Stories indexed with the term ‘grants’

DDA Acts on Infrastructure, Governance

Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority board meeting (July 2, 2014): Much of this month’s meeting was devoted to infrastructure projects and organizational matters, as the DDA board restructured its committees and elected new officers for fiscal 2015, which began on July 1.

Bob Guenzel, Sandi Smith, John Mouat, Ann Arbor DDA, The Ann Arbor Chronicle

From left: DDA board members Bob Guenzel, Sandi Smith, John Mouat. Smith officiated her last meeting as chair on July 2, and Mouat was elected to serve as chair for fiscal 2015, which began on July 1. (Photos by the writer.)

The board approved a $390,000 grant related to an extended-stay hotel project on the downtown’s west side. The development is by First Martin Corp. at 116-120 W. Huron – the intersection of Huron and Ashley streets. The grant will be used to pay for a new 12-inch water main, sidewalk improvements along Ashley, and landscape maintenance in the public right-of-way.

This was the first grant awarded after the board adopted a grant policy earlier this year.

The board also gave a one-year extension to a previously-awarded $650,000 brownfield grant for the 618 S. Main apartment complex. It was originally awarded in 2012, but the project is not yet completed – in part because of the recent harsh winter. The funds would help pay for upsizing a water main to 12 inches, as well as streetscape improvements and a rain garden for stormwater management.

Also related to infrastructure, the board established a project budget of $100,000 for tree maintenance and sidewalk repairs in downtown Ann Arbor in fiscal 2015.

Related to personnel issues, the board held a closed session to evaluate Susan Pollay, the DDA’s executive director. After about 15 minutes, the board emerged and voted to give Pollay a 5% raise, increasing her salary from $109,119 to $114,570.

In describing the rationale for the raise, Roger Hewitt noted that Pollay had received “good raises” in the last two years, but for the six years before that she had not received a raise because of the difficult economy. Her position as a city employee is in the Level 2 category, which has a salary range from $95,000 to $157,000. Several board members indicated a desire to move Pollay toward the midpoint of that range over the next few years. Sandi Smith characterized it as “catch up” to compensate for the years when Pollay didn’t get a raise. Hewitt said the intent is to bring her up to that midpoint salary of $126,000 “within a fairly short time period.”

Casting the sole vote against the 5% increase was city administrator Steve Powers, who said he’d be more comfortable with a 3% raise, and hoped there would be a more robust evaluation process in the future.

Immediately after its regular monthly meeting, the board held its annual meeting to elect officers for the coming fiscal year. John Mouat was unanimously elected to serve as chair of the board. Other officers are Roger Hewitt (vice chair), Rishi Narayan (treasurer), and Keith Orr (secretary). Outgoing chair Sandi Smith was thanked for her service, and received a gift from staff – a small pin from the former Selo/Shevel Gallery, which Pollay indicated evoked a cityscape of tall buildings. Pollay said it was inspired by a trip that several DDA staff and board members took last year to New York City for the International Downtown Association conference.

Also at the July 2 meeting, the board dissolved its two existing committees and created four new committees: (1) marketing, (2) partnerships/economic development, (3) finance, and (4) operations (parking/transportation/construction).

In supporting the idea of a separate marketing committee, Narayan noted that if a staff member is hired to focus on marketing and communications, “this area might become more fleshed out very quickly.” Previously, a marketing subcommittee had been part of the partnerships committee. The new finance committee was created in part in anticipation of the DDA’s growing budget, and a desire for more financial oversight.

During updates, Hewitt reported that work continues on a possible north/south commuter rail between Ann Arbor and Howell known as WALLY – the Washtenaw and Livingston Line. A recommendation will be coming soon to locate a stop on the east side of the railroad tracks between Liberty and Washington streets, opposite of the former city maintenance yard. He stressed that this transportation service is probably a significant way off from being offered. If the project moves forward, the recommended stop wouldn’t be a full station – it would simply be a platform with canopies, and would be built entirely within the railroad right-of-way. Hewitt plans to make a short formal presentation about the recommendation at a future DDA board meeting.

Also related to transportation, Orr reported that the new Greyhound ticket office at the Fourth & William structure will be opening next week – ahead of schedule. Next week also will be the grand opening of the nearby Blake Transit Center, operated by the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority.

In other updates, Hewitt noted that members of the DDA’s operations committee continue to work on a downtown ambassadors program, and are likely to bring two potential service providers in for interviews by the end of this summer. [Full Story]

DDA Funds Another Year of go!pass

Employees of participating downtown Ann Arbor businesses will be able to use their go!passes to ride the bus for another year, without themselves paying a fare for any of their bus boardings.


This is another edition of the go!pass, subsidized by the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority. A swipe through the fare box of an AAATA bus lets its holder ride AAATA buses an unlimited number of times.

Their fares will be paid by the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority – out of $674,264 that the DDA board has authorized to support the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority’s getDowntown program.

That amount includes operational and administrative overhead … [Full Story]

DDA: Housing Commission Gets $600K

The Ann Arbor Housing Commission has received a grant of $600,000 to put into capital improvements to two properties in or near the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority tax capture district: Baker Commons and Miller Manor.

Baker Commons is a 64-unit building located at the southeast corner of Packard and Main, within the DDA district. Miller Manor is a 103-unit building on Miller Avenue outside the DDA district, but within a quarter-mile of the district boundary. That conforms with the DDA’s policy on use of its tax increment finance (TIF) funds for housing.

The $600,000 – which is to be paid in three $200,000 annual installments starting this year – was approved at the DDA board’s April 2, 2014 meeting. The … [Full Story]

Ann Arbor OKs Social Infrastructure Support

In action taken at its Nov. 7, 2013 meeting, the Ann Arbor city council authorized five grant-related items involving the specialty court functions of the 15th District Court.

  • Accept three-year $300,000 supplemental grant from the U.S. Department of Justice to enhance countywide efforts to prevent domestic violence, effective Sept. 12, 2013 through Sept. 30, 2016. Of the grant total, $181,000 will reimburse the city for the salaries for a full-time domestic violence probation officer, a half-time system coordinator, and a part-time data entry clerk. Another $5,000 will reimburse the city for training expenses required by the U.S. Dept. of Justice. The remaining $114,000 will reimburse the city for a contract with SafeHouse Center to provide domestic violence prevention services.
  • Authorize contract … [Full Story]

Ann Arbor DDA Embraces Vinyl Art Wraps

Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority board meeting (Oct. 2, 2013): In its one piece of voting business, the board approved a $20,500 grant to the Arts Alliance to implement a pilot project that would wrap 14 traffic signal electrical boxes in downtown Ann Arbor with vinyl that’s imprinted with artwork.

Al McWilliams

Al McWilliams, newest member of the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority board. (Photos by the writer.)

Called PowerArt, the project is proposed as a way to beautify downtown as well as deter graffiti. The proposal was developed by the DDA – working with the Ann Arbor-based Arts Alliance and the Ann Arbor public art commission. The art commission had voted at its Sept. 25, 2013 meeting to support this first phase of the project with the same amount as the DDA – $20,500. While the first phase of the project would wrap 14 traffic signal boxes, the Arts Alliance is proposing two more phases, for a total of 42 wrapped boxes, and a total cost of $121,000.

The Arts Alliance will administer the project, taking an administrative fee of 30% for the first phase and 25% for the second two phases, if the first phase is judged to be successful. The $41,000 cost of the pilot includes the 30% administrative fee for the Arts Alliance. [.pdf of PowerArt proposal]

The relatively brief board meeting featured an introduction of new board member Al McWilliams as he participated in his first meeting after winning confirmation for service from the city council on a 6-5 vote.

The board also heard various updates from its two standing committees on topics that included the bike share program, the streetscape framework planning project, the connector study, parking structure repairs, and National Hockey League-related events on New Years Eve and New Year’s Day. [Full Story]

Ann Arbor DDA OKs $300K for County Annex

Washtenaw County will be receiving $300,000 from the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority as a result of DDA board action taken at its Sept. 4, 2013 meeting.

The resolution approved by the DDA board on a unanimous vote states that the money will 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 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.

CSTS provides a variety of client services to individuals with mental illness, developmental disabilities and … [Full Story]

DDA OKs $59,200 BIZ Grant for South University

A $59,200 grant to support the establishment of a business improvement zone (BIZ) for the South University area has been approved by the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority board. The action came at the board’s July 3, 2013 meeting. The money would be allocated only at specific milestone points.

A BIZ is a self-assessment district that can be established under Public Act 120 of 1961 by agreement of a sufficient number of property owners in the district – to generate sufficient funds to pay for additional services not provided by the city. If it’s established, the South University Area BIZ would be the second such district in downtown Ann Arbor. In 2010 such a district was established for a three-block … [Full Story]

AAPS Board OKs Spring Grants

The Ann Arbor Public Schools board of education approved the 2013 spring grant awards at its April 24, 2013 meeting.

New grants include: $11,332 from the Ann Arbor PTO Thrift Shop for SchoolMessenger, a parental notification system; $15,000 from the Ann Arbor Public Schools Educational Foundation (AAPSEF) for the Community Builders program; and $8,900 from Toshiba America to purchase Lego Mindstorms for Pioneer High School.

AAPSEF is also providing renewal grants for the following: $15,679 for Great Ideas; $4,000 for 5th grade instrumental music instrument repairs; $21,000 for SchoolMessenger; and $22,644 for the Environmental Education Program. Secondary Perkins III is providing a renewal grant of $143,022 for the Career and Technical Education program.

The entire cost of SchoolMessenger will be … [Full Story]

Ann Arbor DDA Grants $300K to Public Housing

The Ann Arbor Housing Commission’s Baker Commons building, located in downtown Ann Arbor at Packard and Main, will get an infusion of $300,000 from the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority – as a result of action by the DDA board at its March 6, 2013 meeting.

The $300,000 will be used toward a range of capital improvements to the 60-unit building: driveway and sidewalk replacement and repair; installation of energy-efficient lighting; insulation and air sealing; window replacement; adding a second entrance; door replacement; upgrade of fixtures appliances, flooring and cabinetry; replacement of heating and cooling units; generator replacement, elevator replacement, upgrade of common area furniture, and installation of additional security cameras.

This grant for $300,000 to Baker Commons comes in addition to … [Full Story]

County Programs Get Grant Funding

Three items related to grants and programs administered by the county’s office of community & economic development (OCED) were given final approval by the Washtenaw County board of commissioners at their Feb. 20, 2013 meeting.

The items are: (1) the Michigan Works! system plan for 2013 [.pdf of 2013 MWSP]; (2) $20,000 in federal funding (Community Services Block Grant discretionary funds) to conduct a needs assessment of the New West Willow Neighborhood Association, supplemented with $5,000 in county matching funds; and (3) $20,000 in federal funding (Community Services Block Grant discretionary funds) for tax preparation services to low-income customers, in partnership with Avalon Housing, Catholic Social Services of Washtenaw County, Housing Bureau for Seniors and Women’s Center of Southeastern Michigan.

These items … [Full Story]

After-School Grant Application Gets Final OK

Washtenaw County commissioners have given final authorization to apply for a $20,000 grant to fund expansion of an after-school program called “Telling It” in the West Willow and MacArthur Boulevard housing developments, low-income neighborhoods on the county’s east side. The vote came at the county board’s Feb. 6, 2013 meeting. Initial approval was received on Jan. 15, 2013. [.pdf of grant application]

According to a staff memo, the Telling It program focuses on developing creative writing and literacy skills for at-risk youth. It would support an effort to fight gang-related activity – specifically, the dozen or so “cliques” in the Ypsilanti/Willow Run area. The memo defines cliques as gangs “without by-laws, or a code of ethics, ultimately … [Full Story]

Grant Application OK’d for After-School Program

Washtenaw County commissioners have supported an application for a $20,000 grant to fund expansion of an after-school program called “Telling It” in the West Willow and MacArthur Boulevard housing developments, low-income neighborhoods on the east side of Washtenaw County. The initial approval came at the county board’s Jan. 16, 2013 meeting. A final vote is expected on Feb. 6. [.pdf of grant application]

According to a staff memo, the Telling It program focuses on developing creative writing and literacy skills for at-risk youth. It would support an effort to fight gang-related activity – specifically, the dozen or so “cliques” in the Ypsilanti/Willow Run area. The memo defines cliques as gangs “without bi-laws, or a code of ethics, ultimately heightening … [Full Story]