721 N. Main Building to Get $30K Study

The possibility of re-using the existing main building on the city-owned 721 N. Main parcel will be the subject of a $30,000 study that has been authorized by the Ann Arbor city council. The money will be drawn from the city’s general fund balance.

A task force established by the city council on May 7, 2012 has been working to develop recommendations for a much broader area than 721 N. Main, including the North Main corridor and extending to the Huron River. The task force is supposed to provide recommendations for the area by July 31, 2013.

But the task force has been asked to provide recommendations on the 721 N. Main property even earlier than that – because of application deadlines for grants that the city is interested in seeking. The two grants would be from the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund, which has an early April deadline, and the Connecting Communities grant from the Washtenaw County parks & recreation commission. The city’s $300,000 proposal to Connecting Communities – for trails to be constructed through the 721 N. property – was mentioned at the Feb. 12, 2013 meeting of the county’s parks & recreation commission. The Connecting Communities application had a deadline in December 2012, which the city met.

The task force submitted its initial recommendation on the 721 N. Main property to the city council in December, and based on that, the council approved making the two grant applications at its Dec. 17, 2012 meeting.

And at the council’s Jan. 7, 2013 meeting, two members of the North Main and Huron River Corridor task force – David Santacroce and Darren McKinnon – gave a presentation to the council summarizing the group’s work to date. The task force recommendations were divided into the floodway portion and the non-floodway portion of the site. For the floodway portion, there was not a lot to decide – because a city council resolution from Aug. 15, 2005 calls for the floodway area of the 721 N. Main site to be included within a planned Allen Creek greenway.

For the roughly 2.5 acre non-floodway portion, the task force is recommending that it be developed to include non-motorized paths to connect from Felch Street to North Main and West Summit streets. [.jpg of map showing the task force's recommendations]

They told the council during their January presentation that the task force thought the main building had potential for reuse, but that it would need about $30,000 of physical testing to make that determination. It was that $30,000 of testing that the council authorized at its Feb. 19, 2013 meeting. The physical testing is supposed to be completed by May 31. , which coincides with the application deadline for the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund grant.

At the council’s Jan. 7 meeting, Jane Lumm (Ward 2) had expressed a lack of enthusiasm for salvaging the building.

The city is undertaking similar physical testing on buildings that stand on another potential city-owned greenway property, at 415 W. Washington. At the council’s Dec. 17, 2012 meeting, an additional $32,583 for the study of 415 W. Washington property was allocated. The council had previously authorized $50,000 for physical testing of the property. That vote had come at the council’s July 16, 2012 meeting.

The 415 W. Washington 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.

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]