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, Aug 20, 2009 : 10:20 a.m.

Ann Arbor seeking proposals from developers to build atop underground parking structure downtown

By Ryan J. Stanton

The city of Ann Arbor is seeking proposals to develop the “top side” of an underground parking structure slated for construction on South Fifth Avenue.

The city has posted a request for proposals on its Web site along with a link on a government bid solicitation page.


“The city is seeking creative proposals for the development of an approximate 1.2 acre lot owned by the city,” reads the 34-page request. “The site is located at 319 S. Fifth Avenue, within the Downtown Development Authority District.”

City officials have indicated a successful proposal will be consistent with the community character of Ann Arbor and “make positive contributions to the immediate neighborhood and the larger community by incorporating elements such as publicly accessible open space, green building design, public art, and a financial return to the city while adding to the vibrancy of the city’s central downtown.”

City and DDA officials couldn't immediately be reached this morning to discuss the proposal.

“Over the past five years, the City of Ann Arbor invested a great deal of time helping its community establish a future vision for the downtown, and then developing new zoning that encourages greater residential density and strengthens the mixes of uses in the downtown,” the city's request reads. “This initiative (known as 'Ann Arbor Discovering Downtown' or A2D2) provides direction for the redevelopment of the city-owned parcel known as the 'Library Lot.'”

The city's Web site states that construction of the underground parking structure will begin in spring 2010, which is a deviation from the originally planned groundbreaking this fall. The city is looking for a developer to build atop that structure once it's finished.

The city has scheduled a Sept. 25 mandatory meeting for prospective submitters and has set a Nov. 13 submission deadline. An evaluation committee will conduct interviews the week of Dec. 7 and make a recommendation the week of Jan. 25. The City Council is expected to select a proposal by March 1.

City and DDA leaders have said the site atop the underground parking structure has been designed with flexibility for future development in mind. Development could include residential, retail or office buildings and a public plaza. Conceptual drawings on the city's Web site show a combination of low-density and high-density development.

  • Office space
  • Condos/apartments
  • Restaurants
  • Something else
  • Retail shops

In addition, the site is planned to accommodate lateral expansion if neighboring properties want to pursue additional underground parking.

Despite a lawsuit filed in opposition to the project last week, the DDA's governing board took steps on Wednesday to hire a construction manager for the pre-construction phase of the project. The DDA board also approved spending up to $226,000 for new water mains as part of the project.

The city closed on the sale of bonds in the amount of $49.3 million on Wednesday for the parking structure project and related improvements to the area. The DDA will use that money to finance most of the project and is kicking in nearly $10 million more in cash.

Ryan Stanton covers government for Reach him at or 734-623-2529.



Sat, Nov 14, 2009 : 6:43 a.m.

Proposals are one thing.... Obtaining financing is another.... Commercial real estate is in peril across the country, especially in MI.... Well, don't be bothered about that... We have no conference space.... Actually, we have amazing conference space... U of M has been hosting conferences and symposiums for decades. In addition to their own hosting, they also rent space to corporations, non-profits, and public. Conference space in Ann Arbor is ample, affordable, and available.. This fact has been left out by leaders such as the mayor and council. However, JH is likely dreaming of the day that the Hieftje Conference Center opens... with a $1 mil statue out front.... Did you hear that sound? Crumble... crack... crunch... whump... Oh, don't mind that... It's the sound of the Stadium Bridge falling down... Hey, watch out!

34 years resident

Sun, Oct 4, 2009 : 8:50 p.m.

I'm against the proposed under ground parking structure. Spend the money on better public transportation to keep cars out of downtown please. Decrease cars and increase public transportation.

Jeremy Peters

Sun, Aug 23, 2009 : 3:19 p.m.

There should be a poll option for development that includes all of the above. Would make so much more sense to include restaurant, retail, office, AND housing.

Michael Christie

Sun, Aug 23, 2009 : 2:59 p.m.

I like the idea of a dog or people park with grass. Not like Liberty Park

pooh bear

Fri, Aug 21, 2009 : 3:27 p.m.

how about this radical idea-- build a new library on the library lot. Use the old library for something else. Reduce, reuse, recycle. this is the environmental mantra. keep repeating it.


Fri, Aug 21, 2009 : 1:25 p.m.

How about a park with a playground so kids visiting the library can play outside? Wouldn't it be radical to have people eating & reading outdoors during lunch? Downtown has so little greenspace; if it weren't for the U, I think the whole thing would be paved. I know there is a concrete pit nearby at Liberty & Division, but it is so uninviting. I'm talking about a real park. With a playground.


Fri, Aug 21, 2009 : 8:46 a.m.

Why not build a new library building? After the move, that would free up the current library site for something else necessary downtown, like more parking. Hey, this could spread... If the "library lot" underground parking were designed properly, after the library is moved "upstairs", then the library's current site could be used to expand the underground parking. And why stop there? Let's tunnel under Fifth and expand the underground parking into the old "Y" site... With planning and expansion like this, eventually all of the city could have several floor of parking under it.

Mumbambu, Esq.

Thu, Aug 20, 2009 : 9:52 p.m.

Amen, Peregrine. I've always liked falcons.


Thu, Aug 20, 2009 : 5:46 p.m.

Given the investment in an underground parking garage, who would want to then overly constrain what can be built on top. I am not a structural engineer (IANASE?), but I doubt that the incremental engineering to support 20 stories over 10 stories is that great. I wonder what those who are against the project would prefer? Maintain a surface lot at the site, an urban hole of wasted space? Let's get the density up and relieve some developmental pressure on the green space surrounding the city. Finally it's pretty easy to throw out conspiracy theories. I invite uawisok (first post above) to be specific with his/her accusations. Who's in on this sweetheart deal? The mayor? Which members of city council? Which members of the DDA? Who?


Thu, Aug 20, 2009 : 5:31 p.m.

How about shops (grocery store anyone?) and restaurants on the ground floor, office space above that, apartments above that, and then condos above that, with parking for it all underneath.

Matt Van Auker

Thu, Aug 20, 2009 : 2:53 p.m.

Y'know what, and your poll doesn't even begin to suggest this (which is why I put "something else"), they may want to consider putting in more parking, or leaving it flat, and nothing at all.


Thu, Aug 20, 2009 : 1:50 p.m.

This is an insult to all those who have been following this "project". City government has no interest in anything other then building a highrise on this site. Why else would they spend the countless millions on engineering the structure to support a 20 story building. This request is nonsense, please stop treating us like morons.


Thu, Aug 20, 2009 : 11:51 a.m.

Yeah if "they" didn't already have some sweet heart deal set up prior to selling the bonds etc....what do they think the citizens are stupid? It will be interesting to see what is found in past e-mails...Thanks Mike Anglin!!