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Posted on Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 5:59 a.m.

Ann Arbor DDA releases drawing showing how new development could transform William Street

By Ryan J. Stanton


A new sketch showing what future redevelopment could look like along William Street in downtown Ann Arbor, looking east and slightly north from the intersection of Ashley and William.


A new sketch suggesting what future redevelopment could look like along William Street in downtown Ann Arbor has been released by the Downtown Development Authority.

The drawing was done by SmithGroupJJR, an architecture, engineering and planning firm hired by the DDA as part of the Connecting William Street planning project.

It's only hypothetical, but it gives a sense of how the streetscape could dramatically change if new development occurs on a handful of city-owned parking lots along William Street.


Susan Pollay

Ryan J. Stanton |

Featured most prominently in the drawing is a hypothetical medium-density building on the Kline Lot at the northeast corner of Ashley and William Streets. In the background, another medium-density building rises from the Palio Lot at the northeast corner of Main and William.

Beyond that, a higher-density building can be seen on the old Y Lot at the northwest corner of Fifth Avenue and William.

The DDA's plan also envisions an equally dense tower shooting up from the Library Lot, located across Fifth Avenue above the city's new underground parking garage. Additionally, the plan recommends retrofitting the first floor of the Fourth and William parking garage for office space.

"It has the same orientation as all the maps we use in our power point presentation, looking northeast from the southwest corner of the planning area," DDA Executive Director Susan Pollay said of the new sketch showing the possibilities.

"Since we don't know what the future buildings will look like, we asked JJR to sketch up an illustration for how the sidewalk/pedestrian experience might feel on William Street if future buildings followed our recommendations for things like ground floor retail/restaurant, lots of windows and doors, more trees, etc." Pollay said.

"Their sketch attempts to capture this, with future developments on Kline, Palio, YMCA lots only suggested at. I hope it comes across as an expression of concepts, rather than site plan ready images of what future buildings might actually look like."

The DDA's governing board meets at noon Wednesday to finalize a plan for the five city-owned properties studied as part of Connecting William Street. The DDA's plan is expected to be presented at a working session of the Ann Arbor City Council on Jan. 14.

It will be up to the City Council to decide what to do with the properties after that, but there's indication city officials might move quickly to put the Y Lot up for sale first.

The overall Connecting William Street plan relies on private developers investing in new building projects with a primary focus on office and residential uses. The DDA, which encourages adding some underground parking as new developments go up, has indicated a desire to put some of its resources toward streetscape improvements along William Street to enhance the pedestrian experience.

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 Goldsmith

Mon, Jan 7, 2013 : 4:03 p.m.

"Maybe Adrian wants to borrow our DDA. Then, we could see how great the DDA ideas really are." Interesting idea!


Mon, Jan 7, 2013 : 1:48 p.m.

Not much to like unless its more taxable floor area.


Mon, Jan 7, 2013 : 1:32 p.m.

Economic engines drive growth. UM is an economic engine. If UM was located in Adrian, Adrian would resemble Ann Arbor. Without UM, Ann Arbor would resemble Adrian. Maybe Adrian wants to borrow our DDA. Then, we could see how great the DDA ideas really are.


Mon, Jan 7, 2013 : 10:57 a.m.

All the negativity amazes me...this is the direction Ann Arbor has been going and needs to go to thrive and create its future...not for the old time townies that bemoan every single change...but for new growth and development. The old " charm" so many seem to long for has been gone for 15 years downtown. You want to see what happens to a downtown when people don't focus on urban growth? Take a quick drive down to once thriving now ghost town downtown Adrian.

Wolf's Bane

Sun, Jan 6, 2013 : 9:08 p.m.

Here is the location of the next high rise:


Sun, Jan 6, 2013 : 3:52 p.m.

Sprawl v density. The real issue -overpopulation - is not politically nor profitably correct to address. The solution would require a development freeze or resident approval. Picture the current density argument. The DDA must build upward to support a continuous profit/tax growth in the city - based on population growth. That necessitates more offices and office worker coffee/food stations downtown. With no new sprawl outside, wealthier workers will raise the value of nearby houses. Less wealthy workers must live in their new density abodes. Or commute from further away. So far so good. At some point, however, there will be a limit to the human value decline tolerated by those living downtown. And congestion by those outside. People will tolerate life in New York or Hong Kong but not today's resident Ann Arborites. Adequate food, water, power, transportation, sanitation, education and entertainment all have a value limit. The value earned must equal or better the value spent to be worthwhile. There must also be a limit to the cost of housing outside or commute distance through no-sprawl Washtenaw. So here we are. Higher cost, less beauty, more traffic congestion. Money still talks and other than a freeze, the city will again rezone for a little more density development "sprawl". The sprawl v density argument fails. The only solution is to freeze growth meaning less profits and taxes and rejected new population. Ann Arbor becomes attractive only to "un-progressive" locals who prefer their human value like Blimpies over capital value like Walgreens. Lower paychecks and fewer city-paid commissions and authorities. In that future, however, even the capital-driven will flee their dense profit cities for those fewer remaining human value preserves. Like Ann Arbor. That is what A2 is - a resident human value city - first. What did people think their money was for if not to buy the value that humans demand? And which residents actually demand to live in &quo

Nicholas Urfe

Sun, Jan 6, 2013 : 2:39 p.m.

There has been a belief among many of us that our concerns and input to the DDA would be accepted and incorporated in Good Faith. But time and again we see our input ignored in subsequent presentation materials, and ignored in the survey options presented. The DDA is not acting in good faith. I contend the public input process has been a sham, and that it is time for a more directly involved approach.


Sun, Jan 6, 2013 : 6:11 p.m.

Remember, yours might not be the only input.


Sun, Jan 6, 2013 : 1:43 p.m.

Is there a way to get the cost of this sketch being done by this company hired by the DDA? Seriously, I'd really like to know, since this IS our tax money. Also, it seems a little odd that they need to have a company do a sketch (most likely at great cost) to show them what the street would look like if their own advice were followed. There's no one at the entirety of the DDA or city staff that knows how to sketch tallish buildijngs on a street?


Mon, Jan 7, 2013 : 5:01 p.m.

Apologize for what, and to whom? I use vague language because this is a public forum. Was graft the wrong word? Maybe. I have no interest in initiating an investigation as you suggest. If you are that concerned with proving or disproving my comments, public records as part of the open meetings act are available for anyone willing to read through them. I think if more people did that, like Ms. Lesko does, more people would be interested and involved with these city processes. Maybe I just picked the wrong dozen committee meetings to attend last year, and it gave me an incorrect impression of what goes on at these things. But it seemed like a good and typical cross section of the city's workings to witness, and I have presented on here but a few of the many times I observed a discussion or behavior, or had a conversation with a city official or appointee that seemed, oh, slightly unethical. Just sayin'. And anyone who knows anything about Information Technology knows that everyone at can tell you who we all are on here. I have no desire to be a witness for some investigation, nor do I have anything to hide.


Sun, Jan 6, 2013 : 8:16 p.m.

Foul again! on Mr. Sonic. "Should I name names? Would everyone be better off if every time I witness a back room deal, or the trading of one favor for another, in what is supposed to be a transparent process, and is even supposedly ruled by the open meetings act, I get on the boards and say who was doing what? And why it reeked of cronyism? I am happy to do it. " I had pointed out that you were way out of line to accuse people of "graft" -- usually a criminal activity --when it plainly wasn't graft. It's perfectly OK to do what you were taking loud umbrage about. You should try to get your facts straight. You respond not by withdrawing your allegation, or apologizing to those you falsely accused, but with a whole list of vaguely, if ominously, described activities -- not a specific fact in sight, although at least the word graft no longer features in your rhetoric. If you can cite actual examples of what you're fulminating about -- and your earlier allegation about supposed "graft" does put in doubt your ability to do so -- cronyism, apparent violations of the open meetings act, apparent corruption of the competitive bidding rules, and whatever else your overheated rhetoric is directed towards; if you have specific allegations to make, I invite you to try to bring them in coherent form to the relevant state and Federal prosecutors. That, or you should stop muttering in vague, if incendiary-sounding, language


Sun, Jan 6, 2013 : 6:19 p.m.

P.S. It is not a competitive bid, when the committee chair accepts the bids, and the favored bidder turns theirs in last, with full knowledge of the other bids. If you think these things are sealed in some way, or unavailable for viewing by the well connected, you are as naive as those who think the DDA values public input.


Sun, Jan 6, 2013 : 6:13 p.m.

Should I name names? Would everyone be better off if every time I witness a back room deal, or the trading of one favor for another, in what is supposed to be a transparent process, and is even supposedly ruled by the open meetings act, I get on the boards and say who was doing what? And why it reeked of cronyism? I am happy to do it. Would a chart showing who is appointed to what committee, and by whom, help? I think that the people of Ann Arbor would be pretty surprised at just how a few business owners, elected officials, developers and their families make the decisions, with or without regard to the the best interests of the majority, that will change the cityscape forever. A lot of lip service is paid to community input, but you can be sure that the decisions have already been made.


Sun, Jan 6, 2013 : 5:29 p.m.

Let me call "foul" on this: "if SmithgroupJJR does a few things for free, they will again land the lucrative engineering and feasibility study contracts that the city council is so quick to hand out. Yes, until you see it happen right in front of you, cronyism and graft are only speculative, but I am here to tell you, it is happening every time a development and planning committee or the DDA get together." You have a funny idea of "graft". If SmithgroupJJR were giving valuable things to INDIVIDUALS on DDA in return for a better chance on DDA contracts, it might well be "graft". But offering free things to the entity is not graft; it's rather more like a sales pitch, free samples of the potential work, or a price reduction, all perfectly legitimate commercial efforts. And, aren't such contracts put out for competitive bid? So to call it "graft" or "cronyism" -- from the anonymity of a comment thread, DJBudSonic -- is way off the mark.


Sun, Jan 6, 2013 : 2:59 p.m.

That is, "...cronyism and graft are only a matter of speculation..."


Sun, Jan 6, 2013 : 2:56 p.m.

I attend as many meetings of the various city working groups as I can, like North Main Corridor Task Force, etc. At one of the meetings a committe member, the spouse of an employee at SmithgroupJJR who did this drawing, said that SmithgroupJJR was offering their rendering services pro bono to the planning groups. When I questioned why a company would offer $1000's of dollars of billable services for free, the answer was a round of nervous chuckles. You see, if SmithgroupJJR does a few things for free, they will again land the lucrative engineering and feasibility study contracts that the city council is so quick to hand out. Yes, until you see it happen right in front of you, cronyism and graft are only speculate, but I am here to tell you, it is happening every time a development and planning committee or the DDA get together. And you can also be sure that the time for the 'free' renderings will be built right into the formal contracts that we taxpayers later foot the bill for.

Nicholas Urfe

Sun, Jan 6, 2013 : 2:35 p.m.

Be glad they did a sketch, even a crude one. The $100M library proponents insisted they didn't know what it would look like, or would be.


Sun, Jan 6, 2013 : 12:34 p.m.

It looks really nice.


Sun, Jan 6, 2013 : 6:33 a.m.

OMG!! What are they trying to do to Ann Arbor??? Why don't all those wanting this UGLY!! cosmopolitan concept just move to Chicago or NYC?? You are destroying the charm of Ann Arbor!!


Sun, Jan 6, 2013 : 6:09 p.m.

The charming parking lots?


Sun, Jan 6, 2013 : 4:59 a.m.

It's sad that the City fathers and local press have done such a poor job of educating AA occupants about the purpose of a sophisticated DDA and what a healthy American city looks like. Many of those writing in are the same old, tired 70's variety who seem to think a thriving city is a big park surrounded by single story card shops and crafts stores. We even see residue of the old "open sky" mantra that has lead to some of the ugliest buildings in the City. Do you love the goofy decaying cubes capping One North Main and several other buildings town? You're looking at historic monuments to some of the worst planning/zoning in the City's long history of bad ideas after City Hall virtually designed those buildings with their regulations. Ironically it is those most careful about pinching pennies seem to be the same folks who think they hate the "developers" who create the buildings that populate the City with tax payers. And if you think pushing them away is a great idea, there are plenty of other City's who will welcome them and the success that comes with them. The challenge has always been to balance an educated municipal vision with the realities of business. For those looking for some direction: spend some time in Boston or Toronto and stay far away from Southfield. A good mix of high density uses, including residential, and a permanent light rail system connecting key areas is a great start.


Sun, Jan 6, 2013 : 4:11 p.m.

Most all major city's do "just fine" with trees and parks - that is not only a low bar, it's no bar. Something the clueless pat themselves on the back over when they have no idea what they are talking about. There is no need to "be" anything - I am throwing those who rarely leave your homes a few examples of successful cities. ...and if you think you can argue that they are not successful, go for it! LOL Boston is a wonderful college town that makes AA look like a cow pasture. Most major cities suffered from terrible planning at some point in their evolutions but Boston is unique with leadership that was audacious enough to overcome their worst travesty with the $14 billion dollar big dig that stuffed 3 miles of freeway in a tunnel system. Meanwhile Michigan thinks a $3 billion dollar regional rapid rail transit system joining Southeast Michigan is beyond our wildest dreams! LOL Talk about small thinkers - pathetic.

Nicholas Urfe

Sun, Jan 6, 2013 : 2:34 p.m.

Ann Arbor is doing just fine as a park and tree centric city. We don't need to be boston or toronto. And really - Boston? Are you kidding? How many billions did they spend on the fiasco that was the big dig in an effort to relieve their terrible planning?

David Cahill

Sun, Jan 6, 2013 : 3:03 a.m.

There is a persistent myth that the citizen vote approving the greenbelt was a vote approving more big buildings downtown. That "myth of the inevitability of development" is wrong. Nothing says that forbidding development in the greenbelt is approving it elsewhere. The greenbelt campaign was run as an "anti-development" campaign. Who can forget the classic pro-greenbelt piece of lit showing ugly developers and a giant bulldozer? When we voted in favor of the greenbelt, we told the developers to go away.


Mon, Jan 7, 2013 : 11 a.m.

The entire Greenbelt project was a folly and never should have passed...and would not pass today.


Sun, Jan 6, 2013 : 11:15 p.m.

Mr Cahill - The idea as I understood the campaign was not truly anti-development but anti-sprawl, with the idea that the core of Ann Arbor would be dense and walkable and parks would be an easy bus ride away, leaving a wide park-like area around the community that would continue to provide local produce for the people in the city.


Sun, Jan 6, 2013 : 1:10 a.m.

Is the DDA's mission only to increase density? Help developers make money? Make it to expensive and inconvenient to come downtown? to destroy the low rise character of the city and rebuild it in the mayor's cabal high density developers utopia? How does one undo the DDA?


Sun, Jan 6, 2013 : 12:58 a.m.

boo and bleah!


Sun, Jan 6, 2013 : 12:43 a.m.

Those little baby trees are so cute. What will they look like in 200 years when they mature? What will the buildings look like, for that matter?

Nicholas Urfe

Sun, Jan 6, 2013 : 2:32 p.m.

What you suggest is a nice thought - giant sidewalk trees. But see my previous comment about them. For many reasons, sidewalk trees tend to die rather than mature.


Sun, Jan 6, 2013 : 12:47 a.m.

I have to say that I do encourage development on the surface lots. But really, think of the trees. Wouldn't they be happier being a few more feet away from the buildings so they can grow a bit more symmetrically?


Sun, Jan 6, 2013 : 12:05 a.m.

I wouldn't have a problem with what was put forth, but for the fact they think seniors will ride their bikes or walk to the downtown venue. I have a car and intend to keep a car.


Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 11:25 p.m.

Wouldn't it be great if the 80+ people who have commented on this story showed up at the next City Council meeting and DDA meeting and brought the house down.

Nicholas Urfe

Sun, Jan 6, 2013 : 2:30 p.m.

If 8 of us showed up and spoke, it would be a big deal.

Wolf's Bane

Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 11:19 p.m.

The DDA is largely funded by the large business owners of the downtown and run by their wives. So, it goes to figure that these type of proposals will continue to be put forth on behalf of Main Street Ventures et. al.

Vivienne Armentrout

Sun, Jan 6, 2013 : 12:08 a.m.

What an incredible statement! Do you have any idea who is actually serving on the DDA Board? And no, it is not funded by business interests. It is a rake-off of city taxes from new downtown properties.

Wolf's Bane

Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 11:14 p.m.

I agree with Will Hathaway, this rendering seem more about generating a false impression of what the DDA's plans truly are for our downtown. I am deeply concerned that these type of sloppy proposals will only put Ann Arbor on a collision course with a deep housing glut, while also destroying what is now perceived as a very liveable city. Also, it struck me as ironic that I have friends who live in downtown Royal Oak and this "view" in the rendering is nearly their identical view from their current loft. Sans all the pretty trees of course. I'm not sure what to make out of this DDA greed-a-thon, but I hope someone reels them back a bit.


Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 10:48 p.m.

Nice huge green trees. But...............what are they hiding? Just perhaps something we do NOT want?


Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 9:31 p.m.

- It's easy to imagine this sketch without trees...or people. Blue glass and concrete, why would any living thing want to be there? -


Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 9:22 p.m.

I think this is fine. Higher density is the way to go. We don't want to be Troy or Novi do we?


Sun, Jan 6, 2013 : 12:14 a.m.

@say it plain And looking like Birmingham is bad why? How about if we stick with the anti-density crowd we could look just like Ypsi.

say it plain

Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 9:53 p.m.

that's a deceptive and inaccurate comparison... we *cannot* be "Try or Novi", because of the UM's place in our city. We just cannot. We *can* however start looking like Birmingham. Which, as a commenter above suggests, is what this makes Ann Arbor look like, I think. While we cannot become exactly that place either, we can move a long way toward it, and a long way away from the human-scale environment that has made Ann Arbor different and pleasant. This build-baby-build simplistic view of 'density' is getting so tired, grr!


Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 9:05 p.m.

I support this development concept overall. Up, not out is in my opinion the way to go. The increased downtown density will enable infrastructure that need density, such as improved public transit. And, eventually a downtown park that's better than Liberty Plaza. But we need to have the demand, that is the core density, first. As to some comments about the architecure in the drawings, it's kind of bland despite some good features like stepped-back higher-level floors. But that's not the point of these drawings; it's still way too early to talk about architecural design. The way forward now, I think would be to put out an RFP for the Y-lot and see what we get, and then work with the developer to make something good happen. In this case, the city has a lot of leverage over what happens there, including architecture, as it owns the lot and simply could refuse to sell if the buyer wanted to do something awful there.


Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 8:48 p.m.

That is a dreadful collection of boxes. Look north, up Main Street from William. Do that.

Jamie Pitts

Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 8:34 p.m.

Woah, there's a hot story here in this huge set of comments. Maybe should publish a story on that and let the DDA post their comments.


Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 10:27 p.m.

Excellent idea, @Jamie. Is the terrible perception of the DDA here just another one of those cases of "failing to get the message across" that Ann Arbor seems to be afflicted with these days? Or is the DDA just terrible?


Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 8:22 p.m.

I am not sure what the legal standing of the DDA is, but I think that many question the need for an appointed group that seems to have special interests mainly in mind. Perhaps we should have a ballot initiative to abolish this body before it does more damage to downtown.

Nicholas Urfe

Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 8:14 p.m.

The citizens need to take control of this out of control, and out of touch DDA. It is important to remember that the DDA is not accountable to taxpayers. They serve business owners and developers, a majority of whom often do not even live in our city. And it gets worse - the DDA has a virtually unlimited budget of your TAXPAYER DOLLARS to market and push their agenda; to hire PR firms and lawyers; to hold special meetings and dinners that are closed to the public that funds them. This DDA has demonstrated time and again that they do not listen to public input. Anything that does not match their view is ignored. They dismiss any input requesting green space as the meddling of disgruntled green agitators. Without some well organized opposition to the DDA bulldozer, they will do whatever they want. Kathy Griswold stepped forward and made a big difference by formalizing a lot of the angst that taxpayers were feeling in regard to the enormously expensive and outrageously vague library proposal. Something similar needs to happen here. The citizens need to take control of this out of control and out of touch DDA.


Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 8:50 p.m.

This describes the problem to a T.

Jamie Pitts

Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 8:32 p.m.

Well-put. Aren't DDAs intended to develop areas that are in an economic slump? Do these emergency conditions exist any more? Now that downtown Ann Arbor is cured of its long-term economic ills, we can stop giving sweet deals to real estate developers that don't need them. We can direct parking fees to the city budget. We can let the real civic planning process run as it should downtown.

Vince Caruso

Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 7:15 p.m.

The show of hands at both well attended DDA recent public meetings showed an overwhelming support of some open space on OUR city lots. Their not making any new land for this anytime soon. Little of this makes it into the DDA plan or stories about this process. We need a green space on the Lib Lot. This makes the most economic and human scale sense for our UN- GREEN downtown. Where are the 20 and 30 somethings and grandparents living downtown going to take their kids? Other towns see the wisdom of this MAJOR element in the downtown. The notion that the Lib Lot can't handle the weight of soil and sod when we park 3.000 lb cars all over it is seems invalid. Green roofs should also be mandatory on these lots, and all new construction for that matter, to deal with Global Warming effects. Many towns have done this to great effect, win win for everyone. BTW what part of 'No Convention Center' do they not get. 50-60% occupancy rates at the Campus Inn should be a clue. The maps presented at the meetings seem to show one on the Lib Lot.


Sun, Jan 6, 2013 : 6:05 p.m.

There is a difference between a hotel and conference center and a convention center. It suits the people against a hotel downtown to call it a convention center, because that is a more negative term. Ann Arbor does need more hotel rooms downtown. We have to turn down many events because we don't have space. At some point, the University will have to build its own and everyone will scream about it, but it will be our own fault. It is important to note that the person who is willing to put up millions for green space downtown rather than another hotel is the person who currently owns the only hotel space in the downtown area.


Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 8:58 p.m.

"what part of 'No Convention Center' do they not get. 50-60% occupancy rates at the Campus Inn should be a clue. " Let's note that this statistic is highly misleading (without taking a view on a possible convention center). The hotel business is tricky in Ann Arbor. Hotels are full to the gunnels for six or seven home football weekends, parents' week, a couple of graduations, and plumbers/pipefitters week, and relatively empty much of the rest of the time. If Campus Inn is averaging 50-60% across the year, that's not so bad in the circumstances. One reason some are clamoring for a convention center is that it would bring more people to AA for the hotels, restaurants, etc. in the periods between those major events.


Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 7:08 p.m.

I suggest that before the DDA decides to pave over the downtown surface parking lots with buildings they collect some real data on the effects of such actions. Simply cordon off the existing lots for a while so that all of us can get a feel for what it would be like to live in AA without easy access to parking in downtown AA. If I am to believe the DDA's plan, then downtown business will increase (more places to shop)!!! Oops. I forgot, momentarily. The visionary DDA dosen't like realtime data.

Rita Mitchell

Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 6:26 p.m.

Missing from the article is a report on the meeting at the DDA office this Thursday evening, attended by 40 or more people. Many questions were raised about the scale of the buildings, as well as a predominant and strongly expressed wish for open, green, park space were provided by those who attended, a place for the public to gather and enjoy. The goal of the meeting was to fulfill the "robust public input" required of the DDA for its work on this project related to the five public properties. I saw no evidence that comments from the public were recorded. It was apparent that we were to "approve" what was shown. Disappointing. We can do better, much better, to make this be a city that is enjoyed by those who live and those who visit here. Concrete to the edges of property lines, and forcing pedestrians onto 6 foot wide sidewalks will not gain the ambiance that the public has articulated.


Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 6:48 p.m.

Parks don't generate tax dollars for the city. High rises do. That is what this is all about. The public input is only window dressing. The DDA will do what it wants to do. Why aren't some of these projects put to a public vote in November elections? Because they would be voted down, like the library. Democracy? Not in A2.


Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 6:25 p.m.

What is this supposed to be and why? This looks like a collection of fading, low rent 1970's office buildings that could be found in any tired, uninspired and pathetic city in America. With developments like the North Quad, UM seems to be the only organization here that is equipped to understand what quality design even looks like. Here, we see evidence that those operating the DDA don't know when to be embarrassed and when to put out a press release! Once again, while the City is home to some of the most talented architects in the country, we see the least inspired, least talented hacks getting hired by the DDA and the City in general. I hope they're saving lots of money on cheap fees!!? The problem is leadership. Time and again the City hires leaders who are uncultured, unsophisticated "manager" types who are clueless when it it comes to understanding architecture on virtually any level.

David Paris

Sun, Jan 6, 2013 : 4:26 a.m.

Great points Shep! Not since Ashley Mews has a private firm put a dime worth of quality on the ground. You're right, it's likeThe University is the only one concerned with being here ten years from now.


Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 6:11 p.m.

One comment, about density vs. "sprawl". We had a detailed debate a decade ago at the time of the millage proposal for AA's purchase of land for parks ("greenbelt"). The point was made, and learned by most or at least many, that as population and commercial pressures drove more development, we had the choice to "build up or out." "Out" meant more sprawl, more roads and longer commutes. "Up" meant higher rise buildings, shorter commutes, less energy use, hopefully more urban neighborhoods, etc. In general, when we approved the millage, we chose "up." Hence the taller downtown buildings, etc.

Tom Whitaker

Sun, Jan 6, 2013 : 3:27 a.m.

So, how many of the students living in these new high rises were lured away from purchasing 3-bedroom houses on half-acre lots in the townships? How many township subdivision plans were scrapped because of all the competition from these new private dorms? Once these students and sainted "young professionals" grow up, partner up, and start having kids, the appeal of a studio, or a 4, 5, and 6-bedroom loft will quickly fade and they'll start looking to invest in houses with yards. Some may still prefer apartment living, but only if there are family-friendly amenities close by. The only way to curb sprawl is to make it more attractive to live anywhere in the city (not just downtown) than to live in a rural subdivision---attractive in terms of aesthetics, amenities, safety, schools, and quality of services and infrastructure. Instead, we allow our taxes to be skimmed off from these things and instead spent on tax incentives for downtown developers and crony economic development scams like SPARK. Or spent on ridiculous capital projects like underground parking structures and city hall additions.


Sun, Jan 6, 2013 : 2:44 a.m.

@johnnya2 I didn't say green space would be removed. I am saying we need more green space. Also, if all these tall buildings were put up, more of the sky would be blocked and there would be less sunlight and more shadows. I'm not opposed to all tall buildings, just ONLY tall buildings. As I said, can we have some balance please?


Sun, Jan 6, 2013 : 12:11 a.m.

@ Kitty, So in this hypothetical drawing (which is all it is, it isnt even a plan) has there been a SINGLE park or "green space" removed from the current inventory? The lovely park that is the Klines lot? If you want more density, you either jam more people into the existing space (smaller parking spaces like WholeFoods or Arborland, or you build UP. I will take up every day.


Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 9:15 p.m.

I am glad that you have brought this up. Before this lots of folks were bemoaning the loss of greenspace surrounding the city. I don't know if the argument is against all growth or not understanding that if we are not growing "out" we will need to build up.


Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 7:02 p.m.

That's true, but that doesn't mean every single vacant space and surface lot needs to have a tall building on it. We also need nature for a good quality life. How about some balance?


Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 5:46 p.m.

I was just informed that this meeting will be a working session so there will be no public comments. You can still attend the meeting, but you won't be able to speak. So the best way to make your voices heard is to contact your city council representatives. This is very important because otherwise they will take the word of the DDA that this much density is what the people want.


Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 5:38 p.m.

More and more canyons in A2. Lower quality of life. More congestion. More density. More noise. Huge mistake, except for the city tax coffers, which is what all of this is about.


Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 5:27 p.m.

If you put medium density buildings on the current parking lots, where will the customers and employees park? Also, I've long wondered why grocery stores never fit into the planning when more downtown residential is encouraged.


Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 8:02 p.m.

If the DDA was really behind having a major grocery store (needed imho to really encourage density), a place like Trader Joe's could provide parking validation (as is done at the Grosse Pointe location for the adjoining parking structure) and the DDA could in turn give TJs a break. Been to grocery stores Austin, NYC, other cities... The grocery stores managed to be busy even w/o validation, but I agree encouragement would help in A2, due to less density and the incentive for stores to operate in parking-friendly locations.

Nicholas Urfe

Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 6:03 p.m.

They will be forced to park in expensive lots that enrich the DDA coffers, and grow their base of power.


Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 5:48 p.m.

Grocery stores need big, free parking lots. Big trucks have to deliver the food and customers need convenient parking. None of this is possible in denser and denser areas, like what A2 is becoming, unfortunately. If you want to see an example of what happens when there is inadequate parking for grocery retailer, visit Trader Joe's on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon. There are some 12,000 - 14,000 customers over there a month, and even they will admit the parking lot is not adequate at certain times of the week. The other part of the problem is that with the sky high rents in central A2, you need high profit businesses with huge mark-ups. Grocery stores are not part of that. Boutique food places or chains (7-11), or overpriced places like the Kerrytown grocery area can survive high rent by cramming in overpriced potatoes along side overpriced boutique packaged goods. I overheard a customer at Costco the other day comment on the price of fresh mussels at Monahan's in Kerrytown at $10/pound compared to $2/pound at Costco. that's how the overpriced fresh food places like Monahan's pay the high rents in central A2. Grocery retail on a scale even like Trader Joe's isn't going to happen in downtown A2.


Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 5:25 p.m.

Portland Oregon- sits there as a perfect of example of - buildings interspersed with parks-- fountains - benches - and green buildings. Why oh why does this slip by the DDA over and over again- what is the point of building every square inch up without remembering that Ann Arbor is a walkable community - and a community that really likes to visit with each other in public places. It should stay walkable community - with an inviting downtown where locals and visitors can sit and take note of our friendly, interesting and diverse downtown, while in a little park for a little while. As a lifer townie I really resent this plan!


Sun, Jan 6, 2013 : 11:10 p.m.

andralisa - Portland has weather that invites outside walking 12 months a year. There are months in Ann Arbor when walking outside is not a lot of fun. Minneapolis has a great downtown area, and may be a better model for Ann Arbor. The downtown includes both above street and below ground connections between building for those not nice months, separating walking traffic from automobile traffic. I like Portland, but much of the business is way outside the downtown (think Dexter, Chelsea, etc) and you have to drive if you are working in most businesses in Portland. Yes there are buses and the trams, but most people who live there either locate close to their work or have a car. I like the idea of a very dense core to Ann Arbor and a green park buffer around that dense core. The diag makes one edge of that green buffer - three more sides are needed.

David Paris

Sun, Jan 6, 2013 : 4:19 a.m.

But Andralisa, Portland is a Model City, why would we ever want to be something as cool as a Portland, when we can be as popular as, say, Novi, Troy, or (as mentioned above) Birmingham? Now that we've got CVS and 7-11, with Walgreen's on the way, just think of the possibilities!

Wolf's Bane

Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 11:17 p.m.

I fully agree. Our city leaders usually wear blinders and don't travel to other cities; too focused on greed.


Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 11 p.m.

Somehow the DDA just does not GET IT. I agree with you and so many others that there are much better ways to keep Ann Arbor ahead of the pack and not another Canyon Space full of blowing paper and debris. Your phrase, "a little park for a little while" is perfect. In fact, several "little parks for a little while" would be the really smart way to go.


Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 8:43 p.m.

I would like to vote for your comment more than just the one time allowed. You are SOOOO right! The people are clamoring for green, open public spaces-- while the DDA seems to have their fingers plugging their respective ears. Do we have to take to the streets with picket signs or what to get their attention? Thanks!

Peter Eckstein

Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 5:19 p.m.

What seems missing from all this is the public's revealed preference for parking at street level. The existing lots make shopping and visiting downtown more accessible. Above ground parking structures are second best, and underground caverns are third best. So the restauraneurs and others who dominate the DDA should be wary that the evening business that makes Main Street so vibrant may actually suffer if it becomes harder and harder to find convenient, amenable places to park. The drawing looks a lot more like Birmingham than it does Ann Arbor. Is this really what the residents want?


Sun, Jan 6, 2013 : 12:06 a.m.

What a horrible thing to look like Birmngham. You know a very upscale city with large tax base and homes with values the surpass Ann Arbor. Nobody would want that now would they


Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 5:09 p.m.

Goodbye, views from Palio's!


Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 5:06 p.m.

I attended a meeting last month at the downtown public library where the DDA presented this and other drawings. The meeting was open to the public and participation was encouraged. Many members of the public attended. I'm glad I went because, when I asked why there was such a tall building on the library lot, Susan said that was what the people said they wanted. Many of us objected and said that was not true. Unless the public speaks out, these lies will continue. I encourage everyone to attend the city council meeting on January 14th and to speak out if you want to see more green space downtown. And please write to your council representatives too. You can find their email addresses along with other information at .


Sun, Jan 6, 2013 : 2:40 p.m.

You nailed it... Ms. Pollay and Ms. Briere both need to go!


Sun, Jan 6, 2013 : 7:19 a.m.

When Ms. Pollay speaks "for the people" she doesn't mean the general public. She is speaking for herself and the DDA and their vision of controlling you and I! It is like Sabra B. on City Council has stated many times in the past,,,the public (you and I) are not smart enough to know what is best for us, so she "they" have to make the decisions what "they" think is best in order to " control us".


Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 4:34 p.m.

isn't there quite an incline on William ,south of Main St. ? This doesn't seem accurate.....are they raising the grade now?

Nicholas Urfe

Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 4:33 p.m.

Agree with others that the sidewalk trees in these draws are just a farce and distraction. Sidewalk trees are notoriously unhealthy and very expensive because the sidewalk covers their roots, the salt applied kills them, and people abuse them directly (climbing, intentionally breaking branches, stapling signage, chaining bikes, etc). They also crowd the limited space on sidewalks. They often must be replaced over and over again.


Sun, Jan 6, 2013 : 5:38 p.m.

Ann Arbor has great street trees. Many of the trees in these drawings already exist. The salt doesn't bother them that much and they manage to thrive in the space they have. Depending on the tree, survival rates can be quite high ( They greatly enhance the pedestrian experience and add to the urban tree canopy, which helps with water and heat management. We are lucky in Ann Arbor to have the Elizabeth Dean Fund to help fund and care for our street trees.


Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 4:19 p.m.

I noticed in the sketch that there were cars on the streets. How novel, since all the surface and short term street parking for cars has been eliminated; replaced by buildings that are supposed to be occupied by businesses that require automobile transported customers for their survival.

David Cahill

Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 4:11 p.m.

Why should people expect anything different from the DDA? After all, "Development" is its middle name.


Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 3:59 p.m.

How about a sketch showing what it would look like this time of year? Just imagine it with bare trees and un-shoveled snow.


Sun, Jan 6, 2013 : 5:27 p.m.

Well, right now there are bare trees and parking lots. I would rather have buildings.


Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 11:04 p.m.

And that brings up another issue. What ever happened to the -----clear the sidewalks in downtown?

Ted Annis

Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 3:50 p.m.

The report from the DDA re "Connecting William Street- The DDA is leading the planning and outreach process for the future development of five City-owned downtown properties" is incomplete and flawed. At the DDA's recent final meeting with the public, Susan Pollay finally acknowledged that the DDA report was oriented to maximizing development and did not consider the possibility and impact of larger open space, i.e., a green commons area on the Library Lot. She said that that was something that the City Parks Department and City Council would have to decide upon. It was disturbing to learn that she and her DDA team had discarded the public input on this matter and have ignored the experience of other Cities and related studies that show a net positive economic impact from open green space in an urban environment (the "proximity principle"). During the course of her public meetings, members of the public had thrust upon her these studies and examples. This input was studiously ignored. As noted in a previous comment, the City's planning Department should take this on. The study should be removed from the DDA. It is time for the DDA to become the DDC (Downtown Development Committee) and folded into the City's Planning Department, which would dissolve it as an independent Authority. Ted Annis Downtown Resident (Ward 5) Attendee at two of the DDA meetings


Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 11:06 p.m.

I completely agree.


Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 3:46 p.m.

Green space. Oh yes, and abolish the DDA! Thanks!


Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 3:26 p.m.

I see there are no houses in this rendering, either. The house on the corner of Ashley and William is shown as an edge of commercial building. What is that structure looming on the right, the Ashley Mews? SmithJJR is well-connected, but out of touch, just like the DDA.


Mon, Jan 7, 2013 : 11:04 p.m.

Ah, I see what you are saying. I thought of that as just white space, rather than the image of a building since that side isn't really in the picture. The houses along there are all commercial buildings on the first floor and I don't see why it would be any more of an odd streetscape than to face the back of a commercial building and a parking lot. It will be similar to the houses around Kerrytown, the Argus building, Liberty Lofts, IM Building, Fingerles, Zingermans, most neighbhorhoods on Stadium, etc. Pretty normal streetscape where retail and housing intersect.


Mon, Jan 7, 2013 : 4:29 p.m.

Am I viewing this wrong? What I see in the lower left of the drawing I thought was the Northwest corner of the intersection. Isn't that side of Ashley S to N houses, a vacant lot, houses, Rock School, Hathaway Hall, Lucky Monkey, Fleetwood? that is going to be an odd streetscape if Klines lot gets built up like this suggestion.


Sun, Jan 6, 2013 : 5:24 p.m.

There isn't a house on either the northeast or southeast corner of Ashley and William. There is a small commercial building on the southeast side that housed Anderson Paint. It is shown in the rendering.

Mike D.

Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 3:22 p.m.

This looks OK but these last few open parcels in downtown should have taller, denser buildings. The more people live downtown, the fewer have to drive in to work and shop, and the greener we are. Parks aren't green; tall buildings are green. That said, this is a step in the right direction for the DDA. Those asking why merchants don't weigh in to support the DDA may be shockex to learn that the merchants actually have to work at their jobs, many of them 7 days a week, instead of whining on here all day about change.


Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 11:10 p.m.

Excuse me, Mike, how did you come up with this idea that huge buildings are green and open spaces are not green?


Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 3:57 p.m.

A pro-DDA commment! I think that makes one in the last ... well, forever.


Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 3:21 p.m.

As one high rise after another is built I worry about the pedestrian experience. The rendering shows the building up against the sidewalk, the trees shown are city trees on public property. I would like to see a required setback to provide an opportunity for more green and pedestrian space. The city gave up roadway and parking to provide this many years ago on Main Street knowing it would improve downtown, lets require this before the buildings are built.


Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 3:21 p.m.

The DDA has got to go. Does anyone really like to be downtown and only be able to see a few hundred feet? Our open streets and sidewalks are turning into blind alleys. The DDA is all about maximizing square footage, in every direction, to keep their funding flowing. Enough already. Also, Ms. Pollay, the 80's called, it wants it sweater back.


Sun, Jan 6, 2013 : 2:37 p.m.

I may have gone too far with the sweater remark, in fact it is probably a $300 art fair sweater. I guess I am fed up with the DDA and their lack of consideration for anyones opinion who is not in a position to give them money. And like it or not, she is the face of that very public group, and as such has crossed the line from private to public person. Also, just so everyone knows, I would not say anything on this board or anywhere else that I would not say in person. So next time I see Ms. Pollay, and she is wearing that sweater, I'll be sure and let her know how much I like it.

Mike D.

Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 3:25 p.m.

Good taste called and it wants you to take your comment back. Like it or not, 80s is hot again. Her sweater is fierce.

Jamie Pitts

Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 3:14 p.m.

Releases a drawing? This is a non-event, a distraction from what is really going on. Why do we not hear about the public reaction to the Connecting Williams Street project at the DDA's Open House meetings, or in the DDA's surveys, or in any other form? Isn't the controversy going to attract more readership and ad dollars for than "releases a drawing"? I know that this newspaper does not purport to be the voice of the people, but come on, this channeling of the DDA's message is simply... boring.

say it plain

Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 8:12 p.m.

That's a very insightful comment actually. It starts to feel like a 'strategy' almost, really. The releases these 'drawings' and some wall-of-buzzwords statement from the DDA, and it adds to the sense that our community 'leaders' exist in some parallel universe, from which we cannot demand change and with which we cannot expect to communicate. The *opposite* of good journalism in so very many ways.


Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 8:10 p.m.

"I know that this newspaper does not purport to be the voice of the people" NO newspaper is supposed to be the VOICE of the people. It is supposed to REPORT for the people. Politicians are the voice, noewspapers are the eyes and ears

Lizzy Alfs

Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 3:08 p.m.

I think it looks nice, but what I worry about is density. I don't know that downtown Ann Arbor has the density to support this much development. Are there enough people downtown to activate these areas? I do think there is a need for additional office space downtown, though.


Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 3:05 p.m.

I wasn't offended until I read Will Hathaway's advice, and went back and envisioned the sketch without the trees. Then realized the trees were the best part. Maybe the plan includes no parking because of upcoming monorail........


Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 3:03 p.m.

Looks good


Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 3:01 p.m.

As usual, nearly 100% of the comments indicate varying levels of dissatisfaction, distrust and calls for dissolution of the DDA. Questions about why unelected officials are allowed control of large sums of money with virtually zero accountability. You almost never see a comment commmending or even in favor of the DDA. You don't see them from downtown merchants, either. Why is that?


Sun, Jan 6, 2013 : 3:05 a.m.

Hey Jan, If this City ever wants to attract its young professionals to the immediate downtown, officials need to realize that no one will come until a balance is reached between dense building, amenities like grocery stores/dog parks, and green spaces in the immediate downtown area...why do you think NYC is vacated on the weekends...its all concrete and steel! We don't even have ONE blade of grass downtown!


Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 4:18 p.m.

Who is in favor of the DDA? I am in favor of the DDA. I get tired of the negative comments from people who want the town to stay calcified in the 50s except to add a park downtown in addition to several other proposed parks in a town already devoted to more parkland than the very real estate hungry University occupies and continues to take land off our tax roles. The City Council was wise to allocate to the DDA the study of sensible sustaining development to our town.


Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 2:56 p.m.

Along with the excellent article I recommended above, here's another excellent article (Ann Arbor's Missing Central Park) exposing the sham which is the DDA public process:


Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 2:55 p.m.

@cindy1 Here is the legal basis for any DDA. After reading the Act description would anyone still think A2 needs this DDA ?


Mon, Jan 7, 2013 : 4:23 p.m.

Mr. Detter is a smart man who knows what is happening, and thanks for sharing this info. If more people were more informed about what goes on in this town it would be a better place than it already is. And I encourage people to attend these meetings, and any meeting, and continue to give input, whether you live in the DDA zone or not, their actions have consequences for all residents.


Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 3:35 p.m.

The DDA is a corporation and can be sued. *** There can be more than one DDA formed by a City.*** The DDAs were formed over 35 years age in response to urban flight and economic decline. As counterweight providing citizen input, downtown areas with over 100 residents must have a Citizen's Advisory Council. They must be kept apprised of all DDA activity and shall recommend approval or rejection. Here is Ann Arbor's version's legal authority. Ray Detter heads such a Citizen's Council. How Established: Council resolution approved August 16, 1982. Revised by R-44-2-05 changing the title, revising the lengh of terms, and number of members. Purpose: This group of citizens living in the DDA area is established to advise the DDA and City Council with regard to implementation of the Downtown Development Plan and Tax Increment Financing Plan. Special Qualifications for Appiontment: Resident of the DDA area. Individuals who were residents of the DDA District upon appointment may remain on the CAC or be reappointed to the CAC if they move to a new residence on a block bisected by the DDA boundary line or a block abutting the DDA boundary line. Length of Terms: 3 years. Meeting Times and Frequency: This is a permanent committee that meets the 1st Tuesday of the month at 7:30 p.m. in the 4th Floor Conference Room of City Hall, 100 N. Fifth Avenue. Membership/Committee Composition: No more than 15 members. Contact Info: Raymond Detter, 120 N. Division St., Ann Arbor, MI 48104, 734-668-7027.


Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 2:47 p.m.

I thought Ann Arbor had a planning department? Why is the DDA wasting money that developers should be spending? Why do we even have a DDA? Please let the planning department do its job and then let developers pay all the costs of creating acceptable plans & construction.


Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 2:44 p.m.

Very ugly and unwelcoming. Why does the DDA want our downtown to look like midtown Manhattan? Our city was known for its human scale, its walkability, and bicycle lanes, and the things that it has in common with the most pleasant European city centers--low rise buildings, public transportation, cafes, parks and small shops. Why are we moving away from that?


Sun, Jan 6, 2013 : 4:56 p.m.

Seriously? This is hardly a sketch of downtown Manhattan. Have you been to pleasant European city centers? Most are *far* more dense and have far taller buildings than Ann Arbor. Parking lots do not contribute to walkability. This plan actually IS moving toward your vision of pleasant European city centers and away from the American tradition of wide streets with two-story buildings on either side. You can see that in Hastings, Nebraska and it isn't very nice.


Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 3:14 p.m.

I wish I could vote for your comment several times over.


Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 2:24 p.m.

I write this no in jest: the DDA really does need to be abolished. City council can manage parking and land.


Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 3:07 p.m.

I encourage people to read the article that @cindy1 linked to - very interesting.


Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 2:26 p.m.

4th word should be "not."


Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 2:15 p.m.

Maybe the DDA windmills could be painted to resemble giant trees or flowers . . . : ) Tree town Flower power Green Ann Arbor!


Sun, Jan 6, 2013 : 6:55 a.m.

HA HA.good one! Painted go with the crazies!!


Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 2:20 p.m.

Or we could add blinky blue lights and call it public art.


Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 2:08 p.m.

Very pretty graphics. I thought the DDA was in Florida on a football-holiday-conference vacation. Why would anyone recognize that "new" street as being unique to Ann Arbor - ever? Marketing the same thing over and over again and expecting different votes only works in Lansing. Time to renovate the DDA with a new and "vibrant" membership. Perhaps not so dense a development next time.


Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 2:01 p.m.

Are they planning to get rid of the parking structure? The 2nd building in should be the parking structure and its much taller than what's in this drawing.


Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 4:33 p.m.

?: starts at Ashley... then Main, then +2 = parkingstructure


Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 1:56 p.m.

Just once I wish the DDA would represent the interests of Ann Arbor's citizens and sketch the concept of a vibrant Library Green or park on top of the Library Lot. All I have seen the DDA provide as options for feedback are plans for dense or more dense development. They then elicit citizen input with these options, compile the results and claim that citizens favor more density downtown.


Sun, Jan 6, 2013 : 4:50 p.m.

Many citizens DO favor density downtown. Many of us would prefer to see a hotel next to the Library rather than a park that isn't used much of the year and attracts a scary clientele. Don't assume that your opinion is the only one.

Bob Loblaw

Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 5:47 p.m.

From an urban planning standpoint, a park on top of the library lot would only work with dense development around it. The success of an urban park depends heavily on its interaction with the surrounding commercial districts.

Will Hathaway

Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 1:55 p.m.

Back in the 1980s a real estate attorney confided in me that the trick to getting any new project approved in Ann Arbor was to have lots of trees on your architectural sketch. He said that he had bought a tree "stamp" and he would add lots of speculative green foliage to all his development plans. People like trees. To assess this new representation from the DDA, imagine it without the trees. Alternatively, imagine it with the trees but minus the buildings because the streetscape improvements (trees, sidewalk etc.) are the part of this fantasy that aren't completely subject to the choices made by private sector developers who will build what they will build. If the community wants a downtown park, as the 40-plus trees in this drawing imply, let's create a real public green instead of selling every inch of public land for concrete and steel.

David Paris

Sun, Jan 6, 2013 : 4:05 a.m.

That's funny Will, because my first impression of the artists rendering was; Those sure are nice, perfectly-sized tree's, I wonder what it'd look like in February?


Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 11:18 p.m.

Love it. The TREE stamp!!! And you know those trees in the rendering are hiding b i g buildings. Not so clever, DDA. You can fool some of the people..............


Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 1:15 p.m.

"equally dense tower shooting up from the Library Lot" But there are no plans for a convention center. None at all. Sure.


Sun, Jan 6, 2013 : 6:45 a.m.

We all know that Pollay and her "cronies" are doing everything in their power to turn AA into a mini Chicago or NYC. How unfortunate this is for those of us who love Ann Arbor's quaintness and historical buildings! I'll bet she wants a building named after her or another "forward thinker"...


Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 1:12 p.m.

Couldn't the DDA use their surplus lots for locations for power-generating windmills? One might even be feasible for the library lot, given its fortified foundation. Green Ann Arbor? Dollar green Ann Arbor?


Mon, Jan 7, 2013 : 3:25 a.m.

Ann Arbor is a poor location for wind energy. The wind speed here is inadequate. Wind power works best near the great lakes shorelines or in the Great Lakes.


Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 1:08 p.m.

Ugly, not the Ann Arbor that I look foward to.


Sun, Jan 6, 2013 : 4:39 p.m.

All this does is add buildings where there are currently parking lots. Do you prefer a streetscape of parking lots?


Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 1:51 p.m.

We have a campaign of change started, and the first installment is named Jane Lumm. Stay tuned.


Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 1:43 p.m.

Then move, or run for office, or start a campaign for change. Don't just sit there and be bitter.


Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 12:58 p.m.

21st century Ann Arbor. (What's missing in the rendering is pedestrian cross walks every block and wide bike lanes)


Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 11:22 p.m.

And a bunch of other things are missing: green space, grocery store, hardware store, drug store. If you're going to live downtown, will you want to drive every day for supplie?


Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 1:02 p.m.

... and the jaywalkers. You don't see any jaywalkers in the rendering.


Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 12:55 p.m.

Any plans regarding adding a grocery store to serve the growing number of residents downtown? A smaller version of Plum Market, Whole Foods or Kroger would be more than welcome!


Sun, Jan 6, 2013 : 10:59 p.m.

For me the best example of a downtown Grocery is Ralph's in San Diego. Ralph's is a Kroger Brand, and the store is well integrated into the downtown, almost invisible to people who don't know it is there. If someone wanted to really think about a downtown grocery, this is a store to study.

Ann English

Sun, Jan 6, 2013 : 12:16 a.m.

A grocery store with five aisles and selling produce too, adjoining other stores and businesses? I first thought of Trader Joe's fitting in a downtown area. It does not stand alone in a separate building, there in the Lamp Post Plaza. Tsai Grocery does sell produce and has fewer than five aisles, but it too does not stand alone, there in the Village Centre off Oak Valley Drive. If it were to open downtown, Chinese and Taiwanese students would be its best customers.


Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 8:07 p.m.

You are free to open up any of those types of stores if you like. The fact is, if you go to most major cities there are not large grocers in the downtown area. There are usually mom and pop stores and vegetable stands etc. You do not see Kroger or Wal Mart in huge numbers in downtown cities. Rents and parking usually make them cost prohibitive.

Kyle Mattson

Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 7:05 p.m.

I recently moved to downtown Northville and definitely agree with the idea that downtown Ann Arbor could use a downtown grocer. Here I can take a 5 minute walk to Hillers to get anything I need in one trip where as in Ann Arbor it would take a substantially longer stroll or a bus ride to get everything. Until you have that type of convenience you don't realize what you're missing. The trouble is, most grocers operate on pretty slim margins so making a large location downtown would come with pretty steep rent compare to areas outside of the city making it a pretty risky endeavor.

Mike D.

Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 3:30 p.m.

The Walgreen on State will probably have nonperishable groceries, but you'll have to head toward Ktown for produce selection.


Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 3:24 p.m.

White Market, ohhh never mind


Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 2 p.m.

Those places are all great Bob, but I would also prefer a grocery store that would meet all of my needs rather than having go goto multiple stores.

Bob Needham

Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 1:44 p.m.

While I too would welcome more options, I feel like downtown is served pretty well with Sparrow/Monahan's in Kerrytown, the People's Food Co-op, Knight's Market, Zingerman's, and Babo.


Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 12:32 p.m.

Beware of anything put forth from the DDA.


Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 11:54 a.m.

"Since the dawn of time, man has yearned to destroy the sun. I will do the next best thing; block it out!" C. Montgomery Burns