Physical Testing of 415 W. Washington OK’d

The Ann Arbor city council has approved $50,000 of general fund reserve money to be used for various physical surveys on the 415 W. Washington property. Councilmembers took the action at their July 16, 2012 meeting. The property, with its three buildings, was previously used by the city as a vehicle maintenance facility, before the construction of the Wheeler Service Center south of town on Stone School Road.

The council received a presentation at its May 7, 2012 meeting from representatives of 555 Nonprofit Gallery and Studios on the physical survey work. The 555 group has assumed responsibility for the art community’s component of an initiative established by the city council on Feb. 1, 2010 to explore a collaboration between the greenway and art communities for adaptive reuse of the property. The 555 group stepped in when the Arts Alliance could no longer devote staff time to the project. Prior to that initiative, the city had gone through an RFP (request for proposals) process for the property that did not lead to the selection of any of the three proposals.

Chuck Bultman, an architect who is working with the 555 group, attended the Sunday night city council caucus on July 15 and compared the physical surveys to be done on the 415 W. Washington property to a thorough medical workup for a patient. It would be more than taking blood pressure, and would include “drawing blood samples.” For the buildings, the work will include taking core samples to evaluate the structural integrity of the concrete and steel.

Besides the structural testing, other work to be done includes: an environmental survey; hazardous materials assessment; a topographic and boundary survey; a site survey; and architectural drawings of the existing buildings.

Bultman, along with several other professionals, have thus far volunteered their time to move the project forward. Others include: Paul Dannels (a structural engineer with Structural Design Inc.), Shannan Gibb-Randall (a landscape architect with Insite Design Studio Inc., and Matt Grocoff (an energy performance consultant with Thrive).

Much of the survey work – in particular, the environmental, hazardous materials and topographic surveys – would be required regardless of the parcel’s future use.

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]