You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 5:59 a.m.

Wall Street residents cling to neighborhood amid University of Michigan development

By Kellie Woodhouse

Near the river, along one of the lowest parts of the city, is a heightened example of recent University of Michigan expansion in Ann Arbor.

U-M has acquired 15 properties along Wall Street since 1988, and five along the nearby Maiden Lane and Broadway streets, according to a review of school records. Houses purchased have been razed and parking lots have been surfaced. The school also built an addition to the Kellogg Eye Center.

Now the school is months away from breaking ground on a 725-space, six-story parking structure along Wall Street.


Kittie Morelock, a resident at Riverside Park Place on Wall Street, stands in the parking lot across the street from her condo where the university plans to build a parking garage.

Courtney Sacco |

For residents of Riverside Park Place condominiums on Wall Street, the parking garage solidified a transformation they'd rather ignore: their neighborhood seemed to be disappearing while university development sprang up around them.

"There are still people living here. It's not campus, it's where campus abuts a residential neighborhood," said Riverside resident Kittie Morelock.

With a pause, she added: "It was a residential neighborhood. I know, this is life, things change."

In April 2012, U-M revisited plans to build a parking garage on Wall Street. The school originally proposed a structure on Wall Street in 2008, but abandoned those plans after the protests of nearby residents and decided to work with the city on building the Fuller Road station. The station would have included a large parking structure, bicycle facilities, bus depot and possible train station.

When the university and city scrapped plans for the Fuller Road station in early 2012, U-M resurrected plans for a structure on Wall Street in order to alleviate a pressing parking shortage on campus.

In December, the U-M Board of Regents authorized staff to issue bids for the $34 million project. For residents who urged U-M not to build the structure, its imminent construction feels intrusive.

"The university's intentions to bring research and clinical activities and expansion into the Wall Street area have been identified since 1988. We have slowly over time acquired property when it became available to assist in that end," said U-M's community relations director Jim Kosteva.

"We have also in our master planning demonstrated an indication that parking.... was also to be located here," he continued. "We continue to pursue alternative transportation options as well, but our employment growth has been such that needs for more immediate parking close to the medical center is preeminent at this time."

Though construction on the parking structure is anticipated soon, Ann Arbor City Council member Sabra Briere, D-1st Ward, said residents remain concerned about traffic and pollution brought in by cars parking in the garage. U-M has held two public meetings with Wall Street residents concerning the garage. The last meeting was in July.

The structure will have two full-access driveways, including one entry lane, a left-turn exit lane and a right-turn exit lane driveway on Wall Street and on Maiden Lane. A traffic analysis found the garage would likely increase area traffic by 1,500 trips per day, amounting to an overall traffic increase of less than five percent. Traffic in the area, according the report, is already less than ideal and the garage would likely add a three-second lag to current conditions at nearby intersections during peak hours.

The university is also considering extending Nielsen Lane, which now ends at the nearby Maiden Lane, to Wall Street in order to ease traffic.

"Neighbors are concerned that [the structure] is going to increase the number of cars idling, that the cars will literally be lined up on Wall Street trying to get into the parking structure and out of the parking structure," said Briere. "All of it is going to make living in this area more difficult."

U-M Department of Transportation director Steve Dolen said the school may use signage to control traffic flow into the garage to minimize roadway congestion.

"Based on the time of the day (the Maiden Lane entrance) might be only entrance in, but later in the day it could be in and out," he explained last year.

Morelock said several of her neighbors have grown tired of protesting the parking structure, which is now seen as inevitable. "There's nothing we can do about it," Morelock said.

Riverside resident Eliana Moya Raggio explained: "We the residents of Wall Street have never liked the idea of having a parking structure in front of us. ... This is a neighborhood that has been practically destroyed by the idea of having parking structures here."

Morelock said she is not opposed to active university development like the Kellogg Eye Center. It's the influx of cars, traffic and pollution that bothers her, she said. Concerned residents also worry the parking structure could lower their property values.

"They have tried to transform this neighborhood into campus and it's not campus, it's a neighborhood," Raggio said, later highlighting a sign at the edge of the parking lot near her condo building. The sign warns visitors not to smoke on campus.

"Or, it used to be a neighborhood," she said.

For its part, U-M is trying to brand the garage as a neighborhood gateway.

"Our parking structure is a gateway to this neighborhood," U-M architect Doug Koepsell told Ann Arbor residents who live near Wall Street during a July meeting. "We want it to look like a building, not like other parking structures. .... We are trying to be a good neighbor."

Kosteva said the university has tried to work with residents to make the design palatable.

"Our meetings with the neighborhood have resulted in a proposal for a structure that reflects many of the desires that they had addressed," Kosteva said, noting that the structure site will have "extensive landscaping" and a brick facade. "We've tried to incorporate many of the recommendations they made."

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


Frustrated in A2

Fri, Feb 15, 2013 : 4:38 p.m.

I wonder if the university considered building on that wide open lot where the Kroger shopping center was years ago.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Fri, Feb 15, 2013 : 10:58 a.m.

I just wanted to say that I am thrilled that the University is looking seriously at this Common Sense idea: "The university is also considering extending Nielsen Lane, which now ends at the nearby Maiden Lane, to Wall Street in order to ease traffic." This block between Wall Street and Maiden Lane is one of the longest in a city in the entire state and contributes to the traffic problem since motorists have no options to divert once they commit to one street or the other. There is an alley there already and it just needs to be built into an actual street.


Fri, Feb 15, 2013 : 12:21 a.m.

It's VERY strange that, given what this article is about and the pictures included, you did NOT get a picture of the new Kellog center practically butting up against a little row of condos down there. When my wife and I saw that Kellog Eye Center building getting framed out, we felt so sorry for everyone in those condos. It is an excellent example of U of M's insatiable (and not necessarily needed) growth and how it can ruin things around it. I'm really surprised a picture of that is not on here.


Fri, Feb 15, 2013 : 12:19 a.m.

Not much left there. I think this could bring in new shops and places to hang/eat.


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 7 p.m.

And Ann Arbor is still concerned about tax base vs what the UM is doing? I remember these homes and wondered when the UM was going to grab them and tear them down. Within ten years UM will own 75% of Ann Arbor and we can finally be called college town and the rest of Ann Arbor will be blighted because there won't be much of a tax base to even build a fire with.

Eugene Daneshvar

Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 6:52 p.m.

For the comments re: building and progress: Does a community have a right to dictate what gets built within the community? How about the residents who are against the building of a new Islamic school (Re: Yipsi)? Some comments naively balk at Wall St being called a neighborhood. It was one before it was turned into a parking lot... We're not against building on Wall St. But there are consequences to what type of structure is built and how it is used. Parking is a growing problem and a parking structure is not going to solve it.


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 6:31 p.m.

Hey, it's the UofM, God forbid that anyone should EVER tell them they're wrong(sarcasm)!!


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 5:34 p.m.

It's understandable that people don't like changes to their neighborhood. It won't be the first time and it won't be the last either. You can look at any large development and you'll find opposition: shopping mall, big box store, apartment complex, residential subdivision. Sometimes, the locals are heard, other times they are not. The real complaints seem to be that UM is not subject to City Hall and can make decisions unilaterally. Well, first of all, the UM has been here since 1837. So, it's a safe bet that everyone commenting about the U's authoritarianism came to the city well after that, did so freely and was attracted in some way or other to some benefit in the city related to the UM whether it was the culture, educational opportunities, the collegiate environment, jobs here because of the UM or so on. Second, the UM is not as imperial as everyone makes it out to be. You can impact it by attending Board of Regents meetings and taking active part in the election and re-election of Regents. How many of you just skip that part of the ballot when there are people running for regents or trustees at the State colleges? No, it's not the same as a local council election but, at times, I would say you have a better chance of electing someone new as regent than you would to the city council with the way voting is entrenched here in AA along party lines. At least, unlike some universities, the UM doesn't exercise eminent domain and grab land. See: Instead, it negotiates and purchases what it needs fairly and tries to be conscientious of the local needs as it meets it's expansion requirements.

Kellie Woodhouse

Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 7:46 p.m.

That article on Columbia University's expansion is very interesting, thanks for sharing. Funny that it involves Lee Bollinger, former U-M president and now leader of Columbia.


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 5:24 p.m.

Somehow I think using the term "neighborhood" is a bit of a stretch for Wall St.....


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 8:25 p.m.

Well, it used to be a distinct active neighborhood, which is what so many people are upset about - it's been progressively demo'd by UM


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 3:39 p.m.

Why does everyone in Ann Arbor seem to hate building things? Am I the only person that thinks random 60 year old houses are not that interesting or worth preserving?


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 6:31 p.m.

60 year old houses were built around 1950. The homes on Wall Street, Main St., Fifth Ave., etc. Are a lot older than that.

Scott Reed

Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 4:08 p.m.

I agree with you; we need to demolish a lot of these so-called 'historic' dilapidated old houses and build things worth caring about. I think a lot of the opposition comes from the people who currently own those properties and earn money as rent-extracting landlords, and use 'historic preservation' as an excuse to keep competitors out of town. They know that if Ann Arbor residents, and especially students, had many high-quality options, they would never choose to pay extortion rates to live in these 'historic' slums.


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 3:43 p.m.



Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 2:54 p.m.

" U-M architect Doug Koepsell told Ann Arbor residents who live near Wall Street during a July meeting. "We want it to look like a building, not like other parking structures. .... We are trying to be a good neighbor." Kosteva said the university has tried to work with residents to make the design palatable. "Our meetings with the neighborhood have resulted in a proposal for a structure that reflects many of the desires that they had addressed," Kosteva said, noting that the structure site will have "extensive landscaping" and a brick facade. "We've tried to incorporate many of the recommendations they made."" You can put perfume on a pig, but in the end it's still a pig. It can be the coolest looking parking structure ever created, but it's still a parking structure with all the associated traffic, noise and pollution a parking structure brings with it. Wonder how the UM bullies trying to convince these folks would feel about a parking structure being built next door to them?

Geoff Larcom

Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 2:48 p.m.

This story is part of a series of recent, interesting looks at the ever evolving interface of U-M and the city. Nicely done.


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 5:27 p.m.

I like the positive take and the sentiment in general Geoff, but "evolving" may be a bit generous.

Eugene Daneshvar

Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 2:43 p.m.

Simple question: Where do the people planned to park here work and how are they expected to behave? If I worked at the U Hospital, I would want to park in the structures closest to the hospital. If the structures became full, only then would I head to wall st. What does this do to the traffic in the area and the timing to park for the employees? A simple look at who parks on the surface lots now would be a great insight to the question. Anyone care to interview one of them too?


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 8:01 p.m.

Frank has a good point with off site parking and bus service. Not sure if it is still in place but a couple years ago you could get on an AATA bus on Huron for free with your UM ID card and a certain bus took you straight to the hospital. Good deal money wise but my experience with AATA is that you can't expect a bus to be on time.

Eugene Daneshvar

Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 6:57 p.m.

Frank, I would be happy to discuss the issue in greater detail than this posting allows. I sympathize with the parking shortage and I have gone up and down the parking structures and have left frustrated and angry when my "hunting permit" did no good. That's why I think we need a better solution than another structure. The solution exists in light rail, but we need federal dollars to support it, which comes down to political pressure. We should pursue a lasting cure for the parking problem and not a treatment for the underlying symptom. Let me know if you want to grab coffee. -Eugene

Elena Chesney

Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 6:35 p.m.

That is Patient Parking

Frank Lee

Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 4:33 p.m.

@Eugene – Are you aware of all the off-site parking and shuttle services already in place? The Wall street parking structure is being built to address a severe parking shortage that goes back many years. It is worth noting that these parking areas are not just for employee's. There isn't an option of building a parking structure any closer to the medical campus. The walk from the Wall street structure is no longer than that of many other parking areas. The added parking will free up other parking areas and ultimately allow people to park closer to their destination. It's hard to call something that has been in the works since 2008 "shortsighted".

Eugene Daneshvar

Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 3:09 p.m.

Thanks for the reply Frank. Yes, I know well that these are always packed. My suggested solution is to have more offsite parking and comfortable transportation to the hospitals. The workers parking at Wall St. will still have to take a bus or walk. I think this isn't the best available option. I live on Wall St. and I can assure you that we aren't against development in the area. Just against shortsighted decisions when better options are available.

Frank Lee

Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 2:56 p.m.

"If I worked at the U Hospital, I would want to park in the structures closest to the hospital. If the structures became full, only then would I head to wall st." If you worked at the U Hospital, you would know that these structures are always full and that you pay dearly to even have the option of parking there.

Ricardo Queso

Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 2:11 p.m.

Kellie, what has been the net effect of the U's property acquisition on the AAPS tax base?

Kellie Woodhouse

Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 7:40 p.m.

Indeed. Jim provided some interesting comparison figures, which are in the article I linked to.

Jim Kosteva

Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 7:24 p.m.

Ann has been provided a property tax analysis that provides substantial insights on the question you pose. The short version is that over the last 12 years, Ann Arbor has experienced far greater tax base growth and has been better insulated from the loss of property values than most any other city in the state.

Jack Eaton

Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 4:18 p.m.

Ricardo, the net impact of UM land acquisition is likely positive. While the University takes properties off the tax roll, a prosperous University increases the value of all of the remaining properties that are subject to taxes. If the University suddenly closed down, our economy would collapse and the taxable value of real estate in town would plummet. Instead, the University and its health care operation provide an economic engine which increases the "value" of all property in town. The taxable value of your home includes some value for it being located in a town with a healthy economy.

Ricardo Queso

Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 3:19 p.m.

Yes. I attended the school board meeting last night and as always funding was a hot topic. We are in a unique situation. We value the University for employment opportunities which draw more young families into the district placing additional burden on the schools. Yet, the tax base is eroded by university expansion.

Kellie Woodhouse

Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 2:39 p.m.

Sorry, Ricardo, don't have the data to answer that. Did you read this article, though?

Kai Petainen

Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 1:55 p.m.

"It's the influx of cars, traffic and pollution that bothers her, she said" Keep in mind that near that region of Ann Arbor, there was an oil/acid? spill into the river. The DNR/EPA never investigated it -- the University had the authority. So... since the EPA/etc do such a lousy job with helping Ann Arbor with its carcinogenic 1,4 Dioxane problem, and they ignored the spill that covered the river to Gallup Park for hours..... if you have some pollution... based on previous incidents... good luck with getting the EPA to care about Ann Arbor.


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 2:34 p.m.

Let it go!


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 1:53 p.m.

The U of M has always done whatever they want with the town. This is nothing new and nothing will change that. It is fruitless to think otherwise. If you think about it change is everywhere. People who lived before you in Ann Arbor saw incredible change. The one example that really hits home to me is when the incredible County Building was torn down in the middle of town. What people value today, they will no longer value in years to come.

Kai Petainen

Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 1:41 p.m.

"For its part, U-M is trying to brand the garage as a neighborhood gateway. " This is disrespectful. Show some respect for the residents -- call it what it is instead of using some marketing spin. But this wouldn't be the first time that they used marketing over reality.... .... in an effort to sell the fuller garage idea, it had mutliple names associated with it. Michigan, we do it right -- period. Call it what it is, a garage, and that will show some respect to the residents.

Kellie Woodhouse

Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 1:34 p.m.

@runswithsissors: U-M is exempt from local zoning controls. It is also exempt from paying property taxes once it acquires property.

Vivienne Armentrout

Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 1:32 p.m.

In answer to a couple of comments: one of the issues here is that UM does not have to obey City of Ann Arbor zoning laws or any other local laws. They are literally a sovereign body and theoretically could buy the entire town and convert it into factories if they chose. This is because of a phrase in the Michigan constitution that makes UM, Wayne State, and I think Ferris State into self-governed entities. They are not subject to any local laws whatsoever. This is not at all like 413 Huron. That is a dispute about city planning decisions. This is about a neighborhood that has been bought up by the UM, who can make any use of their property that they wish. The parking structure would never have been allowed in a city master planned area.

Jim Kosteva

Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 7:19 p.m.

The City of Ann Arbor identified parking structures as an appropriate land use in this area as early as 1989. Page 16 of the City of Ann Arbor Northeast Area plan for the Wall Street Area specifically recommends: " Appropriate uses include medical facilities, libraries ......structured parking and housing....."

Vivienne Armentrout

Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 6:56 p.m.

Yes, you are right, it is MSU (which seemed obvious but I had a stray memory about Ferris State). The pertinent article in the Constitution is Article 8, Section 5 The language is not obvious: "The regents of the University of Michigan and their successors in office shall constitute a body corporate known as the Regents of the University of Michigan; the trustees of Michigan State University and their successors in office shall constitute a body corporate known as the Board of Trustees of Michigan State University; the governors of Wayne State University and their successors in office shall constitute a body corporate known as the Board of Governors of Wayne State University. Each board shall have general supervision of its institution and the control and direction of all expenditures from the institution's funds." That term, the "body corporate", is the key.


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 2:34 p.m.

Agreed that the comparison to 413 Huron is sort of silly.


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 2:12 p.m.

"...and I think Ferris State..." LOL. It's Michigan State. The three amigos are UM, MSU and WSU.


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 1:14 p.m.

What about zoning? I don't know much about this debate (or zoning for that matter) but the articles makes it sound as if UoM can do anything with the property it owns regardless of zoning. Do they buy property already zoned for parking lots/other developments or do they buy first then get the zoning changed?


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 2:33 p.m.

u does own zoning... like the electronic billboard erupting at the stadium. Its the downside of having rich, empowered, iresponsive neighbors.

Lizzy Alfs

Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 12:50 p.m.

I know this is a U-M debate here, but this reminds me a lot of what's happening at 413 E. Huron St. with the high-rise proposed next to a historic neighborhood. Neighbors are worried their quality of life will decrease, they're concerned about the design of the building and they feel ignored by the developer.


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 7:57 p.m.

With all due respect, how is the 400 block of E Huron a historic neighborhood? What I find ironic about the current high rise craze is that in the not so distant past the term "high-rise" was strictly prohibited in downtown development.

Kellie Woodhouse

Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 2:38 p.m.

It IS similar in the sense that neighbors want to impact the development, but are completely at the mercy of the developer.


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 1:34 p.m.

The U of M isn't going anywhere and although they don't don't pay taxes they contribute to the community both economically and culturally. The out of town developers of 413 E. Huron could give two nickels about Ann Arbor. They will build it as cheaply as possible, quickly sell it for a profit, and move on to other "economic opportunities" in other cities.

Wolf's Bane

Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 12:04 p.m.

As a former resident of Wall street ('92 - '94) I am disgusted with what U of M has been allowed to get away with. Wall street used to be a thriving African American neighborhood, complete with a Baptist church, doctors offices, a coin operated laundry (over on Maiden Lane), and of course the neighborhood Kroger. Now, it is a barren wasteland and devoid of the rich and diverse heritage; it is as if U of M simply applied a tourniquet, cutting of circulation of Wall street. Shame.

Wolf's Bane

Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 11:04 p.m.

But that's my point, IT WAS NOT VACANT!!!!!!!!!

Wolf's Bane

Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 6:15 p.m.

12 up 12 down. Well played U of M.


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 5:27 p.m.

I agree with Johnny and Al. I think the U just saw a lot of vacant land nobody wanted and decided to use it. I gets its another stick in the craw of A2 losing potential taxable property, but vacant land is, well vacant land and the less the city has the cheaper it should be to maintain what they have left. So in a way the U taking empty property should get the cit on the right track budget wise. They will just have to give up folly like million dollar fountains.


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 2:51 p.m.

Neighborhoods have been coming and going for centuries. Blaming it on a university is kind of silly.


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 12:52 p.m.

It is hardly UM's fault that Kroger and every other business in the neighborhood failed. The fact that you lived somewhere TWENTY years ago does nto mean it needs to continue to be what it used to be. Life changes,


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 11:52 a.m.

Why don't they put it on that huge vacant lot that's been sitting there for over a decade? It's further away from the condos. But my guess is that U of M doesn't own that property. Could be a big moneymaker for the land owner who hasn't done anything with the property...

Wolf's Bane

Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 12:05 p.m.

I love the Prairie!


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 11:46 a.m.

How about the view -- what is in your backyard -- a huge parking structure. Hmmmm.


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 11:20 a.m.

"Our parking structure is a gateway to this neighborhood," LOL


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 11:37 a.m.

Defiantly a gateway to the University. If that vacant property across/up the street ", Proposed Lower Town Development", isn't developed soon, the U may buy it for future growth.