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Posted on Fri, Feb 24, 2012 : 3:51 p.m.

Ann Arbor DDA invites public to take survey to shape vision for four-block area downtown

By Ryan J. Stanton


Map courtesy of DDA

The Downtown Development Authority is inviting the public to take a survey to help shape a vision for four blocks in the middle of downtown Ann Arbor.

The survey is the first piece of outreach for the Connecting William Street initiative, which was previously known as Midtown Discovery.

The planning process is dedicated to crafting and implementing strategies to transform five city-owned parking areas into new uses: the Library Lot, Y Lot, the ground floor of the Fourth and William parking structure, Palio Lot, and the Kline Lot.

Under direction from the Ann Arbor City Council, the DDA is leading the project.

DDA officials said the initiative will build on past efforts — such as the A2D2 zoning changes — to come up with development priorities for the five city-owned sites.

"We want to see these sites better serve downtown and the community as a whole," said Amber Miller, the DDA's planning and research specialist.

To help guide the process, the DDA invited downtown business owners, employees, and residents, as well as representatives from the city and DDA, to serve on a Leadership and Outreach Committee that has helped shape a creative outreach process.

Through the survey, the DDA invites the community to become engaged in the process and begin shaping priorities and goals for Connecting William Street.

DDA officials hope to receive at least 1,000 responses and reach out to nearly 200 organizations and neighborhood groups before the close of the survey on March 12.

Following the survey, the community will hear about many input opportunities, including public meetings, webinars and a speakers series.

To stay engaged in the Connecting William Street initiative, go to, or follow the DDA on Facebook and Twitter.

The next Leadership and Outreach Committee meeting is at 2:30 p.m. March 26 at the DDA's offices at 150 S. Fifth Ave.

Those who would prefer to complete a paper survey can email Miller at or call 734-994-6697.

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


Detached Observer

Thu, Mar 1, 2012 : 3:49 a.m.

Concerning the future of the Library Lot: (1) Building a parking lot on this site is pointless. There is room for only a handful of spaces anyway, since much of the footprint will be taken up by entrance ramps (and a whole new street). Those spaces would be just a drop in the bucket compared to what's available directly below. (2) Putting a big building there is stupid. A hotel isn't viable (thank you, Veracity) and what else do we really need? If a burning need materializes it could easily be built on the "Old Y Lot" or other nearby locations. (3) We need a public park there. A green park would cost money to maintain and big trees wouldn't grow there (no place for the roots), so how about something like Detroit's Campus Martius? It's an open paved space that converts to an ice rink in the winter.

Joan Lowenstein

Mon, Feb 27, 2012 : 3:15 p.m.

The Connecting William Street logo was designed for the DDA at no cost. We are grateful that so many are donating their time to a good cause.


Sun, Feb 26, 2012 : 4:47 a.m.

Since you've highlighted the Federal Building on the map, why not start by tearing down that monolithic monstrosity. Fill in the space with more food carts and a duck pond.

Lets Get Real

Sat, Feb 25, 2012 : 3:08 p.m.

Let's Get Real here. You're telling me that someone thinks that this is so important that they PAID to have a graphic designer create a logo for it? There's good use of our money. And, what is there to connect to what on William St? Other than the beer depot, there is no business on William. Looking at the map, it isn't William they are talking about anyway. Why single out this area from the rest of downtown? It is not like downtown is all that large to begin with. Whatever plans are made need to take a comprehensive look at the entire downtown area from Kerrytown to William and from First to State. I'm no urban planner, but this urban space is too small to be segmenting.


Sat, Feb 25, 2012 : 1:56 p.m.

With the shortage of parking, I say leave the parking lots alone, because I surely don't want to see another underground parking structure. And, with this parking, the fees should not be outrageous.

Alan Goldsmith

Sat, Feb 25, 2012 : 12:29 p.m.

Hard hitting news. Lol. If the DDA wants input then why does the Mayor always hate appointees to the DDA who aren't in lock step with his views and always refuses to reappoint them? Diverse input my foot. This survey is a dog and pony show. You can start by asking the Mayor why is feels threatened by opposing and diverse views from board members.


Sat, Feb 25, 2012 : 1:23 a.m.

Kafkaland: Chuck Skelton, a hospitality and hotel expert consultant, provided a detailed feasibility study evaluating the Valiant Partners' proposed hotel/conference center that the DDA/City Council wanted to build over the subterranean parking lot next to the library. His highly detailed and well-documented report showed that no demand could be identified for such a facility, that area hotels were already struggling with 60% occupancy rate, and that the hotel would have to charge $200 a night with 75% occupancy in order to break even financially, the latter being very unlikely. The community knew this and rose in large numbers to convince City Council to ultimately withdraw the proposal. Ann Arbor does not need more office or commercial space with vacancy rates remaining high at about 20%. First, let's lease the former Borders Book Store downtown, commercial space across from Liberty Square, and several other empty shops along Liberty Street and elsewhere before considering new construction (unless companies wish to build expressly for their own use). To build speculatively in this business climate is to believe fancifully in "Fields of Dreams." Development of downtown Ann Arbor should be soundly based on realistic and pragmatic expectations since Ann Arbor taxpayers will have to live with the consequences of poor decisions for many years in the future.

pooh bear

Fri, Feb 24, 2012 : 11:32 p.m.

I'd love to see an exciting public space like Millennium Park in Chicago, though of course not at that cost or size. Public lands should have some public functions or they should be sold and the money used to support other public functions. It would be nice to have stores that sell real clothes too, like underwear, but I'm not holding my breath. Not for a full service grocery either.


Fri, Feb 24, 2012 : 11:04 p.m.

Ok, here is what I'd like to see in mid-town: We need an additional hotel, but not a convention center. It's often very hard to get a block of rooms, and the Dahlmann proprties could use some competition anyway. UM has conferencing facilities that are often not well-used, like the rooms in the Alumni Center. Perhaps some of these facilities can be made available to the community at large. Also, I would like to see some hihg-quality office space in that area, perhaps to attract a top-notch law or accounting firm to downtown. And, some kind of indoor market, catering to a younger audience than Kerrytown. Perhaps the market, some other businesses like a health club, etc., plus a hotel, can go on top of the underground parking structure, and the Y-lot could become office space? And build something - almost anything - on the Palio lot. The lot and Palio's behind it is an eyesore and a really unattractive welcome to downtown when you drive down Main Street.

Honey Badger Don't Care

Fri, Feb 24, 2012 : 9:17 p.m.

WOW! Some more hard-hitting news from! I need to go lie down after reading this zinger of an article. Way to go, Ryan J. Stanton!