Stories indexed with the term ‘public parking system’

DDA Budgets for Transit, Housing, Parking

Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority board meeting (March 5, 2014): Three main business items were approved by the board: submission of its FY 2015 budget to the city council, award of a $50,000 management incentive to its parking management contractor, and a resolution pledging to maintain or increase DDA funding of transportation programs, if the May 6, 2014 AAATA transit millage is approved by voters.

Roger Hewitt, Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority

Roger Hewitt, DDA board treasurer. (Photos by the writer.)

The proposed budget shows $19.3 million in revenues from the public parking system and $4.8 million in tax increment finance capture. Overall, it shows $24,237,186 in revenues against $26,531,972 in expenses. The use of fund balance to cover the difference leaves the DDA with an estimated fund balance at the end of FY 2015 of about $3.3 million. FY 2015 runs from July 1, 2014 through June 30, 2015. [FY 2015 DDA budget breakdown]

The expenses include $353,344 in salaries and $245,894 in fringe benefits for four staff members, $7,075,571 in payments to Republic Parking for management of the public parking system, and $2.1 million for parking facility maintenance. Accounting for $3.19 million of the expenses is a payment made to the city of Ann Arbor, equal to 17% of the gross revenues to the public parking system.

Included in the budget is a $200,000 grant to the Ann Arbor Housing Commission – as part of a $600,000 request from AAHAC to support improvements to Baker Commons and Miller Manor.

The budget also includes $676,000 for support of the getDowntown program. The board also approved a resolution that pledged to work toward maintaining or increasing the DDA’s support for transportation programs. That resolution came in the context of an approaching May 6, 2014 transit millage ballot question. The 0.7 mill tax was placed on a May 6 ballot by the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority board on Feb. 20, 2014. The tax would be levied by the AAATA only if it wins a majority of support among voters across its three member jurisdictions: the city of Ann Arbor, the city of Ypsilanti and Ypsilanti Township. The DDA board resolution came in part as a response to the fact that the DDA will be capturing a portion of the new millage under its tax increment finance (TIF) funding mechanism.

The board also approved the award to Republic Parking of the full $50,000 annual discretionary management incentive. Republic Parking’s contract with the Ann Arbor DDA covers just actual costs, but also includes a $200,000 annual management fee. Of the $200,000 management fee, $50,000 is awarded to Republic on a discretionary basis. It was last year, at the board’s March 6, 2013 meeting, when the DDA board decided for the first time in five years to award the full $50,000 of the incentive. The year before, at its Feb. 1, 2012 meeting, the board determined to award $45,000 of the discretionary amount. That matched the same figure awarded in 2011, 2010 and 2009.

The board also heard the usual range of reports from committees as well as public commentary. A highlight of announcements included the upcoming closure of the surface parking facility at the old Y lot, as the city-owned property is sold to hotelier Dennis Dahlmann. The closing is expected sometime between March 13-15. The lot is located on William Street between Fourth and Fifth avenues, across from the downtown library and south of the Blake Transit Center. [Full Story]

Republic Parking Gets Full Incentive

The Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority’s public parking system contractor has again this year been awarded the full $50,000 amount of a discretionary management incentive. The vote came at the DDA board’s March 5, 2014 meeting.

Republic Parking’s contract with the Ann Arbor DDA covers just actual costs, but also includes a $200,000 annual management fee. Of the $200,000 management fee, $50,000 is awarded to Republic on a discretionary basis. [.pdf of DDA staff memo on Republic Parking management incentive]

It was last year, at the board’s March 6, 2013 meeting, when the DDA board decided for the first time in five years to award the full $50,000 of the incentive. The year before, at its Feb. 1, 2012 meeting, the board determined … [Full Story]

Planning, DDA: City Council to Set Course?

Ann Arbor city council meeting (March 18, 2013) Part 1: The two main events of the council’s meeting centered around planning in the downtown area: (1) consideration of a possible moratorium on D1 (downtown core) site plans; and (2) consideration of the site plan for 413 E. Huron, located in a D1 district.

The March 18, 2013 city council meeting did not adjourn until nearly 2 a.m. From left: Sabra Briere (Ward 1), Margie Teall (Ward 4) and city administrator Steve Powers.

The March 18, 2013 city council meeting did not adjourn until nearly 2 a.m. From left: Sabra Briere (Ward 1), Margie Teall (Ward 4) and city administrator Steve Powers. (Photos by the writer.)

The council decided to conduct a review of D1 zoning, without imposing a moratorium. That cleared the way to consider the 413 E. Huron project, which the council eventually voted to postpone – at roughly 1:30 a.m. Because of the amount of time spent on just those items, they’ll be included in a separate Chronicle report.

Apart from those two items, the council’s agenda still included a planning and land use focus, as well as a downtown theme. An additional theme was the city council’s relationship to two other public bodies – the city planning commission and the board of the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority.

In the case of the planning commission, the council for a second time balked at the commission’s recommendation of R3 (townhouse) zoning for a recently annexed parcel on Ellsworth near Stone School Road – planned as the site of Summit Townhomes, which would be a 24-unit development. The council postponed consideration of the Summit Townhomes site plan and the zoning, having previously postponed the zoning. The council also had previously referred the zoning recommendation back to the planning commission for re-review. The council’s second postponement on March 18 came after the commission’s re-affirmation of its original recommended R3 zoning. The council sent no explicit communication to the planning commission requesting action, beyond the implicit message of postponing the vote.

In the case of the DDA board, the council is weighing changes to the city ordinance governing the composition of that body, but postponed those changes for a second time at its March 18 meeting. The more significant of the ordinance changes involves clarifying how the Ann Arbor DDA’s tax increment finance capture is calculated, which has implications for millions of dollars for the DDA, the city of Ann Arbor, Washtenaw County, Washtenaw Community College and the Ann Arbor District Library.

Also related to the DDA, early in the council’s meeting an oral report was given on a session of the council’s audit committee – held the previous week to review the DDA’s FY 2012 audit. In the middle portion of the council meeting, councilmembers postponed the ordinance changes. And in the early morning hours of March 19, after the voting agenda was concluded, a member of the audit committee – Sally Petersen (Ward 2) – announced her intention to propose a task force on the DDA.

Related to other boards and commissions, the council confirmed the appointment of a chair for the zoning board of appeals (ZBA): Alex Milshteyn. He replaces Carol Kuhnke, who resigned in December 2012 after being elected judge of the 22nd Circuit Court.

In other business, the council gave approval for the zoning and site plan of The Shoppes at 3600, a proposed retail development on Plymouth Road.

The council also voted to object to the renewal of a liquor license for The Arena, a downtown bar located at Division and Washington streets. The basis for the objection – which will be forwarded to the Michigan Liquor Control Commission for final action – was non-payment of taxes.

The council also gave initial approval to a revision to the city’s sign ordinance. It would essentially maintain current conditions, but provide for certain limited digital signs with a restricted range of changeable elements.

Council communications included a briefing on upcoming changes the council will be asked to consider for the city’s public art ordinance. In other communications, the council will be giving a fire station reconfiguration plan some additional explicit discussion at a future working session – although it appears that the idea has insufficient traction to move forward.

Public commentary at the meeting covered a range of topics, including a call for the council to waive privilege on legal advice that councilmembers had received on the D1 moratorium issue – because they’ve now voted not to enact the moratorium. [Full Story]

DDA: Republic Parking Gets Full $50K Incentive

The Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority’s public parking system contractor has this year been awarded the full $50,000 amount of a discretionary management incentive. Republic Parking’s contract with the Ann Arbor DDA covers just actual costs, but also includes a $200,000 management fee. Of the $200,000 management fee, $50,000 is awarded to Republic on a discretionary basis. The vote came at the board’s March 6, 2013 meeting.

For the first time in the last five years, the DDA board decided to award the full $50,000 of the incentive. Last year, at its Feb. 1, 2012 meeting, the board determined to award $45,000 of the discretionary amount. That matched the same figure awarded in 2011, 2010 and 2009.

The direct costs for … [Full Story]

DDA OKs Budgets, Gets Downtown Report

Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority board meeting (Feb. 6, 2013): The meeting of the full DDA board reprised much of the same content of the operations committee meeting two weeks earlier, which focused on the organization’s budgets for the next two fiscal years. The board voted to approve budgets for FY 2014 and FY 2015.

Leah Gunn, chair of the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority board.

Leah Gunn, chair of the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority board. (Photos by the writer.)

For FY 2014, the DDA budget calls for $23.1 million in expenditures against $23.4 million in revenues. That would add about $300,000 to the total fund balance reserve, which is projected to end FY 2014 fiscal at around $5.5 million. The surplus from FY 2014 would be used in the FY 2015 budget, which calls for $23.8 million in expenditures against $23.5 in revenues, leaving the DDA with about $5.2 million in total fund balance reserve at the end of FY 2015. Reserve amounts indicated in the budget are about $800,000 more than the “true fund balance” – because the money lent to the DDA by Republic Parking for installation of new equipment is recorded as revenue.

Some of the larger categories of expenses in the $23.1 million expense budget for FY 2014, which is similar to FY 2015, are: payments to Republic Parking for operating the public parking system ($6.5 million); bond payments and interest ($6.6 million); payments to the city of Ann Arbor ($3 million in parking revenue and $500,000 for the police/courts facility); capital costs ($2 million); administration ($800,000); and alternative transportation ($615,000).

The alternative transportation allocation would fall a bit short of covering this year’s $623,662 request from the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority to support the getDowntown program, which includes a subsidy to cover the cost of rides taken with the go!pass. That compares with $553,488 granted by the DDA last year to support getDowntown. A presentation made previously to the operations committee – by Michael Ford, CEO of the AATA, and Nancy Shore, director of the getDowntown program – was also given to the full board at the Feb. 6 meeting. The presentation highlighted the fact that 31% of go!pass riders get on the bus east of US-23.

Money in the budget labeled “discretionary” could cover the gap between AATA’s request and the amount in the budget slated for alternative transportation. That money is one of a number of “placeholder” items included in the budget – like $250,000 for a possible arrangement with the city of Ann Arbor for additional police patrols in the downtown. Another $300,000 could be used for a range of capital projects – from sidewalk improvements for patio dining in the State Street area, to streetscape improvements for William Street, to alley improvements near the Bell Tower Hotel.

The board did not discuss remarks made earlier in the week by Ward 3 city councilmember Stephen Kunselman, who at the council’s Feb. 4 meeting called for a number of changes to the city’s DDA ordinance. If enacted, the changes could have a significant impact on the DDA’s revenue from its tax increment finance (TIF) budget. Of the DDA’s roughly $23 million revenue budget, about $4 million comes from TIF capture, with the remainder coming from the public parking system.

The DDA board meeting featured public commentary from Alan Haber, a self-described “agitator” for a public park on top of the Library Lane underground parking garage, and a briefing from Ray Detter, chair of the downtown citizens advisory council, on the status of the 413 E. Huron project. The previous evening, that proposed residential project had failed to achieve the six votes it needed for a planning commission recommendation of approval. The project is still expected to be brought to the city council for consideration, possibly on March 18.

The board was also presented with this year’s edition of the DDA’s “State of the Downtown” report, which summarizes a number of statistics about the DDA district. [Full Story]

Ann Arbor Parking Data: Slower September

The board of the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority will face a relatively light agenda for its post-election-day meeting scheduled for Nov. 7. But the meeting will include the usual routine update on usage statistics for Ann Arbor’s public parking system.

Fifth Avenue speed ramp entrance to Library Lane parking garage

South Fifth Avenue entrance ramp to Library Lane underground parking garage. (Photo by the writer.)

And while the most recent figures show revenues to be slightly better than expected for the quarter ending Sept. 30, revenues for just the month of September 2012 showed only a 3% gain against September 2011.

All other things being equal, the 3% revenue increase could be analyzed as increased usage of the parking system. But a couple of significant factors were not equal: total spaces available in the system, and parking rates. Both factors increased significantly more than 3%, indicating a dip in usage.

In September 2012, Ann Arbor’s public parking system offered about 12% more spaces than in September 2011 – 7,824 compared to 6,974 a year ago. Much of that increased inventory is due to the 738 spaces in the new Library Lane underground parking garage.

And parking rates increased 7-9% system-wide in September: Hourly parking structure rates increased from $1.10/hour to $1.20/hour; hourly parking lot rates increased from $1.30 ($1.50 after 3 hours) to $1.40 ($1.60 after 3 hours); hourly parking meter rates increased from $1.40/hour to $1.50/hour; and monthly parking permit rates increased from $140/month to $145/month.

The count of hourly patrons in the system is also consistent with a usage drop for September 2012 compared to September a year ago – 171,107 compared to 194,034 last year, or nearly 12% fewer patrons.

Discussion of the September parking system revenue totals at the DDA’s operations committee meeting on Oct. 31, 2012 included several factors that might account for the usage drop. In September 2011, the University of Michigan played four home football games, compared to just two this year. And September 2012 included one fewer business day (24 compared to 25) and one fewer weekend day (8 compared to 9) than September 2011. In addition, September 2012 did not include the Friday before Labor Day.

September revenue totals also reflect the fact that one segment of parking customers paid less, despite consistent usage. Holders of monthly permits in structures near the UM campus were offered a substantial discount to move their permits to the new underground Library Lane parking garage – $95 compared to the $145 regular rate. So a portion of the roughly 415 monthly permits that have been sold for the Library Lane garage reflect the discounted rate.

September was the first full month the Library Lane garage was open, without any part of it closed off for construction inspection activity. The garage showed modest revenue gains compared to last month. But somewhat as expected, it is initially lagging behind other facilities measured by revenue per space – $77 per space compared to a system-wide average of $196.

The public parking system will be adding more spaces sometime in mid-March 2013. At the DDA’s operations committee meeting, DDA executive director Susan Pollay indicated that current projections are for the DDA to take possession of the first two floors of Village Green’s City Apartments project on March 15, 2013. The building – located at First and Washington – will contain a 244-space parking deck on those first two floors, 95 of which are to be available for public parking. The rest of the spaces will be used by residents of the 146-unit project, when the construction is completed.

Graphs and some discussion of other ways to measure parking system performance are included in this report. [Full Story]

DDA OKs Development Grant, Parking Leases

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.

Ann Arbor Public Parking System

Excerpt from a Chronicle chart constructed with DDA parking data from the Ann Arbor public parking system. The vertical scale represents hourly patrons per parking space in a given parking facility. The lines correspond to four facilities in the system: Maynard, Liberty Square, Fourth & Washington, and Huron/Ashley. Pop quiz: Which line corresponds to which facility? Answer in the full report.

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. [Full Story]

DDA Updated: Parking, Panhandling, Parcels

Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority board meeting (Oct. 5, 2011): At its regular monthly meeting, the DDA board had no voting items on its agenda, but received the usual set of reports from its committees and the public.

Bob Guenzel chair of DDA board

Bob Guenzel chaired his first meeting of the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority board on Wednesday. (Photos by the writer.)

Those included the monthly parking report, which showed use of the city’s public parking trending upward compared to last year, as well as an annual report on the structure-by-structure breakdown of the parking system.

The reports presented to the DDA board at their meeting – together with a recent report delivered to the city’s environmental commission about parking trends dating back to the mid-2000s – provide reason for some cautious optimism. The number of people getting access to downtown Ann Arbor by driving there and parking suggests an overall slight upward trend, despite a reduced number of number of hourly patrons earlier this year.

Also related to parking, the board received a presentation on a communications plan that the DDA is developing, targeted at downtown evening employees. That communications plan is meant to make sure those employees are aware of low cost alternatives to using on-street parking spaces. The communications strategy would be part of a possible plan to extend enforcement hours for on-street parking meetings past 6 p.m. The DDA will present its tentative proposal for revisions to parking policies to the city council at a joint working session of the board and the council to be held on Nov. 14.

In response to some of the individual success stories that were presented in connection with parking alternatives, DDA board member Russ Collins said, “I wonder how this positive message will play in the media.”

Collins’ remark could have applied to much of the rest of the meeting as well. The board took the report on the basic current financial health of the parking system as an occasion to talk about the overall economic strength of the downtown. Despite the recent closing of some smaller stores, board members gave reports of strong performances by other businesses.

That positive report contrasted with public commentary about ongoing problems with aggressive panhandling and drug dealing and other fringe behavior exhibited downtown. Mayor John Hieftje, who sits on the DDA board, described how some response is being developed by the Ann Arbor police department.

The construction updates on the Fifth and Division streetscape improvement project and the underground parking garage on Fifth Avenue converged on the Ann Arbor District Library. The projects will result in modifying the downtown library building’s front porch, to facilitate access from the new east-west mid-block street – Library Lane – into the library.

As the underground parking garage nears expected completion in the spring of 2012, brief discussion unfolded among DDA board members on the near-term use of the top of that garage. Also related to potential development in the “midtown area” was a report from the partnerships committee. A steering committee comprising DDA board members and community members will be leading the effort to explore alternative uses of specific city-owned parcels downtown, including the top of the underground parking structure (aka the Library Lot).

It was the first board meeting chaired by Bob Guenzel, who was elected to that position at the DDA’s last meeting, which he was unable to attend. [Full Story]

City to DDA: We’d Like More Parking Money

At its April 19, 2011 meeting, the Ann Arbor city council instructed its “mutually beneficial” committee – which is currently renegotiating a new contract under which the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority would continue to operate the city’s public parking system – to change its position, by escalating its request for additional parking revenues. The council voted to direct the committee to now ask the DDA for 18% of gross parking revenues in each year of a 10-year contract. The vote was 9-2, with dissent from Christopher Taylor (Ward 3) and Sandi Smith (Ward 1).

The city’s negotiating team had previously been insisting that in the first two years of a 10-year contract, 16% of gross revenues to the public parking system would be allocated for use by the city at its discretion, with that amount rising to 17.5% of gross revenues in remaining years.

The DDA’s position had been consistent with the city’s previous request for the first two years of the contract, which would have the city withdrawing 16% of gross revenues from the public parking system in each of those years. But the DDA’s position is that for remaining years of the contract, the city’s share of gross parking revenues should remain at 16% instead of rising to 17.5%.

The city’s chief financial officer, Tom Crawford, said on the flat-16% scenario, he would recommend cutting four police or firefighters this year and two additional police or firefighters next year – the first two years of the proposed parking contract.

The decision to bring a resolution of instruction to the council had come at a meeting between the respective mutually beneficial committees of the city council and the DDA on Monday morning, April 11. [For detailed previous coverage: "City, DDA Continue to Talk Parking, Taxes"]

This brief was filed from the city council’s chambers on the second floor of city hall, located at 301 E. Huron St. A more detailed report will follow: [link] [Full Story]