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Posted on Thu, Jul 12, 2012 : 7:48 p.m.

Library Lane underground parking garage opens to public in downtown Ann Arbor

By Ryan J. Stanton

Ann Arbor's new Library Lane underground parking structure ceremonially opened to the public Thursday night, bringing 711 parking spaces on four levels below ground, plus another 52 spaces above grade. Dozens of people came out to join the Downtown Development Authority and city officials in celebrating the $50 million project's completion.


Middle America

Fri, Jul 13, 2012 : 10:05 p.m.

How come will post a picture of a plaque with the word "ass" on it but delete comments with the same word in them? Are those evil curse words ok as long as they are not in print?


Fri, Jul 13, 2012 : 4:27 p.m.

Thousands of feet of Hilariously ill conceived handrail......unless your under 5"8 and use the lower rail...then your fine.


Sat, Jul 14, 2012 : 2:26 a.m.

What are the code requirements for handrails?


Sat, Jul 14, 2012 : 2:25 a.m.

Are you and architect or design engineer?

Ryan J. Stanton

Fri, Jul 13, 2012 : 4:08 p.m.

Update from DDA Director Susan Pollay: "Inspections are currently taking place, and we are working with the plan to have the structure open for Art Fair next week."


Tue, Jul 17, 2012 : 6:03 p.m.

I went by today and the attendant guarding the surface lot said it would be open at noon tomorrow (Wed). The attendant is not a local as she was unaware that the Art Fair starts tomorrow morning. Maybe Susan Pollay is also unaware.


Fri, Jul 13, 2012 : 6:05 p.m.

I was wondering what was up. I went to check it out today at lunchtime and it's all barriers and yellow do-not-cross tape. Didn't look open to me!


Fri, Jul 13, 2012 : 3:46 p.m.

Instead of "join the discussion" posted at the end of every article, "join the bashing" needs to replace it as nearly everything positive in this city that is developed ultimately becomes bash central. People, be fortunate you reside in a city where improvements are even fiscally possible....and lighten up a little.


Fri, Jul 13, 2012 : 3:03 p.m.

I see lots of clean open wall space for taggers. I wonder who will get there first with a spray can. Hope we see an article on that. Just as exciting as discussing an underground parking structure. I need a life!


Fri, Jul 13, 2012 : 6:07 p.m.

You mean, "Free Public Art Compilations" - at least the folks complaining about $$$ spent on other art won't have anything to complain about on these.

Simone Cromer

Fri, Jul 13, 2012 : 2:16 p.m.

Nice! Just in time for the Art Fair!


Fri, Jul 13, 2012 : 2:12 p.m.

The concrete wall on 5th Ave is horribly ugly. Seems like that could've been a much nicer looking wrought iron fence.


Sat, Jul 14, 2012 : 2:30 a.m.

Would you be willing to pay more for a wrought iron separation? Or just complain about how much it costs if it were built to your specs. Wrought iron require maintenance and like another poster said has the potential to be a hazard to passersby. That's why they aren't done on public projects


Fri, Jul 13, 2012 : 4:06 p.m.

And the bike lane is up against a concrete wall next to the ramp. A cyclist will get squished before it's over.

Unusual Suspect

Fri, Jul 13, 2012 : 3:46 p.m.

"Seems like that could've been a much nicer looking wrought iron fence" ... built by some guy from Germany.


Fri, Jul 13, 2012 : 1:38 p.m.

Ann Arbor liberals are changing. Not too long ago, it would have been an immediate decision to put a green area on top of this structure. And no bicycle parking? They blew that. I hope that if it does not fill, they build a McDonald Center (Chicago) type bike parking facility in it so prospective bicycle commuters have a safe place to park their bicycles.


Fri, Jul 13, 2012 : 1:36 p.m.

One photo is captioned: "Barracuda Networks, which is expanding downtown and bringing hundreds of employees to the former Borders location, wouldn't have done so without more parking." Hundreds of employees? Will they be leasing "hundreds" of spots in this new garage? So wouldn't it properly be called a 711-space garage MINUS the "hundreds of" spots this new company will be using? And what do you bet that their hundreds of spots will be on the floor nearest the exit?


Fri, Jul 13, 2012 : 4:05 p.m.

"expanding downtown and bringing hundreds of employees to the former Borders location, wouldn't have done so without more parking." Is that "more" parking or "subsidized" parking? Also, they seem to be a company set to expand, a company that has said that the talent it wants is here, a company that says that it likes Ann Arbor. Isn't it probable that they would have stayed here and grown regardless of whether they landed that particular building deal or not? I think there are a lot of people trying to form a causal link between the structure and the move and the job growth to a degree that isn't even close to being supported by the available information.


Fri, Jul 13, 2012 : 1:54 p.m.

Pretty sure all of the parking spots are first come first serve just like all the other garages that house large businesses.... Are you actually complaining about a large business bringing jobs to the downtown area of Ann Arbor?


Fri, Jul 13, 2012 : 1:33 p.m.

I love the "haters" who just have to make snide comments. It doesn't bother them at all that their taxes paid the USA to fight W's misguided war in Iraq, at about double---per day---what this structure costs! Brain teaser: Name the bridge that cost twice as much as planned and took twice as long to build. Nope---not only the Zilwaukee---the Brooklyn Bridge. Maybe the most beloved bridge in the country.


Fri, Jul 13, 2012 : 1:55 p.m.

Must be part of the DDA. Other peoples money!!!!


Fri, Jul 13, 2012 : 1:42 p.m.

While I agree with you about the costs of the ongoing battles in the middle east, I have serious doubts that this particular edifice is going to end up in the annals of amazing architecture next to the Brooklyn Bridge... Apples to Apples, plz.


Fri, Jul 13, 2012 : 1:27 p.m.

A few years ago I sat in on a WBWC-sponsored presentation addressing the application of Ann Arbor to be a "Bicycle-Friendly Community," judged by the League of American Bicyclists. The presentation was mostly on the part of our Transportation person Eli Cooper. Mr. Cooper had argued FOR more car parking the night before our presentation -- essentially, pitched this lot and others like them, as a means of bringing people downtown. The very next night he pitched bike lanes and bike parking to us as a means of DECREASING the need for parking in Ann Arbor. It's whatever you want to hear, folks. The City will be more than happy to tell you whatever tale they think you want to hear, so you keep funding their projects. Art, bike lanes, parking ... ZERO leadership.


Fri, Jul 13, 2012 : 3:53 p.m.

I think there's a pretty straightforward explanation. The goal is to grow the city ... grow the number of jobs, grow the number of people living in the downtown ... but constrain the sprawl. They also want to increase the % mode share of non-auto transportation. If you want to grow the city and grow the non-motorized percentage mode share, it's quite conceivable you need more parking and more non-motorized facilities. They've been pretty clearly doing both. New parking structures, grow the transportation system (AATA --> County), look at additional mass transit modes (Washtenaw / Huron and Plymouth / State), look at adding commute-by-train options (WALLY, train to Detroit), put bike lanes in, etc. Not all of it will come to fruition, but they certainly seem to have a reasonable plan to grow the city as the economic beacon of Michigan.


Fri, Jul 13, 2012 : 1:01 p.m.

Looks like a Twilight Zone cocktail party.

Madeleine Borthwick

Fri, Jul 13, 2012 : 2:32 p.m.

I thought I saw Rod Serling standing over there holding his smoking cig....


Fri, Jul 13, 2012 : 12:43 p.m.

Well whoop de doo. Big congratulations to city council and DDA for patting themselves on the back for this one. Doesn't matter how pretty the structure turned out. WE DIDN'T VOTE FOR IT, WE DON'T NEED IT, and WE DON'T WANT TO PAY FOR IT (forever!) !! UGH!!

Madeleine Borthwick

Fri, Jul 13, 2012 : 2:31 p.m.

Ross, I'm completely with you on this one. YIPPY-SKIPPY-DIPPY!! just another monument to man's greed. LET'S RUN IT UP THE FLAGPOLE AND SEE IF ANYONE SALUTES IT.

Les Gov

Fri, Jul 13, 2012 : 12:34 p.m.

"Library Lane underground parking garage opens to public" If this is a true statement why is the garage all roped off this morning. If you can't park there it sure doesn't seem like it is open. Maybe the headline should read..."City Hall claims the garage is open, but it isn't"


Fri, Jul 13, 2012 : 12:31 p.m.

apparently dissent isn't allowed by warning to everyone out there, don't talk negatively about the Boondoggle Basement, otherwise they'll silence you.


Fri, Jul 13, 2012 : 2:51 p.m.

Dissent is fine if it's relevant and based on some sort of reality. Everything else is just ranting just to hear one's self speak.

Kyle Mattson

Fri, Jul 13, 2012 : 2:49 p.m.

Hi Madeleine- We strive to maintain a civil, on-topic conversation throughout the discussion thread on each section. We try to avoid closing comments as much as possible, but there are times when it is necessary to do so to maintain the the positive value of the feature for our readers. Feel free to email us at if you have any other feedback or ideas for the commenting section as we are continually analyzing how to improve the system. Thanks!

Madeleine Borthwick

Fri, Jul 13, 2012 : 2:28 p.m.

yes, forever27, I've seen shut down the comment section entirely on more than one occasion. God, I HATE censorship.....


Fri, Jul 13, 2012 : 11:05 a.m.

Top rate structures come with top rate costs. What is the final price of the project and the projected break even point? Please don't tell me it will be paid down in like a thousand years and the property owners are going to be hosed again in the meantime.


Fri, Jul 13, 2012 : 10:50 a.m.

Emperors new clothes...........

Madeleine Borthwick

Fri, Jul 13, 2012 : 2:27 p.m.

but he HAS no clothes......maybe like the60- something nudist? YAK-YAK!

Craig Lounsbury

Fri, Jul 13, 2012 : 10:39 a.m.

I am concerned about the criminal element that will now have to run up stairs instead of the traditional downstairs to escape. I think the city should subsidize a 6 month membership at the Y for these folks so they can be properly trained for the new job description.

cornelius McDougenschniefferburgenstein jr. 3 esq.

Fri, Jul 13, 2012 : 5:20 a.m.

a2 has park structures on every block+they all have signs that say 387 empty spaces.this new one was unneccaserry


Fri, Jul 13, 2012 : 3:29 p.m.

The DDA puts has continuously updated parking garage space availability online. They don't have the new garage in there yet, but the other downtown structures are there:

Madeleine Borthwick

Fri, Jul 13, 2012 : 2:25 p.m.

cornelius, too right! this was completely unnecessary. there was a perfectly functional parking lot there. this was completely profit-based.


Fri, Jul 13, 2012 : 1:23 p.m.

meh I don't know, I consistently see the parking lots full. Come down on an evening in the weekend and it is actually tough to find parking.


Fri, Jul 13, 2012 : 12:41 p.m.

True. So was the length of your user name (but, it's cute).


Fri, Jul 13, 2012 : 4:23 a.m.

Two words: Mushroom Farm That's a profit-making enterprise which would be perfect in this underground environment. The Downtown Ann Arbor Library Mushroom Farm will be a huge success (but employees with heart ailments will need to have ready access to the elevators so they can reach street level). Above ground: plant a grass pasture and raise cattle on top of the parking structure / mushroom farm: the cattle dung will make great growing media for the mushrooms. Dave Brandon can handle the Ann Arbor Gourmet Mushroom Brand. He will put Dominos, Cottage Inn and the other dozen local pizza makers in a contest to see which will come up with the best morel mushroom pizza recipe. Ann Arbor will franchise the morel mushroom pizza business nationwide and we'll make enough money to buy another entire state (possibly, one entirely free of Republicans). We could cover the state we buy with parking structures... really, really big ones. (I vote we buy Ohio, that way we could advertise "next door parking.")


Fri, Jul 13, 2012 : 3:28 a.m.

Security is a big problem in underground garages. Plus people sleeping and doing bodily functions. Plus the smell and the overall creepines of going down 4 levels to get a car, which invites crime, esp in a college town with young women. So wo will pay forsecurity gurads, or will they expect free help from the shrinking Ann Arbor Police Dept? This was another boondoggle, like the fountain. If they expect employers to use it for employees, they will get less per space. So figure that into the loss.


Sat, Jul 14, 2012 : 2:39 a.m.

It is different/but that's not the whole difference...the structure will not be used greatly by some people .....other people will use it's probably a wash. If it gets moderate use that will be a good start....the elevators will be in constant demand.....that will present problems inevitably.

Middle America

Fri, Jul 13, 2012 : 9:55 p.m.

Would exiting down a flight of stairs as opposed to up a flight of stairs be easier for a senior? Under or above ground - no difference.


Fri, Jul 13, 2012 : 11:03 a.m.

I think the point is well taken:it is a hurdle if single female/slower moving/challenged senior is down a flight of stairs and need to get out quickly. You think exiting up that flight in a tough situation would be easy for all people? I don't. Hopefully there are enough hardy males to use this thing to justify it. The surface lot was much better in some regards. Every time I've gone to use the surface lot at the Y there is a line to pay and one machine is down. This structure may prove to have good value/time will tell.

Middle America

Fri, Jul 13, 2012 : 3:56 a.m.

"Security is a big problem in underground garages." Says who? How is it worse than going up 4 levels? What are you going to do if something bad happens to you 4 levels up? Will you jump off?


Fri, Jul 13, 2012 : 3:24 a.m.

Chase Ingersoll: The DDA and City Council considered having a 12-story hotel proposed by Valiant Partners of Connecticut built on top of the subterranean parking structure but rejected it after a feasibility study indicated that the project would not be successful. The situation has not improved so Ann Arbor will not benefit from a similar hotel built anywhere downtown. The $50 million bond issued to pay for construction of the parking structure will cost the DDA almost $5 million yearly to service the bonds over 20 years. Parking fees will only produce about half of the revenue needed if every parking space is used every chargeable minute. More likely the parking spaces will generate user fees only half of the time. TIF payments are unlikely to make up the difference which means that the city's general fund must be used to cover remaining costs of servicing the bonds. The drain on the general funds will either cause reduced city services or the need to raise revenue by a new millage or an income tax.


Fri, Jul 13, 2012 : 8:12 p.m.

David Koziol - You missed one important word in my comment, that is, "chargeable." I assume that patrons can be charged for using the parking structure from 8 am until 6 pm daily and for 6 days a week. At the proposed parking fee of $1.10 per hour x 10 hrs per day x 6 days a week x 52 weeks x 763 spaces produces a maximum revenue from parking fees of $2,618,616 which is actually slightly more than half of the estimated $5 million required to service the bonds annually. Of course the chargeable parking spaces may be more likely used half the time as with the previous surface lot and therefore will provide only about a quarter of the revenue needed to service the bonds. Tax payers have to hope that the DDA can find considerable new TIF payments to make up the difference. More likely the DDA will become insolvent requiring it to be dissolved and its liabilities absorbed into City expenses. With the City's recent financial problems a new millage or income tax may become necessary. Get ready to open your wallet again.

Dave Koziol

Fri, Jul 13, 2012 : 4:13 p.m.

You might want to check your math. If every spot is used every minute of the year we get 711 * 365.25 * 24 * $1.10 = $6.856 million per year. Not that I would argue that's going to happen...


Fri, Jul 13, 2012 : 12:39 p.m.

Yep. Such is the shameful legacy of the unwarranted underground abomination.


Fri, Jul 13, 2012 : 2:49 a.m.

What took longer to build? The USS Iowa or this parking garage? Answer...this parking garage took longer to build than the USS Iowa. In fact, this parking garage took 50% longer to build than the USS Iowa. Good thing the team that dug this garage weren't in charge back in 1940. If they were it sure would be different around here.


Fri, Jul 13, 2012 : 3:41 p.m.

"Good thing the team that dug this garage weren't in charge back in 1940. If they were it sure would be different around here." Yeah - had the DDA been in charge "Germantown" wouldnt be from from William to Packard -- it would be from the Atlantic to the Pacific.


Fri, Jul 13, 2012 : 12:11 p.m.

This is funny. It's wonderful to get some perspective on things like this. Care to compare to the Stadium bridge?


Fri, Jul 13, 2012 : 1:34 a.m.

What security is in place in this lux garage?


Fri, Jul 13, 2012 : 5:24 a.m.

Barney Fife makes an hourly pass on his horse, Mr. Ed


Fri, Jul 13, 2012 : 1:27 a.m.

"An employee of Republic Parking who will be working the afternoon shift inside the new structure chats on the phone Thursday night. He'll be working working inside his own personal air-conditioned booth." Is he working working 2 shifts? "A ground level view of the pedestrian staircase off Fifth Avenue that winds four stories down, stopping at each level. There also are elevators." If it stops, does that mean it's a moving staircase? Please explaing the quote: "I don't know what is more discouraging, literature or chickens", in a parking structure in a college town? "The sign also says motorcycles, scooters, mopeds and bicycles are prohibited, as are snowplows." So really this parking structure is anti-green? Only cars are allowed. Why is Ann Arbor celebrating a parking structure that will encourage more noise and pollution? Has the city really completely lost it now? What's next? Banning bicycles from Ann Arbor? What happened to public transportation and decreased pollution?


Fri, Jul 13, 2012 : 1:22 p.m.

Where do you come up with the idea of him working two shifts and really who cares if he was? Your babble is incoherent and pointless. There are bike racks right on top of the garage and motorcycles haven't been allowed in any of the garages for years. Hence the free motorcycle parking at a lot of the lots.


Fri, Jul 13, 2012 : 12:31 p.m.

It may be a one time deal, but they did let me park my Harley on the top (outside) down a ways from the hot rods ... for free ... you can only ask :)


Fri, Jul 13, 2012 : 12:10 p.m.

Why would I want to drag my bicycle down 4 flights when I have bike lock spots right in front of the place?


Fri, Jul 13, 2012 : 9:13 a.m.

Did someone wake up on the wrong side of their bed??

Middle America

Fri, Jul 13, 2012 : 4:03 a.m.

I would assume motorcycles are not allowed because they are often unnecessarily loud and their echo can set off sensitive car alarms.

Chase Ingersoll

Fri, Jul 13, 2012 : 12:57 a.m.

Ryan: 50 million / 711 = $70k per space? At $150 per month in gross, less, operating costs, that is more than a 50 year am. What am I missing to not look at this as a tax payer subsidy of motor vehicle operators? Anyone have an analysis on the additional number of persons 711 spaces will bring downtown and the resulting revenue from that? What might be the offset from selling the space above the parking deck to a hotel, or being able to decommission other above ground parking lots like the one across the street that could then be developed? I ask this with receptiveness to the long term strategy of getting parking underground, and of the opinion that I have never seen a nicer parking deck above or below ground.


Fri, Jul 13, 2012 : 3:27 p.m.

"What am I missing to not look at this as a tax payer subsidy of motor vehicle operators?" You could also consider indirect benefits to the community. There might be value from the project that is not generated as direct revenue.


Fri, Jul 13, 2012 : 1:10 p.m.

don't forget to add in operating costs, depreciation, and maintenance. pushes payback even farther back.

mike gatti

Fri, Jul 13, 2012 : 11:32 a.m.

Wow never even thought of that. Is that right?


Fri, Jul 13, 2012 : 11:13 a.m.

Costs mean little to officials that can rely on property owners for subsidy. Skyline HS is the poster child for over reliance on projected growth.

Wolf's Bane

Fri, Jul 13, 2012 : 12:23 a.m.

If you left your car in there past 8pm, you won't get access to it until tomorrow morning.

Wolf's Bane

Fri, Jul 13, 2012 : 12:14 p.m.

Not a complaint, no signage posted informing users.


Fri, Jul 13, 2012 : 11:09 a.m.

Quit complaining- you can chill in an air conditioned toll booth until morning.