbing hustle to be called a city. The DDA's vision is unstainable and boring. Making our town safe for purveyors of canned entertainment is not going to help the city as a whole or the downtown.


Thu, Dec 6, 2012 : 2:23 p.m.

I suspect they are making up "comments" to match the plans of developers. "(Miller) said the community feedback confirmed alignment with adopted plans," No kidding. NOBODY could honestly want tall, boxy buildings such as the ones they have pictured on page 16. 3.5. A street-level parking structure with a huge box above. This is not what "people" have in mind when they claim: "What people want to see is a vibrant and active sidewalk experience." Parking structures in Ann Arbor are where people go to get mugged. That's not the kind of vibrancy "people" are clamoring for. On page 18, and again on page 25, they write are some of the worst, cookie cutter buildings in town but they write: "Participants viewed architectural quality as a key component..." but these examples are both uninteresting architecturally AND way too big (in two examples) to not overwhelm what's already there- which they claim is a strong consideration- especially next to Earthen Jar and Jerusalem Garden, not to mention the buildings of Main Street. The third, smaller example, is better size-wise, but plain hideous. Maybe they think including a metal and glass kite overhanging the entrance adds enough architectural pizazz to make up for the rest of the building? It doesn't. Not until page 36 do they get to some of the buildings that make downtown special. THESE TYPES OF BUILDINGS CAN STILL BE BUILT! We have the technology! You can: "enhance the historic district by maintaining the traditional rhythm of storefronts" building more buildings that look similar to these. It's not illegal to build new buildings that look historic. It's just that architects and developers must swallow their own egos in order to build- and restore- in tune with what's already there.


Thu, Dec 6, 2012 : 7:57 p.m.

The "boxes" I was referring to are the ones they provided photos of- that already exist in Ann Arbor. One can only assume THESE are representative of the sorts of buildings they are interested in having built. What else could you possibly assume about the photos they have provided? If those are what the DDA thinks would work well, I disagree. I am not referring to the color-coded block placeholders.

lou glorie

Thu, Dec 6, 2012 : 6:43 p.m.

Dear Eco Bruce, where have you seen evidence of the DDA's devotion to "architectural quality"? Seriously, every new thing constructed downtown, since the developers were given the green light to have their way with our little town, has been made on the cheap. We got bedrooms without windows, corrugated metal and useless embellishments like those funny slats over windows that are all the rage (so much for "form follows function") None of this was necessary. We did not need to exceed 10 stories to achieve density downtown. All we've done is allow real estate speculation on every plot to explode prices, driving local biz out of the downtown. All we'll end up with in the end is the homogeneity of "branding". This town is getting seriously boring, partly because we're trying too hard--always a sign of a lack of confidence in our own ingenuity.

Eco Bruce

Thu, Dec 6, 2012 : 4:56 p.m.

These "boxes" are just representative placeholders. There are no design elements present. I guess you just read what you want to hear and ignore what you don't. I read "architectural quality is a key component"....

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Thu, Dec 6, 2012 : 11 a.m.

"Hieftje said there's no rush on adopting the plan, but he said the city likely will move swiftly to sell the Y Lot since a $3.5 million balloon payment is due by next December." While I certainly support getting the Y Lot developed, and testing the market is a good idea, what happens if all the offers to buy between now and next December are low and less than what the city originally paid? Under your scenario, you'd rush to sell the property to a developer cheaply. It may or may not be the right time to sell this property. The Mayor's argument is incredibly specious. They do have these things called refinancing loans and bonds, Mr. Mayor, and the cost of waiting (interest rates) are very, very low right now!


Thu, Dec 6, 2012 : 2:30 p.m.

Yes, rates will likely never be this low again.

lou glorie

Thu, Dec 6, 2012 : 6:30 a.m.

While reading the Connecting William Street proposal, I was surprised to see a 14 story-high-quality-iconic-something-or-other (14-SHQISOO for short) atop the Library Lot. Apparently the DDA forgot that it stuck a four lane exit smack in the middle of that "property". Another thing I noticed in the CWS report is a determination to make right the "pedestrian experience". Now that Fifth Ave has been bunkered-up in the name of revitalizing downtown, one has to wonder what the DDA considers a quality pedestrian experience. The report mentions windows and an Apple Store. What frothy imaginations conjured such wonders? And look out midtown--they want to "invent an identity" for you (pg 30). We could never allow an identity to simply evolve (that could only come from serendipity which is rather anti-planning). When a group like our own DDA sets out to "invent an identity" for you, it can only mean one thing: More Bar Louies. Page 42 mentions the DDA's responsibilities and next steps. "Determine investment in utility upgrades". See that's the beauty part. You and I, dear reader, we toil, we pay our taxes and when we need a utility upgrade, we pay for it our of what's left, which mostly means that we don't get those utility upgrades. Now if you're a downtown developer, you pay your taxes and the DDA buys you a nice utility upgrade. There is one piece of good news from this report: All that junk cluttering up the surface of the Library Lot--the gratuitous four lane exit, the bunkers--can all go away. If it can be disappeared for the 14-SHQISOO, it can be disappeared for a park.

lou glorie

Thu, Dec 6, 2012 : 6:28 p.m.

Tim, I think there is a critical mass, but not a particularly noisy mass--nice people who don't like to be rude, just want a nice green space downtown. I would like to see the Library Green group go gang busters with their yard signs and get a little rude. This is our town the Larcom and DDA gangs are messing up.


Thu, Dec 6, 2012 : 2:34 p.m.

I wonder if there could be any critical mass of citizenry demanding something (park/plaza space) that would actually put a dent in the plans of Hieftje and his DDA?

Steve Bean

Thu, Dec 6, 2012 : 4:14 a.m.

I'm doubtful that any of the sites will be developed. That's one of the reasons I advocated for rethinking the plan to build the expensive underground structure. Current downtown property owners (and their tenants) and city residents will ultimately be on the hook for failed developments if they do go through.


Thu, Dec 6, 2012 : 2:36 p.m.

Yes, these are all "spec" plans. Like spec housing developments, they will only compete (on price) for the businesses already downtown in other buildings.


Thu, Dec 6, 2012 : 3:31 a.m.

"The goal from the beginning of the project was the vibrancy of our downtown and doing what we can to enhance it," said DDA Executive Director Susan Pollay. This is the same Ms. Pollay who immortalizes a consultant named Poole who thinks a hotel is a very doable vib for the "vibrancy". The basis for Poole's hotel analysis was talking to realtors, developers, and looking at similar colleges all having more hotels downtown than A2. Maybe he was looking at MSU(Lansing), or USF(Tampa) or UNLV(Vegas) or the U of Hawaii (Honolulu). And she paid him for that, too. The DDA was also warned to get their particulars straight because the public finds their own data - like wasn't that whole over-the-hole hotel idea thoroughly buried?. This is the same Ms. Pollay who was told by her own that citizen input would be critical to any happy ending. Public input was collected and it absolutely stressed street-level activity and open space. She figured that meant less parking and more highrises with restaurants on the first floor. Why? Her trusted advisor Poole somehow discovered that A2 townies spend 1.6x the national average for dining out and entertainment. Well,that's "strong demand for restaurants". Incredible! It is time to leave bubbleworld Ms. Pollay (and take the poodle too).


Thu, Dec 6, 2012 : 2:17 p.m.

Ann Arbor Inn. Ann Arbor Inn. Ann Arbor Inn.

Eco Bruce

Thu, Dec 6, 2012 : 1:51 a.m.

I love the new underground structure. If we replace all the lots with something of that quality and a building on top, it think we all win. Parking, new taxes, more housing and more jobs. Thumbs up!

Steve Bean

Thu, Dec 6, 2012 : 4:26 a.m.

The economy (local, state, national, or global--take your pick) won't support more jobs in the coming years. The decline will be well underway next year, probably before any of these sites are sold. Wishful thinking against that tide won't help. Why none of our elected or appointed officials understand that or even simply reference the broader economic climate is… … not encouraging.

Vivienne Armentrout

Thu, Dec 6, 2012 : 1:42 a.m.

The minimization of the need for park space continues. I am offended by the arrows pointing to the Diag and Hanover Park. Have you see Hanover Park? It is a little green island in the midst of two busy streets and away from any street traffic. The Diag may be a lovely space but it is NOT an Ann Arbor public park! It belongs to the University of Michigan. Yes, you can walk across it or even sit on a bench. But you can't schedule an event there, or if you do, there will surely be a considerable rental payment. Have a family picnic? I don't think so. We need a public square where we can have events accessible to the Ann Arbor public. Or as Joan Lowenstein expressed it today on WEMU, "the people from the residential parts of Ann Arbor".


Thu, Dec 6, 2012 : 1 p.m.

Who will want to live downtown when its all hardscape and concrete. Why limit downtown visitors to only paying customers of bars and restaurants???


Thu, Dec 6, 2012 : 11:58 a.m.

Why do you expect to be able to "have a family picnic" downtown? Why should those who do not live downtown subsidize your choice to live downtown? If you want a picnic, there are plenty of parks outside of the downtown a2 area for that.


Thu, Dec 6, 2012 : 2:07 a.m.

You can have any flavor you want as long as it's chocolate!


Thu, Dec 6, 2012 : 1:10 a.m.

My comments are to a couple of the points raised in the Connecting William Street presentation linked to in this article. 4. Density & Massing 'Community feedback generally supported taller buildings in the downtown core but made it clear that surrounding context should be considered and buildings designed to step back from lower-scale neighbors.' The tall building shown on the Library Lot is in no way in context with the adjoining, much shorter, buildings – or the library. I would like to see a smaller, low-rise building there instead. 5. Land Use – Urban Open Space 'Community feedback identified open space uses as valuable, indicating that inclusion of the use is as important as maximizing land value.' The small purple area designated as a park on the Library Lot is a joke. I would like to see most of the Library Lot be a public park/commons. I like the connecting bridge in the illustration on p. 24 of the presentation. Perhaps such a bridge could connect a small, low-rise building to the library. The low-rise building could contain the conference room and coffee shop requested by the library. It could also include a shelter and public restrooms for passersby and people using the park.


Thu, Dec 6, 2012 : 2:41 p.m.

Yeah. I doubt any citizen would list "maximizing land value if they knew the actual implications of that maximization. That would probable mean Walmart.


Thu, Dec 6, 2012 : 12:59 a.m.

I hope they uphold Ann Arbor's civic tradition of closing a busy street for over a year and a's the DDA Way.


Thu, Dec 6, 2012 : 2:09 a.m.

Shhhh....they can hear you!

Ron Granger

Thu, Dec 6, 2012 : 12:42 a.m.

"I do not see how getting rid of so many surface parking lots improves downtown." It improves the DDA. The DDA makes their money from parking fees. When they have more money, they are more powerful. Rinse. Repeat.

Detached Observer

Thu, Dec 6, 2012 : 12:09 a.m.

It's clear that the DDA all along intended to put buildings on these parking lots, which is why they were so keen to build the underground structure at the library lot. What annoys me is that this was never presented as a reason to build the underground structure. Instead we were told that the structure was intended to ease the parking shortage. If the DDA's plans go through, we will be right back where we were with another shortage. Is there any plan for more public parking to make up for what will be lost?


Wed, Dec 5, 2012 : 11:33 p.m.

I just looked through the downloadable presentation, and I think they did an admirable job with planning how we can get the most out of these city-owned properties. Not financially, but in terms of urban development that will benefit all in the long run. I could quibble with some of the details, but I'm not in a kvetching mood tonight.


Thu, Dec 6, 2012 : 12:54 a.m.

A positive comment, and not in the kvetching mood... what are you doing here?


Thu, Dec 6, 2012 : 12:52 a.m.

If hotels, commercial and retail buildings replace the parking lots but are not successful financially then the DDA and the City will lose revenue which could result in either reduced services or increased taxes.

Jamie Pitts

Wed, Dec 5, 2012 : 11:21 p.m.

It is great to see open space in the equation! As the survey said, I do think that the majority of Ann Arborites want more open space than what is being talked about in these proposals. Maybe that freeway-wide library lane can be cut in half and the part nearest to the library used to supplement the purple "Planned & Potential" space.


Thu, Dec 6, 2012 : 12:52 p.m.

The DDA has no consideration for green space...the "public feedback" was just CYA...they already have their own agenda...that's clear...

Jamie Pitts

Thu, Dec 6, 2012 : 1:22 a.m.

This clause in the presentation pdf RE: open space is ridiculous though: "Must be privately developed, owned, maintained, and programmed (developer may seek partnerships)" Shouldn't the public manage the space in order to prioritize its use? What if we want to build a playground next to the library, yet the owners of the building want to build Liberty Plaza II?


Wed, Dec 5, 2012 : 11:19 p.m.

I do not see how getting rid of so many surface parking lots improves downtown. It's so much easier, if a bit more expensive, parking at Fifth & William than driving around in circles in the annoyingly designed structures.


Thu, Dec 6, 2012 : 12:54 a.m.

The DDA is not interested in improving downtown otherwise they would not be proposing speculative construction. Hopefully for the DDA, developments replacing parking facilities will generate more TIF revenue which is needed to keep the DDA solvent.


Wed, Dec 5, 2012 : 11:18 p.m.

So with limited parking downtown, DDA is doing away with some major parking lots. Who will foot their bill without the parking fees. I say leave the parking lots.


Thu, Dec 6, 2012 : 12:45 a.m.

I agree. The DDA is hoping that TIF revenue generated by the newly constructed buildings will exceed the revenue produced by the parking lots. Of course, whatever development is built on the properties must generate a profit to afford making TIF payments. The Ashley-Terrace Condominiums went bankrupt and was sold for 30 cents on the dollar. After the sale the TIF valuation had to be adjusted resulting in much less TIF revenue generated for the DDA and the City.


Wed, Dec 5, 2012 : 10:40 p.m.

I just wish the city could figure out a way to use some road millage money for road repair, specifically connecting pavement on West Madison Street, between South Seventh and South Main Streets. They can even give a similar name to that above: Connecting West Madison Street. West Madison Street along this stretch has giant potholes that literally stretch the length of the street in several different seams. The city doesn't even bother to patch the holes anymore. This is a very dangerous road for pedestrians and cyclists, due to the crumbled pavement. Although it's quite grand to imagine spectacular new buildings and art, how about spending at least equal time on taking care of your main mission: serving existing residents and maintaining existing infrastructure?


Thu, Dec 6, 2012 : 12:48 p.m.

Yes, Madison is planned for 2013...


Thu, Dec 6, 2012 : 12:40 a.m.

Have you contacted your City Council members?


Wed, Dec 5, 2012 : 11:49 p.m.

I can't find the link, but I believe I've read that the city is working on a plan to rebuild West Madison (between Seventh and Main). I believe the delay was due to the need to incorporate changes to better address stormwater.


Wed, Dec 5, 2012 : 10:36 p.m.

Ron Granger is asking the right question. Where is the green space? The DDA said it was in favor of places for activities and for people to socialize. Where?


Thu, Dec 6, 2012 : 12:46 p.m.



Thu, Dec 6, 2012 : 12:39 a.m.

The DDA is not seriously interested in expanding parks downtown because they will not be revenue producing which is why green space was quickly eliminated for the development above the Library Lane underground parking structure.

Ron Granger

Wed, Dec 5, 2012 : 9:48 p.m.

Where is the park plan? The DDA is ignoring the many residents who would like to see more downtown green space.

Jamie Pitts

Thu, Dec 6, 2012 : 3:27 p.m.

SonnyDog09, by blaming the person pointing out a problem you are not making a valid argument. You are basically saying "let's not fix the problem, let's just move away from it". Building an open public space downtown fixes problems even for people who do not live there (or want to live there). With a park, people working there will be more productive, and more people will want to live closer to where they work downtown, leading to less transportation hassles for... those of us who don't live downtown. Also, we have a very small window in which to build an open public space. Once a building gets built, it is pretty much there permanently. So we really should have a discussion about what we would like to have downtown.


Thu, Dec 6, 2012 : 12:45 p.m.

Still after all the feedback wanting green space...nothing. Not 1 blade of grass in the immediate downtown area...guess they will build more concrete planters to sit on...


Thu, Dec 6, 2012 : 11:55 a.m.

If you would like "green space", don't live downtown. Why is that so difficult to understand?


Thu, Dec 6, 2012 : 12:58 a.m.

Agreed! I was really hoping for green space.


Wed, Dec 5, 2012 : 9:36 p.m.

Why not just sell the land? Doesn't zoning dictate to the buyers what kind of building they can build?


Thu, Dec 6, 2012 : 12:36 a.m.

I believe that is what the DDA intends to do since it does not develop and own buildings itself. It is presumed that the properties will be sold to developers based on acceptable plans for development.

Tailgate Jim

Wed, Dec 5, 2012 : 9:10 p.m.

I think the plans are great as long as there is ample parking for the dining experience in downtown. It seems that most of the retail depends on restaurants...I hope the new glut doesn't thin the market so that nobody makes a living. I think a downtown retail mall similar to Boston or Vancouver would enhance the consumer experience and round out the downtown enviroment.


Thu, Dec 6, 2012 : 12:34 a.m.

Four of the 5 sites considered for development are presently revenue producing parking lots. These parking facilities will be eliminated as buildings are constructed. If the entire DDA plan materializes, visitors to downtown will have to choose to park at either the 4th and Washington. 4th and Williams and the underground library lots.

Peter Eckstein

Wed, Dec 5, 2012 : 8:50 p.m.

Let's get rid of all parking lots downtown and increase density so that we will have lots more people who then live and work there and will need to park there every day! That way we can cut down on all those pesky people coming downtown to eat in restaurants and shop in stores. And let's do it all in the name of downtown development.


Thu, Dec 6, 2012 : 12:29 a.m.

Sorry, Sellers, you must be mistaking Ann Arbor for another city. Where are the complaints of congestion and poor road conditions along our periphery? And how many pedestrians were injured last year? Ann Arbor will never be a Flint. It is not the buildings that define Ann Arbor but it is partly the University and partly the Medical Center and always the people, events and activities. Connecting Williams Street according to the DDA's plan is not likely to be successful since it is internally motivated rather than externally by unmet needs of the community. The DDA can not tell you who will occupy any of the new buildings and Chuck Skelton, a local hotel/hospitality expert, will tell you that hotels downtown are not feasible which may be why Ann Arbor's newest two hotels are built at the Briarwood Mall... and by major national hotel chains who presumably know their business.


Wed, Dec 5, 2012 : 11:56 p.m.



Wed, Dec 5, 2012 : 9:08 p.m.

People who complain about parking downtown will always complain about it. They will continue to patron the congested shopping mecas around the permitter and complain about congestion, poor road conditions, and pedestrians getting hit. This effort is not targeted toward them, it's targeted toward the younger and urbanism folks who are seeking this. Ann Arbor has a sub urban area, and an urban area. It really is both. Most midwestern cities would die to have the success and vibrance that we have. There is little to complain about - just that if we sit back and just watch, tis very likely that you end up looking like Flint, youngstown, or Toldeo and lose your downtown life and struggle to get it back. Don't let Borders be an example of how to progress and continue to live.


Wed, Dec 5, 2012 : 8:46 p.m.

Am I the only one that wonders where people will park when they visit downtown Ann Arbor? My family currently parks at most of the lots they want to develop. It is already a bit of a hassle to go to dinner downtown and have to walk several blocks to the restaurant. Throw in inclement weather and we usually skip it for something not in downtown that has free and ample parking right in front of it. When you eliminate parking for visitors, what are you proposing instead to encourage them to put up with the hassle? Maybe the downtown business is not needed, the restaurants and businesses seem to be doing fine right now, of course the parking is still available.


Thu, Dec 6, 2012 : 12:38 p.m.

And still...not 1 blade of grass downtown...geez...


Thu, Dec 6, 2012 : 12:06 a.m.

... and, in addition, TIF revenue from newly built hotels, residential and retail construction will likely be less than the revenue being received now from parking fees at these sites. To quote this article's author from another reply: "The lots are all actively used for public parking right now, which brings in a decent sum of money for the DDA and city. For instance, the Kline Lot brought in $582K last year ($308K after expenses) and the Y Lot generated $248K ($80K after expenses)."


Wed, Dec 5, 2012 : 8:45 p.m.

"Wow! NewUork.Just like I pictured it. Skyscrapers n everything". Living for the city - Stevie Wonder I hope they realize that when the MI legislature changes the way cities are allowed to collect property tax the DDA will be hanging in the wind for all their developed density.

Soulful Adrenaline

Thu, Dec 6, 2012 : 1:11 p.m.

"Hey bus driver, I'm getting on that bus...Hey brotha man you wanna make five dollars real quick..."


Wed, Dec 5, 2012 : 9:04 p.m.

15 stories hardly is a skyscraper. It's 10 stories smaller than the tallest building in Ann Arbor.