Comments on: Downtown Zoning Revisions Move Forward it's like being there Tue, 16 Sep 2014 04:56:38 +0000 hourly 1 By: Tom Whitaker Tom Whitaker Thu, 15 May 2014 12:24:10 +0000 If one overlays the downtown zoning map over the historic district map, one can see that the residential-scale East William Historic district was made D2, while the lots across William were made D1. It seems the D2 buffer concept outlined in the Downtown Plan didn’t quite make it into the zoning map in most of the places it should have. Though not an historic district, Church Street is another example where D1 was allowed to be put right up against much lower-scale neighborhoods.

It seems those who made these final zoning decisions were more concerned about maximizing downtown development rather than achieving a desirable, livable balance between new and old, big and small, dense and less dense, even young and old. Looking at some of the jarring results, visitors to Ann Arbor will be shaking their heads for generations.

By: Mary Morgan Mary Morgan Wed, 14 May 2014 20:38:58 +0000 Re. “…I don’t see that anyone, including staff, mentioned that the north end of the 425 S. Main site is immediately adjacent to the East William Street historic district to the east.”

That fact was included in the written staff report, which city planner Alexis DiLeo summarized on May 6 [link]:

The site has significant potential for large-floor plate development and is ideally located as part of a southern gateway to the Main Street district but is separated by only an alley from a historic residential neighborhood to the east. It has frontage on three public streets and its fourth side abuts a public alley.

The staff report also quotes a section from the ENP & Associates report, which mentions the historic neighborhood. From that report:

The site has a number of challenges due to its size and location. First, the parcel could accommodate a large first floor, unique in the downtown. Uses that often require a large floor plate are office buildings and larger retail. The intersection is a gateway, framed by taller buildings on the west side. However the east edge abuts an alley separating the parcel from a historic residential neighborhood. The challenge is to maintain the unique development opportunity of a large floor plate, and create an entrance to the downtown while respecting the neighborhood to the east.

The site if built out to its full potential under premiums may not meet the intent of the downtown zoning to preserve and protect historic resources at the east corner. Similar concerns about massing were expressed during the Connecting William Street process.

Commissioners frequently referenced the residential neighborhood to the east, but I don’t recall that the historic district was specifically mentioned during the commission’s deliberations on May 6. Certainly it was not a focus of their discussion.

Here’s a .pdf file with a map showing the district’s location. [link] The 425 S. Main site isn’t shown, but it’s located just west of the alley that’s visible on the far west side of this map, on the south side of East William.

By: Tom Whitaker Tom Whitaker Wed, 14 May 2014 19:51:32 +0000 Unless I missed it or it’s not reported here, I don’t see that anyone, including staff, mentioned that the north end of the 425 S. Main site is immediately adjacent to the East William Street historic district to the east.