City needs to help Ann Arbor businesses hurt by ongoing downtown parking garage construction
As the owner of the Herb David Guitar Studio for 50 years, I have experienced the highs and lows of the ever-changing “Downtown, Liberty and State Street” businesses. The blatant shift from individual driven, personal care and service, to generic, cookie-cutter franchise establishments is destroying the once inventive and diverse city we all love.
Especially hard hit is the Liberty Street corridor. This is mostly due to the never-ending construction of the (underground) parking garage at Liberty and Fifth Avenue. It has impacted the shopping and driving patterns to such an extent that the businesses that have been the street’s anchors are on “life support.” Retail is dying and the restaurants next to the parking garage are barely holding on.
Chris Asadian | AnnArbor.com
We have gone to both the City Council and the DDA, proposing at least a tax abatement for those most greatly affected. Each time the mayor says he doesn’t want to set a precedent for this situation. Yet the city uses this PRECEDENT routinely to attract new businesses because of the future revenue they will generate both in taxes and visitors to the area.
We have paid and generated money willingly for the city for years and have supported the growth of the business community. It is time for the city and/or the DDA to step up their moral responsibilities toward the long-time business owners in this area and extend a helping hand toward making sure we can still be here at the end of this parking structure saga. If the city and the DDA chose to invest in a new parking structure, it needs to also invest in its business community, especially the ones that made the city grow.
We are small. We are independent and diverse. We are working close to the bone, often using our life savings to stay in business.
This is not just about the economy, it is about the parking structure, the closing of Fifth Avenue and restricting traffic flow in the entire area for three years, losing customers who chose to use alternate less frustrating routes to avoid the construction and travel time delays. The Liberty corridor was too dark, for months the streetlights were not functioning.
Many people chose to go elsewhere where parking is closer and traffic routes are more convenient to their destination. Most of them, we hope, will return when things improve. It is our desire to survive and succeed and with community support and greater consideration and help from the City Council, mayor and the DDA we will.
Herb David is a long-time Ann Arbor businessman who owns the Herb David Guitar Studio at the corner of East Liberty Street and South Division Avenue in downtown Ann Arbor.