DDA Kicks Off Fall with $300K Grant

Board helps fund Washtenaw County's Annex improvements, reviews draft five-year plan of projects, gets budget update

Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority board meeting (Sept. 4, 2013): The board’s first meeting since early July was attended by the minimum seven members needed for a quorum on the 12-member group. In its one main business item, the group voted to approve a $300,000 grant to Washtenaw County, to support renovations to the county-owned building at 110 N. Fourth in Ann Arbor, which is known as the Annex.

Ward 3 councilmember Stephen Kunselman attended the Sept. 4, 2013, meeting of the DDA board.

Ward 3 councilmember Stephen Kunselman (left) attended the Sept. 4, 2013, meeting of the DDA board. He chatted with mayor John Hieftje before the meeting start. Hieftje is a member of the DDA board. (Photos by the writer.)

The renovation is part of the county’s overall space plan, approved by the board of commissioners at its July 10, 2013 meeting. The space plan calls for modifications to the Annex so that it can house the county’s Community Support & Treatment Services (CSTS) department. The cost of the renovations at the Annex, which would include a new lobby and “client interaction” space, would be about $1 million, according to the DDA board resolution. [.pdf of DDA resolution on the Annex] The Annex has housed the county’s office of community and economic development, office of infrastructure management, and the public defender’s office. Those offices are being moved to other leased and county-owned space.

Not described at the DDA’s board meeting was the backdrop of the grant award to the county, which evolved from a conversation between county administration and the DDA about ways the DDA could help the county address its budget deficit. A pitch from the county had been to re-open the agreement under which the county purchases monthly parking permits in the city’s public parking system, which the DDA manages. The alternative proposed by the DDA was to make a one-time $300,000 grant  – to help fund a project for which the county had already identified funding.

Also not mentioned among the several updates given during the Sept. 4 DDA board meeting was an Aug. 26 meeting of a joint DDA-council committee. That committee had been established by the Ann Arbor city council at its July 1, 2013 meeting to work out a recommendation on possible legislation to address an ongoing controversy about DDA tax increment finance revenue. Not much forward progress was made at that committee meeting.

The city council has already given initial approval of changes to the ordinance language that would clarify the amount of tax increment finance capture (TIF) revenue received by the DDA . The clarification currently under consideration does not work out in the DDA’s favor. A final vote of approval appeared on the council’s Sept. 3, 2013 agenda – the day before the DDA board met – but the council decided again to postpone a final vote.

At their Sept. 4 meeting, DDA board members also got a look at a draft five-year plan of projects that has now been generated, partly in response to pressure from the city council – dating back to April of this year – asking the DDA to explain what projects would not be undertaken if the DDA didn’t continue to receive TIF revenue based on its preferred interpretation of the city’s ordinance.

Highlights of other updates that were given at the Sept. 4 DDA board meeting included a review of the preliminary end-of-year figures for the public parking system and the rest of the DDA’s funds. Overall, the DDA’s financial picture was better than budgeted. That difference is due to the timing of various capital costs.

For the parking system, the year-end picture was consistent with the trend throughout the year. Revenue generated by the parking system was up by 11.9% ($19.09 million) compared to the previous fiscal year, while the number of hourly patrons was down by 1.96% (2,232,736).

Low attendance at the board’s meeting was partly a function of the fact that two of the seats are currently vacant. One of the seats could potentially have been filled by the city council through confirmation of Al McWilliams’ nomination at its Sept. 3, 2013 meeting. However, as the nine councilmembers present debated his confirmation, mayor John Hieftje withdrew it, at least for the time being.

McWilliams’ confirmation would have needed six votes on the 11-member council – and the outcome was dubious based on conversation among the nine attendees at the council table. Some councilmembers questioned whether McWilliams’ might have a recurring conflict of interest based on the work his advertising firm, Quack!Media, does for the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority and the allocations that the DDA makes to the AAATA’s go!pass program. That allocation amounted to $479,000 this year, and was approved at the DDA board’s March 6, 2013 meeting.

The Sept. 4 DDA board meeting was somewhat unusual in that no one from the public chose to address the board during the session at either of the two points on the agenda for public commentary.

Washtenaw County Annex Grant

The board was asked to support renovations to the building at 110 N. Fourth in Ann Arbor (known as the Annex) so that it can house the county’s Community Support & Treatment Services (CSTS) department. [.pdf of DDA resolution on the Annex] The cost of the renovations at the Annex, which would include a new lobby and “client interaction” space, would be about $1 million, according to the DDA board resolution.

Washtenaw County Annex Grant: Background

CSTS provides a variety of client services to individuals with mental illness, developmental disabilities and substance abuse disorders. The Annex has housed the county’s office of community and economic development, office of infrastructure management, and the public defender’s office. In the space plan approved by the Washtenaw County board of commissioners at its July 10, 2013 meeting, those offices are being moved to other leased and county-owned space.

County Annex on Fourth Avenue

The County Annex building at 110 N. Fourth was built in 1904 and recently has housed several county units, including the public defender’s office and the office of community and economic development. (Chronicle file photo.)

When the county board approved the renovations associated with the county’s space plan, they were briefed that the total cost of all the renovations – not limited to those at the Annex – would be around $5 million. At the time Greg Dill, the county’s infrastructure management director, said no county general fund dollars would be used for the projects. Funding would come from several sources, Dill explained: (1) $1 million from the 1/8th mill fund balance; (2) $650,000 from the facilities operations & maintenance fund balance; (3) $650,000 from the office of community & economic development reserves; (4) $500,000 from the tech plan fund balance; and (5) $2.2 million from the county’s capital reserves.

According to the county’s website about the space plan, the Washtenaw Community Health Organization (WCHO) – which has a contract with CSTS to provide treatment services – was planning to fund the entire build-out of the Annex as well as the relocation of CSTS staff to the Annex.

The DDA became involved when county administrator Verna McDaniel and other senior staff met with DDA executive director Susan Pollay within the past few weeks to talk about how the DDA might help address the county’s projected structural budget deficit of $3.9 million in 2014. The county pays the DDA nearly $400,000 annually for parking permits, and had proposed the possibility of opening up a long-term parking agreement to renegotiate that amount. McDaniel told The Chronicle that the DDA proposed offering the grant for the Annex renovations instead.

Bob Guenzel, former Washtenaw County administrator, is a member of the DDA board. Guenzel was absent from the Sept. 4 meeting.

Washtenaw County Annex Grant: DDA Board Discussion

The grant to Washtenaw County for improvements to the Annex building was introduced by John Splitt.

Splitt asked executive director of the DDA Susan Pollay to explain the resolution. Pollay said that one of the roles of the DDA is to support all of the various uses of downtown – business and residential – and also government services. She called Washtenaw County an ally of the DDA, and described how the county is very committed to the downtown. Many of the county’s operations have been brought to the downtown, she said. She described how many of the county’s outreach services are planned to be provided in the Annex building.

The challenge that the county has been struggling with, Pollay continued, is that the building is currently not configured in a way that’s suitable for the CSTS clients. So the county has developed a plan to retrofit the building, which includes a lobby and other space. Pollay reported that she’d been talking with Washtenaw County administration members to try to find a way to be supportive. The plans of the county are now at the point where they can begin moving forward, Pollay said. The project as a whole has about a $1 million budget, she said. She described the $300,000 as consistent with the DDA’s 10-year plan and also in keeping with the DDA’s mission.

Joan Lowenstein asked Pollay if it was fair to say that without the DDA’s contribution, the county probably wouldn’t go forward with the renovations. Pollay declined Lowenstein’s gambit by saying, “I don’t know that.” But Pollay did describe the DDA’s contribution as a “significant part” of the project moving forward. It absolutely helps makes it possible, Pollay contended.

John Mouat described his downtown office as providing a good vantage point to see the connection between the Annex and the rest of downtown. You can watch the number of people who go by out his window, he said. [Mouat is an architect with offices at 113 S. Fourth Ave.]

Mayor John Hieftje indicated support for the grant, saying that it’s consistent with the goals of the DDA. Washtenaw County has some significant budget issues that it’s working through right now, he said. He also noted that the DDA Act explicitly highlights the ability of a downtown development authority to help finance government buildings in the downtown area. So Hieftje felt that the grant met the criteria of the statute.

Outcome: The seven members of the board who were present at the meeting voted unanimously to approve the $300,000 grant to Washtenaw County for improvements to the Annex building.

Washtenaw County Annex Grant: Connection to Council, Light Poles

In attendance at the DDA’s board meeting were two city councilmembers – Sabra Briere (Ward 1) and Stephen Kunselman (Ward 3). Neither addressed the board formally during the meeting. Briere typically attends the meetings, while Kunselman does not.

Kunselman told The Chronicle he attended the meeting partly out of interest in the question of whether the DDA had the ability to pay the entire cost of the replacement of decorative pedestrian light poles on Main Street, given its allocation to the Washtenaw County Annex project. In early 2012, two of the light poles had fallen – due to a structural failure at the base of the poles caused by rust. After inspection of all the poles, two additional light poles were deemed to be in immediate risk of falling and were also replaced.

At its July 3, 2013 meeting, the DDA board had approved a resolution allocating $300,000 for the replacement of decorative light poles on Main Street. The total estimated cost of the project is $516,000 for 81 light poles. Based on the DDA board’s resolution, it was DDA’s expectation that the city of Ann Arbor would make up the difference of $216,000.

DDA board member Joan Lowenstein

DDA board member Joan Lowenstein.

The DDA’s July 3 resolution indicated that the city of Ann Arbor’s budget approval process this year had determined that the city would allocate $216,000 for the project. What the Ann Arbor city council actually did on May 20, 2013 was to alter the DDA’s budget by recognizing additional TIF revenues of more than $568,000, and shifting $300,000 of that revenue from the DDA’s TIF fund to the DDA’s housing fund. The council’s resolution also recommended that the DDA spend $300,000 of its TIF fund on the Main Street light pole replacement.

In response to an emailed query from The Chronicle, city administrator Steve Powers indicated back in July that the city council would be asked to act on the matter either at its July 15 or Aug. 8 meeting. That timeframe has slipped, and no council action has been taken on the Main Street light poles. Public services area administrator Craig Hupy, responding to the same query, explained back in July that it wasn’t yet clear if the council action would include an additional appropriation, or if it could be handled within the existing budget.

At the DDA’s Sept. 4 board meeting – during discussion of a five-year draft capital plan – DDA board member Joan Lowenstein characterized the light pole situation from her perspective. She was responding in part to the idea of staying flexible with respect to which projects were implemented, and she indicated that flexibility could be compromised if the DDA were “hogtied” in some way. As an example of the hogtying, she cited the street light poles on Main Street, which the DDA was planning to replace. Lowenstein said: “But then the city council decided to screw around with our budget, so that we couldn’t spend our money on replacing those.” For people who are wondering what is going on with the streetlights, Lowenstein said, they are tied up in the bureaucracy of the city.

Five-Year Draft Project Plan

The DDA has developed a draft list of projects partly in response to pressure from the city council – dating back to April of this year – asking the DDA to explain what projects would not be undertaken if the DDA didn’t continue to receive TIF revenue based on its preferred interpretation of the city’s ordinance. The project list was introduced at the Sept. 4, 2013 DDA board meeting.

By way of introducing the draft plan, which had been reviewed at the operations committee meeting the previous week, DDA executive director Susan Pollay said that one of the things discussed this spring after many years of focusing on very large capital projects, was the fact that the DDA would be ending a cycle of major projects. She alluded to the metaphor of the “pig in the python” used to describe the Library Lane underground parking structure, which was completed last year.

This summer, the DDA had acquired the First and Washington garage, which is located in the City Apartments development. What had been done at the previous week’s operations committee meeting, Pollay reported, was to assemble all of the projects so that they were listed all in one place. The goal was not to compare one project versus another. Pollay felt the committee had done a good job of setting forward the idea of why the projects are on the list and how they support the vision that the DDA is striving for.

Pollay read aloud from the vision statement that’s a part of the draft document:

A walkable, vibrant, authentic, attractive, historic, inclusive, growing, diverse, multi-season downtown, full of lots of things to do, teaming with downtown residents and healthy locally-owned unique businesses, the community’s job and commercial center, a place of shared prosperity, and nationally known as a center for innovation and entrepreneurism.

In outline form, reduced from the more detailed description [.pdf of draft five-year plan], here’s what the draft five-year project plan covers:

Near Term Projects (2013-2018)


  • South University: $2.5-$3 million
  • William Street: $5 million
  • Huron Street: $5 million
  • N. Fifth Ave. (brick streets): $5 million
  • S. Main Street: $500,000-$800,000

Sidewalk Maintenance

  • Routine maintenance annual cost: $50,000-$75,000
  • Wayfinding updates: $50,000
  • E. Liberty Street tree pit expansion: $75,000
  • Traffic signal box wraps: $50,000


  • Fourth & William parking structure elevators: $2.25 million
  • E. William sanitary sewer: $250,000
  • Bell Tower alley: $250,000
  • W. Huron alley repair and improvements: $300,000
  • Additional ePark machines: $850,000


  • Restore the LINK (circulator bus) annually: $100,000-$250,000
  • Add electric vehicle charging units to parking structures: $100,000
  • Express bus annually: $50,000-$100,000
  • Bike House #2: $30,000
  • In-street bike racks: $4,000 each
  • Crosswalk repairs: $15,000 per intersection
  • Pilot Ypsi/Ann Arbor passenger rail project (initial study): $50,000

Business Encouragement

  • Fourth & William parking structure. Build out first floor space along 4th Avenue and William Street: $600,000
  • Business Improvement Zones: $50,000 each
  • Lodging/conference feasibility study: $50,000
  • Marketing campaign for downtown annually: $50,000


  • Grants to encourage the creation of housing affordable to individuals: Grant program to be determined.

Downtown Parks

  • Liberty Plaza Park: $175,000
  • Farmers Market winter enclosure study: $90,000

Community Services

  • County Annex lobby improvements: $300,000
  • City Hall environmental controls upgrade: $90,000
  • S. State St. road resurfacing and sidewalk expansion: $675,000
  • S. Division resurfacing: $320,000
  • Liberty/First intersection: $362,000

John Mouat call the draft a terrific start, saying that it pulls together a lot of the things the board has talked about.

Sandi Smith wondered if it was realistic to expect that the projects would be completed in five years. Back and forth between Smith and Pollay indicated that even if some projects might not be completed within a five-year time frame, it was still important to plan for them now. They indicated that if a pressing need comes up, the DDA needs to be flexible and nimble enough to re-priortize.

Russ Collins felt that the five-year plan was not a policy statement, but rather was a way to anticipate what might be a good way to invest the DDA’s money – noting that the DDA doesn’t have any planning authority. The DDA needs approvals from the city council to undertake projects. Collin said the DDA is trying to anticipate needed work as best it can – in coordination with city departments, city council, and private developers. Sometimes the DDA produces documents and they are misunderstood as a statement of policy, Collins said.

Outcome: This was not a voting item.

Parking System

The DDA manages the city’s public parking system under a contract with the city of Ann Arbor. A joint DDA city council work session is scheduled for Sept. 9, 2013 under the terms of the contract, which state in part:

Joint Working Session. As part of the annual established calendar for City Council Working Sessions, City Council shall designate one working session in the fall of each calendar year as a joint working session with the DDA. The agenda for the working session shall be prepared by the City Administrator in accordance with Council Rules and in consultation with the Executive Director of the DDA, provided that such agenda shall include
(i) the DDA’s evaluation of any meter parking rate increases effected during the foregoing year, including, without limitation, the public input associated therewith; and
(ii) a discussion regarding any then-contemplated future meter parking rate increases, which discussion shall satisfy the DDA’s City Council consultation obligation under Section 2(k). It is recommended that a portion of such agenda be dedicated to a discussion of operations under this Agreement and the utility of creating a joint study committee to address areas of mutual interest.

Parking: Year-End Report

John Splitt gave the parking report in Roger Hewitt’s absence. For the last quarter of the fiscal year, he noted revenues were up, as were expenses. He attributed increased expenses for the quarter to grants, capital costs and costs related to bond payments and the installation of new automated equipment.

For June 2013 – the last month of the fiscal year – Splitt noted that revenues were up 7.41% and hourly patrons were down by 7.7% compared to the same month last year. He described the pattern as staying on track in terms of revenues. He ventured that the reduction in hourly patrons could mean that fewer people are staying longer. “That’s a statistic that you can take for what it is,” he concluded. For the last quarter of the fiscal year, revenue was up 11.67% and hourly patrons were slightly down, by about 0.42%, Splitt said.

John Mouat noted that obviously there had been a big drop in revenue at the Washington and Fourth Street parking structure. He ventured that was probably due to the street closure on Fourth Avenue during the major street reconstruction work over the summer. Mouat suggested that it would be great in the future, if the DDA knows about street closings that would be implemented during the year, if impact on revenues could be built into projections for the year.

Splitt summarized the art fair parking numbers as not quite matching the numbers from the previous year, but he felt that the parking system had done quite well during the period of the art fair, considering the weather this year. [.pdf of parking system revenue including 2013 art fairs]

Parking: Four-Year Summary in Charts and Graphs

Total Revenue by Facility. (Graph by The Chronicle with data from the Ann Arbor DDA)

Total Revenue by Facility. (Graph by The Chronicle with data from the Ann Arbor DDA)

Revenue Per Space, Focus on Structures. (Graph by The Chronicle with data from the Ann Arbor DDA)

Revenue Per Space, Focus on Structures. (Graph by The Chronicle with data from the Ann Arbor DDA)

Revenue Per Space, Focus on Surface Lots. (Graph by The Chronicle with data from the Ann Arbor DDA)

Revenue Per Space, Focus on Surface Lots. (Graph by The Chronicle with data from the Ann Arbor DDA)

Total Hourly Patrons (Graph by The Chronicle with data from the Ann Arbor DDA)

Total Hourly Patrons. (Graph by The Chronicle with data from the Ann Arbor DDA)

Total Revenue (Graph by The Chronicle with data from the Ann Arbor DDA)

Total Revenue. (Graph by The Chronicle with data from the Ann Arbor DDA)

Parking: Pilot Permit Program

DDA executive director Susan Pollay described how last spring there had been a robust dialogue about how to provide monthly permits in a fair way, when demand is larger than supply. So this summer, the DDA had started a pilot program in the South University area. The concept behind the pilot program was that instead of selling parking permits to individuals, the DDA would engage property owners and assign a number of parking permits to them based on the square footage of their buildings. Letters have been sent out to property owners, Pollay said, and she thought the DDA would be flooded with requests. [For general background on the monthly parking permit system, see: "Column: Rules, Parking, Transportation"]

However, Pollay reported that almost none of the property owners were interested in managing the parking permits on behalf of their tenants. From the point of view of property owners, Pollay ventured that it is easier to have the DDA to manage the demand and to maintain the waiting list.

During the Sept. 4 board meeting, it was also reported that the newly-built Library Lane underground parking garage now has a waiting list for monthly permits. Pollay recalled that when the structure was being planning, there were those who were concerned that the city would have too much parking. Now 50 people are on the wait list for Library Lane permits, Pollay said, because of the DDA’s commitment to keeping spaces open for Ann Arbor District Library patrons. [The structure is adjacent to the downtown library, but owned by the city.]

Communications, Committee Reports

The board’s meeting included the usual range of reports from its standing committees and the downtown citizens advisory council.

Comm/Comm: New Board Member – Rishi Narayan

At the start of the meeting, DDA board chair Sandi Smith invited the board’s newest member, Rishi Narayan, to give a 30-second synopsis of who he is. [Narayan's appointment to the DDA board was confirmed by the city council at its Aug. 19, 2013 meeting.] Narayan quipped that he could be summed up in less than 30 seconds. He told the board that he had come to Ann Arbor from the Okemos and Lansing area to attend college, and had remained in Ann Arbor during that time, with a brief stint in Berkeley, California after he got married.

He had moved back and forth between Berkeley and Ann Arbor while his wife was finishing her Ph.D. at the University of California at Berkeley. He described himself as involved in various things in Ann Arbor but his main business is Underground Printing. He had founded that business with a business partner who was his best friend growing up, who also lives in Ann Arbor now. They are no longer Lansing-ites. “That’s me in a nutshell, and I’m looking forward to joining the board,” Narayan concluded.

Comm/Comm: Year-End Financials

In Roger Hewitt’s absence, John Splitt gave the update from the operations committee, which included the year-end unaudited financial figures. Splitt indicated that Joe Morehouse, the DDA’s deputy director, could answer any specific questions from board members. He described the TIF budget as slightly over budget with respect to the excess of revenues over expenditures. But the parking budget was significantly over, Splitt reported.

He confirmed with Morehouse that the better-than-budgeted financial picture relates to the timing on items that the DDA needed to pay. [This includes a delay in acquiring the parking deck portion of the City Apartments project at First and Washington, as well as delay until after July 1 of some parking structure maintenance work.] Splitt summed up the budget variances as a matter of timing.

Based on The Chronicle’s arithmetic, the entire DDA budget looks to be better than budgeted by about $4.8 million. [.pdf of unaudited year-end FY 2013 figures] Overall, based on its most recently revised budget, the DDA had projected expenses would exceed revenues by $5.1 million in a $24.6 million revenue budget. Instead, the unaudited figures for the end of FY 2013 (which ended June 30, 2013) show the deficit amount will be closer $0.38 million.

Comm/Comm: 618 S. Main Project

Joan Lowenstein, reporting out from the board’s partnerships committee, gave an update on the 618 S. Main project. The project team attended the last partnerships committee meeting, she reported, and they had proposed some streetscape improvements for the project site, extending up to Ashley Mews. Those improvements included paving, widening, and planting enhancements. The committee had given some input on the proposed design and asked questions about the project timing, she said.

The streetscape plan is going through review with city staff members, Lowenstein continued, and is part of the DDA’s brownfield grant to the 618 S. Main project. The DDA board would be up considering approval of changes at a future meeting. She characterized the brownfield grant as input and money from the DDA that has allowed the project to be built.

Comm/Comm: Streetscape Framework Plan

At its July 3, 2013 meeting, the board had approved $200,000 of funding for developing a streetscape framework plan. John Mouat reported that in the following week, an RFQ (request for qualifications) would be issued for the streetscape framework plan. When responses come in, an evaluation process would take place, he said, to narrow down the list of consultants, who would then be invited to make proposals.

Comm/Comm: State of the Downtown

In her report out from the DDA’s partnerships committee, Joan Lowenstein said that the committee had reviewed the newest version of the State of the Downtown report. It had been released in August. Lowenstein described how the report really highlights the DDA’s role as “the place to go for information about the downtown.” Among the statistics she highlighted from the report were: 73% of all city special events take place downtown; 26% of jobs in the city are downtown; and 107 sidewalk cafes are located downtown. In the past year, 26 new businesses have been started in the downtown area. Supporting that activity, she continued, population downtown has grown by 56% since 2000.

Board chair Sandi Smith acknowledged DDA planning specialist Amber Miller for her work on the State of the Downtown report. Lowenstein called the report a great reference document with a lot of facts and figures.

Comm/Comm: Economic Collaborative Task Force

Reporting out from the DDA’s partnerships committee, Joan Lowenstein said the committee had received an update on the Ann Arbor economic collaborative task force. [The task force was established through a council resolution passed on May 20, 2013.] Lowenstein described the group as composed of the city of Ann Arbor, Ann Arbor SPARK and the DDA. The task force had met once before the July partnerships committee meeting took place, Lowenstein said. Primarily the task force had focused on the Ann Arbor SPARK five-year strategic plan, including various overlaps with the city of Ann Arbor and the DDA. That included helping to sell and develop the city property in the downtown.

Comm/Comm: Sidewalk Repair

John Splitt gave an update on sidewalk repair work in the downtown. This summer the DDA had been paying for mostly minor repairs to sidewalks, taking care of trip hazards and the like. All of the Americans with Disabilities Act sidewalk ramp work has now been finished, he reported. The final four ramps – the most difficult of them – had been completed this summer. Trees were being trimmed and planted. Essentially it was those issues that are visible that were being addressed this summer, Splitt concluded. The work is about to conclude for the season and next season it will start again.

Comm/Comm: Downtown Zoning Review

Reporting out from the downtown area citizens advisory council (CAC), Ray Detter reminded the board that at its previous meeting, he’d told them that the city planning commission’s executive committee was in the process of hiring a consultant to organize a public process to re-examine the downtown zoning changes, which were adopted in 2009. The downtown design guideline task force had also been reconstituted by the city council to make recommendations on the design guideline review process.

Detter indicated that the CAC was disappointed that the design guideline review task force had not yet met. However during July and August a consulting firm, ENP & Associates, led by Erin Perdu, had conducted a series of events, community coffees, workshops, and online surveys of residents, businesses, and employees of downtown businesses. The discussion at those events focused on what’s working and isn’t working with respect to the current downtown zoning. Detter indicated that the consultant had released a summary of some of those findings.

At the previous night’s meeting of the CAC, those preliminary findings had been reviewed, Detter reported. Not surprisingly, he said, a set of private interviews with developers and downtown real estate professionals – as well as two unnamed members of the DDA board – thought that the current zoning regulations were meeting their intent of developing more density downtown. That group had felt that there were still too many limitations on downtown development. At larger public focus group meetings and workshops, Detter continued, people had largely agreed that the north side of Huron Street between Division Street and South State, the south side of William between Main and Fourth, and the Ann Street site adjacent to city hall should be rezoned. Possible zoning for those sites, he said, would include D2 or possibly a newly-defined D3 zoning. Most people felt that near downtown neighborhoods needed to be protected through proper zoning, Detter reported.

There was also general agreement, Detter said, that the current application of residential premiums [greater floor area ratios allowed for residential uses] was not generating the right kind of diverse housing mix. Premiums were encouraging too much student housing and not enough affordable housing, he said. Most people also supported the idea that the design guidelines should be followed in order to qualify for eligibility for any of the premiums that could be granted. Across the board, most people in all phases of the public process, including online surveys, agreed that more diverse housing should be encouraged in the downtown area, Detter said.

Members of the citizens advisory council were very encouraged by the planning commission’s inclusion of mandatory adherence to city design guidelines as a condition for any request for proposals (RFPs) for the future sale and development of the former YMCA site at Fifth and William. Detter noted that ENP & Associates has now scheduled a series of coffee hours, bag lunches, and public focus groups over the next two weeks as part of the continued work on the downtown zoning review.

Present: Russ Collins, John Hieftje, Joan Lowenstein, John Mouat, Rishi Narayan, Sandi Smith, John Splitt.

Absent: Bob Guenzel, Roger Hewitt, Keith Orr.

Next board meeting: Noon on Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013, at the DDA offices, 150 S. Fifth Ave., Suite 301. [Check Chronicle event listings to confirm date.]

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One Comment

  1. September 7, 2013 at 3:01 pm | permalink

    Council members, please note: the “Lodging/conference feasibility study: $50,000″ is actually a grant to SPARK. How much more of our tax money is going to be transferred to this organization?