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  #101  
Old Posted May 19, 2009, 7:17 PM
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Proposed underground garage for downtown Ann Arbor could violate state pollution laws, environmental law group says

by Judy McGovern | The Ann Arbor News
Friday May 15, 2009, 7:42 AM


http://www.mlive.com/news/ann-arbor/...garage_fo.html

A Detroit-based environmental law group has sent the city of Ann Arbor a letter outlining what says is the basis for a lawsuit over the planned underground parking structure on Fifth Avenue.

The Great Lakes Environmental Law Center makes the case that the planned 677-space parking structure would harm air quality by facilitating more vehicle traffic in downtown Ann Arbor.

Secret discussions?

In addition to raising environmental arguments about the planned underground parking structure on Fifth Avenue, Noah Hall of the Great Lakes Environmental Law Center is questioning whether city officials violated the Michigan Open Meetings Act.
Rather than discuss questions about the structure openly, city officials exchanged e-mails during the public meetings at which borrowing for the project was approved.

Hall said he obtained private e-mail messages sent back and forth among half a dozen City Council members during that Feb. 17 meeting, via the Freedom of Information Act.

Round-robin phone conversations or e-mail that lead to a decision are at odds with sunshine laws when they involve a quorum of a given public body.

Hall says he has not filed a formal complaint.


That would violate state law, said Noah Hall, executive director of the law center.
City Attorney Stephen Postema had little to say about matter. "We'll review (it). Council's aware of it. I have no other comment on it."

An Ann Arbor resident, Hall teaches at Wayne State University where the law center is located.

He is married to Jennifer Hall, a former member of the city Planning Commission who now serves as chairwoman of the agency that proposed and would build and operate the parking structure, Ann Arbor's Downtown Development Authority.

Jennifer Hall was the only DDA member who voted against the structure, planned for the surface parking lot next to the Ann Arbor District Library. She also serves on the city's Greenbelt Commission.

Noah Hall sent his letter Thursday to the city officials on behalf of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the national Sierra Club and the Germantown Neighborhood Association - a new group in the near-downtown area south of William Street - and several individual city residents.

City officials had seen earlier drafts, said Hall, who says he had met with Postema, Mayor John Hieftje and others to review the concerns. The goal of the meetings, and Thursday's letter, was to see whether the matter could be resolved outside a courtroom, he said.

The emissions question revolves around whether the planned parking structure would actually increase the number of cars coming downtown. The Michigan Environmental Protection Act prohibits activity that is likely to pollute unless there is no alternative, Hall said.

If commuters are already coming in and parking in neighborhoods or elsewhere and there's would be no net gain, there's no harm.

However, that's not clear, said Hall. And research should be done.

If the new parking structure would ultimately replace other parking - such as some of what's now provided in surface lots - that would change the picture, too, he said.

But that fact that revenue from parking is to pay off the $38 million cost of the new structure creates some doubt about scaling back, Hall said. And there's no formal consensus much less a binding commitment.

There are a lot of unknowns, Hall said.

"Is it needed and can the need be met other ways? Is it going to create more CO2 and burn more energy or no? Maybe it's not, but I'd would like to see a real study."

Hieftje said he believed the city would be more than ready to defend itself. The mayor said he did worry that any litigation could delay what city officials think is a good time to do construction.

"We're really just replacing parking spaces that we've lost or could lose down the road," he said.

Jennifer Hall said Thursday the dispute is between her husband's clients and the City Council, and she doesn't foresee any conflicts.

There's no precedent for an environmental assessment of adding parking in Ann Arbor. Several structures have been rebuilt or expanded in recent years and several surface lots - officially temporary - have been added to the city's inventory.

The planned underground structure on Fifth Avenue did generate some debate because of its scale. City Council members trimmed it by 100 spaces when they approved borrowing for the project in February.

Judy McGovern can be reached at 734-994-6863 or jmcgovern@annarbornews.com.
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  #102  
Old Posted May 21, 2009, 11:28 PM
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  #103  
Old Posted Jun 10, 2009, 9:43 AM
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Shaman Drum To Close

http://www.mlive.com/news/ann-arbor/..._arbor_bo.html


Not development, but it's a huge blow to independently owned business. In my eyes, this place is to Ann Arbor as General Motors or Ford to Michigan. I simply can't imagine State Street without it.

This bookstore is a rite of passage to the University of Michigan. Every graduate can recount at least one experience of waiting in the long line outside, then up the stairway to grab a piece of Zingermmans bread then navigate through the maze of rooms and doorways filled with books floor to ceiling.

The place was seriously something out of a movie. I wish I could experience it one more time. I really don't know what to say. I don't think I've ever been this upset about anything Ann Arbor related ever.
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  #104  
Old Posted Jun 11, 2009, 3:59 AM
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I know that I buy most of my books from amazon.com. The others I get from Borders with their rewards coupons (30% off, etc.) which they desperately throw at me to get me to buy something (which I do!).

Did they have much of an architecture section? I think they carried some TCAUP professor's books, but the one time I was in there I didn't wander back deep enough to see what kinds of books they sold.

That's sad news though, I hope the literary arts center works out, and I hope that no one involved with the store was taken down financially with it.
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  #105  
Old Posted Jul 8, 2009, 8:15 AM
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Hey all. Since I'm graduated and no longer a student at U of M, my public server space is being reduced, and I have a monumental amount of data I need to keep online. Everything else, such as all my photo threads and update images, I'm going to delete. That means everything I've posted in this thread, will no longer be available.

Due to lack of attention, and since I'm moving away from Ann Arbor in a couple weeks, I'm going to no longer update this thread with articles or photos. The final update will be tomorrow, which will be North Quad, Michigan Stadium, Mott Children's, 411, Zaragon, Business School, and Hill Dining/MoJo.

If there are any other requests let me know. I'll keep the photos up for about 10 days, then I'll delete them.
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  #106  
Old Posted Jul 19, 2009, 4:00 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hayward View Post
Hey all. Since I'm graduated and no longer a student at U of M, my public server space is being reduced, and I have a monumental amount of data I need to keep online. Everything else, such as all my photo threads and update images, I'm going to delete. That means everything I've posted in this thread, will no longer be available.

Due to lack of attention, and since I'm moving away from Ann Arbor in a couple weeks, I'm going to no longer update this thread with articles or photos. The final update will be tomorrow, which will be North Quad, Michigan Stadium, Mott Children's, 411, Zaragon, Business School, and Hill Dining/MoJo.

If there are any other requests let me know. I'll keep the photos up for about 10 days, then I'll delete them.
University of Michigan is actually my top choice school, today I wanted to see pictures of Ann Arbor and remembered you (Hayward) had tons of pictures. Really glad I came on today to check, since it seems like anytime now they will be deleted. Would have been shock to come and there were no pictures.
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  #107  
Old Posted Jul 19, 2009, 11:30 AM
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Ah, so maybe if you choose U of M you can continue the updates. Glad you appreciate the pictures! I'm really going to miss A2. Actually, I'm very depressed I'm leaving. I love this place so much. Everything about it is unique and fantastic. I just can't find anything similar elsewhere in Michigan

This past week has been incredibly busy with the art fair. It was nice to walk around a couple days and get some photos







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  #108  
Old Posted Jul 20, 2009, 5:05 PM
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The real question: will you be joining the exodus from our Great Lakes State? I've had an RSS news feed for Michigan jobs on Indeed.com for a year or so, trying to keep track of any that become available, and I dare say there have been fewer than 20 openings. Of course, many municipalities only post on their respective Web sites, but it doesn't look good. What's our average graduating class at Michigan alone? 60?

Although it's not design-related, Assistant Director of Development just opened up in your and my hometown:

http://www.saginaw-mi.com/Government...of%20Devel.pdf

Best of luck, wherever you're headed. Honestly, I can't wait for this next year to be over
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  #109  
Old Posted Jul 21, 2009, 10:14 AM
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Thanks for the posting, but I honestly think I'm on my way out of the state. Actually, my specialities are transportation planning and urban design, which are much easier to find elsewhere. Even if jobs were to be plentiful here, it's more of a choice to move to a different city to achieve the lifestyle I want, unless the job here in Michigan is just too good to pass or an opening to something better. My gateway drugs were Ann Arbor and traveling. I'll be moving back home for a bit, but I have enough saved up to move somewhere else if necessary before finding a job.

Good luck on this next year! Can't believe almost 3/4 of the summer has passed.
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  #110  
Old Posted Jul 21, 2009, 9:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hayward View Post
Hey all. Since I'm graduated and no longer a student at U of M, my public server space is being reduced, and I have a monumental amount of data I need to keep online. Everything else, such as all my photo threads and update images, I'm going to delete. That means everything I've posted in this thread, will no longer be available.
Would you be willing to rehost your pictures? Even if sites like flickr.com want annual fees for more than 200 pictures, you could try www.majhost.com which is a free photo hosting site with no limit that I am aware of. Of course, fixing links to existing threads on skyscraper page could be time consuming. Will you remain a SSP member?

Sorry to see you leave Ann Arbor and Michigan. I fully understand your feeling of sadness, I also wish I could of afforded to remain in A2.
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  #111  
Old Posted Jul 23, 2009, 2:20 AM
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Originally Posted by DecoJim View Post
Would you be willing to rehost your pictures? Even if sites like flickr.com want annual fees for more than 200 pictures, you could try www.majhost.com which is a free photo hosting site with no limit that I am aware of. Of course, fixing links to existing threads on skyscraper page could be time consuming. Will you remain a SSP member?

Sorry to see you leave Ann Arbor and Michigan. I fully understand your feeling of sadness, I also wish I could of afforded to remain in A2.

It would take a while to rehost them and all the threads I've done. The above pictures are from flickr so they'll stay, but I don't like hosting construction photos on my flickr, unless they are really interesting in some way.
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  #112  
Old Posted Jul 28, 2009, 6:39 AM
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It was recently brought to my attention that these buildings will be demolished on State street, but with facades preserved. A CVS is confirmed to be outfitted within the main space. All current businesses (including ones that just opened) will be vacated. This project has been approved by the historic district commission.

Demolish


Demolish


Preserve Facade/gut building (where CVS would likely go)


Sava will move across the street

Last edited by Rizzo; Jul 28, 2009 at 9:01 PM.
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  #113  
Old Posted Aug 24, 2009, 12:22 AM
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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hxwduvuzn54


"hole" refers to the underground parking structure planned for construction downtown. The project is high speculative in that no one knows what will rise above it. Convention Center or hotel

"bridge" refers to the E Stadium overpasses which have been narrowed to two lanes because of weakening structural members. The bridges were built in the early 1900's. The road overpass has a federal sufficiency rating of 2 out of 100 and is functionaly obsolete, meaning it is eligible for federal support for full replacement.
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  #114  
Old Posted Aug 25, 2009, 11:10 AM
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From Annarbor.com
New York investors proposing hotel and conference center for development in downtown Ann Arbor

Posted: 2:40 p.m. August 24, 2009

18 Comments. Comment Now

Picture a 15-story hotel and conference center rising from the top of a new underground parking structure in downtown Ann Arbor.

t could include up to 200 rooms, as well as a smaller number of high-level suites, with restaurants and shops at the street level. The roof of the conference center would be a summer garden open to the public with a skating rink in the winter. Inside the building, a spacious ballroom would seat up to 1,000 people.

That's one vision for the future of a city-owned parcel on Fifth Avenue, where the Downtown Development Authority plans to break ground next spring on a 677-space parking structure next to the downtown library.

The question now is: What goes on top of that parking structure?

Representatives for a group of private investors from New York confirmed today they'll be submitting a proposal for a hotel and conference center project, potentially costing $30 million to $50 million to build, and involving a public-private partnership. Details of the potential partnership have not been disclosed.

The group of investors is being represented locally by two Ann Arbor business professionals - attorney Bruce Elliott and business consultant Fritz Seyferth. Both were college roommates and football teammates under coach Bo Schembechler at the University of Michigan from 1969-1971.

“It will be a wonderful concept for the city,” said Seyferth, who doesn't yet want to disclose the identities of the investors or any specific project plans.

He said a detailed proposal will soon be coming to the city and also said at least two firms are involved, both with offices in New York.

The city announced on its Web site last week that it's soliciting proposals from private developers who may have a vision for what goes on top of the underground parking structure being built by the DDA. The city has set a Nov. 13 deadline for proposals for development of the 1.2-acre lot owned by the city at 319 S. Fifth Ave.

City Administrator Roger Fraser confirmed the city has been approached by representatives for the New York-based developers over the past year. In fact, Fraser relayed their vision to City Council members at a retreat in January.

“There's all sorts of things people would like to see there,” Fraser said of proposals for what's known as the Library Lot. “The RFP was very purposefully crafted to not have a set of expectations. We wanted respondents to the RFP to come to us having looked at the market, having looked at the community, and having made their best guesses as to what fits there and what works economically."

Fraser said city officials aren't yet leaning toward one idea over another, but noted the concept of a hotel and conference center is one that will be considered. He said the proposal includes a creative use of the parcel, such as the public park atop the conference center.

Vivienne Armentrout, a former Washtenaw County commissioner from 1997-2004, has been critical of the city in recent posts on her blog, claiming the request for proposals the city sent out are tailored for a “secret plan for the conference center.”

“The question of course, is: will this RFP truly be an opportunity for many competing ideas for the best use for the top of the underground parking structure? Or it is merely a vehicle for a 'done deal' to put into place the secret proposal mentioned in January?” she writes. “My conclusion: it is 'wired.'”

Armentrout reports that the proposal has strong support from a team called Valiant Partners LLC, which includes - in addition to Seyferth - New York resident Bruce Zenkel, a major donor to U-M's Ross School of Business and U-M Athletics; Michael Bailkin, a dealmaker from New York; and Keith D. Coe, CEO of VF Hotels.

The city's Downtown Plan, adopted by the Planning Commission in May, states a goal of the city to “support the private development of a downtown conference/civic center within the core area.” The plan also states the city is interested in investigating “the costs and benefits of public funding participation in the construction and/or operation of such a downtown visitor attraction.”

“A downtown conference center could have a significant, positive impact on the downtown economy, especially its retail sector,” the plan states.

Seyferth said his primary interest in the project is helping to move Ann Arbor forward. He said he's gotten positive feedback in the community about the hotel and conference center concept and believes there's a strong need for it in the community.

"This is not a convention center - it would be a conference center targeted to the intellectual properties that reside in the greater Ann Arbor community,” Seyferth said.

He said it could be a meeting place for high-level discussions about emerging concepts, for instance, in alternative energy or new battery technologies.

"We pride ourselves in the Midwest as being a hub of remarkable intelligence in Ann Arbor,” Seyferth said. “We're trying to say, 'Why don't we create a center here where we attract those people?'”

DDA Executive Director Susan Pollay said the parking structure and related infrastructure improvements over the next two years have been designed to accommodate a building as tall as 20 stories, in case there's interest in going vertical.

“We're designing the infrastructure to allow us to have that conversation,” she said. “We're putting in all the pieces so we can, as a community, talk about that vision, what should go there, what complements the library, what would be a really good connection that continues us between Liberty Street and William Street. There's infrastructure in place to support whatever it is we come up with.”

Ryan J. Stanton covers government for AnnArbor.com. Reach him at ryanstanton@annarbor.com or 734-623-2529.
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  #115  
Old Posted Aug 26, 2009, 5:26 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DetroitMan View Post
Vivienne Armentrout, a former Washtenaw County commissioner from 1997-2004, has been critical of the city in recent posts on her blog, claiming the request for proposals the city sent out are tailored for a “secret plan for the conference center.”

“The question of course, is: will this RFP truly be an opportunity for many competing ideas for the best use for the top of the underground parking structure? Or it is merely a vehicle for a 'done deal' to put into place the secret proposal mentioned in January?” she writes. “My conclusion: it is 'wired.'”
To tell you the truth, before I even got to this part of the article, this is what I'd already figured. But, would it be wrong to say that I don't really care if it's rigged given the downtown's need for conference center hotel?
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  #116  
Old Posted Oct 19, 2009, 8:03 PM
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Here is an update on the North Quad student dorm. Scheduled for completion in 2010.

July 2009:

Photo credit: Flickr user Eridony: http://www.flickr.com/photos/eridony/3933285260/

October 2009:

Photo credit: me: http://www.flickr.com/photos/decojim/4018596316/

October 2009 (closeup showing quality of stone and brick work):

Photo credit: me:http://www.flickr.com/photos/decojim/4018580070/
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  #117  
Old Posted Oct 23, 2009, 6:00 PM
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Thanks for those photos Jim. The masonry rose quickly on the State street elevation.
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  #118  
Old Posted Oct 23, 2009, 6:14 PM
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I was quite surprised by that, too. It's looking great. I just wish the ground level would have been planned for better interaction with the road. Oh, well...what can you expect from university architecture?
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  #119  
Old Posted Oct 23, 2009, 10:25 PM
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Yes, it could have been a good opportunity to extend more retail or at leas have more transparency down to Huron.
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  #120  
Old Posted Oct 25, 2009, 11:07 PM
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Blaze Guts former Pinball Pete's, University Towers Damaged

http://www.annarbor.com/news/ann-arb...ty-and-church/


A friend of mine was living in a unit in U-Towers on the lower level facing the fire. All her stuff was destroyed

This is not the current Pinball Pete's which operates in the lower level of the Galleria Shopping Mall across the street.
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