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Posted on Sat, Feb 25, 2012 : 5:59 a.m.

Fifth Avenue could reopen in May as underground parking project nears completion

By Ryan J. Stanton

As construction continues on the city's $50 million underground parking structure in downtown Ann Arbor, officials now say South Fifth Avenue should reopen by the end of May.

A previous time line called for reopening the street two months ago.

The entire project, which started in late 2009 and is being overseen by the Downtown Development Authority, is expected to be complete by the middle of July. It will bring about 700 parking spaces to downtown when it opens just in time for the Ann Arbor Art Fair.

A construction worker on site said crews are working to meet an April 1 goal of having all of the concrete work done. They were pouring interior walls on Friday afternoon.


A worker prepares to transport a small batch of concrete mix down the Division Street exit ramp of the underground parking structure on Friday to pour an interior wall.

Ryan J. Stanton |

In response to a guest column on by guitar shop owner Herb David, who says the city should help businesses hurt by the ongoing construction, DDA Director Susan Pollay provided a list to city officials explaining steps already taken to help nearby businesses.

In addition to the Herb David Guitar Studio, the owners of Jerusalem Garden and Earthen Jar, two nearby restaurants, have complained about the project.

Pollay said the DDA has tried to assist the businesses in every way possible to help lessen the impacts of the adjacent project.

She said those efforts include the following:

  • Adding about two dozen new parking spaces near their businesses on Liberty and Fifth to provide added convenient parking for their customers.
  • Adding bike hoops and lighting, plus attractive streetscape improvements, in front of their businesses to make their storefronts more attractive.
  • Providing parking validations for their customers so they can park for free. The current value of those validation stickers is about $5,000.
  • Providing free monthly parking for the employees of Jerusalem Garden and Earthen Jar for the past two years, about a $10,000 value.
  • Providing free parking for Jerusalem Garden's catering truck.
  • Paying for three Jerusalem Garden parking tickets when owner Ali Ramlawi violated the "no parking 6 a.m. to 10 a.m." rule at the Fourth and William surface lot.
  • Paying to provide a private dumpster for Jerusalem Garden for several weeks, and paying to have it emptied.

In addition, Pollay said, the DDA and Christman, the main contractor on the project, have purchased catering from the two restaurants on several occasions, and the DDA purchased several dozen gift certificates to distribute to adjacent neighbors. Christman also has paid to plow the road in front of Jerusalem Garden and Earthen Jar for the past two winters.

Pollay said the DDA made special accommodations so Herb David could tap into the new sanitary lead the DDA installed on Fifth Avenue, which reduced his costs by a huge amount.

She said there also is extensive signage indicating the businesses along Fifth Avenue are open during construction. She said it should be noted that at no time during construction has customer access to the businesses been obstructed by the project.


A view of the street closure in place on Fifth Avenue in late January.

Ryan J. Stanton |

Ironically, Pollay said, it was Herb David's roof replacement last summer that created the only sidewalk obstruction to Jerusalem Garden and Earthen Jar for several days.

David said whatever Pollay is saying is perhaps politically correct, but not correct in reality. He said his business and other downtown businesses are suffering because of the project.

"Ask the people who have gone out of business in the last few months how bad it is down here," David said. "Business is down 40 percent because of the project."

David said being told that the street might reopen in May and the project might be finished in July isn't comforting.

"The comforting part is when it is done," he said, pointing out the city still hasn't figured out what will be built atop the underground garage when it's done.

Meanwhile, the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority is planning to demolish and rebuild the Blake Transit Center across from the underground parking structure this year. And library officials are having conversations about the future of the downtown library on Fifth Avenue. Then there are talks about development on the old YMCA lot across the street.

Considering all of that, David fears Fifth Avenue might look like a war zone for years to come, and he believes that could mean the death of more independent retail shops.

"We're going from the retail to the franchise," he said. "So it's a franchise area now. All the mom and pop small businesses are going out of business.

"What the city needs to do is take responsibility for the problems they cause," said David, who is asking for a tax break. "Why not give a tax break to the people who built the downtown?"

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.


Will Hathaway

Wed, Feb 29, 2012 : 4:42 p.m.

It is a little misleading to say that the project "...will bring about 700 spaces to the downtown..." The old surface lot had about 195 spaces. According to the DDA, the new underground lot will have 677 spaces. The new, mid-block street "Library Lane" will have about 12 spaces and the "temporary" surface lot on top of the underground structure will return about about 36 spaces. The total number of post construction "Library Lot" spaces (under and above ground) is 725. The net increase in spaces is 530. It would be more accurate to say that the project will bring 530 additional spaces as well as replacing the 195 that were lost from the old Library Lot. If the cost of the project (likely to be in excess of $50,000,000) is divided by the net gain in parking, then the 530 "new" spaces cost about $100,000 each to build.


Mon, Feb 27, 2012 : 4:50 a.m.

"Adding... attractive streetscape improvements, in front of their businesses to make their storefronts more attractive." Just have to mention that seeing and smelling the draining of a construction site porta-potty while eating in one of these restaurants, as has been my experience, does not qualify imo.


Sun, Feb 26, 2012 : 5:46 a.m.

Can someone please provide a clear, concise explanation of why this project has taken 2 and a half years and is still not complete. What happened? What were the delays and why did they happen? Is the city being compensated by the construction company(ies) for the delays? I have never seen such a lack of communication from the city on a project that should have taken one year and instead has taken 2.5 years and counting. Last winter's weather cannot be blamed as a huge contributing factor, since they are working underground.....where the ground does not freeze. Didn't the contractors take typical MI winter weather into account when projecting the completion date? This year's winter is essentially a non-winter. What happened the first year? Let's hear a specific statement about what caused all the delays and why it has taken 2.5 years, closer to 3 when it's supposedly done in July 2012. Downtown businesses have suffered greatly from this debacle, and from what is being discussed re: the transit station and old Y lot, and possibly the library, that entire end of 5th will be a war zone for many years unless the city gets its act together. It is already a very desolate area and not an area to walk around at night, that's for sure. Not to mention the gauntlet of panhandlers that line the entrance to the library, who also hang out at the bus station. That entire area needs cleaning up.


Sun, Feb 26, 2012 : 5:14 a.m.

Whoever was the genius who posted the last time a deadline came and went that "I bet the Costco is done before the Library Lot" looking to win that bet.


Sun, Feb 26, 2012 : 2:49 a.m.

This is the most screwed up project I've ever heard of in Ann Arbor. I really feel for the businesses screwed around.


Sun, Feb 26, 2012 : 12:04 a.m.

I'm gonna point by point break down that Susan Pollay's comments that the DDA did anything to help local businesses are complete "spin". My breakdown in parentheses: "Pollay said the DDA has tried to assist the businesses in every way possible to help lessen the impacts of the adjacent project. She said those efforts include the following: Adding about two dozen new parking spaces near their businesses on Liberty and Fifth to provide added convenient parking for their customers. [ so that Christman and associates had somewhere to park as they'd bagged all the meters in the area already for the project] Adding bike hoops and lighting, plus attractive streetscape improvements, in front of their businesses to make their storefronts more attractive. [which were planned and funded anyway as general citywide improvements] Providing parking validations for their customers so they can park for free. The current value of those validation stickers is about $5,000. [although there is no evidence when customers shop at either JS or EJ that there is in fact such a program in place] Providing free monthly parking for the employees of Jerusalem Garden and Earthen Jar for the past two years, about a $10,000 value. [ ...As those employees before used to be able to park in the parking lot that used to exist where this construction project used a fraction of the cost] Providing free parking for Jerusalem Garden's catering truck. [...which used to be able to also park for free in parking spots that JS owned that are now unusable] Paying for three Jerusalem Garden parking tickets when owner Ali Ramlawi violated the "no parking 6 a.m. to 10 a.m." rule at the Fourth and William surface lot. [... since the DDA never communicated with parking enforcement from the city, it was the leaset we could do] Paying to provide a private dumpster for Jerusalem Garden for several weeks, and paying to have it emptied. [ the construction crew neede


Sun, Feb 26, 2012 : 5:17 a.m.

The point is all of Pollay's rationalization and qualifications are chump change. The city has screwed this up from the get go, never apologized, and never made anything better for any of the businesses affected in a real and tangible way that will allow them to prosper and perservere through this disaster. They are all barely squeaking by digging in themselves and working far too hard....far too hard as Christman an Co. take those long long lunches and stretch this damnable project for here to Infinity.


Sun, Feb 26, 2012 : 4:21 a.m.

I've said it before and I'll say it again...if this were a private sector gig, Susan Pollay would've lost her job a long time ago. I'd like to know who has been held accountable for this disaster...and by accountable, let's keep it simple...has anyone been reprimanded, poorly evaluated in job performance or lost a single penny of compensation? Ms. Pollay should put her (personal) money where her mouth is and tie her own comp to the satisfactory and timely completion of this project. This is a joke and Ms. Pollay's lame attempts at describing the ways in which she has "compensated" these businesses is beyond arrogant and lacking any sense of creativity and empathy. Take some responsibility for screwed up and you should be held accountable for think you are delivering a needed and valuable service in the form of parking spaces, but in fact you are crushing the soul of our fair city...more parking spaces do not distinguish us from any other community in this country...j garden, earthen jar, herb david et. al. DO!


Sun, Feb 26, 2012 : 4:13 a.m. nailed Johnnya2. clearly you too are a small business owner and you understand the that these guys just aren't working hard enough...that clown who owns j garden is only putting in 80 hours a week right now...i know if you had a few extra hours in your day (which you obviously don't bc you prob work harder than these idiots) you'd go down there and teach them a thing or two about marketing...stupid whiney small business owners that drive our local economy and work their butts off and brand our community as the place that it is...preach it brother...preach it from on high...


Sun, Feb 26, 2012 : 1:06 a.m.

"Providing parking validations for their customers so they can park for free. The current value of those validation stickers is about $5,000. [although there is no evidence when customers shop at either JS or EJ that there is in fact such a program in place]" And whose job would it be to advertise that? Maybe some of these businesses should spend less time whining and more time marketing.


Sun, Feb 26, 2012 : 12:05 a.m.

d them for their own use.]

Stephen Landes

Sat, Feb 25, 2012 : 11:50 p.m.

The new Blake Transit Center should be built on top of the new parking garage, so that anything built above that would be supported by an integrated transit hub -- car parking, bicycles, hotel shuttles, taxis, buses (both AATA and u of M). If the garage "topper" is a conference center it would have the most attractive access features in SE Michigan. Moving the transit center to the garage site would put it between two side avenues (Division and Fifth) and assure a lot more traffic in the garage (should eliminate some of the security concerns), and completely free up the old "Y" site for development. What I've been told is essentially, "gee, that's a good idea, but we've already made commitments with Fed funders, so even though no shovel has been put in the ground we can't change the plan". That way of thinking is simply short-sighted bureaucratic bungling: we're to be tied to a sub-optimal transit operation when no work has yet begun, because we can't figure out how to tell the Feds we've got a much better idea. Great thinking, bureaucrats.

Tom Joad

Sat, Feb 25, 2012 : 9:50 p.m.

How about the poor, hapless pedestrian who is nearly run over every day at the corner of 5th and Liberty at the three-way stop sign? I've had three narrow near misses by people who didn't even try to stop.


Sun, Feb 26, 2012 : 4:46 p.m.

THere has been a traffic light there for a few months now, flashing red for all sides.


Sun, Feb 26, 2012 : 1:04 a.m.

So now bad drivers are the fault of the DDA too? If you want to make an argument stick to the issue at hand. Since there IS an actual stop sign there it is hardly their fault if somebody runs it


Sat, Feb 25, 2012 : 9:21 p.m.

For someone who can't even do her job properly, Susan Pollay certainly comes off as smug and entitled in this article


Sun, Feb 26, 2012 : 5:23 a.m.

The sad fact is its not just in this one article either. Maybe we should recall her or vote for someone else next...oh WAIT. Nevermind. She's appointed for life.

mike gatti

Sat, Feb 25, 2012 : 9:03 p.m.

That list the DDA made of what it did to help businesses included everything but not closing a pretty main road and putting a huge ugly, dangerous hole right next to their businesses and leaving it there for years beyond when they said they would. People have lost the habit of going to these places. It won't just magically reappear once the project is done either.

Frustrated in A2

Sat, Feb 25, 2012 : 8:49 p.m.

I wonder if work on the new transit center will close down 5th Ave also? As much as this project has been a pain in the back side I sure hope A2 never builds another underground structure ever again.


Sat, Feb 25, 2012 : 7:22 p.m.

Yada yada yada. I'm with Herb. We want to hear when the project will be finished. We are all tired of projected dates and time lines. The parking hole from hell.....oooooooo.

Richard C

Sat, Feb 25, 2012 : 6:47 p.m.

At this point, I'd almost rather give up on 5th and declare it a pedestrian mall. Redesign the traffic flows downtown with that in mind. The Library is the the only thing that attracts me to downtown anymore - and traffic has been too snarled up for me to catch sight of new businesses or be reminded of old businesses when I need to pass through. The one new business I discovered recently (in the past year) was Cafe Habana - and that's closed. And when it re-opens, it'll displace the only restaurant I frequented downtown. There's a lot of change going on downtown - and without the Library being accessible (either by being closed or because of the bastardization of the library parking lot), downtown will be too unfriendly for visits for strolling around and discovering what it has to offer now.


Sat, Feb 25, 2012 : 6:10 p.m.

Wow. They plowed the street in front of JG! For the past 2 (two!) winters! Isn't the city responsible for that anyway? You know a list is padded when it includes items that should be taken for granted. I got up and I brushed my teeth today. Hurray for me! Where's my gold sticker?


Sun, Feb 26, 2012 : 5:22 a.m.

Thank the DDA for giving you the thumbs up on brushing them teeth! See how good they are to you!


Sat, Feb 25, 2012 : 5:08 p.m.

I walk by this debacle several times a day, and what I want to know is where is the city official that should be lighting a fire under Christman's rear end? They've been working on that north wall for at least 6 weeks now and are still probably a few weeks from getting that done - and I haven't seen any progress on the west or south walls during this time. It takes them a week to frame up a 300-400 square foot section, and they seem to only have one crew working on this? Why is there not a deadline with penalties to spur them to bring in some additional manpower and/or work several shifts to be framing and pouring more than one little chunk a week? They should have had that 5th street entrance framed in days, yet in over a week they've barely made it half way. At the pace they seem to be working I'd be surprised if they could open the street by August. As a pretty die hard liberal it's hard to say this, but if this were a private contract construction for a business it would have been done long ago, period. With profits on the line, they would have had someone all over these contractors making sure they get it done, or else. Since it's only some peripheral mom and pop businesses suffering though, the city doesn't quite seem to have that same motivation. And I'm still waiting to hear why their projected January opening of the street ended up so unfathomably far off. They had certainly better not blame the weather.


Sun, Feb 26, 2012 : 5:20 a.m.

They take such long lunches I doubt they even come back from most of them.


Sat, Feb 25, 2012 : 4:09 p.m.

Jerusalem Garden did not ask for this mess in the first place, so the items listed above as a "we did and are doing plenty already" deal, really does not cut the cheese, nor the mustard. I used too go there all the time, but now sense the road block and the inconvenience I have been going somewhere else for my Middle Eastern food fix. Although none of the other places I go to can hold a candle to JG, I keep telling myself it's temporary and it will be over soon, like a bad dream. This place has greatly suffered and their citizens too, JG has been around since I can remember, so please help them as much as possible. So not only should they get a tax break, they should also be supported by the other downtown businesses as well. JG attracts people to come downtown, so be good to them as they have been good to us for such a very, very long time.

David Cahill

Sat, Feb 25, 2012 : 4:08 p.m.

I can't resist pointing out that the guesses about this project's completion are about as accurate as the guesses about the weather, which swallows whole and trumpets repeatedly.


Sun, Feb 26, 2012 : 1:18 p.m.

Please consider resisting next time. And feel free to open up a weather forecasting service to compete with the National Weather Service.


Sat, Feb 25, 2012 : 4:07 p.m.

As a long time resident in the downtown area: I'm really-really-really sympathetic to small business people downtown. I often wonder what it would be like to have my own business like those so often mentioned. I am daunted - even if there had been no development at all downtown over the past 5 years or so. I "experience the reality of downtown living" and wonder if it can be sustained. And that seems to be the challenge city government is trying to overcome. What is Ann Arbor trying to become? That, I think, is the real question and the answers are not quick and easy. We are poor predictors of the future. What I saw (with considerable delight) when I first came to Ann Arbor in '74 is mostly gone. But, even so, Ann Arbor is literally a success springing from previous successes. The previous success of the 70s - was the establishment of outlying business zones like the Briarwood Mall Complex and the Meijers complexes. That drove a large shift out of town, even though there was a fuel shortage scare. Housing developments followed suit: so the population could be closer to major retail sources. The majority rules: where we spend our time and money is what determines the fate of all businesses, large and small. We think with our hearts but act with our wallets and purses. We - not the city government - have created today's Ann Arbor.

say it plain

Sat, Feb 25, 2012 : 6:19 p.m.

I don't see how your 'analysis' here follows in any way at all from the issues at hand. How, precisely, did *we* create the underground parking structure in question?!


Sat, Feb 25, 2012 : 4:04 p.m.

We were originally told that Fifth Ave. would reopen last August. So this possible May reopening is nine months late. I have yet to see any way in which the DDA benefits Ann Arbor. As far as I am concerned, their activities choke out worthy small businesses, enable the construction of some really ugly buildings, and discourage citizens from shopping downtown (while constantly raising parking rates).


Sat, Feb 25, 2012 : 4:02 p.m.

I still haven't figured out why the structure is even being built, especially with no plans for what will be on top. Yes, Ann Arbor needs more parking, but as a woman there is no way I am going to park in an "underground" structure. Now the Blake Transit Bldg is going to be re-built and maybe the library undergo construction. Forget even about downtown Ann Arbor anymore, it's just not worth it.


Sat, Feb 25, 2012 : 3:59 p.m.

This Dig disaster has been anything but funny...every city administrator connected to it, but especially Susan Pollay, should lose their job for it in my opinion...but the line in this article that had the most pathos to me, for some odd reason, was this: "...Christman also has paid to plow the road in front of Jerusalem Garden and Earthen Jar for the past two winters." Will there be a third winter of a closed and destroyed 5th Avenue area? That area used to be so vibrant and even fun.


Sat, Feb 25, 2012 : 11:57 p.m.

The most ironic part of this "Christman plowed the road in front of ..." JS and EJ is we all know that they really only plowed that road so they could access the site to begin with. They have all sorts of garbage parked in that end of 5th Ave.

say it plain

Sat, Feb 25, 2012 : 6:16 p.m.

That is the sad part isn't it? Because really that little stretch had some vibrancy and funkiness to it. Haven't been there since the initial construction dustclouds and cranes and it has been a part of town to just race on past for soooo long now. What will the new concrete expanse feel like now?! I suspect until it gets developed into something or other it will indeed be just invitations to 'unseemly' stuff. Can only hope not.


Sat, Feb 25, 2012 : 3:57 p.m.

Several times during construction I have parked at one of the parking structures and walked to Jerusalem Garden to purchase lunch. Each time I have asked for a parking validation sticker and I have always been told that Jerusalem Garden does not validate parking during construction. Either the DDA's claims of providing validation stickers are incredibly narrow, or JG employees have been lying for years. Which is it?


Sat, Feb 25, 2012 : 3:34 p.m.

If these are your best efforts Ms. Polly, please resign. Did you forget about the sinkhole Ms. Pollay, which nearly killed someone in the parking lot of Earthen Jar/Jerusalem Garden last year due to the construction project? Your response in this article mirror your actions- petty, pathetic and woefully misguided. Do Ann Arbor a favor Ms. Pollay, and resign


Sat, Feb 25, 2012 : 3:34 p.m.

Susan Pollay and the DDA need to go! Every 'benefit' she listed actually benefited and was necessary for their construction project! Taxation without representation DDA has to go!!


Sat, Feb 25, 2012 : 3:09 p.m.

There needs to be a public discussion about the nature and composition of the DDA. Perhaps it is time to reconstitute it so that it is more responsible to the city and not to special interests, including political interests, or even to abolish it.

Honey Badger Don't Care

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

Woah! Ryan! ANOTHER hard-hitting article! This is real news! You deserve a star sticker!


Sat, Feb 25, 2012 : 2:28 p.m.

$50 million. $71,000 per space, spread over the year is about per day. $195 per day, at 5% is about $10 per day per space, or $300 per month. Just slighthly over the current monthly rate of $140 the DDA charges. I just wanted to remind myself why this is such a wasteful project, but perhaps not if they keep raising rates.


Sat, Feb 25, 2012 : 2:27 p.m.

I'm still waiting to hear about "security" inside that underground parking structure. Sounds to me like an ideal mugging spot - no way I'm parking in there!


Sun, Feb 26, 2012 : 5:52 a.m.

I agree totally. I'll never park in any AA downtown parking structure, let alone an underground garage. Perfect place for punks to hang out and assault people. By the time any cops would get there, the thugs are long gone.


Sat, Feb 25, 2012 : 7:38 p.m.

I stopped going to the downtown library shorty after they closed up the open parking lot. I got very tired of being accosted by panhandlers and jostled going in the door by street people rushing to get upstairs. Bad enough when you are outside and can call for help - how long would it take with "security cameras" in an underground structure.


Sat, Feb 25, 2012 : 4:37 p.m.

I don't see how a below-ground parking structure is any more dangerous than an above-ground one. In either case, you're isolated. I suspect the new structure will have video monitors, just like nearly every other large enclosed public space these days. Also, I've never heard of any particular security problems at the underground parking structure next to the Power Center - how would this be any different?


Sat, Feb 25, 2012 : 2:17 p.m.

There are two things I just can't see. 1. How seeing "attractive streetscape improvements" on the street would make you hungry for falafel, and 2. Granting free parking to the employees would bring in more customers. Closing a street is harmful to the businesses on that street. Just ask all the folks on West Stadium Blvd. The question is simply, will the entities responsible (governmental or otherwise) actually step up and make USEFUL and SIGNIFICANT reparations? OH wait, they don't have to! It'll be over in 3 months. Nevermind.


Sat, Feb 25, 2012 : 3:36 p.m.

yea i was waiting for the 'we gave them some art for the front yard' defense also

Jim Osborn

Sat, Feb 25, 2012 : 1:53 p.m.

This project has to impact the local businesses in the area of Heijfte's Hole. What a clueless DDA bureaucrat, saying "that at no time during construction has customer access to the businesses been obstructed by the project." While perhaps true, whenever I drive by, south of 5th, which is many times a week, I am more concerned with how to get past this detour, not to stick around. There is no easy parking to be found, where in the past parking was easy. I also do not frequent the downtown library as often either, for similar reasons.


Sat, Feb 25, 2012 : 1:48 p.m.

btw, didn't there used to be an above-ground parking structure on this site? I came to town to work during an Art Fair about 30 years ago, long before I was a resident of the area, and I seem to recall parking in a structure around there.

Jim Osborn

Sat, Feb 25, 2012 : 2:03 p.m.

there was a big surface lot next door, with very easy access in and out, for years


Sat, Feb 25, 2012 : 1:46 p.m.

I think it's only fair to give tax breaks and perhaps take other measures to help businesses stay afloat when they are being harmed by public construction projects. That being said, perhaps they should also pay a special assessment to reflect the benefits they will realize once the project is completed - it seems an additional 700 parking spaces next door would be a real boost to their businesses. Those future benefits don't help them pay their bills today, but it seems they need to be figured into the mix if you're going to compensate them during construction.


Sat, Feb 25, 2012 : 4:30 p.m.

oh - so agents of City Hall are not public institutions? I think I'm starting to understand part of the problem with this debate. Look people, it can't be gravy all the time. When you live or have a business in a developed area like Ann Arbor, you're going to have major construction or maintenance projects from time to time. It's like the bellyaching of the businesses along West Stadium during that project. Sure, it made things tough for awhile, but THEY GOT A FIVE-LANE IMMACULATELY PAVED BOULEVARD BRINGING CUSTOMERS TO THEIR FRONT DOOR when the project was done. Jeez! Quit yer complaining and grow up!


Sat, Feb 25, 2012 : 3:38 p.m.

You have to ask if this is really a public project- last i knew the DDA was an agent of city hall they are not elected- they levy fees on the general public and do what they want with the money


Sat, Feb 25, 2012 : 1:32 p.m.

The dda provided parking to jerusalem garden and it's customers. My only question is whether Jerusalem Garden had parking spots (for instance behind their building) that they could not access during the construction. I doubt they had enough for their customers, but i wonder if they had space for employees. If J.G. did own inaccessible parking spots, then I find the dda's response of what they have done ingenious.


Sat, Feb 25, 2012 : 1:07 p.m.

Over and above the damage to local business and a traffic nightmare, it's just an abject waste of 50 mil. perhaps it will finds it's place as a new headquarters for the next " occupy " rabbel or street people to hang out, and lets not forget security issues...wait till the first robbery, mugging or worse and even here in OZ people might think twice about even going into the thing ..just another fine example of local ego's run amok with your money...


Sat, Feb 25, 2012 : 1:02 p.m.

"Could reopen in May" I'll give that a 1/12 probability ...


Sat, Feb 25, 2012 : 12:42 p.m.

What is the status of collecting on the standard performance bond from the contractor for not completing on time and turning those funds over to the affected businesses?


Sat, Feb 25, 2012 : 1:10 p.m.

with the cozy relationships that the companies have with the DDA, i doubt they'll go after a dime.


Sat, Feb 25, 2012 : 12:34 p.m.

I think a more appropriate headline for these street opening announcements would be formatted thusly: "Sixth date for reopening of Fifth Avenue given - this one's May" or "May proferred as next possible reopening for Fifth Avenue" It gets tired to keep wording it as if it's actually going to happen this time. At this point, it's just as likely that it could NOT reopen as it COULD. It COULD reopen in 2014, know what I mean?

T Wall

Sat, Feb 25, 2012 : 12:19 p.m.

In a debate with our Mayor, I remembered a question that was asked of both of us. "What would you like to see the vacant parking lot next to the Library be used for. I said I wanted to see a Common Area where during the cold months we would have an outdoor ice skating rink surrounded by exciting stores that would fit the surrounding atmosphere which would be similar to Millennium Park in downtown Chicago. Then, in the summer. it would change to a place where free concerts and plays would be given by our local high schools that were produced the year before. I wanted to see a speaker's corner where people could voice an opinion. The Park would not be made of cement or have uncomfortable seats like Liberty Square, but a green space with lots of trees. I remember our Mayor saying he would like to see a skating rink. After he won the election I never heard those words from him again. A few weeks ago I was saddened to witness the concrete over the underground parking lot. My vision of a completely green area has vanished forever. I am afraid if we don't stay involved in the four blocks in the middle of downtown Ann Arbor the same will happen. If you would like to get involved in my campaign running for Mayor please contact Tom Wall at


Sat, Feb 25, 2012 : 11:04 p.m.

Why did anything have to be done with the parking lot? It was fine the way it was.


Sat, Feb 25, 2012 : 12:18 p.m.

I wonder if the DDA, Mayor & City Council have considered building a new Train Station on top of the parking garage. It would much more convenient to the "thousands" of people who commute to downtown Ann Arbor every day. It would also give our city leaders another place to display some more expensive artwork.

T Wall

Sat, Feb 25, 2012 : 12:18 p.m.

My name is Tom Wall and I am considering running for Mayor for the third and last time I am a small business owner and strongly believe that the City of Ann Arbor must do more to make sure our businesses do well especially when construction is going on next to their business. I don't take the stand that business will come and go and that's the American Way. I few years ago a business on the West Side of Ann Arbor was losing customers because our city was re doing the road on West Stadium Blvd. His business could not be scène from road so the Owner asked the city if he could put a sign out by the road to let customer know he was still in business. Unfortunately, the city said no because of an ordinance. Sadly, It didn't take long for him to go out of business. We need to protect our Ma and Pa businesses, that's what Ann Arbor is all about. Recently, Herb David recently talked at a City Council about how his business has declined because of construction of the new underground parking lot next to the downtown library. The city needs to be more aware and extremely sensitive when roads and parking lots are closed for an extended period of time. Please contact me at if you would like to help my campaign for Mayor.


Sun, Feb 26, 2012 : 12:57 a.m.

" The city needs to be more aware and extremely sensitive when roads and parking lots are closed for an extended period of time" This is the only idea in this rambling post. Why does Tom not mention this phantom business and what EXACTLY they denied. Is it because he is making stuff up? Roads need to be fixed. What should the city have done? Let Stadium deteriorate. There are businesses affected by the Stadium bridge project. From where I live it is not convenient for me to head to many of those businesses now. It is not convenient for many coming from the other side to go to Stadium Deli, Cubs AC, Kroger, the laundromat, the Urgent care clinic. I don;t hear them screaming for city welfare. If Tom wants to run for mayor tell us a PROPOSAL of EXACTLY what you think you would do. Give us an idea of what it will COST and then talk to me. Until then you have failed miserably as a politician time and time again. I think that says more than enough about Tom


Sun, Feb 26, 2012 : 12:47 a.m.

eyeheart, resumes don't get you hired, they get you the interview. A comment on a news blog is a far cry from a resume and isn't something most people spend a lot of time analyzing and making several drafts of to ensure correct punctuation and/or spelling. It is an off the cuff message. The message is what's important in this case, not the manner in which it is conveyed. So, lighten up Frances!


Sat, Feb 25, 2012 : 9:57 p.m.

I will take that positen. 1irst, we need lawn siens and a good slogun. Im thinkin: Tom Wall fer Mayer!! Go agen the staates quote.

Sieben 7

Sat, Feb 25, 2012 : 9:24 p.m.

It would seem that EyeHeart would be a perfect addition to Tom's campaign in the form of reviewing his submissions so that they would better appeal to the intelligent people of Ann Arbor and not offend their sensibilities. It is easy to offer criticism that is not really germane to the ideas but rather, just to the delivery. Unfortunately, this is what you have done. Tom makes some valid points that should be considered rather than criticized for spelling and punctuation. Having said that, yes it would be nice to have a submission that would meet the approval of an English teacher. If, however, given a choice I will take the expression of ideas over the correctness of the message any day.


Sat, Feb 25, 2012 : 6:54 p.m.

Normally, I would agree with you, but here I don't. Do you spell things wrong on a resume' and expect to get hired? It is clear that Tom is stumping here and these posts are…..bad, especially for someone who wants to be mayor of the country's smartest city. Better to clean it up now than continue. Wouldn't you agree?

Sam Smith

Sat, Feb 25, 2012 : 5:15 p.m.

EyeHeartA2 Some people are more concerned about the message not the punctuation. Mr. Wall sounds like a much better candidate for mayor than the one we have.


Sat, Feb 25, 2012 : 3:01 p.m.

Communication is an important part of being mayor. I would like my next mayor to be able to put together a cohesive paragraph or two, including punctuation. In this regard, you fail miserably.

Jim Osborn

Sat, Feb 25, 2012 : 1:59 p.m.

A sign ordinance make perfect sense, under normal circumstances. Construction changes everything, so temporary business signs should be allowed, just as temporary construction signs are allowed.


Sat, Feb 25, 2012 : 12:16 p.m.

Downtown Business Owners: This story could be written about you and your business. You support and vote for members of the City Council who then select DDA members. Maybe you need to ask a few more questions before writing those checks and voting! The person with a (D) by their name might not be the person you want in office.


Sun, Feb 26, 2012 : 12:43 a.m.

idw, you don't have to be a democrat to distrust republicans who have a long history of screwing people. In a two party system you are kind of stuck with one party or the other. I carefully read about what the republican candidates stood for before the last election and found it to be the same old BS. Not about to lend credence to any tea party candidates. Not in this lifetime, anyways. And yes, xmo, I'm sure you'd like to see republicans take over Ann Arbor City Council. Let us pray that never happens.


Sat, Feb 25, 2012 : 4:12 p.m.

Forever27..A democrat accusing some one of " blind partisanship ".Thanks for starting my day with a laugh


Sat, Feb 25, 2012 : 1:09 p.m.

your blind partisanship is amazing. Every article you comment on you have a random reason to blame democrats for the problem. This issue is not a partisan one and I would be willing to wager that you'd run into the same cronyism regardless of the party affiliation of the council members.


Sat, Feb 25, 2012 : 12:07 p.m.

"Pollay said the DDA has tried to assist the businesses in every way possible to help lessen the impacts of the adjacent project." Yeah, every way other than getting the project done on schedule.

Chip Reed

Sat, Feb 25, 2012 : 11:53 a.m.

The DDA director can assert that they have done all these things to help the small businesses that are being harmed by "development". But for them to claim a value of $15,000 for the parking they have "given" these businesses is absurd. Value can't be claimed like this any more than the phony MSR prices on carpets, blinds, etc (70% off!!! Save now!!!). So, you bought some baclava. Gimme a break.