Council on Valiant Library Lot Idea: Hail No

At its April 4, 2011 meeting, the Ann Arbor city council voted to formally end the review process for proposals that had been received in response to an RFP for the use of the city-owned Library Lot.

The council rejected a letter of intent (LOI) that had been presented in draft form at a March 14, 2011 work session, which would have called for the city to work with Valiant Partners over a four-month period to draft a development agreement for construction of a conference center and hotel at the South Fifth Avenue site. The Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority is currently constructing a roughly 640-space underground parking garage on the parcel.

The RFP review committee, which was charged with evaluating the proposals, had selected the Valiant Partners conference center and hotel proposal as the preferred one out of six responses to the city’s RFP. The name “Valiant” is an allusion to the University of Michigan fight song, which includes the line, “Hail to the victors, valiant.” The partners include prominent UM alums Fritz Seyferth and Bruce Zenkel. [Previous Chronicle coverage "Column: Library Lot – from Bottom to Top"]

Added on Friday, April 1 to the Ann Arbor city council’s April 4 agenda, the resolution to end the Library Lot RFP process was sponsored by mayor John Hieftje and councilmembers Christopher Taylor (Ward 3), Sabra Briere (Ward 1), Stephen Rapundalo (Ward 2) and Sandi Smith (Ward 1). Voting against the resolution were Tony Derezinski (Ward 2) and Margie Teall (Ward 4).

A vote on a final draft of the LOI – which was scheduled for the council’s April 19 meeting, along with a public hearing – will not take place.

Just after voting to reject Valiant’s proposal, the council considered a resolution to establish a process under which the Ann Arbor DDA would facilitate the development of downtown city-owned surface parking lots, which would now presumably include the top of the underground parking structure. That so-called parcel-by-parcel plan – somewhat of a misnomer, because it envisions the master planning of districts of the downtown, not individual parcels – has been considered by the city council at two previous meetings, but postponed.

When this brief was filed, the council had not yet finished deliberations on the DDA-led development plan.

This brief was filed from the city council’s chambers on the second floor of city hall, located at 100 N. Fifth Ave. A more detailed report will follow: [link]