Major changes to North Main-Huron River corridor recommended in final task force report
City of Ann Arbor
Those ideas and more are recommended in a new 28-page report — with a 50-page appendix — from the city's North Main-Huron River Corridor Vision Task Force.
The citizen-led group spent more than a year studying ways to improve one of Ann Arbor's major gateway corridors and released its final recommendations this week.
Sabra Briere, the lone City Council member on the task force, announced the release of the report at Tuesday night's council meeting.
City of Ann Arbor
The task force has developed a vision to improve conditions for pedestrians and bicyclists, increase public access to riverside amenities and address traffic congestion.
The task force previously recommended developing the flood-prone portion of 721 N. Main as a greenway park with a series of trails and open spaces, including a stormwater wetland area. The new report also shows a potential dog park mapped out on the site.
"A dog park was cited by many nearby residents as a desirable and relatively inexpensive active use option and coincides with the Park Advisory Commission's current search for a near-downtown location for one," the report states.
On the non-floodway portion of the site, the report states that two connected structures totaling more than 25,000 square feet have some rehabilitation potential, and both for-profit and nonprofit groups expressed interest in reusing them. But the task force grappled with the projected $6 million rehabilitation cost and instead recommends spending $300,000 to demolish them.
"Demolish the two buildings as soon as possible and clear and grade the site to avoid undesirable activities and eliminate the potential liability presented by these two vacant and unsound structures," the report states, further recommending the city should seek out potential developers.
If any type of vertical development occurs there, the report states, it should remain consistent with the residential scale and character of the neighborhood. The task force recommends the city be open to both public and private uses, including commercial and residential uses.
The hilly and hidden nature of the property weighed against the task force's consideration of recommending the entire property become open space.
City of Ann Arbor
The report suggests city staff should devise a robust process for public input and engagement regarding all potential site amenities.
"Public recreational elements should focus on creating a unique place along the Huron River, increasing access to water-based recreation and enhancing connectivity to the Border-to-Border Trail, the Allen Creek Greenway and downtown," the report states, recommending public and private funding should be sought.
The report recommends a pedestrian bridge over the Huron River to connect the Argo Cascades area to the MichCon site.
The report also recommends constructing a tunnel to allow pedestrians and stormwater to pass under the railroad tracks from Depot Street — between Fourth Avenue and Main Street — to the MichCon site. That would provide a direct link from downtown to the riverfront.
Another image in the report shows a pedestrian bridge going over Main Street and the railroad tracks, linking the 721 N. Main site and the Border-to-Border Trail at Argo Pond.
The task force recommends widening and enhancing the trail along the river — including the narrow crossing over the Argo Dam — to lessen traffic conflicts.
The task force also wants the city to use wayfinding signs to "identify, embellish and encourage existing connections and views" between parks and pathways in the area.
The report recommends the city work with the Michigan Department of Transportation to find ways to reduce vehicle speeds on North Main and that a comprehensive mobility study be conducted to better understand various options for improving experiences for all users of the corridor.
The report shows an image of what a signalized pedestrian crossing could look like on North Main at Lake Shore Drive, providing a link between Bluffs Park and Bandemer Park.
The task force also recommends installing crosswalks across Depot Street at Fourth Avenue and across North Main at Depot Street.
Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for AnnArbor.com. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to AnnArbor.com's email newsletters.