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Posted on Mon, Nov 23, 2009 : 3:58 p.m.

6 proposals for Ann Arbor's downtown Library Lot now posted online

By Ryan J. Stanton

The city of Ann Arbor responded today to's Nov. 13 Freedom of Information Act request asking for electronic copies of the six proposals for the downtown Library Lot.

The city is making the proposals available for download on its Web site: Take a gander at them.

Here's a brief summary and conceptual drawings of each of the projects that included artist renderings.


Acquest Realty Advisors Inc. of Bloomfield Hills is proposing a mixed-use project called @ Hotel and Retail Center. It would include a 190-room hotel, 5,340 square feet of meeting spaces and 8,850 square feet of restaurant and retail.


A group from White Plains, New York, called Valiant Partners LLC is proposing a project called Ann Arbor Town Plaza Hotel and Conference Center. It would be a mixed-use development with a 150-room hotel, 32,000-square-foot conference center, 12 condos and 5,000 square feet of restaurant and retail shops.


Beztak Land Co. of Farmington Hills is proposing a mixed-use development called All Seasons of Ann Arbor. It would include a 148-unit senior citizen apartment complex and 12,500 square feet of retail, restaurant and office space.


Dahlmann Apartments Ltd. of Ann Arbor is proposing a project called Ann Arbor Town Square. It would be an urban park with open space, an outdoor ice rink, water features and a pavilion with retail and dining. The one-story structure would measure 7,000 square feet.


What the proposed Town Square project would look like during the winter. The city has posted the proposal for this project in two parts on its Web site (Part 1, Part 2).


Jarratt Architecture of Ann Arbor is proposing a mixed-use development called the Fifth a2. It would include an 84-room hotel with meeting rooms, 50 to 60 condo units, affordable housing, outdoor market and retail and restaurant space.

A group of Ann Arbor residents are proposing a project called the Ann Arbor Community Commons, which calls for an urban park with open space.

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



Fri, Jan 15, 2010 : 7:26 a.m.

Anybody else going to the presentations on January 19 and 20 at the library? I look forward to seeing the developers present their plans to the selection committee and to the public. I am very curious to see how the Valiant folks explain how they think their proposal fits into the neighborhood and into our town with all those massive cantilevers over the proposed plaza and Library Lane. Let the games begin!


Sat, Nov 28, 2009 : 7:30 p.m.

Each proposal will, naturally, have to justify itself. In the case of Town Square, we'll need to know: 1) Why is it a good idea to build park area on top of a parking structure with on-site access ramps? 2) How will you keep this public area from turning into just one more location for our homeless population to spend their days and nights? For any commercial developer, we'll want to know: 1) How does your project enhance the city's already-existing character? How does it make itself a part of the city's already-existing urban fabric? (This is what I like to call the "Herb David Test"--how will your project keep beloved local institutions in business?) 2) Why should we build your project here, and not somewhere else? I'd also like to note that there is a perfectly good way to get both top vote-getters (Town Square and Town Plaza) built: consider the Library Lot across the street, and the library itself, as part of the same site. Suddenly we're working with many more options. What if: 1) the public library were torn down and rebuilt across the street, along with a new AATA facility? 2) Town Square is built as proposed (and liked to Liberty Square, which is torn up and re-landscaped) 3) Town Plaza is built on the old library site? What if the federal building is put into the mix...a brand-new federal building is built, along with the other development, making the dead zone of the federal plaza a more intimate part of the streetscape? What if the convention center is built across the street, along with an AATA center? What if we don't need an AATA center on Fifth, now that it can be built north of the hospital? Wouldn't that leave plenty of room for Town Plaza to be built adjacent to the federal building? Surely there are actually many more options for this site than are presented here. I encourage city council to think creatively and carefully. The city deserves it.


Fri, Nov 27, 2009 : 3:50 p.m.

The Ann Arbor Town Square renderings and the idea for the proposal are wonderful and most in keeping with my ideals for our town. The Hotel and Conference center is a complete eyesore and would ruin the character and feeling of downtown. UGH!!!


Fri, Nov 27, 2009 : 12:34 p.m.

November 27, 2009 Bid Salutations, Town Center! What a most remarkable design in function and benefits. I can not wait to iceskate! Thank you all. Dawn D. Johnston HAPPY HOLLIDAYS SEE YOU ON THE ICE RINK IN A COUPLE OF YEARS


Thu, Nov 26, 2009 : 7:43 a.m.

Did any one notice that the @ Hotel and Retail Center claims that it will be LEED Gold Certified. This appears to be a lot like the City Flats Hotel in Holland. The City Flats is a very cool small hotel that would be very cool in A2. This proposal also really seems to follow the A2D2 Design Guidelines with all the required setbacks. Even if it was expanded to 12 stories it would still be below the 180' height limit and way below the maximum allowable FAR. The Town Plaza Hotel/Conference Center on the other hand seems to break every rule that the A2D2 folks have works so hard to establish. I can't find info on the height in the PDF, but I count at least 15 stories, many of which appear to be cantilevered over Library Lane and over their plaza. Although I kind of like the look of the cantilevers, this seems to be in direct violation of the setback rules that were just adopted in the D1 rezoning to protect access to daylight at the street level. Their section on page 15 really shows how aggressive the building would be as it looks to nearly touch the library. I do see that they are also proposing a least a base level of LEED Certification and I do very much like the Grand Staircase that they show on page 10. This could be a great feature facing the plaza, much like the new stepped red glass building that was constructed in Times Square. It seems to me that the @ Hotel and Retail Center would create a nice boutique scale hotel that would be highly sustainable. Check out the City Flats Hotel to see how this could work in our city. While I applaud the effort of Valiant with their Town Plaza Hotel, the ultra modern and aggressive cantilevers seem out-of-place in this area. It seems that the extensive cantilevers would cast deep shadows over much of the plaza and Library lane, creating rather cold and unpleasant public spaces. Perhaps TEN-Arquitectos believes that in Mexico City this extensive amount of shade would be welcome, but in Michigan, not so much.


Wed, Nov 25, 2009 : 9:27 p.m.

Sadly, the no one will care what the people of Ann Arbor want - they will put the largest, ugliest, and most useless building in the middle of our quaint town and then, when the building is empty for years at a time, they will act surprised - didn't see THAT coming in this economy! I applaud the Dahlman family for TRYING to add something BESIDES another tall and useless building - yeah, even if they are doing it to preserve their territory! They could ADD another hotel, but are choosing to add something green (gasp!) to our fair city. When was the last time you couldn't get a hotel in AA? Unless it was the third week in July, you probably haven't run into that problem very much. Take a look at the new structures in AA...anything tall and new, it's ugly. WE DON'T NEED UGLY! Not to mention we don't need another 50-60 condo units...pretty sure we have enough condos for sale as it is...But, alas, we'll get a stupid 90 story, ugly, useless and empty building in the middle of our town. Heavy sigh.


Wed, Nov 25, 2009 : 6:04 p.m.

Oops, did I say Town Square above? I meant the @ Hotel and Retail Center. My apologies to the Town Square developers, who to my knowledge have absolutely nothing to do with Loft 322 or Zaragon :) As for Town Square, I'm not opposed to a public park, but with the downtown greenway already being developed as a park, why do we need even more green space downtown? It's a nice proposal, but I, too, am skeptical of the developer's ties to already-existing hotel space... I'd also like to note that the split is really a 56-41 vote for park vs. building, ignoring the individual proposals themselves.


Wed, Nov 25, 2009 : 11:16 a.m.

Voice of reason (a tautology?), Yes, I have lived here for 40 years as a professor and have paid significant property taxes in that time. They are tax-deductible, but when the bill was passed to hand more of the financial support to the state, that meant the tax deduction was reduced. That has also contributed now to the big loss of support from the state to our schools. We should never give up local control of the important items. If you are so worried about property taxes, it suggests that you have a pretty good income and can afford it. Did your taxes go down when Tally Hall was built? This kind of knee-jerk reaction, cut my taxes by getting more from others, doesn't really work. So why are we working hand-in-hand with private developers in the first place? That is a bizarre relationship and one can be sure that the developers will try to get even more out of the city. Does anyone think that there is no private property for sale here? We should run our public operations and let business run theirs, and not get involved further. There would be no interest in the parking lot property whatsoever if it was not a better deal for the developers, which means inevitably that we are making a bad deal! Simple-minded economics 101.


Wed, Nov 25, 2009 : 11:06 a.m.

Losing valuable city land downtown? The City can take land as it sees fit. Look at the old Tios site on E Huron St. It was purchased to make a surface parking lot for City Hall. Also, the trees around the ice rink should be half as tall and mostly dead, as they would be planted on top of the parking structure (limited vertical depth for root growth).


Wed, Nov 25, 2009 : 10:51 a.m.

aw for crying out loud... stop with the park idea already! is a fountain and a rink enough to offset the potential revenue generated from that site from development? no, it isn't. and there are plenty of skating venues available already. why not make use of city owned and run rinks like veterans and buhr? if we're spending money on those rinks, we better use them. how about world class facilities at yost and the ice cube? they have public skates for four or five bucks. and that nice green grass? mmm... feels comfy say the bums and the crims that like to hang out at the library and blake. the other proposals don't thrill me but the only one that really gets me p.o.'ed is that waste of space town square concept.


Wed, Nov 25, 2009 : 9:44 a.m.

I pay substantial property taxes to the City and have done so for decades. There is no market for a hotel in the downtown, or a conference center. If there was, they would have already been built with private money on private land. Why should we subsidize a private development that is so marginal, that it could not be built privately? Remember Metro 202? Approved, but not built. The Library lot has been publicly owned for many years and has provided a consistent revenue stream via parking fees and violation penalties. With parking revenues consistently falling over the past three years, I seriously doubt that there will be sufficient DDA funds to cover the bond payments--especially if the City turns right around and gives away half the new spaces to any proposed development (and you know they will). Remember the claim that the spaces in this new structure were only meant to replace those lost in other locations downtown? I have been to Campus Martius in Detroit several times and it is fabulous, both in summer and winter. With skate rental and a cafe, it seems to me that Town Square has the opportunity to generate revenue for the City without having to give away City property, whether it's in the form of an overly-discounted lease or hundreds of parking spaces that cost tens of thousands of dollars a piece. So, if and when we ever get to see the financial pieces of these proposals, do not be fooled. Look at the fine print and see how much these developers are expecting the City to pony up (on top of what it already has by providing the foundation for their buildings).


Wed, Nov 25, 2009 : 12:48 a.m.

essene, Apparently you do not know what is going on here. This property is being leased by the city to the developer of whichever plan wins. It is to provide a steady stream of revenue to a city with serious fiscal shortfalls. Now I am going to ask you a question that I would like you to answer honestly. Have you ever paid City of Ann Arbor taxes?


Tue, Nov 24, 2009 : 10:36 p.m.

voiceofreason, With your world view, would you then sell off other public property? Imagining great tax reductions with yet another development is clearly not a safe bet in this city. I really feel for your tax bill I want you to know.


Tue, Nov 24, 2009 : 10:32 p.m.

The Fifth A2 is the second most ugly plan, having shown up finally on this site. Have architects simply given up doing anything new? Cupolas on the top? What is that all about? More fiddly and useless features for a private hotel on public property. Why are even considering such plans. Pass on this. I have refused to vote on the silly poll. It is missing "none of the above". Why is Ryan Stantion writing repeated comments online to his own article as if he is needed to answer questions of all comers? He seems to presume that he is in charge. I wonder how many votes he has submitted to his own poll. Next will we have to see that he is also recommending which project he prefers, and will he next judge whether handicap access is appropriate? Mike D. We weep for your discomfited guests. Why shouldn't private companies rise to the occasion for a fancy hotel, and why is the city obligated to address problems of the wealthy? Our city has much more important issues to face than yours. Build your own hotel if you wish.


Tue, Nov 24, 2009 : 10:23 p.m.

I am disgusted by all the people who are in favor of placing a park on valuable downtown real estate. It is blatantly obvious which people don't pay Ann Arbor city taxes on this page........

Concerned Citizen

Tue, Nov 24, 2009 : 9:38 p.m.

[ "include"...:-)! ]

Concerned Citizen

Tue, Nov 24, 2009 : 9:05 p.m.

1. Where are the "Underground Parking" arrow signs on these renderings? 2. How do you entice "full fare" condo owners into buildings that also incude "affordable housing"?


Tue, Nov 24, 2009 : 6:22 p.m.

WOW! Talk about keeping competition out. The Town Square/Dahlmann proposal sure does protect their two hotels, Campus Inn and Bell Tower.

Ryan J. Stanton

Tue, Nov 24, 2009 : 5:27 p.m.

Just an update: You'll notice there now is an image of "the Fifth a2" in the story. Just got that from the city today in a supplemental response to my FOIA containing information inadvertently omitted the first time around. So, there are a few more pages to some of the proposals (on the city's Web site) if you want to take a look. The financial information still is being withheld. According to the city, those portions of the proposals were submitted under separate sealed envelopes that have not been opened yet and therefore are not considered received and made part of the public record. We'll be sure to report more information when those are opened.

Mike D.

Tue, Nov 24, 2009 : 4:04 p.m.

I think a light rail station on the site would be a great idea. Given that there aren't any tracks anywhere around there, they could have a little choo choo drive in circles around the parking lot. It's green! It's mass transit! It goes nowhere!

David Cahill

Tue, Nov 24, 2009 : 11:38 a.m.

So, Ryan, what is going to do about the fact that the City has withheld financial information, both by removing pages from the Valiant proposal and by not revealing what's inside those envelopes? I am nonplussed because the RFP says "submission contents will not be deemed proprietary information." So first the City claims that nothing is proprietary, and then it turns around and withholds some of the financials.


Tue, Nov 24, 2009 : 9:55 a.m.

If I could do anything with the lot across from the library, regardless of budget, I would build a light-rail transit center. Another hotel, more conference space, or a park would not strengthen Ann Arbor's economy like a larger mass transit network would. Besides the office and retail space that could be available in such a building, commuters from WALLY or other inter-city lines would be centrally located to go to work, shop at our stores, and eat at our restaurants.

Dr. I. Emsayin

Tue, Nov 24, 2009 : 9:04 a.m.

Unfortunately the hotel will probably win out. I used to like going downtown, but it has become a tourist destination with tourist prices and tourists, rather than the local folks I'd like to see out and about in my hometown. I don't want to dress up for the out of towners when I am in my own town. But as they say, the business of business is business. And those business folks go home to their mega-mansions away from downtown, or up to their penthouses, so what do they care about the man or woman on the street (and I don't mean street people, panhandling should be illegal).

Marvin Face

Tue, Nov 24, 2009 : 8:53 a.m.

@varment rout: It looks like a FOIA was unnescessary in this case. The city asked the proposers to provide an electronic version in the RFP so they could post them. They posted them all on thier dedicated project web page the very same day they were released to The financials will come out as well but after they have been reviewed by the committee.. I'm astounded with the number of unnessecary FOIA's this town in general and generates. Patience, people. Patience. It will all be revealed soon. Why are you all in such a rush?


Tue, Nov 24, 2009 : 8:45 a.m.

I just read here how one of the existing hotel owners is behind the proposal to build the Town Square site. How convenient - propose something that residents will initially be attracted to, while glossing over the fact that such a site would eliminate a direct competitive threat (e.g., Town Plaza Hotel) to his/her own hotel/apartment business interests. Forget about long-term planning and the best interests of the community - protect the home turf right now. Somewhat of a conflict of interest, eh? I would expect that business interest (Dahlmann) to actively post here to pump the idea up.


Tue, Nov 24, 2009 : 8:34 a.m.

The Town Plaza Hotel would be an absolutely amazing addition to our city! It is exactly what we need - something different and unique in this sector of the city. It would make the cover of many photo guides of our city (rather than just the usual photos of university buildings) and attract even more tourism dollars - which is where a lot of businesses can thrive. The Town Square site looks nice, but the reality is it is relatively small, won't be able to host too many residents at once, and most importantly, won't bring tax dollars or business to the city. It is merely an attempt to appeal to people's sense of "more park space is good." Obviously, the general public and an online vote would tend towards this site, but hopefully the city council can be more objective and long-term thinking. Frankly, the city could put something like this across the street at the surface parking lot area and have both of these proposals at once. Now there is a win-win.


Tue, Nov 24, 2009 : 7:24 a.m.

ann arbor is not royal oak...keep it at that way. town square looks pretty good though! ps. ashley terrace is the worst looking building in ann arbor.

Vivienne Armentrout

Tue, Nov 24, 2009 : 7:15 a.m.

I'd like to thank for their FOIA. It doubtless resulted in the release at this time of information about the projects and our ability to have this good discussion. I expected that they (the city) would exclude financial information because that has been my experience with RFPs and FOIAs in the past. The difference here is that instead of bad photocopies we get beautiful full-color illustrations. With regard to the Fifth A2, their proposal says: "the Fifth a2s exterior rendering is on the cover sheet. Floor plans,Elevations,3-D Image and Sketch are on the following pages." But these pages have been omitted from the version provided by the city. They may not have reduced these renderings to a pdf format.


Tue, Nov 24, 2009 : 7:05 a.m.

Liberty Plaza is not a park. It is all cement and stairs, very unfriendly for get-togethers. Still, I love that the city is bringing music and festivals there. I say keep Liberty Plaza AND have a town square, since they will serve different purposes.


Tue, Nov 24, 2009 : 6:36 a.m.

This city is ridiculous. Residents whine about sprawl, how U of M doesn't contribute anything to the city coffers, etc. And here we have probably one of the best remaining pieces of real estate in the city, where developers want to put in a large development that will provide jobs, density, and plenty of tax money. Yet people whine and want to put in a park when there is already Liberty Plaza on the other side of the block. Any new park is just going to give bums a new place to hang out. Most amusing is that the park is being proposed by the guy who owns the only other downtown hotels, who obviously stands to gain the most from a park being built in place of a hotel. Put in a hotel and conference center, create some jobs, get some money for this city to do important things like repair the Stadium Bridge.


Tue, Nov 24, 2009 : 6:08 a.m.

How about putting a small boutique hotel across the street on the former Y site?

Mike D.

Tue, Nov 24, 2009 : 6:05 a.m.

"Ann Arbor Town Square" looks like a fancy rendering of a space similar to the Liberty Plaza park (AKA Crack Park), which is only a block away. How many people posting on here make use of that park? Do we need another, similar park so close? Do we need to give the miscreants and homeless a nicer place to sit around and smoke? But that's not what's upsetting about it. The "Ann Arbor Town Square" project is a naked attempt by Dennis Dahlmann to prevent a hotel and conference center in Ann Arbor. Why would someone be opposed to this? Could it be that he owns the Campus Inn and Bell Tower Hotels, the only two downtown hotels? Bingo! There's a reason Ann Arbor doesn't have a full-service hotel downtown and the two Dahlmann owns can charge exorbitant rates for outdated accommodations: monopoly. I frequently bring in business guests to Ann Arbor, and I am embarrassed to put them up anywhere in town. They usually wind up at the Marriott in Ypsilanti or the Westin all the way out at the airport. The last guest I put up at the Bell Tower was repulsed by the twenty-year-old floral bedspreadsnot what you'd expect for the price. And then there's Weber'sdcor, food, and accommodations are all average on a good day, and it's far from downtown. The Holiday Inn on Boardwalk, a glorified motel, is the highest rated Ann Arbor hotel on TripAdvisor for crying out loud! Doesn't Ann Arbor deserve better? And wouldn't a viable conference center bringing people to Ann Arbor be a good thing? Or would you prefer to let Ann Arbor continue to lose relevance as a business and cultural destination? I never liked the Ann Arbor News much, but's utter lack of reporting the context around stories (like Dahlmann's hotel monopoly and the lack of a modern conference center in Ann Arbor) makes me long for the semblance of actual journalism it provided.


Tue, Nov 24, 2009 : 4:59 a.m.

Why such a little response for the Fifth a2? More senior living? There is an abundance already in this area. Mixed used of retail, condos and a hotel will increase tax revenue. How will a park/ice skate rink ever utilize a 600 space parking garage? How would this ever generate the tax revenue that's going to be required to pay for the garage? They'll never be enough users to charge fee's to pay for the $40M garage?!? Ann Arbor needs to grow if it wants to be the hub of SE Michigan as a "destination" place, thus attracting both vistors and locals. With the train station coming on board, a hotel makes only perfect sense. Put an outdoor ice rink at West Park, space which isn't utilize during the winter anyway! Beztak looks great, just lose the senior center and add condos/apartments/affordable housing. Again, increase the tax base, and generate more people living downtown.


Tue, Nov 24, 2009 : 1:37 a.m.

Why are we ditching public property to turn it over to private concerns? Let them buy up their own property from private sources. The Hotel and Retail Center has all concrete outside, and the buildings are so-so. I like the design of the Ann Arbor Town Plaza Hotel and Conference Center, but I don't see why we need more conference centers. Ryan Stanton (a busy fellow) calls it a hospitality center, but how many convention centers have you been at that are hospitable? They are often rude or indifferent. Make a deal with the Uni for renting some of their space. The All Seasons design is impressively ugly, NY brownstone with little trees on top. Why is the Town Square a private plan? It is impossible to think they will make money unless the site is free. The Fifth A2 has no drawing, so it is difficult to judge. Why is the city ditching public areas to private concerns. How about doing nothing or just a public park with grass -- the designs mainly miss grass.


Tue, Nov 24, 2009 : 12:39 a.m.

What the town square drawing doesn't show is the crack heads passed out on the lawn of the park, and the street urchins peeing in the fountain.


Mon, Nov 23, 2009 : 11:33 p.m.

Town Square is the same bland, middle-of-the-road, trying-to-please-everyone development architecture that plagues SE MI in general (and the country at large) and Ann Arbor in particular. It's a sincere effort, but fails to provide anything unique. Town Plaza is headed in the right direction, but even I have to admit it might be a bit much. Still, I'd prefer something along those lines. At least it's *interesting*, for crying out loud! The details can get worked out later. I'd expect costs to be cut anyway, resulting in slightly less dynamic designs (maybe a plus in this case). Browse through their respective prior experiences and tell me who we could expect better architecture from. Anyone dissatisfied with Loft 322 and Zaragon can expect more of the same from Town Square. The Town Plaza architects on the other hand have Ashley Mews and the Forest Avenue structure under their belts (among others). Those aren't perfect structures by any means, but at least they do something we don't see everywhere else we go around here.

John of Saline

Mon, Nov 23, 2009 : 11:32 p.m.

No helipad option?

Kevin S. Devine

Mon, Nov 23, 2009 : 10:41 p.m.

Outdoor ice skating rocks! All the other proposals are so pedestrian. Oversize buildings in a mid-size city like Ann Arbor always look better on paper than in person, especially in the months of the year when there is no vegetation to liven them up -- like November through April. Outdoor skating, on the other that's something to look forward to when the leaves fall.


Mon, Nov 23, 2009 : 10:09 p.m.

No park, please! While the idea of a park-like gathering space sounds good on the surface, just look at Liberty Square to the immediate northeast of this area. Though they have apparently made headway towards cleaning the place of drug dealing, it still is mainly a hangout for the homeless. We don't need another downtown space which will inevitably become a camp for the homeless.

Concerned Citizen

Mon, Nov 23, 2009 : 9:59 p.m.

...and having this jewel of a Town Square park in central downtown would enhance business for those retailers and hoteliers who have stuck it out downtown as well as attract new commerce to surrounding areas. That should offset the tax issues (especially when you take into consideration how many Ann Arbor "highrises" have faultered financially in the past. The City should try to avoid that financial gamble).

Ryan J. Stanton

Mon, Nov 23, 2009 : 9:50 p.m.

I'm reading the hotel and conference center plan more closely right now. The conference center portion of the project, as expected, would be a public-private partnership. It states that $45 million of the overall project would be private investment and $9 million would public-private investment. The details of this potential financial partnership (assumably with the city) appear to be spelled out in Pages 33-40 of the proposal, which have been removed by the city. In fact, if you go to the table of contents of the proposal, the "Acquisition Cost Proposal" is listed as starting on Page 33 and the "Project Financing" starting on Page 35. I'm disappointed that it appears the city has removed portions of the proposals without openly telling us that. In fact, the FOIA response I received from the city today led me to believe that my FOIA request for the proposals was granted in full. In fact, it is only granted in part if these have been excluded.


Mon, Nov 23, 2009 : 9:39 p.m.

In the town square option -- is that yet another $800,000 fountain?


Mon, Nov 23, 2009 : 9:25 p.m.

The proposed Town Square looks amazing!!! Dalmann hit a grand slam with their proposal. One the other hand nothing as hideous as the Conference/Hotel center has ever been given serious thought. I ask the city council & the mayor: please proceed with a democratic state of mind, place the proposals on next Novembers ballot.

Marvin Face

Mon, Nov 23, 2009 : 9:22 p.m.

@Concerned Citizen: Dahlmann's stake in this project? The way I see it, he hears that a hotel is proposed for this site, doesn't want downtown competition for his own hotels, understands people in Ann Arbor like parks more than tall buildings, figures it's a small price to pay to build a nice park to keep competition away. I could be wrong.. I say we accept this gift from Dahlmann while he's in a benevolent mood and tax revenues be damned. This is the best of the bunch by a mile.

Concerned Citizen

Mon, Nov 23, 2009 : 9:02 p.m.

Dahlmann Apartment's Ltd. seems to have gotten it right! This is the closest thing to a town square left in Ann Arbor and we really need to preserve it. Now that parking will be taken care of underground on this site, let private developers work on private property projects and, in the same spirit with which A2 has seen fit to provide for "greenbelt", let us provide also for a vibrant downtown public recreational space. (I hesitate, but feel that I must ask however, what would Dahlmann's stake be in this project?) Their plan truly appears to be beautiful.


Mon, Nov 23, 2009 : 8:07 p.m.

Wow! The Ann Arbor Town Square proposal looks AMAZING. What a huge asset that would be to the downtown area - especially to bring people downtown in the winter. (And maybe if Town Square happens then the city can sell Liberty Plaza for development?) The conference center that Hieftje and Fraser want? My first thought upon looking at the drawing was "wtf."


Mon, Nov 23, 2009 : 8:06 p.m.

i can give a little bit of a break for the developers from New York not catching wind of Ann Arbor wanting only pedestrian friendly developments but apparently they in addition to making it uninviting want us to run for our lives in fear of that thing falling over.


Mon, Nov 23, 2009 : 7:57 p.m.

I'd be curious to see what the result would be if you reran the poll, now that we've seen what the developments would look like.


Mon, Nov 23, 2009 : 7:55 p.m.

You pick for the best use of expensive square footage in the downtown...the tax free parcel that the new city of Ann Arbor building is where a nice ice rink would fit in which is naturally the town center but we decided to hire a guy from Europe to decide what we should have, thanks city leaders!


Mon, Nov 23, 2009 : 6:58 p.m.

See I told you people the city would find a way to waste the money from the county.It is time for the City to stop building new crap.It can't maintain or address the current problems.TIME TO WAKE UP PEOPLE THE MAYOR NEEDS TO BE KICKED OUT OF OFFICE

Ryan J. Stanton

Mon, Nov 23, 2009 : 6:47 p.m.

A few people have inquired about the height proposed by each of these projects. Here's what I can tell from a cursory review. The proposal for the @ Hotel and Retail Center calls for an eight-story, 120-foot structure, which Acquest notes is well below the allowable building height of 180 feet included in the D1 zoning regulations in A2D2. The development team intends to design the structure to be expandable in the future by adding four more stories of hotel rooms, which could potentially make it 12 stories and 160 feet tall. The proposal for a senior citizen apartment complex submitted by Beztak calls for a 14-story building. The hotel and conference center proposal from Valiant Partners LLC doesn't appear to specifically disclose the maximum height of its tallest building. But from reading the proposal, it sounds like it may take full advantage of the A2D2 zoning regulations. "The proposed project would be consistent with these goals and with the specific provisions of the rezoning," the proposal states. "Its most important features from that perspective are: it will utilize most of the allowable density on the site, while still remaining within the height limit." Valiant Partners claims the inclusion of a new conference center as part of its project will generate increased demand for hotel stays in Ann Arbor. "However, the hotel that will be built as part of the project will be able to accommodate only a portion of that demand (in part because of compliance with the height limits) and this will result in both immediate increased occupancies in other hotels in Ann Arbor, and in the development of additional hotels on nearby sites," the proposal states. I'm questioning now whether the city released the complete proposal from Jarratt Architecture. No images are attached and the document is pretty slim. The few pages of the text-only proposal posted on the city's Web site suggests there are more pages attached, some of them containing artist renderings -- and, hopefully, building heights.


Mon, Nov 23, 2009 : 6:44 p.m.

Why is the city selling its own property to develop private business? What a grave mistake in the center of town. Once gone it will very likely never again be available to the public. Let business buy up private property to redevelop. What a short-sighted decision. Keep it green and use it as a park, or library, but don't sell it while providing parking at public cost for a hotel or convention center!

David Cahill

Mon, Nov 23, 2009 : 6:43 p.m.

I am intrigued by the Ann Arbor Town Square section on project financing. It states, in its entirety: "No financing is required for this project." What's up with this? Is the answer in the mysterious sealed envelope that the developer submitted? And, while I hate to cavil, it seems to me that the contents of all these sealed envelopes should have been disgorged by the City. After all, on page 8 of the RFP, it says: "All information in a submitter's proposal to subject to disclosure under the provisions of Public Act No. 442 of 1976, as amended (known as the Freedom of Information Act.) It should be noted that submission contents will not be deemned proprietary information, and individuals who submit proposals will be provided opportunities to review other proposals if requested." So - "The envelopes, please."


Mon, Nov 23, 2009 : 6:41 p.m.

Oh, I meant the proposal for "the fifth a2" (not the site itself). Because there was no photo I skimmed over the explanation. Now I see there is a brief description and link. Thanks.

Ryan J. Stanton

Mon, Nov 23, 2009 : 6:36 p.m.

@mrk This is a 1.2-acre, city-owned lot just north of the downtown library -- the same site where the current DDA underground parking structure project is under way. It is about halfway between Liberty and William, and bordered by Fifth and Division.


Mon, Nov 23, 2009 : 6:15 p.m.

Whee is The Fifth? Am I confused?

Ryan J. Stanton

Mon, Nov 23, 2009 : 5:58 p.m.

@varmentrout That's what I assumed you meant.


Mon, Nov 23, 2009 : 5:57 p.m.

That Plaza Hotel/Conference Center is too modern ugly for me. Unless this is 1962.

Vivienne Armentrout

Mon, Nov 23, 2009 : 5:46 p.m.

Ryan, I meant that the copy I scanned for a pdf was a bad copy, so I couldn't simultaneously copy the images. The basic look is much the same as Valiant's current proposal - that shimmering slab of a hotel floating above the plane.

Ryan J. Stanton

Mon, Nov 23, 2009 : 5:19 p.m.

Local blogger Vivienne Armentrout has posted what she calls a "bad" copy of the hotel and conference center plan submitted by Valiant Partners in May. She's asking for a few extra sets of eyes to read the proposal and compare it to the latest version.

Ryan J. Stanton

Mon, Nov 23, 2009 : 5:16 p.m.

@Alan Thanks for your concern. We sometimes wish we had easier access to public documents and information, too. At times, it can be a hindrance to our ability to report the news when we have to wait up to 15 business days for access to records. But I will say, in this case, the city's one-week turnaround wasn't entirely unreasonable. While we would have liked to have had the proposals in our hands last week, it appears there was a good-faith effort on the city's part to get the records out in a timely manner.

Mumbambu, Esq.

Mon, Nov 23, 2009 : 4:59 p.m.

From the Valiant proposal letter: "For well over 18 months we have been meeting with institutions, businesses, public offi cials, individuals and focus groups throughout the Ann Arbor community to determine what is the type of project that will best meet the needs of the City and the broader community." Wasn't it just a couple months ago that the City was saying that there hadn't been any decision on whether to develop the lot? It might just be my memory that is wrong. I like the @ Hotel and Retail center the most. There is a good amount of open space and the "pedestrian mall" feeling of Library Lane. I'd just like to see a touch more square footage devoted towards retail as well as some residential....How cool would it be to live there?!

Homeland Conspiracy

Mon, Nov 23, 2009 : 4:28 p.m.

Where is "None Of The Above" vote?

David Cahill

Mon, Nov 23, 2009 : 4:27 p.m.

I also think the Town Square proposal is really nice. Plus, it's ahead in the poll. 8-)


Mon, Nov 23, 2009 : 4:17 p.m.

The Town Square project is looking good! Hotel Retail Center is almost as ugly as Ashley Terrace. Ann Arbor Town Plaza Hotel and Conference Center will be a little too modern for the old folks after it sits vacant for years and then is converted into senior housing.