The concrete base poured to support the tower crane is now fodder for the jackhammers. Sidewalks need to be accessible before the public portion of the garage can be used for actual public parking. [photo]
Washington is closed to through traffic, both lanes, as some elaborate crane work progresses. [photo]
Fire alarm going off at the building under construction at First and Washington. Fire department on site.
Electronic sign shows 64 available spaces in the not-yet-open public parking in the lower levels of City Apartments, which is still under construction. [photo]
The Ann Arbor city council has approved a step necessary for the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority to satisfy its commitment to support the construction of the parking deck within Village Green’s City Apartments project. The residential project is currently under construction at the southeast corner of First and Washington.
The step taken by the council was to create a project budget for the proceeds of bonds sold by the city on Jan. 22, 2013 – $8,666,075 total, of which $4,079,743 were taxable and $4,586,332 were non-taxable. The council created the project budget at its Feb. 19, 2013 meeting. The authorization to issue the bonds had come at the council’s Oct. 4, 2010 meeting.
The DDA is committed to covering payments …
Street markings of where the Allen Creek drain runs under West Liberty, possibly related to the construction of Village Green’s “Ann Arbor City Apartments” at First & Washington. [photo]
Humpty Dumpty sits on his Cavern Club wall keeping an eye on the rising new building and all. [photo]
At its Nov. 10, 2011 meeting, the Ann Arbor city council authorized a land deal that sold the city-owned First and Washington lot to Village Green. Village Green will build a 244-space parking deck as the first two stories of a 9-story building with 156 dwelling units – City Apartments.
The purchase price of the land is $3,200,000, the bulk of which ($2,500,000 plus $500,000 previously borrowed from the risk fund to cover construction costs) is earmarked for the city’s new municipal building fund. The city has previously received $103,000 in earnest money. The city is covering $5,000 in closing costs – that puts net proceeds of the transaction at $3,092,000. The remaining $92,000 (after appropriating the $3 million total for the municipal center) and the earnest money will be appropriated to the general fund, designated as “non-departmental” (as non-recurring revenue), where it will add to the general fund reserve.
The Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority has pledged around $9 million of support for bonds to pay for the parking deck component of City Apartments – the city will own that part of the project. Payment is not owed to Village Green for the parking deck construction until a certificate of occupancy is issued for the parking deck, which is expected to open for business in about a year (late 2012), before the residential portion of the project is complete.
The deal had a five-year trajectory after the city council first approved the recommendation of the First and Washington RFP Review Committee, and the city started negotiations with Village Green for the sale and redevelopment of the site. The goals of the deal were: to increase downtown residential density; replace public parking spaces; maximize the sale price; and maximize future tax revenue, captured by the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority TIF (tax increment finance) district.
The vote by the council required an 8-vote majority on the 11-member body, because the city charter stipulates that “The City shall not purchase, sell, or lease any real estate or any interest therein except by resolution concurred in by at least eight members of the Council.”
Also at the meeting, the council approved the affordable housing component of the project. Under those terms, 16 of the units must be permanently affordable to households earning no more than 80% of the area median income (AMI).
The Ann Arbor DDA has also agreed to support the project with $400,000 from its housing fund, if four of the 80% AMI rental units are made affordable at the 60% AMI level. The affordable units will be of the same appearance and finish as other units and would be distributed throughout the project.
This brief was filed from the city council’s chambers on the second floor of city hall, located at 301 E. Huron. A more detailed report will follow: [link]
Ann Arbor city council meeting (Oct. 17, 2011): At its meeting last Monday, the Ann Arbor city council acted on two different residential development projects for the block of Fifth Avenue just south of William Street. Both projects are owned by the same developer.
At the time of their votes – on the matter-of-right City Place and the planned unit development Heritage Row – councilmembers knew that one set of actions would become moot. Only one of the projects, located on the same site, would be built. A few days after the meeting, news emerged that Heritage Row is now off the table and that City Place will move forward, with construction planned to start sometime this fall.
That meant that the council’s action last Monday, to give initial approval to the Heritage Row project, will ultimately have no effect. Developer Jeff Helminski requested that the item be pulled from the council’s Oct. 24 meeting – a meeting that had been added to the council’s calendar specifically to take a second and final vote on the Heritage Row project.
At their Oct. 17 meeting, the council took two actions on the already-approved City Place project – one to allow flexible application of the city’s new landscape ordinance, and a second to approve additional windows on the upper stories and to change the siding. That added to an Oct. 3 decision by the council to allow greater flexibility in the sequencing of City Place construction.
Also on Monday, the council confirmed two appointments to the city’s zoning board of appeals. The ZBA is a body that has purview to hear any challenges to city decisions about the correct application of city ordinances and the appropriateness of administrative decisions, including those associated with matter-of-right projects like City Place.
In other real estate development news out of Monday’s meeting, the council approved changes to the elevations for City Apartments, a residential project at First and Washington scheduled to start construction yet this season. The council is expected to authorize the sale of the city-owned parcel at its Nov. 10 meeting.
The council approved the annexation into the city of a township parcel where Biercamp Artisan Sausage & Jerky has set up shop. A tax abatement for Arbor Networks, a computer network security firm, was also approved by the council.
Another significant item on the council’s agenda was the appropriation of $25,000 from the city’s general fund reserve to keep the warming center open this year, which is operated by the Shelter Association of Washtenaw County in the Delonis Center on Huron Street.
The council also approved a resolution of intent on the use of sidewalk and street millage funds, which voters will be asked to approve at the polls on Nov. 8. The resolution was amended to clarify how funding will work for sidewalk repair adjacent to commercial properties inside the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority district.
At its Oct. 17, 2011 meeting, the Ann Arbor city council approved modifications to Village Green’s already-approved City Apartments planned unit development (PUD) at First and Washington. [This should not be confused with the similarly named City Place matter-of-right proposal by a different developer on South Fifth Avenue].
The changes include increasing the height of the structure from 94 to 104 feet, adding an entrance on First Street, modifying the window type and size on the residential portion of the building, and adding ventilation screens on the east side (alley) of the building.
The City Apartments project was given PUD zoning and site plan approval by the council on Nov. 6, 2008. The nine-story building will include 156 dwelling units and 244 parking spaces on the first two floors. The site is currently a city-owned property functioning as a surface parking lot with 64 spaces, after the parking structure there had to be demolished due to its poor structural condition. The new parking deck, which will offer spaces to the general public as well as to residents, is being financed by the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority.
The sale of the property, for a little over $3 million, is part of the city of Ann Arbor’s financing plan for construction of the new municipal center, which houses the police department and the 15th District Court. The council has extended the purchase option on the First and Washington property several times, most recently on Aug. 4, 2011.
At one of the DDA board’s late August committee meetings, news of a pending deal and imminent construction was relayed to committee members. The council is expected to authorize the closing on the deal at its Nov. 10, 2011 meeting. Signs at the First and Washington parking lot warn patrons of the lot’s imminent closure.
This brief was filed from the city council’s chambers on the second floor of city hall, located at 301 E. Huron. A more detailed report will follow: [link]
The city of Ann Arbor’s automatic email delivery system sent a message today that the developer for the City Place residential project on South Fifth Avenue has submitted proposed revisions to a site plan already approved by the city council on Sept. 21, 2009.
The development calls for the demolition of seven houses and the construction of two apartment buildings separated by a parking lot, with 24 total dwelling units – each with six bedrooms.
In a telephone interview, Wendy Rampson, head of planning for the city, indicated that the revisions currently proposed can be approved administratively, without coming before the planning commission or the city council. Pre-construction meetings were held two weeks ago, she said, and the intent is to begin …
At its Aug. 15, 2011 meeting, the Ann Arbor city council approved the temporary loan of $3 million from its pooled investment fund (Fund 0099) to the building fund for its new municipal center (Fund 0008), which is nearing completion.
The loan is needed because the sale of the city-owned First and Washington property to Village Green for its City Apartments development has not yet been finalized. The new municipal center’s financing plan included $3 million in proceeds from that sale. The loan from the city’s pooled investment funds will allow the construction bills to be paid.
The city’s pooled investment fund includes all eligible cash across all city funds – interest earned on the pooled funds is apportioned back to each fund based on the relative amount of cash from that fund in the pool.
The building fund will incur a cost of 1.93% annual interest on the money lent from the investment pool. According to the staff memo accompanying the resolution, on a short-term basis, the interfund lending approach is more desirable than borrowing money from a lending institution, because of lower transaction costs, lower interest rates and no prepayment penalties. The short-term financing strategy of lending the building fund $3 million from the pooled investment fund will not have an impact on the city’s general fund, if the land sale is finalized. However, the short-term financing strategy does not eliminate the risk to the general fund, if the land sale does not go through.
The city bonded for about $47 million for the municipal building project. The yearly bond payments of $1.85 million can be broken down roughly as follows: $508,000 in TIF capture pledged by the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority; $490,000 in revenue from antenna rights; $455,000 in elimination of leases for space; $175,000 in elimination of utilities for leased space; $225,000 pledged by the 15th District Court facility fund.
The council had been advised by interim city administrator and chief financial officer Tom Crawford at its Aug. 4, 2011 meeting to expect some kind of short-term financing proposal on its Aug. 15 agenda. And more than a year earlier, at a city council work session in April 2010, the council discussed the city’s contingency plan of taking out short-term financing in the event the land sale did not materialize.
With respect to the land sale, at its Aug. 4 meeting, the council extended the purchase option agreement with the developer Village Green for the city-owned First and Washington site, where the developer plans to build Ann Arbor City Apartments. It’s a 9-story, 99-foot-tall building with 156 dwelling units, which includes a 244-space parking deck on its first two stories.
The land deal was originally set at $3.3 million, but was reduced by the council at its June 6, 2011 meeting to $3.2 million. The reduction in price approved at the council’s June 6 meeting was based on a “bathtub design” for the foundation that is intended to prevent water from ever entering the parking structure, eliminating the need for pumping water out into the city’s stormwater system. However, the Aug. 4 purchase option extension came at a cost of $50,000 to Village Green.
The parking deck portion of Village Green’s City Apartments project is being developed in cooperation with the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority, which has pledged to make payments on around $9 million worth of bonds, after the structure is completed and has been issued a permit for occupancy.
According to the staff memo accompanying the Aug. 4 resolution, Village Green still hopes to break ground on the project in the 2011 construction season.
As a historical point related to the planned use of the sale proceeds for the new municipal center construction, the council defeated a resolution on March 17, 2008 to extend the Village Green purchase option agreement for First and Washington. At the council’s following meeting, on April 7, 2008, the measure was brought back for reconsideration, and the council voted unanimously to extend the agreement. The key difference was the addition of a “resolved clause,” which stated: “Resolved, that the proceeds from this sale shall be designated to the general fund, Fund 010.”
This brief was filed from the city council’s chambers on the second floor of city hall, located at 301 E. Huron. A more detailed report will follow: [link]
At its Aug. 4, 2011 meeting, the Ann Arbor city council voted again to extend the purchase option agreement with Village Green on the city-owned First and Washington site, where the developer plans to build Ann Arbor City Apartments. It’s a 9-story, 99-foot-tall building with 156 dwelling units, which includes a 244-space parking deck on its first two stories.
The delay in the land deal – which was originally $3.3 million and reduced by the council at its June 6 meeting to $3.2 million – means that the city’s contingency plan (for the failure of anticipated revenue from the sale to materialize in a timely way) will need to be exercised.
Of the purchase price, $3 million was part of the city of Ann Arbor’s financing plan for the new municipal center, which is currently in the final stages of construction. According to the staff memo accompanying the Aug. 4 purchase option extension, the city council will likely be asked at its Aug. 15 meeting to approve a short-term loan to cover the municipal building construction costs that would have otherwise been covered by the purchase of the land. At a city council work session in April 2010, the contingency plan of taking out a short-term loan – costing $150,000 – had caught the eye of Sandi Smith (Ward 1), who questioned the item in the budget planning for that year.
The additional extension approved Aug. 4 is through Nov. 3, 2011, and comes at a cost of a $50,000 non-refundable payment by Village Green to the city. The extension approved by the council also allows an additional 30-day extension – to Dec. 3, 2011 – to be made by the city administrator in exchange for an additional $50,000 non-refundable payment.
At the council’s July 18 meeting, interim city administrator Tom Crawford had given the city council a heads up that an additional extension to the purchase option agreement would likely be necessary.
The timeline revised by the council at its Aug. 4 meeting was put in place on Aug. 5, 2010 – when the city council approved an extension that called for Village Green to purchase the land by June 1, 2011. However, that deadline was subject to an extension of 90 days by the city administrator – an option which Crawford then exercised.
The parking deck portion of the project is being developed in cooperation with the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority, which has pledged to make payments on around $9 million worth of bonds, after the structure is completed and has been issued a permit for occupancy.
According to the staff memo accompanying the Aug. 4 resolution, Village Green still hopes to break ground on the project this construction season.
In a separate item, the council authorized an increase in the contract to $60,000 (previously authorized up to $25,000) with James C. Adams of Ufer & Spaniola, P.C. for legal consulting in connection with the City Apartments/First and Washington parking structure project. The city is to be reimbursed by Village Green for the cost of this legal work.
At its June 6, 2011 meeting, the Ann Arbor city council authorized a revision to the purchase option agreement with Village Green on the city-owned First and Washington site, where the developer plans to build a 9-story, 99-foot-tall building with 156 dwelling units. That revision reduces the price from $3.3 million to $3.2 million.
The break on the price is related to the “bathtub” design for the foundation of a 244-space parking deck, which makes up the first two stories of the development. The site of the development is near Allen Creek, and some kind of design strategy is required in order to deal with the possibility of water entering the parking structure. Rather than use a hybrid design that would entail pumping water out of the structure and into the city’s stormwater system on an ongoing basis, Village Green wants to use a complete bathtub-type design that will cost around $250,000. The city’s price break is thus a portion of that cost.
The parking deck is being developed in cooperation with the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority, which has pledged to make payments on around $9 million worth of bonds, after the structure is completed and has been issued a permit for occupancy.
The timeline put in place on Aug. 5, 2010 – when the city council most recently approved an extension of Village Green’s option to purchase the First and Washington city-owned parcel – called for Village Green to purchase the land by June 1, 2011. However, that deadline was subject to an extension of 90 days by the city administrator – an option which the interim administrator then exercised. That sets a new deadline of Aug. 30, 2011 for purchase of the parcel. The proceeds from the sale of the land were a part of the city’s financing plan for the new municipal center at Fifth and Huron, which is currently in the final stages of construction.
Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority board meeting (Feb. 2, 2011): On a day when other government bodies scrubbed their schedules due to a blizzard forecast, the DDA board held firm to its regular first-Wednesday-of-the-month meeting time. The diminished activity downtown due to the snow led Roger Hewitt to quip during the meeting: “This will not be a particularly profitable day in the parking system, I think we can safely say.” The meeting achieved attendance of 10 out of 12 board members.
In their one business item, the board approved an amendment to the contract with Village Green to develop a 244-space parking deck as the first two stories of a 9-story, 99-foot-tall building, City Apartments – a 156-unit residential planned unit development (PUD) at First and Washington.
Once the parking deck portion of the building is completed and issued a certificate of occupancy, the city of Ann Arbor has agreed to issue $9 million worth of bonds to purchase the deck, and the DDA has agreed to make the payments on those bonds. The amendment to the contract provides DDA consultants access to the site during construction activities to check that construction methods conform to standards that will ensure a 75-year life for the deck.
On the city council’s agenda for Monday, Feb. 7, 2011 is their own approval of the same amendment to the Village Green contract. The contract amendment is part of a timeline put in place on Aug. 5, 2010, when the city council approved an extension of Village Green’s option to purchase the First and Washington city-owned parcel for $3 million. That timeline calls for Village Green to purchase the land by June 1, 2011.
The $3 million proceeds from the hoped-for Village Green deal were part of the financing plan for the city’s new municipal center, and would have no direct impact on the current general fund’s $2.4 million deficit that’s forecast for the FY 2012 budget. However, during deliberations some DDA board members accepted the point made by their colleague Newcombe Clark – that there are likely indirect connections between the completion of the Village Green transaction and the city’s overall budget picture, at least in terms of cash flow.
In reports and communications entertained by the board, highlights included: (1) a continued interest on the part of the University of Michigan to absorb a segment of Monroe Street into the UM Law School campus; (2) complaints from the property manager at 416 Huron St. about disrepair of an alley and adjoining sidewalks in the area, as well as a lack of maintenance on property owned by the railroad; and (3) an elaboration by the mayor on some remarks about Borders that he’d made and that had been reported in the media.
Ann Arbor City Council meeting (Oct. 4, 2010): While the city council postponed two major pieces of business, it did take action on two others.
First, the council voted to discontinue a pilot program to turn off selected streetlights. The program was designed to save $120,000 for the current fiscal year’s budget [FY 2011]. No additional streetlights will be turned off, and those that were switched off as part of the pilot program will be turned back on.
And the council voted to authorize the issuance of $9 million in general obligation bonds in connection with the parking deck to be built as part of Village Green’s City Apartments project at First and Washington. The bonds could take the form of conventional tax-exempt bonds, or other bonds, depending on which are legally available and most advantageous to the city when they’re issued. The bonds won’t be needed until the construction of Village Green’s project is completed.
In 2008 the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority passed a resolution authorizing that the bond payments be made from revenues generated by the city’s public parking system, which is managed by the DDA. The city council approved an extension to the purchase option agreement for the land at its Aug. 5 meeting.
Two expected votes did not take place. Revisions to the city’s zoning code that would change the specifications for area, height and placement in most zoning districts of the city outside the downtown were postponed at the request of Marcia Higgins (Ward 4), who said that she had questions she’d been unable to submit in time to get answers.
And in the absence of Sandi Smith (Ward 1) and Stephen Rapundalo (Ward 2) – who arrived late to the meeting – Tony Derezinski (Ward 2) asked for postponement of a five-year extension of the 2007 consent judgment the city reached with Joseph Freed and Associates LLC, developer of the Glen Ann Place project.
Glen Ann Place was a planned unit development (PUD) approved by the council in July 2005, but that did not win subsequent approval from the city’s historic district commission. Freed then filed suit against the city, the outcome of which was a consent judgment. Per the consent judgment, the height of the building was reduced from 10 to 9 stories. Glen Ann Place is planned to include retail and office uses on its first two floors, with residential on upper stories.
In other business, the council approved a handful of recommendations for liquor licenses, approved a rezoning for the land where the University of Michigan’s new soccer facility has been built, and approved an overhauling of the ordinance that governs how false alarms to fire and police are penalized.
The council also received a variety of updates from staff, including one on the traffic control plan for the East Stadium bridges when they are reconstructed next year, as well as a response from the city’s CFO to recent community discussion of significant unpaid taxes that might be owed to the city.
The city council also accepted a gift on behalf of the city from the Ann Arbor Summer Festival – a giant print of a photograph by Myra Klarman.
Ann Arbor City Council meeting (June 21, 2010): Heritage Row is a proposed residential project that would have renovated seven older houses along South Fifth Avenue south of William Street, and constructed three new buildings behind the houses.
The number of houses to be renovated – called the “Seven Sisters” by some in the community who support their preservation – matched the number of votes the project received Monday night from the 11-member city council.
While that is a majority, the seven votes in favor of Heritage Row did not meet the eight-vote minimum that was required. The super-majority requirement came as a result of a protest petition that was successfully filed on the same day as the council’s last meeting, June 7. On that occasion, the council first considered this newest iteration of the project, but postponed it until their June 21 meeting.
The project rejected by the council on Monday in its 7-4 vote was a planned unit development (PUD), which would have required the city to amend its zoning. That leaves in play an already-approved earlier project at the same location, called City Place. City Place was authorized by the council last year as a “matter of right” (MOR) project – because it was judged to meet all applicable codes and zoning regulations.
The City Place (MOR) would demolish the seven houses and replace them with two apartment buildings separated by a parking lot. It’s a project that would be almost certainly denied by the city’s historic district commission – if a historic district were established in the area, as a study committee has recently recommended. The council is expected to make its final vote on the historic district at its July 6 meeting.
But the council gave its initial consideration to establishment of that historic district on Monday night. It’s more customary for councilmembers to vote for proposals on their first reading – to advance a proposal to a public hearing – even if they ultimately plan to vote against it. But Monday’s meeting saw three councilmembers already voting against establishing the district.
The council’s meeting also started off with the theme of historic preservation, as the city’s historic district commission presented its annual preservation awards.
In other business, the council gave a short extension to developer Village Green, which has an option-to-purchase agreement with the city for the city-owned parcel at First and Washington streets. The time for the extension is to be used to work with the city planning staff to put together milestones that need to be met.
Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority board meeting (March 3, 2010): The DDA board approved its $25 million budget for 2010-11 on Wednesday, but just barely. Four dissenting voices, plus mayor John Hieftje’s absence from the meeting, meant that the budget received the bare minimum seven votes required for approval by the 12-member body.
Deliberations covered a range of issues. First, the budget needs to accommodate two major DDA capital projects: the underground parking garage currently under construction; and the Fifth Avenue and Division Street improvements, which are also underway.
Second, there’s a contingency written into the budget for $2 million. The contingency is there in case renegotiation of the parking agreement between the city and the DDA results in a continuation of the $2 million payments made by the DDA to the city for each of the last five years. Continuation of the payments is not legally required under terms of the current agreement, which assigns responsibility for administration of the city’s parking system to the DDA through 2015.
Third, the fund balances of the DDA – which reflect the DDA’s reserves – face a dramatic reduction. That’s an issue that city of Ann Arbor CFO Tom Crawford flagged back in the spring of 2009 during discussions about the construction of the underground parking garage. The concern caused the city council to scale back the size of the garage by 100 parking spaces.
And finally, decisions made by the DDA board over the last year have resulted in re-direction of revenues from two surface parking lots – 415 W. Washington and the old YMCA lot at Fifth and William – to the city of Ann Arbor. That has resulted in the elimination of line items for DDA programs for next year that were in this year’s budget.
Besides the budget, the board also discussed a number of other topics, including development of the Library Lot and results from two parking surveys.
When The Chronicle heard the rare buzz of a chainsaw in downtown Ann Arbor late Friday morning, we followed that sound to its source: A DTE Energy crew chopping off the tops of three wooden utility poles in the alley behind Downtown Home & Garden.
It took three trucks to do the work, navigating a narrow alley, phone and cable lines, and cars parked near the poles. One truck had a hydraulic arm with a hook dangling down to affix to the pole. A second truck had a cherry-picker that hoisted one of the workers aloft with his chainsaw.
Wednesday’s noon meeting of the Downtown Development Authority board saw one transportation initiative move forward: funding for a fourth Zipcar for downtown was approved. A second resolution was returned to the transportation committee: the board was not ready to approve an increase from $50,000 to $160,000 for its share of a north-south connector study.
Also on the agenda was an amendment to a parking agreement between the city, the DDA, and Village Green, which is developing the City Apartments project on the southeast corner of First and Washington. Even though the resolution was passed, Jon Frank, VP of development for Village Green, didn’t get the language he needed in the resolution, which means that City Apartments project will require some additional back and forth before the final Ts are crossed.
Among other news, in verbal summaries of various committee reports, came word from operations committee chair Roger Hewitt that the pilot valet parking program will begin on Dec. 15 at the Maynard Street structure.
City Council’s meeting Monday evening yielded few surprises, with council giving final approval to the City Apartments PUD and its site plan, and moving the City Place PUD along to a second reading (with some reluctance). And after hearing a progress report on the police-courts project, council approved an amendment to the architect’s agreement in the amount of $411,003. Also, with no discussion of what the fund agreement is, council passed a memorandum of intent and fund agreement for development of a skatepark at Veterans Memorial Park.
Six councilmembers braved the frozen slurry coating the streets and still falling from the sky on Sunday to hear a preview of two planning-related agenda items from interested parties: City Apartments site plan, and City Place PUD rezoning petition. They also heard commentary from the public on a third agenda item: the $411,003 amendment to the contract with the architect for the new police-courts facility. In addition, they received a request for recognition of an upcoming vigil for human rights. Among themselves, councilmembers also discussed the protocol for proclamations, and the need to give due attention to the funding of an animal control officer as budget discussions begin in the new year.
On a night when nobody showed up for public commentary reserved time, council passed the majority of its agenda items with no discussion. Noteworthy exceptions included the City Apartments PUD project (passed), Quickie Burger’s application for a liquor license transfer (postponed), and a decision to go into closed session (passed – with the discussion and dissent by councilmember Marcia Higgins fairly characterized as somewhat lighthearted). The mood was a little more relaxed than is typical, and a bit sentimental, as council said farewell to four of its members: Ron Suarez, Joan Lowenstein, Stephen Kunselman, and Chris Easthope.