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Posted on Wed, Apr 4, 2012 : 2:58 p.m.

Major work complete on underground parking garage in downtown Ann Arbor

By Ryan J. Stanton

All of the major structural work is complete on an underground parking garage in downtown Ann Arbor, officials overseeing the project said on Wednesday.

Downtown Development Authority board member John Splitt gave an update on the construction at the DDA's monthly meeting, saying the entire project should be complete by the end of June or beginning of July, while Fifth Avenue should reopen sometime in May.

"We're still shooting for, I think, a May 20 date," he said. "I'm still saying Memorial Day, and completion of the garage by end of June or beginning of July."


A recent view of the underground parking structure on Fifth Avenue looking south from a seventh-floor office space on Liberty Street.

Ryan J. Stanton |

Splitt said work on the garage continues to move along nicely. Wall pours are complete, so the structural parts of the garage are now finished, he said.

"They have cured long enough, so it is time to begin the surface water-proofing and that started a couple of weeks ago," he said. "That is the next step to getting surface concrete poured."

Splitt said elevators have been installed and all of the other mechanicals, including plumbing, continue to be installed. Painting and staining will be done once the weather warms up.

The DDA hired the The Christman Co. to oversee the project, which started in late 2009 and originally was expected to be finished by August 2011. Consultants from Park Avenue Consultants also are working closely on the project on the DDA's behalf.

"Park Avenue will be beginning road resurfacing on the north side of the project in middle of this month and then go to south side of the project after they're done doing work in front of the library, etc.," Splitt said. "And then obviously Christman will finish up the center."

And that should come as welcome news to nearby business owners who have complained the closure of Fifth Avenue has hurt business.

The new $50 million underground garage, located between William and Liberty streets on Fifth Avenue, will bring about 700 parking spaces to downtown when it opens in time for Art Fair.

Splitt also gave a report on DDA parking revenues for February, noting parking fees collected from patrons are up more than 16 percent from February 2011.

Total revenues came in at $1.36 million in February, compared to $1.17 million in February 2011. The number of hourly patrons also is up 5.26 percent. Splitt gave credit, in part, to better weather this year for the increase in people coming downtown.

The DDA is scheduled to make a budget presentation before the City Council at a special work session meeting on April 9.

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.



Fri, Apr 6, 2012 : 12:44 a.m.

I'm not sure why there is such animosity toward using an underground parking facility. Large underground lots in the center of a downtown or a cultural center are quite the thing in other much larger cities. I've frequently used them for example in Cleveland and Toronto, along with the rest of the public while attending conferences, concerts and other cultural or sporting events, or for daily commercial business. The underground lots get used widely and are appreciated by the public. because they don't take up valuable ground space, and if they're well planned, constructed, ventilated and monitored, they can [also] be safe and pleasant to use. Hopefully that's what we'll see when it is unveiled to the public come ... whenever... hopefully.


Thu, Apr 5, 2012 : 12:09 p.m.

There is no excuse for the lack of a formal, published timetable that the project adheres to and with penalties for missed dates. A very poorly managed public project. should file a FOIA request and expose this for all to see. The taxpayers should be outraged.

Big B

Thu, Apr 5, 2012 : 3:52 a.m.

I hope the city keeps the free 15 minute spots that are in front of the post office. I love using those for quick runs to Jerusalem Garden and Cupcake Station.


Thu, Apr 5, 2012 : 3:48 a.m.

I barely feel comfortable walking alone in parking structures at night, and those ones usually shoot into the sky. There is no way on earth I will be parking in this structure past 3pm, it screams rob me. I'd feel more comfortable walking down the streets of southside in Chicago.

Frustrated in A2

Thu, Apr 5, 2012 : 12:29 a.m.

Just get this over with and open 5th Ave.

T Wall

Wed, Apr 4, 2012 : 11:48 p.m.

When the Mayor and I debated a few years ago I remember a question that was asked. "What would you like the library lot to be used for?" I remember saying that the City of Ann Arbor needs a Common Area where during the winter the lot would be used for an ice skating rink, surrounded by unique and special stores. It could be similar to what you see when you visit Millennium Park in Chicago. In the spring, summer and fall the area could be used as a stage and an outdoor restaurant could be installed so on a given night HS concerts and plays from the past school year might be performed one last time in the summer. The surrounding area would be a green park area with very little concrete. I mentioned that everyone on council is concerned about securing the greenway around Ann Arbor but we seem to lose the green in the city. Mayor Hiefjte said he too would like to see an ice skating rink. It's sad that he and the DDA knew ahead of time what they really wanted to use the property for. I am saddened to see this area of Ann Arbor destroyed. I sometimes ask myself "am I the only one in Ann Arbor that is concerned enough in Ann Arbor to take on the task of Running for Mayor"?


Wed, Apr 4, 2012 : 11:48 p.m.

There's that GIANT parking structure at 4th and William already. Our roads are worse than Detroit's. Any car that can actually make it to that waste of money will be a bucket of bolts by the time it gets there anyway.

Tom Whitaker

Wed, Apr 4, 2012 : 10:46 p.m.

Included in the total bond issue for this project were improvements to Division and Fifth Ave. to make them more pedestrian and bike friendly. When will this work be completed?


Wed, Apr 4, 2012 : 10:42 p.m.

DDA: Doesn't Do Anything (on time or on budget)


Wed, Apr 4, 2012 : 10:14 p.m.

If this pace qualifies as "moving along nicely," what would moving along "badly" require? This project was supposed to be completed in August 2011. No explanation has ever been given for why it is running almost a year late. Is there any hope of ever getting a Mayor and City Council who are not cronies with the DDA?


Wed, Apr 4, 2012 : 9:54 p.m.

$50 million dollar rip off. I'll believe those dates when I see it. In time for Art Fair? I doubt it. No security cameras in the garage, which will be grossly underutilized when it does open. What women are going to park there and walk to and from their cars at night?


Wed, Apr 4, 2012 : 9:42 p.m.

I have failed - to see where 5th Ave. will be once the "structure" is complete. The underground portion does extend to where the barrier for the federal building parking is located. That's completely - under - where 5th Ave. used to be. Just sayin' - ?? Okay, it may be premature to assume this project will be a complete failure. For one thing, given enough time, stalagmites and stalactites will form down there in the cavern and will make a great tourist attraction. Mammoth Boondoggle Cave will be a sensation. As for the predicted wave of Crime Underground, the answer is to go armed and be sure to wear ear protection; firing a gun in that confined space will destroy your inner ears.


Wed, Apr 4, 2012 : 9:31 p.m.

Hopefully, downtown employees can park in the "big dig" and leave the street parking and open garages to shoppers. I do not like parking underground, too closed in of a feel as well as the safety issues.


Wed, Apr 4, 2012 : 9:02 p.m.

Because I am a woman, I will NEVER park in this underground structure. No security camera system in the world can prevent an attack nor can constant monitoring of video surveillance. By the time a problem is observed and a security guard is dispatched, it is too late. Of course men are just as vulnerable to an armed robber as a woman, but a woman is always aware of the potential for sexual assault. Not one of the many women I have talked to about this parking garage has said she will use it. Most say they hate going into a surface parking garage as well because of the dangers. I guess I might have to give up using the downtown library because there is no other convenient parking nearby, especially for the quicik stops to pick up a reserved book, e.g.


Thu, Apr 5, 2012 : 10:18 a.m.

Forget about parking on the surface lots. The DDA is going to take the surface lots away and give them to their developer buddies. It's called "Connecting William Street"


Thu, Apr 5, 2012 : 12:46 a.m.

I stopped going to the downtown library months ago=too many panhandlers and street people out front. And where will they go when winter comes? Down into the parking garage where its warmer and easier to harrass or mug someone. No thanks!


Wed, Apr 4, 2012 : 10:29 p.m.

They still have yet to catch that rapist as well. Good points here. Stay safe.


Wed, Apr 4, 2012 : 9:16 p.m.

You can request any of your library items to be sent to any of the AADL branches; then, you won't have to worry about where to park. BTW, I won't park in the Big Dig, and I will urge my daughters to do the same.


Wed, Apr 4, 2012 : 8:20 p.m.

I for one welcome our new concrete overlords.


Wed, Apr 4, 2012 : 8:04 p.m.

That 50 million pain has been only that to the people of Ann Arbor. I am so happy Jerusalem Gardens is hanging in there after this lot has caused them so much money. Maybe they will get the art fair people and the people who work in town to park down there but as a taxpayer in this great town the only time I'm going underground is when I'm done.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Wed, Apr 4, 2012 : 7:53 p.m.

The "Big Dig" is a boondoggle. The repeated delays are what you get when you hire a firm who had little experience in managing similar projects, as was pointed out at the time by some of the other aggrieved losing bidders. Also the contract given to the firm was unwise as it allowed them to award major parts of the work to their own firm's subsidiaries on a no bid basis at prices above the best bids from competitors and allowed them to award subcontracts to firms convicted of felony bid rigging in other local jurisdictions.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Wed, Apr 4, 2012 : 8:52 p.m.

@Forever27: for the conflicts of interest, see the editorial I helped to write when I served on's editorial board, here


Wed, Apr 4, 2012 : 8:02 p.m.

I've heard about these conflicts of interest before. Can you link up some of the articles that refer to this? I thought that the Ann Arbor Observer did a piece on it a few years back but can't seem to locate it.


Wed, Apr 4, 2012 : 7:45 p.m.

I'd like to know what penalty fee is being assessed to the contractor for being 6 months late! Oh, wait, this is Ann Arbor, the DDA is probably paying them extra for their tardiness!

Basic Bob

Wed, Apr 4, 2012 : 7:42 p.m.

Have they considered personal safety in building an underground parking deck? I will encourage my daughters to park someplace safer, like Ypsilanti or southwest Detroit.

Andrew MacKie-Mason

Thu, Apr 5, 2012 : 4:27 a.m.

What's the reason that an underground parking structure (assuming it's well-lit, well-monitored, etc) would be less safe than a normal parking structure? It's enclosed with the potential for an attack either way...?


Wed, Apr 4, 2012 : 10:27 p.m.

Or just park at Arborland and bus it in. Cheaper with a bus pass. Much safer then the underground. After all the delays I took worry about safety.

Jojo B

Wed, Apr 4, 2012 : 8:41 p.m.

LOL. And parking is much, much cheaper in the D!

Guinea Pig in a Tophat

Wed, Apr 4, 2012 : 7:37 p.m.

"Fifth Avenue should reopen sometime in May." "Mayor John Hieftje...noted Fifth Avenue was expected at that time to reopen by Dec. 31" - I'll believe the May date when the street finally opens. Hoping those business can hang on for that long!


Wed, Apr 4, 2012 : 7:26 p.m.

50 million $$$ joke on the taxpayers...they actually think you can get 700 cars into town during art fair to park there ...good luck....with our newly constricted roads and crazy quilt one way streets it can barely handle normal traffic....OZ has become a study in arrogance and stupidity.....