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Posted on Mon, Apr 16, 2012 : 2:55 p.m.

University of Michigan revisits building contested parking garage on Wall Street

By Kellie Woodhouse

For residents near Wall Street in Ann Arbor, it's happening again.

The University of Michigan is once again proposing to build a multimillion dollar parking structure in their neighborhood.

Three years ago the university halted plans to build a hotly debated parking garage on Wall Street in favor of constructing a structure on Fuller Road to be completed jointly with the city of Ann Arbor. Yet earlier this year the university and city announced they were scrapping plans for the Fuller Road Station structure due, in part, to an inability to build the garage quickly enough for U-M, which is facing a mounting parking shortage.

As a result, the university has revisited its plans to build a structure in the Lower Town neighborhood. Administrators will seek permission from the U-M Board of Regents Thursday to construct a 700-spot, $34 million parking structure on the east side of Wall Street, about one-half mile from University Hospital. The garage will be built atop a 200 spot parking lot and thus will add 500 parking spots on campus.


Proposed area of the Wall Street parking structure.

"Does the university have the right to build something there? Sure. But is this the best decision?" asked U-M researcher Eugene Daneshvar, a board member for Riverside Park Place condominiums on Wall Street. "This is going to affect the city. This is going to affect the traffic. This is going to affect the residents that live nearby."

"We are hugely against this," he continued, echoing the same concern he voiced four years ago when the university first proposed a parking structure on Wall Street. That structure was set to cost $48.6 million and included a small transit center and office space, which are not included in the most recent iteration.

According to recent U-M communications, the university's already severe —and still growing— parking shortage has aggravated employees and created an undeniable need for additional parking options near the school's Medical Campus.

"We’ve called it a hunting license for years," Katie Oppenheim, president of the U-M Professional Nurse Council, told recently, speaking of hospital employee parking permits. She added: "Nobody is guaranteed a spot" because of the shortage.

Thus, the slow pace of Fuller Road developments concerned the university. Before the university pulled out of the deal in February, it warned of mounting concerns.

In October Jim Kosteva, U-M's director of community relations, warned Ann Arbor Mayor John Hieftje in an email that the Fuller Road project was moving forward too slowly and that U-M is "feeling the pressure of the 18,000 + folks who work in and around the medical center as they are severely squeezed in their search for parking."

"Revisiting our decision to postpone the structure(s) on Wall Street is becoming a more frequent discussion," Kosteva said at the time.

Parking became even tighter when U-M had to scrap roughly 300 employee parking spaces on the Medical Campus because of the December opening of the new $754 million C. S. Mott Children's and Von Voigtlander Women's Hospital. Those spaces were converted to patient parking. Recently unveiled plans to construct a new nursing school will eliminate another 125 spots.

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Fuller_Road_Station_1.jpg

Plans for the scrapped Fuller Road Station parking structure.

"We’ve anticipated this need since 2008, and its obviously well upon us," Kosteva said in an interview.

In a recent memo, U-M Chief Financial Officer Timothy Slottow said that due to the shortage, roughly 2,500 employees are parking in remote lots (such as lots near the North Campus Research Complex and Michigan Stadium), and taking a bus to the Medical Center. Another 1,500 employees are taking buses or sharing rides to the Medical Center from their homes, he estimated.

"This shift of employee parking has impacted our employees," Slottow wrote, adding that U-M anticipates "continued growth of patient activity and corresponding additional faculty and staff," which will further crunch parking.

The Board of Regents first approved the construction of a parking structure on Wall Street in 2008 but scrapped those plans in favor of the Fuller Road station in 2009. The university abandoned its original Wall Street parking structure plans partially due to opposition from Wall Street residents who feared increased traffic congestion in their neighborhood.

Daneshvar said residents near Wall Street continue to hold these concerns.

"I’m not going to say that there isn’t a parking shortage problem, because I admit there is. But the question is is this the best way forward?" he said.

"You're going to be bringing a ton of car traffic in and people are still going to have to walk or get bused," he said, explaining that the proposed garage requires parkers to "hike" uphill to the medical campus. "Why are you going to bring them 90 percent of the way?"

Kosteva said Wall Street "is the best location" for U-M to "accommodate some of the additional growth" experienced by on the Medical Campus in recent years.

"I would expect that some of the concerns that were expressed by the Wall Street area neighbors will remain," he said. "We will work to listen to those and to see to what degree this design and layout and the like will... address some of those items."

This article has been updated to reflect additional information provided by U-M. An earlier version of the article said the garage would contain 500 spots. It will actually add 500 parking spaces on campus, but will include 700 spots. The garage is being built on an existing parking lot with 200 spots.


Kellie Woodhouse covers higher education for Reach her at or 734-623-4602 and follow her on twitter.



Tue, Apr 17, 2012 : 11:16 p.m.

So essentially with this structure the University is maintaining or worsening the parking situation. They lsot 300-something spots to Mott, will lose 200 spots to the structure and 125 for the new nursing school and yet are expanding the hospital yet again into the old Mott. The problem with parking at the U and Medical Campus is that they are NOT proactive and realistic in their decision-making --decisions that are made by those with a guaranteed gold parking permit no less. We live in Michigan, where cold and darkness are a reality most of the year -- this is not conducive to safely waiting for busses. The other reality is that people come from places such as Traverse City or Alpena to work at the hospitals and this makes carpooling unrealistic, compounded by the fact that even Ann Arbor residents need to commute because city buses do not all go to the medical center makes ON campus parking necessary. It is a reality UM needs to face, carpooling is great but not realistic for many employees and the wierd shift times and on-call hours medical personel experience make proximity, available parking necessary. If other, urban health systems can figure it out at no employee cost, surely Uof M can if they make it a priority.

Rita Mitchell

Tue, Apr 17, 2012 : 3:41 p.m.

This is the ideal time for UM to act on its own sustainability program, and implement the kind of support that will reduce single occupancy auto use in the campus region. The slogan presented in September 2011 was to: "combine Blue and Gold and get green." Stop nibbling on the edges of gains, and get to the heart of it of addressing parking demand, and use the available parking that exists today...yes! Look at the report link that Joel Batterman provided. Apply multiple strategies, rather than return to the same old solution of build a parking structure. Its time to actually follow the principles of sustainability, close to (the University) home.


Tue, Apr 17, 2012 : 1:44 p.m.

I would love to know how many people who cavalierly declare that UM should 'build at the edge of town and run more buses' would be down with waiting around late at night to catch a bus out to the edges of town to drive home? I'm betting that the number is between very few and zero. Many hospital employees already do this as UM has aggressively used both their buses and the AATA buses for quite some time now. A structure on this site will still be a short bus ride away for people working at the new Mott. Daytime departure isn't really a problem, but not too many women I know would be thrilled to stroll down the hill to that structure late in the evening.

Joel Batterman

Tue, Apr 17, 2012 : 1:27 p.m.

The UM community needs to ask whether spending $68,000 on every additional parking space - more than four years' undergraduate tuition - makes sense for UM. Clearly, hospital employees need to get to work. But just 10 buses could easily fit those 500 employees. UM would save millions by spending that $34 million to make park-and-ride service more convenient, as recommended by UM's own transportation sustainability assessment (link: It's time for UM to implement long-term solutions to the transportation problem, and cease a wasteful Band-Aid approach that costs us tens of millions of dollars. Many students could use some financial aid.


Tue, Apr 17, 2012 : 1:15 a.m.

What worries me is the fact that every time UM has open land? They build on it not thinking about what it might cost the economy, public or anyone else. All I see UM caring is about themselves. There is almost no more public free land UM can build on except to buy out right from a private sector. UM needs to rethink and start thinking green. Which to me they are not.


Tue, Apr 17, 2012 : 1:53 p.m.

Aren't the nurses still fighting for increase in wages and contract negotiations? I still say buses and other modes of transportation are more viable then building on open land. Otherwise, your point to me is moot.


Tue, Apr 17, 2012 : 1:34 a.m.

I think you should take a few shifts at the hospital and then try and find a parking space. They don't exist. These people are doing great work taking care of yours and your family's health.


Tue, Apr 17, 2012 : 12:51 a.m.

and just what did you people think was going to happen when they backed off the Fuller Street station. It was complain, complain, complain when they first proposed this structure, then they offer to pay up to 3/4 of a structure at Fuller that could also server a multi-modal transport station that would benefit the entire city. Again complain, complain, complain. The best option was Fuller Street, that's no longer an option so back to option one. Good for them, build the structure. Maybe someday the NIMBY attitude in this town will die down, but I doubt that.


Tue, Apr 17, 2012 : 12:22 a.m.

Here is the link for U of M's Master Plan for the medical campus from 2005: In 2009, they put the brakes on it for this area: My guess is that after 7 years, U of M is tired of waiting for the city.


Tue, Apr 17, 2012 : 12:27 a.m.

Sorry, but cuts off the links for some reason. Just Google "wall street university of michigan planning" and you'll be able to find 'em.


Mon, Apr 16, 2012 : 10:43 p.m.

The U and city should be looking for ways to encourage these hospital commuters to move closer to their jobs. It is unfortunate that higher density, workforce housing is not being built nor encouraged versus focusing only on moving people and cars in and out of town.


Tue, Apr 17, 2012 : 7:09 p.m.

I work at the hospital and I have no desire to move back to Ann Arbor with the higher taxes.


Tue, Apr 17, 2012 : 4:06 a.m.

Well, the city offers just about every other housing option, yet tens of thousands of commuters still choose the daily commute versus moving into the city, why is that?


Tue, Apr 17, 2012 : 1:32 a.m.

Not everyone likes living in "High Density" housing...

Stephen Landes

Mon, Apr 16, 2012 : 10:39 p.m.

Build a parking structure on the Pfizer property over the existing mammoth parking lot behind the buildings. This site is adjacent to north campus and is already served by U of M buses. I can't imagine anyone would object to a structure on the "back 40".


Mon, Apr 16, 2012 : 11:54 p.m.

And by the way, that was not sarcastic. A monstrous concrete structure on the small strip of land being discussed would be awful.


Mon, Apr 16, 2012 : 11:53 p.m.

Dude, Stephen. PLEASE get yourself onto the city planning commission ASAP. Your ideas are all an entire order of magnitude better than anything coming out of the DDA, Mayor's office, or University.


Mon, Apr 16, 2012 : 10:15 p.m.

Mr. Kosteva is being a bit disingenuous here. Yes, more parking is needed, but it is a need that will never be satisfied. The true purpose of the parking structure on Wall Street is to facilitate expansion and new building construction on existing University properties on Wall Street. The University already has a master plan for the Wall Street corridor and this is irrespective of Fuller Road - the two are not related no matter what they are saying.

Kai Petainen

Mon, Apr 16, 2012 : 10:14 p.m.

Build it on Wall Street. Do it. It's a better location than the Fuller lot.


Mon, Apr 16, 2012 : 10:10 p.m.

In the short to medium term, this is probably the only practical option. It's not convenient for anyone, neither the employees, as it's not that close to the medical center, nor for neighbors or, in fact, UM itself, which could probably envision better uses for that space than another parking structure. But busing in people won't work; the current options are hardly used. People simply won't park way outside and take a relatively slow bus; they rather hunt for a parking spot, come late to work complain to their supervisor about the parking situation, and so on. In the long run, UM needs an integrated transport concept that includes faster and more convenient options than buses. A monorail or some other rapid transit system, as preciously discussed, perhaps, with terminal stations that are at freeway exits, with large parking garages. I could envision the main line going from the Plymouth Road / 23 to NCRC, North Campus, Medical Center, Med School, Central Campus, Law School, Athletic Campus, Stadium, to Wolverine Tower / 94, and some day perhaps a second line from Westgate / 14 to Main St. or City Hall, Cenral Campus, Washtenaw Ave / 23, and eventually on to Ypsi. This would ideally be tied in with whatever rail solution, Fuller station or otherwise, emerges. Such a system would have the capacity to be a game-changer: the UM campus has grown to the point where effective interactions across units are impeded by physical distance, parking problems are a serious morale killer, UM traffic has become a problem for the city on so many fronts, North Campus student housing is unattractive becasue of remote location, and so on. Instead of putting one patch after another on, like this new parking structure, I think it's time for a long-term forward-looking solution.

Tim Mortimer

Mon, Apr 16, 2012 : 9:16 p.m.

Parking structures on Wall Street for the UM hospitals along East Medical Center Dr would be the worst of both worlds: It would facilitate a continuing increase in single-occupancy vehicular traffic into central Ann Arbor, but it would also require staff, patients and visitors to take a bus. It would also greatly increase vehicle traffic, and thereby the ambient air concentrations of carcinogenic vehicular exaust nanoparticulates, in Lower Town's _residential_ areas. [References: _ _] It is very sadly ironic that UM officials such as Mr. Slottow don't recognize (or acknowledge) that remote parking serviced by buses is precisely what is needed. If only for reasons of public health, Ann Arbor has a very serious need to reduce rather than increase single-occupancy vehicular traffic into its central areas. The urban planning state-of-the-art in parking structure design is to build all or a portion of parking structures underground (e.g., virtually all of Chicago's Millennium Park covers a multi-level underground parking structure), yet the relatively high underground water table east of Broadway Street along the north side of the Huron River precludes buidling any portion of a parking structure underground. The Wall Street/Maiden Lane corridor is a residential area. There are several existing locations on UM property farther away from central Ann Arbor, and not embedded in residential areas, that would be far better locations for building parking structures to be serviced by buses. These locations include: the existing parking lot northwest of the intersection of Huron Parkway and Glazier Way; any number of locations on the former Pfizer property; the existing parking lot north of Fuller Road across from Mitchell Field. Sincerely, Tim Mortimer. President, RPP Condo Assoc


Mon, Apr 16, 2012 : 9:09 p.m.

The U doesn't need the city's permission. The city didn't give the U a timely alternative. Too bad for the neighborhood.


Mon, Apr 16, 2012 : 9:03 p.m.

Why not move some of the U of M groups to the North Campus area where they can have parking and eliminate some of the street traffic by the medical complex. I know everyone thinks they are "Important" but some of those offices with staffs could be moved without much impact.


Mon, Apr 16, 2012 : 9 p.m.

@leaguebus There are 100's of people who live very close to this proposed garage. The Riverside Place Condominiums is a highrise of 60 units right across Wall St from the site. Then there are lots of apartments on both Nielsen Ct and Maiden Lane Ct off Maiden lane on the other side. With 700 cars arriving in the morning and leaving in the evening, what will it be like for these city residents to try to leave or return to their homes? I suggest the University dig a huge hole build a marvelous underground garage in a non-residential area. Many hospital employees would be bussed from the Wall St garage so it would not be that inconvenient to be bussed from a site a couple of miles further from their work place. Happening already with parking at Michigan Stadium and the former Pfizer site.


Mon, Apr 16, 2012 : 9:48 p.m.

The hospital is a 24/7 facility. Parking will be more active at each shift change.


Mon, Apr 16, 2012 : 8:54 p.m.

Have they considered building it on the Mich Con site west of Broadway and north of the train station? It would be well hidden back there and could be incorporated into a future transit center.

John Spelling

Mon, Apr 16, 2012 : 8:32 p.m.

How is it spelled? Oh yeah, NIMBY. But I like one of the responders suggestions. Build a satellite lot or two and run continuous shuttle buses. For a great example of that model, look at the VA Hospital shuttle to the Glacier Way lot.


Tue, Apr 17, 2012 : 1:29 a.m.

And people complain about the shuttle buses driving down their streets to the VA hospital.


Tue, Apr 17, 2012 : 1:09 a.m.

UM has a number of satellite parking lots and continuous shuttle buses. Green Road, near the Stadium, Glacier Way, Mitchell Field, Fuller, State Street.

Andy Piper

Mon, Apr 16, 2012 : 8:11 p.m.

I would suggest building high density housing on this site and moving the parking out to the edge of town.

Kellie Woodhouse

Mon, Apr 16, 2012 : 8:08 p.m.

Readers. Please note the updated information provided by U-M. An earlier version of the article said the garage would contain 500 spots. It will actually add 500 parking spaces on campus, but will include 700 spots. The garage is being built on an existing parking lot with 200 spots. Here's a link to the regents' item. It's included in the story as well.


Mon, Apr 16, 2012 : 8:59 p.m.

Kellie, why can't we just click on links anymore?

Kellie Woodhouse

Mon, Apr 16, 2012 : 8:11 p.m.">2012-04-IX-6-2.pdf

Nancy Shiffler

Mon, Apr 16, 2012 : 7:56 p.m.

500 parking spaces for $34 million comes to $68,000 per parking space.

Mr. Me

Tue, Apr 17, 2012 : 1:07 p.m.

That is what parking costs spaces cost. Read _The High Cost of Free Parking_.


Mon, Apr 16, 2012 : 8:06 p.m.

Quite the bargain compared with $83,333 per space for Ann Arbor's new underground parking garage.


Mon, Apr 16, 2012 : 7:54 p.m.

It would seem like they could build a satellite lot or two on the outskirts of town, wherever their employee database says there's a decent concentration of workers, and run buses from there. Just enough to take the pressure off their existing lots. With the way gas prices are going that may become mandatory. That said, workers are already parking on residential streets and walking from far further away than the proposed parking structure. It would be nice if the city could restrain its control freak tendencies and let the U build a structure closer to the hospital but here we are.


Mon, Apr 16, 2012 : 8:34 p.m.

they actually already do this.


Mon, Apr 16, 2012 : 7:42 p.m.

I empathize with residents of that area, but if you've been there it's not much of a neighborhood given the large eye institute, parking lots, and abandoned lots.


Tue, Apr 17, 2012 : 12:29 p.m.

I think you need to revisit the definition of "empathy" there ...


Mon, Apr 16, 2012 : 7:42 p.m.

What neighbors does UM not care for? Look at whats on the streets in that area, its mostly ground level parking lots, a couple of houses, a bunch of apartments, and then the Eye Center etc. Its the prefect place for a large UM parking structure.


Mon, Apr 16, 2012 : 11:48 p.m.

Ha! You must not have been around the lower town area for very long. I am pretty young myself, but still remember how the University demolished a BUNCH of stuff to take over that area.

Roy Munson

Mon, Apr 16, 2012 : 7:38 p.m.

The solution to the parking problem is just to narrow all the roads to make more bike lanes. Heck, make them all bike lanes. Bikes don't emit all that "evil" carbon dioxide, you know. Then they don't need to worry about parking, only bike racks.

Mr. Me

Tue, Apr 17, 2012 : 1:05 p.m.

Why don't we just make the right lane on both sides of Fuller Rd into on-street parking? That would solve the problem.


Mon, Apr 16, 2012 : 7:46 p.m.



Mon, Apr 16, 2012 : 7:26 p.m.

The Fuller Road Structure was the right solution. Is that completely off the table due to the timeline?


Mon, Apr 16, 2012 : 7:55 p.m.

Yeah, what's so wrong with giving away free parkland to the U and coughing up $10 million plus in taxpayer dollars???


Mon, Apr 16, 2012 : 7:21 p.m.

Face it. The U doesn't care about the neighbors. If the value of their property drops, the U can buy them out.