Two major downtown projects – the possible sale of the former YMCA lot, and a review of the A2D2 zoning – were the main focus at a July 9 working session of the Ann Arbor planning commission.
Planning manager Wendy Rampson updated commissioners on the city council-mandated review of downtown zoning. Ann Arbor-based ENP & Associates – consultants Erin Perdu and Megan Masson-Minock – are being hired to handle the process under a $24,500 contract with the city.
The primary concern for the council, as reflected in its April 1, 2013 resolution, is the downtown D1 zoning – which provides for the highest density allowed in city, with the tallest possible buildings. The concern was heightened by the controversial 413 E. Huron development, which the council approved on May 13, 2013. That site, located on a major transit corridor, but also next to a residential neighborhood, is zoned D1.
Rampson described the upcoming work as “fast and furious,” with a deadline of Oct. 1 to deliver recommendations to the council. The consultant will work initially with the commission’s ordinance revisions committee, which next meets on Tuesday, July 16 at 5:30 p.m. in the first floor south conference room at city hall, 301 E. Huron.
Zoning was also a point of discussion regarding the former Y site at 350 S. Fifth, across from the downtown Ann Arbor District Library and south of Blake Transit Center. The city council is exploring whether to sell that city-owned property, which was zoned D1 as part of the original A2D2 process. Colliers International and local broker Jim Chaconas have been selected to handle the possible sale, as the city faces a $3.5 million balloon payment this year from the purchase loan it holds on that property.
Bonnie Bona floated the idea of developing recommendations to the council regarding what planning commissioners think the city should require in a sale of that site. “I think we have a responsibility as planning commissioners to give them planning advice,” Bona said. Other commissioners agreed, and the item will likely be on the agenda for the group’s Aug. 13 working session for a fuller discussion.
The 2.5-hour July 9 session also included a presentation by two Ann Arbor public art commissioners – John Kotarski and Bob Miller – about the finalists for artwork at the East Stadium bridges. And commissioners were updated by Rampson about the status of various projects and developments. This report focuses only on the Y lot and A2D2 discussions.