624 Church Street Gets Parking Permit Extension

The  developer of the future 624 Church St. project in downtown Ann Arbor will now be able to extend for up to 15 years – for a total of 30 years – the contracts for 48 already-approved parking permits under the city’s contribution-in-lieu (CIL) program.

The Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority board’s action to approve up to three five-year extensions came at its Jan. 8, 2014 meeting.

At its meeting on Nov. 6, 2013, the DDA board had already approved the purchase of 48 parking permits under the contribution-in-lieu (CIL) program – for a new version of the proposed residential development at 624 Church St. in downtown Ann Arbor. The spaces were approved to be provided in the Forest Avenue parking structure. The DDA board’s resolution indicates that for the extension periods, the DDA might choose to allocate the spaces in some other structure than the Forest facility.

The CIL program allows a developer the option of purchasing permits to satisfy a parking requirement that would otherwise be satisfied by providing parking spaces on-site as part of the project. The request for an extension on the CIL monthly parking permit contracts was driven by an interest in the financial backers of the project to see contracts in place that would cover the 30-year period of a mortgage.

Brad Moore, architect for the 624 Church St. project, had appeared before the DDA board at its Dec. 4, 2013 meeting to request the ability to extend the contracts on the 48 permits for up to two 10-year periods past the standard 15-year period associated with the city’s CIL program. After discussion of the matter, the board opted at that meeting to table the question. What the board ultimately approved was thus five years shorter than what Moore had requested, but still covered the 30-year financing period that had motivated the request for the ability to extend the contracts.

The original proposal for the 624 Church St. project, which received site plan approval from the city council at its March 4, 2013 meeting, was for a 13-story, 83-unit apartment building with approximately 181 beds. And for that version, the Ann Arbor DDA had authorized the project to purchase up to 42 monthly permits through the city’s CIL program.

The newly revised 624 Church St. project, which received a recommendation of approval from the city planning commission on Dec. 17, 2013, is larger than the original project, with roughly 122 units and 232 beds. The parking requirement is a function of the by-right premiums for additional square footage beyond the basic by-right of 400% floor area ratio (FAR). So the parking requirement for the revised project is greater than for the original version of the project. That’s why the DDA was asked to increase the number of permits from 42 to 48. The number of required parking spaces for the revised version of the project is actually 53, but five of them will be provided on site. The overall revised project still requires city council approval.

The DDA makes the decision about whether there’s adequate capacity in the parking system to allow the sale of additional monthly permits – because the DDA manages the city’s public parking system under a contract with the city.

Ann Arbor’s “contribution-in-lieu-of-parking” program was authorized by the city council on April 2, 2012. That program allows essentially two options: (1) purchase monthly parking permits in the public parking system for an extra 20% of the current rate for such permits, with a commitment of 15 years; or (2) make a lump sum payment of $55,000 per space. It’s option (1) that the 624 Church St. project is using.

This brief was filed from the DDA offices at 150 S. Fifth Ave., Suite 301, where the board holds its meetings. A more detailed report of the meeting will follow: [link]