Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority board meeting (June 6, 2012): The board’s action items this month covered both of the DDA’s functions – as the administrator of tax increment finance (TIF) revenues within its geographic district, as well as the manager of the city’s parking system.
On the TIF side, the board first adopted a formal policy to guide its allocation of grants to new private developments. The board then acted to authorize a $650,000 TIF-capture-based grant to the 618 S. Main project. The policy applies to developments that are seeking to leverage support from the state’s brownfield and Community Revitalization Program, or other matching programs.
Highlights of that policy include a priority ranking of benefits that a development must offer. At the top of that list: A requirement that the project fills a gap in the existing market. The DDA board concluded that the 618 S. Main project filled such a gap – by targeting residential space for young professionals. The $650,000 would be distributed over four years, with the amount in any one year not to exceed the estimated $250,000 in TIF capture that would ordinarily be retained by the DDA as a result of the completed construction.
The board was interested in achieving a unanimous vote of support for the 618 S. Main grant, and not all board members agreed with covering bank carrying costs and the full amount of streetscape improvements. So the $650,000 reflected a reduction from a $725,000 grant in the original resolution before the board.
On the parking side of the DDA’s responsibilities, routine business was mixed with issues involving the imminent opening of a new underground parking garage on South Fifth Avenue. In the routine category was the board’s authorization of three-year leases for two properties from companies controlled by First Martin Corp., which the DDA manages as surface parking lots – at Huron/Ashley and Huron/First. Per space, the Huron/Ashley lot generates more revenue per month than any of the other public parking facilities in the city.
The board was also presented with a demand-management strategy for encouraging the use of the new underground parking garage on South Fifth Avenue, which is scheduled to open in mid-July. Highlights of that strategy include a reduced rate for monthly permits of $95/month – a $50/month savings over the $145/month rate set to take effect in September this year, and a $60 savings over the extra increase that the DDA is planning for two structures. The special $95/month permits are available only to current holders of permits in two other parking structures in the system: Liberty Square and Maynard Street. The DDA wants to free up spaces in those two structures for people who do not hold permits, and pay the hourly rate instead.
The DDA board also heard public commentary from advocates for some kind of public park to be constructed on top of the new underground parking structure – instead of using the space for additional surface parking, with the eventual possibility of allowing development of a significantly-sized building there.
In the board’s final action item, routine adjustments were made to the current fiscal year’s budget in order to assure that actual expenses did not exceed budgeted revenues for any of the DDA’s four funds. Last year, the routine adjustment did not adequately cover construction invoices that arrived after the final budget adjustment, something that was pointed out in the DDA’s audit for that year.