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Posted on Wed, Aug 12, 2009 : 1:15 p.m.

Downtown businesses, nonprofit agency suing city of Ann Arbor over parking garage project

By Ryan J. Stanton

Two downtown businesses are suing the city of Ann Arbor, claiming construction of an underground parking garage on Fifth Avenue would have a devastating impact on their businesses and the surrounding environment.

The Herb David Guitar Studio, 302 E. Liberty St., and Jerusalem Garden, 307 S. Fifth Ave., joined together as co-plaintiffs in a 28-page lawsuit filed Monday in Washtenaw County Circuit Court.

The Detroit-based nonprofit Great Lakes Environmental Law Center also is listed as a plaintiff.

Jerusalem Garden.jpg

The lawsuit also alleges violations of the Open Meetings Act because City Council members discussed postponing the project over e-mail.

City Administrator Roger Fraser declined to comment on the lawsuit when contacted by this morning. The city attorney could not be reached.

Bonds for the Fifth Avenue underground parking garage were issued Aug. 5, Tom Crawford, the city's chief financial officer, said at a meeting last week.

The city approved an underground parking garage in February for 677 spaces to be built under the surface parking lot north of the Ann Arbor District Library downtown. The garage would extend four stories underground and require excavation of a significant percentage of the city block.

“The excavation for this project is massive and will include the removal of tens of thousands of cubic yards of material,” the lawsuit reads. “The excavation is likely to extend at least 50 feet beneath the ground, creating a huge crater in the middle of downtown Ann Arbor.”

The plaintiffs claim the garage - located in the middle of a historic district designated by the Ann Arbor Historic Commission - is being designed to support future development above ground that may include a structure as high as 24 stories.

“The construction is anticipated to last approximately two years,” the lawsuit states. “Due to the enormity of the project, neighboring property owners will essentially lose the use of their properties due to the heavy construction activities.”

The plaintiffs claim the construction activities - which include heavy equipment moving thousands of cubic yards of soil and pilings being driven deep into the ground - will cause “strong damaging vibrations to surrounding historic buildings, huge dust clouds and deafening noise levels.”

The plaintiffs also claim that city engineers advised a resident on Division Street to move “because the noise and vibrations from construction activities would make it essentially uninhabitable” and told the Herb David Guitar Studio that the shop would “vibrate for a year.”

“Mr. David has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars over the years carefully renovating his studio in compliance with the strict construction standards of the Ann Arbor Historic Commission,” reads the lawsuit filed by Ann Arbor attorney Bruce T. Wallace.

Herb David2.jpg

“The manufacture and restoration of musical instruments is an extremely delicate, precise process which requires a quiet, pristine working environment. The quality of the craftsmanship would be significantly impacted by dust and vibration from construction of the parking garage,” it says.

The plaintiffs claim the 47-year-old guitar studio derives a significant portion of its business from providing music lessons onsite, and it would be extremely difficult to do so with the noise of construction next door.

Jerusalem Garden's claims are similar. The restaurant has operated on Fifth Avenue for the last 22 years and has spent more than $100,000 in renovations since 2006, its owners claim in the lawsuit.

The outdoor patio where many of its customers dine is just a few feet from the proposed construction site. The restaurant claims it has been told by the city it will lose utility service at various times during construction and the sidewalk in front of the restaurant will be torn up.

The vibration, dust and noise from construction of the parking garage will make the Jerusalem Garden patio “essentially unusable” and “will result in significantly fewer customers visiting the restaurant and a substantial loss of revenue for Jerusalem Garden,” the lawsuit claims.

Other claims in the lawsuit allege the city violated the state's Open Meetings Act when City Council members, at a meeting on Feb. 17, traded e-mails with each other that discussed whether they supported postponement of the project until the environmental impact could be determined.

“It was determined through this private e-mail discussion which City Council members opposed postponement and which members supported postponement and what would be the likely result of a vote on the matter,” the lawsuit states. “Having made these determinations in private, a motion for postponement was never brought or publicly discussed and voted on by the full City Council in open as required by the Open Meetings Act.”

The Great Lakes Environmental Law Center is joining the lawsuit with a claim that the city violated the Freedom of Information Act when, in response to a FOIA request filed by the agency in March, the city refused to provide the e-mails between council members regarding the parking garage. As a result, the plaintiffs claim they didn't become aware of the e-mails until about July 9.

The plaintiffs' attorney says the lawsuit is being brought against the city in part through the Michigan Environmental Protection Act, claiming the proposed parking garage is likely to “pollute, impair or destroy” the environment. The plaintiffs are seeking an order from the court declaring that the city violated state laws and failed to consider reasonable alternatives to the parking garage before approving its construction. They also want the court to agree that the project's potential environmental impacts and interference with area businesses calls for further study of alternatives.

If construction moves forward, the plaintiffs are asking that the court award damages for any harm done to their businesses.

They're also seeking an order to stop City Council members from engaging in any further private e-mail discussions during public meetings regarding the parking garage.

Ryan Stanton covers government for He can be reached at (734) 623-2529 or


Ryan J. Stanton

Wed, Sep 9, 2009 : 10:24 p.m.

Pardon me for pointing out the obvious, but there has been near-daily commenting on this story for close to a month now. This kind of community participation and discussion on a story is unprecedented. Thanks to everyone who has engaged in a constructive manner and contributed to this ongoing dialogue.

Matt Van Auker

Wed, Sep 9, 2009 : 10:53 a.m.

Oh, I am so going to talk to Sean about this. Why doesn't Herb and Jerusalem Garden just let it go.

Concerned Citizen

Tue, Aug 25, 2009 : 10:33 p.m.

In 2007, at this very time of year, this parking lot was in the process of being rebuilt anew. The light poles and fixtures were replaced later that year. Neighbors were told that if they would suffer through that ENTIRE year of testing, preparation, breaking-up and earth removal, fill, and reconstruction (with MAJOR heavy, noisy, earth-shaking machinery in use throughout) that it would be TEN years until another upgrade.

Matt Schonert

Tue, Aug 25, 2009 : 10:03 p.m.

I can't believe people are calling this a "frivolous" lawsuit and saying that it should be dismissed for fear of wasting tax dollars. What about the rights of the property owners and business owners, who are also taxpayers? If the project will cause damages to either business (lost revenue, for example), the city should have to compensate the business. That's part of the cost of any construction, and large projects by nature cause more disruption and damage than smaller ones.

Concerned Citizen

Tue, Aug 25, 2009 : 8:08 p.m.

Would it be possible for the DDA to respond to some of the questions posted here?

Ms. Shackleford

Mon, Aug 24, 2009 : 6:15 p.m.

midoftheleft- I think the debate can be about what people are actually debating, rather than what you tell us the debate is about. :)

Michigan Reader

Tue, Aug 18, 2009 : 5:44 p.m.

This would be more than just an inconvenience to the businesses affected--the legal standard to halt the project would be proof that the project "would likely cause irreparable harm." So, not everybody inconvenienced could successfully sue to stop a project. The non-profit has another agenda altogether--environmental.

Concerned Citizen

Sun, Aug 16, 2009 : 9:06 p.m.

[...just a...Thank you!... for the above link, :-)! ]

Concerned Citizen

Thu, Aug 13, 2009 : 11:47 p.m.

1) Would it be possible for Ann to find out and publish the cost of the destruction and reconstruction of this parking lot undertaken throughout 2007? 2) "Library Lane" is a lovely, quaint name,...however, this "lane" (if you check the mockup)is, in reality, "Parking Lot Entrance". Has anyone actually considered that bisecting an already heavily congested rush hour configuration, creating vastly more turning traffic, AND adding an additional 600+ vehicles entering and/or leaving the parking area (not to mention that of course these individual spaces may be occupied by more than one vehicle throughout the course of any given day...) is a clear formula for gridlock and intense air pollution?

Marvin Face

Thu, Aug 13, 2009 : 4:38 p.m.

OK. How about this: Thank you AccruedInterest for your attempt to put simplified numbers to this very complex issue. However, a true parking structure pro forma would give more accurate numbers. And SBean, it is likely that a full study of alternatives (if in fact one has not been done as you state) would conclude that the parking structure is miraculously in the right place and the right size. Are we sure we want to spend the money on this?


Thu, Aug 13, 2009 : 2:06 p.m.

Alan: The interest on $49.3 @3.9%APR depends on the repayment period. Also, while DDA is paying cash and has no interest on a bond, they could be investing the money, so there is opportunity cost on the $9.7m (I assumed 2%APR, but this is probably way too low). Below is a poor attempt to to how much the project will cost using different years (assuming it is built on budget, no maintenance/repairs, no insurance, no staffing, etc.) Year Bond DDA Total 20 (71,077,663) (24,165,882) (95,243,545) 25 (77,252,751) (25,685,942) (102,938,692) 30 (83,711,673) (27,365,727) (111,077,400) 40 (97,434,322) (31,273,376) (128,707,698) If you take 677 spots, and a practical capacity of 85%, you can figure out how much money/day the whole parking lot needs to pay for itself. Then you can calculate how many hours a spot needs to be filled at different fees rates. hours used @ $1.50/hr 20yrs 15hrs 25yrs 13hrs 30yrs 12hrs 40yrs 10hrs The parking lot would need to be practically full (85% full) for 15 hours a day if the bond is for 20yrs. If 40yrs, then only 10 hours/day. The reason is you spread out payments over a longer period, so you need to recover less money each year. This is a simple model and doesn't really mean anything, but I don't know what $59,000,000 means; is it a good deal/bad deal? Hopefully this exercise puts that figure into a frame I and others can grasp...anyone looking to hire an accountant??


Thu, Aug 13, 2009 : 12:07 p.m.

@midofleft: I don't buy reductio ad absurdum. There are levels of inconvenience. Building foundations for a 24-story building and remodeling a house require different standards. @marvin: yes, most of us are not parking experts (ok, maybe moose). But without a vigorous and independent local media, we have to do the work ourselves. I hope HD & JG reach a settlement which addresses some of their concerns (but will not stop the construction)...What about AADL? How are kids going to study?


Thu, Aug 13, 2009 : 11:24 a.m.

It really seems that anytime anyone tries to build anything in Ann Arbor, people try to put a stop to it, in this case with a frivolous lawsuit, in pursuit of a radical environmental agenda, courtesy of the Great Lakes Environmental Law Center. This project is also about a lot more than just a parking garage, it is part of a broader improvement project meant to make that section of downtown more accessible, active, bicycle friendly and walkable in the future. It goes along with planned upgrades to Fifth and Division, the installation of a new connecting road, Library Lane, running between Fifth and Division, and landscaping. The area surrounding the current surface lot, in back of the complaining businesses, is kind of a dead zone, it would be a positive benefit to our community if we could develop it with a long term plan for mixed use, which is exactly what the city and the DDA are trying to do.

Marvin Face

Thu, Aug 13, 2009 : 8:22 a.m.

Alan Benard, I have not read the reports. I have plenty to do without wading through endless paperwork that I will likely not understand anyway. Besides, as my mama used to say, "you worry about Marvin Face, and you'll be busy all day long". That is what we have planners, DDA board, City Council, etc for. This is their job. I trust they are doing this for the right reasons even though the reasons may not be apparent on the surface. This is why I tell people to just calm the heck down. You all have day jobs where you make decisions based on complex sets of issues, right? Do you think I could come in to your office, skim a few reports and tell you you're wrong? I don't think so. As for location for parking, I am also leaving that to folks who know better than me but I would guess that the middle of downtown would absolutely be the best palce for parking as it would get the most use and generate the most revenue. Racerx, you buy a condo in downtown next to an open lot, you pretty much know what you're getting into.


Thu, Aug 13, 2009 : 7:28 a.m.

Let me add my voice to the chorus of voices expressing some confusion about the necessity of this extra parking. It's been years since I worked downtown, but I passed the surface lot twice every day (I used AATA) and I am downtown almost every Saturday afternoon...yet it is very rare that I cannot find a parking space at my preferred location...and even rarer that the current lot is filled. I wonder if the push for this new structure isn't commensurate with the efforts towards a new city hall? IIRC, the downtown branch of the AADL is also due for some more major renovation as well. Note to staff: I wonder if someone couldn't "revist" some of the more contraversial downtown development stories of the past. For example, I'm not downtown enough to know if the most recent change from 1-way street traffic to 2-way strret straffic (north State Street) has really made any significant improvement for retailers...for myself, I have only noted that the 2-way patterns have significantly slowed down my passage through that area. In my own experience, it's much harder to keep an eye on pedestrians as well as the two-way traffic.


Thu, Aug 13, 2009 : 1:37 a.m.

Joel Bateman, thanks for your exhaustive research. Have you consider consulting city planners? A2, read city council and staff, just doesn't have a good track record developing propeties. I've taken guitar lessons at HD and often eat at JG and as they are both small business owners, they have legitimate concerns. However, the read question is does A2 really need a 4 story below ground parking structure. Yes, A2 does need to "grow-up" however what data proves that growth is forthcoming? I grew up here and hate to pay to park, and I NEVER put my car in a parking structure and always have found street parking or a surface lot. Most days the lot next to the BTC is empty. I just don't see the need. But, with a 24 story building being place on top of the structure, when will this occur, and who's going to occupy it? Gee, I'd be pissed if I brought a condo at that place on Liberty next to Seva whose backside residents will now have a stunning view of a.....BUILDING!!

Alan Benard

Wed, Aug 12, 2009 : 10:50 p.m.

Marvin: Does the parking lot have to be in the middle of downtown? Do the studies ask that question? I presume you have read them all. I will imagine they don't, as the entire approach has been and seemingly always will be automobile-centered, rather than transportation-centered.

Concerned Citizen

Wed, Aug 12, 2009 : 10:44 p.m.

1.) This parking lot was completely removed and rebuilt in 2007. It was completely dug out from well below ground level, new fill was hauled in, it was rebuilt from underground up, and new light poles and fixtures were installed,... again that was in 2007,... just two years ago. Adjacant neighbors were told that if they would suffer through the construction stress (including scraping, grinding, hauling, and tamping machines that made the ground shake like an earthquake) that it would be 10 (that's right TEN) years before it would be upgraded again. 2.) Ann Arbor is buying up "green belt" areas from surrounding townships. THIS lot, next to the District Library (to which most "A2 traditionalists" refer as "The Public Library") and across from the Federal Building, Post Office, and AATA Transit Center, is the closet thing to a "town square" left in Ann Arbor. Townspeople and visitors criss-cross it daily making use of the pathways in all directions, headed "downtown", "up" to State Street, off to Campus or just "going home". Please, before it's too late, (I realize that the DDA has absolutely no need for any use of this property but for their own "revenue enhancement", as is their charge,...thus more parking... But,)...Ann Arbor, give yourselves and those that will follow a central park of your own. Even now, while in this lot, you can look around and trace the growth of Ann Arbor in the skyline. Private developers will clearly continue to press for "progress" as the economy dictates and private properties will creep (or leap!) higher, but, if this opportunity to preserve a bit of Ann Arbor, and an urban view that will be lost forever, is lost, shame on the powers that be. Please rethink Ann Arbor's "big dig".

Marvin Face

Wed, Aug 12, 2009 : 9:54 p.m.

Thank you Joel for proving my point while actually trying to do the opposite.


Wed, Aug 12, 2009 : 9:45 p.m.

The city promotes and supports with tax dollars all kinds of efforts to get people out of their cars to walk, bike and use public transit to get downtown. Then we spend millions more to house the cars that we don't want downtown. How would things be if we spent 50 million to improve alternative transportation in the city instead of pouring more concrete? We'd be a lot truer to our words than we are now.


Wed, Aug 12, 2009 : 9:25 p.m.

It will only be payed for by parking revenues if there is a net increase in parkers. That will not happen in the short term and the long term projection for growth are weak. Other structures are not being used to capacity. Adding 600+ more spots will pull current parkers from other structures and not produce a net increase. The "convention center" is not a done deal by any means. The city has a terrible track record of following through on it's own development projects.


Wed, Aug 12, 2009 : 8:41 p.m.

I hope it is a non-smoking garage with a pond on top for trumpeter swans.

Marvin Face

Wed, Aug 12, 2009 : 8:27 p.m.

By the way, I have heard that AA just received "Obama bucks" for the Stadium Bridges project so the notion that $ could be better spent there is not worthwhile discussing.

Marvin Face

Wed, Aug 12, 2009 : 8:19 p.m.

I think uawisok said it best when they said "but what do I know?". This is a very complex issue with many parking demand scenarios, financial models, and other issues delicately balanced by people who have studied every aspect of this issue for a long time. They have very carefully looked at the impact to the community from every conceivable angle and determined that this is viable and necessary. They are willing to take heat for it. And have nothing to gain by their decision. Then here comes Alan Benard, Dylan, smr, topcat, et al with their infinite widsdom and knowledge to inform us that Ann Arbor does not, in fact, need a parking garage. I appreciate your months of participation in the process and your knowledge of all the facts and studies related to this project. I had no idea that you knew all the facts. I could let you know that my opinion is that Herb David and Jarusalem Graden should be acquired via eminent domain and demolished to make for a more appealing development project in the long run but my guess is I would not get much support.


Wed, Aug 12, 2009 : 6:56 p.m.

just a thought...have free parking downtown everywhere, and get the bond to pay for free transit with double the schedule....and make the businesses downtown keep the same hours as the malls, sorry holly hobbies, time to pay minimum wage til 9pm and open sundays.


Wed, Aug 12, 2009 : 6:35 p.m.

For those of you who think Ann Arbor doesn't need more parking downtown, consider this: assuming the proposed 24-story building goes up, there will most certainly be a need for more parking. With regard to Herb David and Jerusalem Garden: nothing bad happened to these businesses when the new post office/federal building went up and that project had to cause some grief for both of these spaces. You wouldn't be the first "victims of progress" Ann Arbor has ever seen, but Ann Arbor can't stand still either. There's a one-word solution for your problem: move.


Wed, Aug 12, 2009 : 6:33 p.m.

Parking downtown is turning into a joke. Republic Parking basically owns every parking spot downtown. Did you know there is zero street parking after 3am? For instance you have too much to drink and leave your car on the street overnight its a ticket..yes even on weekends. Ask a cop. I think you can see a long term goal of the city to eliminate ALL FREE parking anywhere downtown and funnel traffic into the structures.

Alan Goldsmith

Wed, Aug 12, 2009 : 5:39 p.m.

So what are the interest costs on $49.3 Million over the life of the bonds? What will the total cost be? So, as the economic climate is headed downward, the city is another $50+ Million in debt? This sort of reckless behavior has just broke us an expensive lawsuit. And it make take a recall campaign to fix. But the good news of course is the Per Cent For Art will get their cut and maybe grace use with more moronic, ugly, elitist art in the near future.

Michigan Reader

Wed, Aug 12, 2009 : 5:35 p.m.

I really really doubt Herb David and Jerusalem have an agenda to stop the parking garage for reasons other than their own financial survival. My take (and it's just MY take) is that the non-profit enlisted them in the lawsuit in order to make a more compelling arguement for an injunction to halt the project.


Wed, Aug 12, 2009 : 5:09 p.m.

Thanks for the update for the city official...overall maintaince on such a underground structure would seem high, but what do I know? I know that any street in the city gets attention as long as it is South of Huron, Miller is a mess all the way to Main street. Whatever happened to the skateboarding park for kids that get tickets and attitude? What happened with affordable housing for minimum wage restraunt workers? Seems like developers are getting whatever they ask for, when are the citizens who live here going to? So now we are saddled with 3.9% interest on 49 million, and propert values continue a downward spiral....what a house of cards!!

Ann Arbor Resident

Wed, Aug 12, 2009 : 4:35 p.m.

I hope they win this suit. I just don't see the need for this parking structure and the city does not need any more debt. It reminds me of a small city down south that took on a similar project that ended up bankrupting the city.


Wed, Aug 12, 2009 : 4:30 p.m.

Jacobsens went out of business after they moved to Briarwood. They had more problems than just their store on State St. We spend tons of money on parking structures and yet spend quite a bit to get people out of their cars, walk, ride the bus, etc, essentially trying to convince people not to drive or use their cars less in downtown. The city spends more on housing cars than we spend on housing people. We want to spend more money on parking even though the ones we have already built are not used to capacity. Projections of growth in the city don't indicate that more parking is necessary now or in the future, yet we want to build more. It's said that the structures will pay for themselves with more parkers and fees. The city only has to go into debt to build another one. The big beneficiaries are the DDA and Republic Garages. City taxpayers carry the debt (and now an income tax is being proposed). If we build a new structure before there is sufficient demand (if there ever will be) it will reduce the numbers of parkers at the other structures reducing revenue at those structures. It will rob the other structures and most likely not increase overall revenue from parking. Unless there are suddenly more people coming to the city (counter to the projections) and more of them using the parking structures, none of the structures will be able to cover their costs of paying off the debt or the maintenance. There are more important things that need to be done that build another structure based on the "build it and they will come" premise There are more important things to go into debt for. Like the Stadium bridges and other infrastructure repair.

Laura Bien

Wed, Aug 12, 2009 : 4:10 p.m.

I like that Mr. Stanton can use this online format to add an update and further the story, as opposed to a "frozen" paper story. Good use of the technology; thank you for the extra information.


Wed, Aug 12, 2009 : 3:53 p.m.

Pointless....all of it. I thought A2 was more progressive than this. They couldn't think of ANYTHING else to spend that money on. They need to be sued. I have been to both businesses that are suing and I can understand their concern. Frustrating! And this e-mail business...what is that about? Shame on a lot of people....


Wed, Aug 12, 2009 : 3:49 p.m.

maybe if the city was more sensitive to the concerns of local businesses, things wouldn't get so bitter so fast. maybe this is a stupid idea, but why not build a temporary wall or privacy fence on the edge of the construction, to help block noise and debris from disrupting nearby businesses? if they would just avoid things like parking cranes in front of businesses, maybe it wouldn't be so bad. but after what they did in front of Red Hot Lovers, I would fear the worst as well.

Steve Feinman

Wed, Aug 12, 2009 : 3:45 p.m.

While I don't commute to downtown, I do go down during the week days quite frequently and park on the surface lot. I have yet to see the more than a 1/4 filled and always see on street parking nearby. It would seem that this parking lot, planned evidently during the now defunct condo boom, might not bee needed say next 10 or 15 years. So the question is why is it being built?

Ryan J. Stanton

Wed, Aug 12, 2009 : 3:40 p.m.

Tom Crawford, the city's CFO, confirmed for me just now that the city sold the bonds last week for $49.3 million. The contractual portion of it is done, but the city hasn't closed on the sale yet. The interest rate is going to be 3.9 percent, which Crawford indicated he is pleased with. The $49.3 million being borrowed represents about 85 percent of the total project cost of nearly $59 million. The DDA is putting up 15 percent in cash. The parking decks will be owned by the city and managed by the DDA. It also should be noted that part of the bond proceeds are being used to improve parts of Division and Fifth, including bicycle lanes. The parking structure is scheduled for construction starting this fall.

Macabre Sunset

Wed, Aug 12, 2009 : 3:26 p.m.

I remember it was a dispute over promised improvements to a parking garage that made Jacobson's leave downtown. And that caused very real and permanent changes to the entire downtown area. Parking is somewhat tough in Ann Arbor, though the pressure has been eased on the Fifth/Main side specifically because the loss of retail has meant less visitors to downtown, and more to the retail areas south of town. Parking is a nightmare right around campus. But that's surface lots. The library lot is not a long-term lot. The need for an underground structure may well be solely based on anticipated job generation. The university eventually solved that problem with its free park-and-ride commuter buses.


Wed, Aug 12, 2009 : 3:26 p.m.

the lawsuit reads. The excavation is likely to extend at least 50 feet beneath the ground, creating a huge crater in the middle of downtown Ann Arbor.- typical lawyer these stupid clients the law fees bruce, if you win, ill be the first to get my law degree and go around every city in country calling construction sites huge craters in the middle of our downtowns causing a takings of adjoining properties. ill be rich like you!


Wed, Aug 12, 2009 : 3:16 p.m.

the city does not need another parking structure, nor does it need a 24 (!!!) story building.

Top Cat

Wed, Aug 12, 2009 : 2:32 p.m.

Granted I rarely get to Ann Arbor on Friday and Saturday nights, but does the city really need another parking structure?

Marvin Face

Wed, Aug 12, 2009 : 2:30 p.m.

I, for one will not go back to Jarusalem Garden now that this frivolous lawsuit has been filed. I never had the opportunity to go into Herb David so no change there. It is unreal to me that someone could file a lawsuit for something that MIGHT happen. I agree with others that say that this is just a ruse to stop the parking garage. Please folks. Take a longer view. There's a forest here? All I can see are all these trees.


Wed, Aug 12, 2009 : 2:22 p.m.

I support these businesses. This is no ordinary construction project -- its duration and scope make it a potential killer for both of the plaintiffs. Given the hijinks that occurred among council members, they are well within their rights to file this suit. I have no idea if this would be feasible for any of the concerned parties, but perhaps the city could assist these businesses in finding temporary alternate locations? I have never patronized the guitar studio, but it would be a terrible shame for Ann Arbor to lose Jerusalem Garden. I would love to see more parking downtown, but not at the expense of two (or more) well-established businesses.


Wed, Aug 12, 2009 : 2:20 p.m.

I was just in Boulder, CO and they have a very large underground parking lot downtown. It was nice... in fact, IMO, Boulder has a better downtown than Ann Arbor. Boulder is denser; buildings have mixed uses: store/retail on level 1, offices on level 2-3, lofts on level 4-6. Ann Arbor cannot live off of its own citizens alone... it must bring in out-of-town visitors. And, an underground lot is needed for theses out-of-town visitors. Not everybody has the ability of walking. I'll take underground lots over above-ground parking structures any-day.

Alan Goldsmith

Wed, Aug 12, 2009 : 1:57 p.m.

If we had a better mayor and city council, who didn't violate the Open Meetings Act, there wouldn't be a need for a lawsuit. And I predict before this is over, there might even be a recall campaign targeting a couple of current council members too.


Wed, Aug 12, 2009 : 1:47 p.m.

Does the parking structure still extend under Fifth Avenue? If so, it is equivalent a five story bridge. I wonder how much this thing will cost in maintenance over its lifespan, and what do you do with it at the end of its lifespan? A surface lot costs little to create and little to maintain. A subsurface lot with busses driving over it all day long will cost a lot to install and maintain. Are there any other examples in the country where a parking garage has been installed under a busy public street?


Wed, Aug 12, 2009 : 1:31 p.m.

Midoftheleft and SaintKeith: How about not spending millions of dollars on an unnecessary underground parking garage to start with? Saying "Construction happens" is a weak, silly excuse. If a company were spewing toxic fumes into the air, "pollution happens" doesn't make it ok. There are degrees of magnitude to these things, and alternatives to be considered. I say let the city's finances be hurt by this decision, which sounds like it was hurriedly made without proper procedure or notification. I'd rather spend my tax dollars making sure the Council Members aren't doing things behind my back or looking out for what's best for the city and the downtown area, than on some fancy new place to cram more cars next to the library 3 years from now.


Wed, Aug 12, 2009 : 1:25 p.m.

How long will Ann Arbor last without any new development? As the article indicates, a 24-story building may go on top later, so it seems herb and jerusalem garden would only benefit in the long term. Come on folks, let the Ann Arbor grow! A 24-story, multi-use building would surely support those efforts and increasing day-time traffic in the area. (I won't comment on the environmental aspects since I haven't the slightest idea what the consequences are, can someone clarify? Are talking radioactive spiders here?? or adding simply adding some precautions?)

Joe Hood

Wed, Aug 12, 2009 : 1:22 p.m.

I too agree this is a frivolous lawsuit. When you have a business you have to run with the punches. Wait, you have an attraction being built next (50ft deep hole) to you and you happen to sell food. Sounds like sales would go up. I don't know in the case of the guitar studio but don't they already get lots of vibrations from trucks and buses running down the street? Historic structures do suffer from vibrations, so you fix the issues.


Wed, Aug 12, 2009 : 1:07 p.m.

I agree with the Midoftheleft comment. Why are my tax dollars being wasted fighting a lawsuit over construction? Construction is going to happen. The city center can't fossilize. If not a parking structure then something else. The only people who will win in this lawsuit are lawyers. The rest of us all lose.

Karen Sidney

Wed, Aug 12, 2009 : 1:03 p.m.

The bonds were not issued August 5. According to the bond offering, August 5 is the due date for the bids. The offering says the anticipated closing date for the bond sale is August 19. If the bonds are actually issued and the structure cannot be built, it will cost the city millions of dollars to pay off the bonds early.


Wed, Aug 12, 2009 : 1:01 p.m.

My son takes guitar lessons at Herb David-it is hard to envision learning how to plan an instrument in the middle of a construction project of this magnitude. Maybe the angry tax payer should be directing his feelings towards the council members who communicated via email vs.out in the open...

Alan Benard

Wed, Aug 12, 2009 : 12:53 p.m.

Stop this unnecessary project NOW. No more palaces for automobiles. Teach these people to walk again. Run shuttles from the edge of town. STOP.

Laura Bien

Wed, Aug 12, 2009 : 12:27 p.m.

Even before I read the Herb David quote, I was thinking, " could you do delicate repair on an instrument with vibrations and noise going on." I hope an alternative can be found for drivers that need to get downtown--a new Park and Ride lot just outside the city and possibly a slight shift in one AATA route to service the new lot?