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twomutts Jan 24, 2009 2:10 PM

Looks like the Regents approved the practice facility:

Rizzo Feb 14, 2009 3:34 AM

Ann Arbor City Council may trim planned parking structure
by Judy McGovern | The Ann Arbor News
Friday February 13, 2009, 1:00 PM

A City Council vote is expected next week for financing Ann Arbor's first - and what many expect will be last - parking structure at a new location in decades.

The underground structure on the 300 block of South Fifth Avenue is on track to go forward.

However, there's apt to be one change: City Council members could trim an estimated $6 million from the Downtown Development Authority plan by eliminating a section that was to run under Fifth Avenue.

• Ann Arbor City Council talks underground parking, transit center expansion

• City of Ann Arbor to seek $60 million in bonds for various projects

"If the council wants to save some money and eliminate that, it's their call," said DDA board member Roger Hewitt, who's played a lead role in planning. "The reason we were going to do it was to increase the value and attractiveness of the city-owned property at Fifth and William."

The project site is now a surface parking lot at mid-block just north of the Ann Arbor District Library.

The stretch that had been planned for beneath the street extended from midblock to the property formerly occupied by the Ann Arbor Y. The city bought that property from the Y in 2005. And while city officials have all but abandoned the original reason for the acquisition, they do expect to make the property available for future development.

For Council Member Carsten Hohnke, $6 million is too steep a price for the value that might be added to the former Y property.

Hohnke's also ready to dial down the scale of the planned 785 parking spaces.

In a community promoting a multimodal approach to transportation, that big an increase in parking is just too much, he said.

"It's time to add some parking stock to the downtown, there's no question," he said. "But 500-plus spaces is consistent with what the DDA's consultant identified."

Hohnke is also among the city officials who've raised questions about the DDA's $56.4 million financing plan. With a 15 percent down payment in hand, the DDA board had planned to bond for the balance of around $47 million.

Together with a $9 million commitment to another smaller, parking project - a 244-space facility West Washington and South First streets - the DDA's budget would be tight for several years.

Still, the bond repayment plan is based on what's regarded as a reliable funding stream - parking revenue that totals more than $13 million a year. "I'm surprised at the concern," said Hewitt.

That's where potentially mixed motives come into play.

It's true that if the DDA can't make its debt payments, the city is responsible for paying bond holders.

It's also true that city officials have come to view the DDA - a city-authorized agency that gets a share of downtown property taxes - as a reservoir of cash, tapping it for everything from sidewalk work to an $8 million contribution to the new police-court building.

Yes, acknowledged City Council Member Leigh Greden, scaling back the Fifth Avenue plan would leave the DDA with money that the city might be use to cover some of its expenses.

It's also simply a more conservative approach, said Greden, who'd previously had reservations about extending the parking under Fifth Avenue. And any future developer could act on the plans that have been drawn up and already approved by the Planning Commission.

The City Council will discuss the project at its meeting Tuesday, moved back from its normal Monday schedule because of the Presidents Day holiday.

"All but abandoned its reason for acquiring the Y property"
They needed no reasons. It was such a dumpy and fugly property, even before the Y moved to their shiny new building. The city removed a blight and made it more attractive to new, higher density development. It is a shame there may be no underground parking on this site. I know the city is committed to obliterating surface parking and hiding new spaces wherever they can, but maybe a future developer can accommodate their own underground parking on this site someday. I do love when city council talk about limiting parking numbers downtown though. It seems like this case is the opposite in most other Michigan cities.

LMich Feb 14, 2009 4:29 AM

I'm reading this and still not understanding. How many spaces are they looking to shave off the thing, and how many underground floors are planned? It almost seems like this is much ado about almost nothing.

Rizzo Feb 14, 2009 5:19 AM

I posted a pdf somewhere with the plans, but now i forgot where I put them. Basically, this underground parking structure was supposed to saddle 5th ave and extend almost to 6th ave. They would add a new street so there isn't so much of a superblock. I'm actually confused because the old Y is a huge site. 785 to 500? What?

To make it more complicated, I keep hearing word of a planned convention center for this area. To be honest, I really didn't even want to read the whole article above. Development proposals in this area have been so confusing since the failure of William Station.

Rizzo Feb 24, 2009 10:26 PM

More on the garage from the Chronicle with superb illustration!

Rizzo Mar 11, 2009 11:28 AM

So apparently the new Police and Courts construction + City Hall renovation has begun. I've seen some postage stamp sized renderings, and they look really good from what I can tell. The city really needs this facility, since current spaces are very crowded.

I have a couple parking tickets I need to pay today, so I might get some "before shots"

The existing city hall will get some exterior facelifts too. The rendering doesn't do this project justice, the buildings materials should be really nice and there will be a substantial amount of landscaping.

LMich Mar 11, 2009 11:32 AM

Is the police and courts building directly behind or connected to city hall? Not knowing the layout of the city that well, I'm just trying to place this.

Rizzo Mar 12, 2009 3:22 AM

It's on a surface lot directly in front of city hall at the corner. All surface parking in front of the current city hall will be eliminated.

LMich Mar 12, 2009 4:21 AM

The residents here in Lansing are always bitching about the parking at our city hall, as there isn't anything but a few street spots to serve visitors, but it's helped force people to take the bus or walk the few blocks it takes to get from the city lots downtown.

DetroitSky Mar 31, 2009 4:27 PM

Excuse my ignorance, but what's the new looking tower at Huron and Ashley?

Rizzo Apr 1, 2009 4:51 AM

Ashley Terrace. Completed about a year ago. No one really posted many updates on it during construction.

ginsan2 Apr 16, 2009 1:56 AM

Ah, Ann Arbor. How painfully I miss you.

How poor my understanding of you still is.

Rizzo Apr 24, 2009 10:18 AM

Looks like some higher density development is coming to North Main

I've always wanted this area to beef up a bit, yet maintain alot of the historical housing. Well, here's the best of both worlds because this will fill an empty lot and knock out two of the dumpiest houses.

I really hope this goes through.

Rizzo May 7, 2009 7:54 AM

May 6 Construction Update.


(The Ass End. I'll get a front facade shot later)


Shot looking back at the public health school. I have begun to hear rumors, that the Mary Markley Residence in the foreground has a limited future, and that a bigger building may replace it. How limited that is I don't know, but I don't see it sticking around for another decade. IMO, the concrete block interiors and heavy doors are not the type of dorm that belongs on the U of M campus.....we're better than that ;-). Maybe that's why no one wants to live there.

ColDayMan May 8, 2009 3:47 AM

Good job, Haywolverine.

ginsan2 May 8, 2009 4:11 AM

I don't understand how Ann Arbor can nitpick to death any plan for a business trying to locate in the city, but then allow this godawful excuse for architecture.

Rizzo May 8, 2009 5:25 AM

^ i don't understand it either, and I don't think I ever will. I'm not a fan of 411, Zaragon, or Ashley Terrace. Nor was I fan of that 22 story precast proposal. I could speak for hours about this matter but will stay silent.

The University didn't stop to disappoint me with the new Public Health building (pictured bottom) either.

Oh well, that's my opinion I guess but glad to see another person agrees with me.

twomutts May 14, 2009 3:30 AM


Originally Posted by Hayward (Post 4213472)
Looks like some higher density development is coming to North Main

I've always wanted this area to beef up a bit, yet maintain alot of the historical housing. Well, here's the best of both worlds because this will fill an empty lot and knock out two of the dumpiest houses.

I really hope this goes through.

Not looking too good right now... Residents up there are upset that they're being called "NIMBY"s. They're calling themselves "YIMBY"s (if that makes any sense at all??). Could be a long fight on this one.

Ann Arbor City Planning Commission delays vote on Near North
by Stefanie Murray | The Ann Arbor News
Tuesday May 05, 2009, 10:07 PM
The Ann Arbor City Planning Commission delayed a vote tonight on the controversial plan to demolish rental houses along North Main Street to build a four-story apartment building.

The delay should give developers of Near North time to address some of the Planning Commission's concerns. The project will likely come back for a vote in June.

The two biggest issues planning commissioners raised are related to the rear setback of the building and the possibility of demolishing three nearby homes in the floodway for use as greenspace. Previously, the developers planned to renovate those homes.

Most commissioners said they appreciated that Near North is meant to provide affordable housing.

Near North is a planned four-story apartment building with 38 affordable housing apartments and some retail space. It's proposed on land between 626-724 N. Main St. just north of downtown Ann Arbor.

The local developers are Three Oaks Group, a real estate investment company, and Avalon Housing, an affordable housing nonprofit.

Neighbors oppose the project because of its size and scope in relation to nearby homes. Nearly 600 people signed a petition protesting the project, and more than a dozen came to tonight's meeting - many wearing stickers that said "No NeNo."

The property is currently zoned for office use. The developers are asking for a special planned unit development district zoning.

Rizzo May 14, 2009 5:12 AM

Thanks for finding that twomutts.

These nearby residents have very little reason to debate the issue. It's on one of Ann Arbor's busiest streets, and quite frankly, there are many homes on that stretch in disrepair. I hope the planning comission ignores them and gets on with real business. I saw some of these protest signs, and many were in yards blocks away from this developemnt completely out of the viewshed.

I really want to avoid saying something not so nice, but to be honest it was only a few years ago that this was the unpleasant side of town. I would hear never ending comments form people how seedy the entrance to such a nice downtown was coming off 14. Today, some building owners have done a superb job making improvements, and 211 Depot was a great addition. The houses they speak of demolishing are the worst looking in the area. I should grab a few photos. I don't see how neighborhoods could value their continued existence. Thinking " I want loud student renters, or a new development full of families and quiet renters that may raise property values."

I feel like these people are fighing a war they've already lost whether or not this gets built. Do they even look out their windows at Main Street at 4:45 pm?

ginsan2 May 14, 2009 5:29 AM


Originally Posted by Hayward (Post 4249191)
I feel like these people are fighing a war they've already lost whether or not this gets built. Do they even look out their windows at Main Street at 4:45 pm?

Have they ever driven down Main Street? At any time, day or night? It's bad enough that nothing cuts through in Ann Arbor; there aren't any serviceable side streets one could take to cut through to another street.

I think it's interesting that Ann Arbor is densifying in this manner. Ann Arbor, much like Boston, is a city owned and operated by entitled, super liberal baby boomers. Even worse, academics. If the design is good, and I say keep it old school, I'd be all for the project. But I have this fear that it's going to be another "We took this straight out of a 90's office building style"-type deal.

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