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Posted on Tue, Apr 17, 2012 : 5:58 a.m.

Briere to U-M on new parking plan: 'Please remember that good neighbors work together'

By Ryan J. Stanton

Sabra Briere didn't mince words Monday night as she sounded off on the University of Michigan's renewed plans to build a parking garage near Wall Street.

The 1st Ward Ann Arbor City Council member spoke toward the beginning of the council's regular meeting, voicing disapproval that U-M is once again proposing to build a a multimillion-dollar parking garage in a neighborhood that doesn't welcome the project.

"To those who think that no one lives here and that it's all a wasteland, please remember it's the university that created that wasteland and the university that wants to make it increasingly inhospitable to the residents who live on Wall Street, Maiden Lane, Nielsen Court, Freesia Court, Island Drive and Island Drive Court," Briere said.

Sabra_Briere_April_2012.jpg

Ann Arbor City Council Member Sabra Briere, D-1st Ward.

Ryan J. Stanton | AnnArbor.com

Briere said she and others have tried to convince U-M officials for years that a parking structure might be necessary but should be considered at a satellite location instead.

"Some folks look at the barren, parking lot-infested space that is the block between Maiden Lane and Wall Street and say, 'Well, who would want to live there anyway? Go ahead, shove in a parking structure,' " Briere said. "I'd rather have seen a much more serious effort on behalf of the university to improve mass transit. I'd like to have encouraged the university to develop a more aggressive carpooling and alternative transportation set of options for their staff."

Briere also suggested that U-M should try reducing the number of people who feel they need to get into their car without walking or waiting — and give better consideration for the social and environmental impacts that a parking structure will have on the neighborhood.

"And to the regents of the University of Michigan, I ask that they please remember that good neighbors work together," she said, "and that they could just as easily build parking structures at North Campus and the Athletic Campus, creating options for those who choose them, and reduce the number of employees who choose to park and not ride."

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 argues it 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-space, $34 million parking structure on the east side of Wall Street, about one-half mile from University Hospital. The garage would be built atop a 200-space parking lot and thus would add 500 parking spots on campus.

Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for AnnArbor.com. Reach him at ryanstanton@annarbor.com or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to AnnArbor.com's email newsletters.

Comments

davy

Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 1:25 p.m.

I thought good neighbors were the ones that called to complain that the hysterical commission doesn't like your fence.

My2bits

Tue, Apr 17, 2012 : 9:09 p.m.

In response to Steve Hendel: Subsidies?. Pension fund money was INVESTED in this project, a risk/reward decision by pension fund managers. It proved to be a bad investment, but was a free market decision and definitely not a subsidy. Brownfield credits are incentives to get contaminated sites cleaned up. They have proven effective, though like anything they are sometimes used well and sometimes not. Overall, whatever you want to call them, there is a value provided to the public. Tax Increment Financing was also sought, but the project never got off the ground. That is a credit that a project gets by not having to pay the increased property taxes on the project for a limited period of time, after which the new higher property taxes are paid. This is not uncommon in large projects that greatly increase the tax rolls. The city put some tough but fair standards on the pre-leasing for this project. Those were never met, as far as I know. The development failed, and I am pretty sure it didn't cost the taxpayers of Ann Arbor anything. Feel free to correct me if I am wrong on that.

Tom Whitaker

Thu, Apr 19, 2012 : 2:47 a.m.

You are wrong on that. This site once had multiple buildings with multiple businesses that all contributed real estate and personal property taxes to City coffers (er...buckets). As a vacant lot, the taxes collected are substantially less. Same goes for multiple other sites in town.

HBA

Tue, Apr 17, 2012 : 7:24 p.m.

We have been "watching" this for several years now. In response to Ms. Briere's admonition to the U-M that "good neighbors work together," we would suggest to Ms. Briere that she remember that it takes two to tango. From what we've been following, it would appear that the U-m has been working hard to cooperate with the City, but that the foot-dragging on the part of the City has forced the U-M's hand. Perhaps it would make sense to locate the structure within the Lower Town Broadway Village. That might also bring more traffic to the suffering adjacent small businesses . Just a thought.

Dave Gear

Tue, Apr 17, 2012 : 7:22 p.m.

Logan is right about Lowertown, I don't remember the city having anything to do with it other than approving the pollution clean up. Since there was no development, no $$ would have been paid or forgiven in taxes.

leaguebus

Tue, Apr 17, 2012 : 7:07 p.m.

It sounded like the University cooperated by holding off building the Wall Street parking while the bus station was debated. Now the bus station issue has folded and UM is left still needing 500 parking spaces. To all who think UM is not agressive enough in providing alternatives. With my MCard, I can get on any AATA bus for free. At some point in the near future, there will be bikes around campus that people can rent to travel around campus. The U provides free busses, either AATA or UM transit, from all the park and rides. Once on central campus, it is free for me to go to Wolverine Tower and most other UM facilities off the central campus. The U is being a good neighbor, but just cannot wait 5 or 10 years when it needs to build a parking structure somewhere. I bike to work from the far west side every day rain or shine and take the Miller park and ride bus when the streets are too bad to ride. In the almost 40 years that I have worked at the U, I only bought a parking sticker for one year as I had to take my young son to Pound House for preschool at noon.

Gale Logan

Tue, Apr 17, 2012 : 7:03 p.m.

Mr. Hendel: You might be right about govt. subsidy of the lowertown site but it wasn't the city doing it. Must have been the state. If the city had invested seems like they would now be stuck owning the site but I have never heard anything like that. My memory is the city said no to anything beyond the pollution clean up. The whole thing collapsed when the economy went south under Bush. Brownfield money would have never been used because they did not do the cleanup. If I remember it right there is serious pollution in the ground there so the city was willing to let them pay a little less in taxes for the brownfield in order to have it cleaned but non development, no reduced taxes.

sultanofswing

Tue, Apr 17, 2012 : 6:42 p.m.

Good neighbors do work together but when dealing with the city who is the neighbor ? The mayor ? City Council ? Majority of City Council ? Neighborhood group ? Parks people ? Interested community members ?

Ron Granger

Tue, Apr 17, 2012 : 6:24 p.m.

The U of M does not care about anything community related. There is no dialog with them.

leaguebus

Tue, Apr 17, 2012 : 7:10 p.m.

Sure, they don't care, they held off building the Wall Street structure for 2 or 3 years while the Fuller bus station was being debated within the city.

Wolf's Bane

Tue, Apr 17, 2012 : 5:22 p.m.

I used to live on Wall street before the U of M purchased the and leveled most of the homes. This was a really nice neighborhood.

mixmaster

Tue, Apr 17, 2012 : 4:32 p.m.

When gas hits $5 plus and parking costs $10-$20 a day there will be plenty more people carpooling, taking public trans, walking and riding bikes. And most of those people are young and see the future far better than you and me. More and more people will ride bikes, ride busses and walk in the future. Our cities will be planned to facilitate and accommodate this. Saying "we" do not ride bicycles to work is plain silly. Maybe you don't but the facts tell us that bicycle use is on the rise particularly in urban areas. The government isn't making anyone do anything. It's the economics of one car one driver car that will drive alternate transportation and alternative solutions. What government is trying to do is facilitate people who want and need the change. Seething anger? Maybe you, but that's incredible purposeless hyperbole. I think you're totally wrong claiming that Americans hate their neighbors. Maybe you do, but most folks I know don't and would not use a word like hate when describing their neighbors. The day is not that far away and if we act now, we'll be prepared for the future. If we follow the status quo, we get left behind and other communities will be in the front seat. All Sabra's asking for is cooperation between government entities in their planning. Plan for the future or get left behind. And the future is not one car one driver or cars that get less than 50 mpg.

Steve Hendel

Tue, Apr 17, 2012 : 4:21 p.m.

Lower Town may have been a developer project, but it was heavily subsidized, directly and indirectly, with public money in the form of brownfield credits, pension fund mortgages, etc.

My2bits

Tue, Apr 17, 2012 : 7:34 p.m.

Subsidies?. Pension fund money was INVESTED in this project, a risk/reward decision by pension fund managers. It proved to be a bad investment, but was a free market decision and definitely not a subsidy. Brownfield credits are incentives to get contaminated sites cleaned up. They have proven effective, though like anything they are sometimes used well and sometimes not. Overall, whatever you want to call them, there is a value provided to the public. Tax Increment Financing was also sought, but the project never got off the ground. That is a credit that a project gets by not having to pay the increased property taxes on the project for a limited period of time, after which the new higher property taxes are paid. This is not uncommon in large projects that greatly increase the tax roles. The city put some tough but fair standards on the pre-leasing for this project. Those were never met, as far as I know. The development failed, and I am pretty sure it didn't cost the taxpayers of Ann Arbor anything. Feel free to correct me if I am wrong on that.

wolfman jack

Tue, Apr 17, 2012 : 2:25 p.m.

"Briere also suggested that U-M should try reducing the number of people who feel they need to get into their car without walking or waiting" Despite the best efforts of the current city administration Ann Arbor is not Copenhagen. We do not ride bicycles to work. Employing Americans means providing parking for their personal transportation which means an automobile. Most Americans despise their neighbors. We glide about in isolated personal conveyances to prevent the very seething anger which Ms. Briere's own voice prompts. Co-workers. Confinement, coordination and cooperation with three other people in your office whose commute begins at a facsimile of your own geographic origin each morning. That's a recipe for successful social engineering. I better have another does of the old Ludovico technique first.

SMC

Tue, Apr 17, 2012 : 10:20 p.m.

Most of the hospital's employees are coming from further than 2.5 miles away. Observe the morning and afternoon rush hour traffic on US23 to get a better understanding of life outside of biketopia.

mixmaster

Tue, Apr 17, 2012 : 4:47 p.m.

I rode a bike to work in the center of the city for 20 years. 2 1/2 miles each way. When my primary routes were too icy, I rode to work with my wife who worked in Novi. Your claim doesn't include me or a bunch of other people I used to work with and a couple others who still do. Over the course of 26 years in one house and had many neighbors, not a one did I ever hate. Talk of simple cooperation and coordination between coworkers is an oversimplification of a bigger problem that lacks the necessary long term planning and infrastructure to make it happen.

SMC

Tue, Apr 17, 2012 : 2:29 p.m.

I wonder, if you can't find co-workers to carpool with, will the university assist you in relocating your family to an area where you can?

TiggerRocks66

Tue, Apr 17, 2012 : 2:06 p.m.

If UM would stop selling blue parking passes to everyone that is not a employee then parking may not be such a pain. They closed one of the bigger structures to folks who start later shifts and vendors and for gold parking that is only sold to drs and by a lottery once a year for us who support these folks, etc!! Half of that structure is EMPTY every day and that is wasted parking! They sell blue permits to anyone that is a little affiliated with the U just to make money! They took half of Mott structure away from us and one of the bigger structures but didn't lower prices again showing its just about the money!!!

Diana

Wed, Apr 18, 2012 : 12:19 a.m.

I miss parking in P3 at Taubman for my appointments. That garage is now staff only. P2 is so full during clinic hours.

SMC

Tue, Apr 17, 2012 : 1:47 p.m.

" I'd like to have encouraged the university to develop a more aggressive carpooling and alternative transportation set of options for their staff." Ah yes, the old "make it inconvenient for them to drive, and they'll buy a bicycle like we want them to" argument. Seems to be the council's favorite rhetoric.

Ellis Sams

Tue, Apr 17, 2012 : 1:30 p.m.

Possible solutions: Add a bike rack to the parking structure and call it an inter modal transportation facility, or Build an underground parking structure and have the city build a convention center above it. This will provide competition for the convention center on 5th. Competition is good for the consumer.

Joel Batterman

Tue, Apr 17, 2012 : 1:25 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: http://www.graham.umich.edu/pdf/phase2-transportation.pdf). 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.

Jazz_Fan

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

The Hospital and Tuition costs are completely separate issues.

xmo

Tue, Apr 17, 2012 : 12:54 p.m.

What Planet does Council Person Briere live on? "I ask that they please remember that good neighbors work together," she said," The U of M hospital SAVES LIVES and Councilperson Briere wants to stop it. Why is Sandra Briere so opposed to life?

Sabra Briere

Tue, Apr 17, 2012 : 2:31 p.m.

Actually, her name is SABRA.

Elaine F. Owsley

Tue, Apr 17, 2012 : 1:20 p.m.

Her name is Sabre.

Brad

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

You are welcome to surrender your house to build a parking lot for hosiptal employees. Unless of course ... you are opposed to life.

mixmaster

Tue, Apr 17, 2012 : 1:08 p.m.

Ridiculous.

My2bits

Tue, Apr 17, 2012 : 12:10 p.m.

A2grateful: The failed project called Broadway Village at Lower Town was a private developer's, not the city's. And the "parkland" is a parking lot, separated from the real park by a multi-lane busy road. I am a resident of this area, a regular user of its parks, and I think a parking structure on Wall street would be a huge detriment to a very large number of residents. I don't see the U of M as a bad actor here. Yet. The U was on board for the Fuller Road structure, which was a far superior location for ALL: the U, the local residents, the hospital workers and patients/visitors, and even citizens of the city who don't live in this area. I do encourage the U to consider other alternatives.

Gale Logan

Tue, Apr 17, 2012 : 12:10 p.m.

Hard to believe anyone would say the new parking structure downtown isn't needed. Parking is hard to find at times every day and many nights. And Grateful, the state was behind the "failed Lower Town project, not the city.

Gale Logan

Tue, Apr 17, 2012 : 2:09 p.m.

Modern city's don't build above ground structures anymore. Underground is way to go. It costs more but the surface can be put to work earning tax dollars while the parking is paid for by the parking fees.

Elaine F. Owsley

Tue, Apr 17, 2012 : 1:19 p.m.

I didn't say it wasn't needed. I find fault with the concept that a four story hole in the ground is an appealing parking structure.

Eugene Daneshvar

Tue, Apr 17, 2012 : 11:55 a.m.

I agree with Ms. Briere's statement. Full disclosure - I also live in the community of the area in question. However, my objection to the parking lot is not 100% selfish because of the effect it would have on my quality of life and property value (would this increase the value of my property?). I am aware that these effects on us are inevitable complaints that occur during most development projects and I agree that they are secondary to the "greater good." Our objection to a parking structure being put here is because we see that the "greater good" is being neglected and not even up for consideration. If the University would start a dialog where they explain why better viable options are not available, I'm sure our community would be satisfied (assuming they are rational reasons). To support the idea that we aren't just trying to get in front of progress, we have mentioned before that we didn't have objection to the University building additional office space at this location. That would be better use of the site that made sense. The University is never going to have enough parking in the always expanding Medical center. So why should they attempt to use a bandaid to close a gushing wound that is supposed to be treated by stiches?

Eugene Daneshvar

Tue, Apr 17, 2012 : 11:27 p.m.

Dear SMC & HBA, If you were to read my statement again, you would understand that I am not passing on the problem of parking. I only asked that we consider the options before executing on one. And if you want to follow up my statement with "does the University have to do this for every decision?" I'd say no, however, I am a resident of AA and the area in question. So this effects me directly as well.

HBA

Tue, Apr 17, 2012 : 7:28 p.m.

So you don't have objection to the University building additional office space at this location. Where would you propose that all those who would be emploed in these offices park their vehicles?

SMC

Tue, Apr 17, 2012 : 4:10 p.m.

So, if there's never going to be enough parking, they shouldn't bother trying to build more parking, and instead tell every new hire that they'll just have to ride a bike or find someone to carpool with? That makes a mountain of sense...

Elaine F. Owsley

Tue, Apr 17, 2012 : 11:23 a.m.

Having just seen the photos of the city's Tajma-parking lot on Fifth Street, I would suggest that those folks are ill equipped to give advice on anything related to parking.

mixmaster

Tue, Apr 17, 2012 : 1:26 p.m.

Do you reside in Ann Arbor Elaine? Most people from around here know the difference between the streets and the avenues. The new underground parking structure is on Fifth Avenue not 5th Street.

a2grateful

Tue, Apr 17, 2012 : 10:29 a.m.

Ms Briere: 1) Isn't the "barren, parking lot-infested space" actually the city's failed Lower Town project? 2) What is the city's aggressive carpooling and alternative transportation set of options for their own staff? 3) What modes of transportation do city administrators and council members utilize for their meetings? 4) Who has been / is building the city's newest (unneeded) parking structure? 5) Why do those sitting in Ivory Towers rarely follow their own dictates? . UM: Thank you for NOT building your parking structure on our parkland!

foobar417

Tue, Apr 17, 2012 : 2:50 p.m.

What does the city have to do with Lower Town? It's a failed developer project, afaik.