Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority board meeting (July 2, 2012): In its one action item, the DDA board approved a new contract with Republic Parking, which includes a roughly $1.5 million purchase of new automated payment equipment for several of the city’s parking structures. Of that amount, close to $1.3 million will be bought with a loan from Republic Parking to the DDA.
Parking sign at the new underground parking garage on South Fifth Avenue in downtown Ann Arbor. The view is looking to the southwest. (Photos by the writer.)
The DDA manages the city’s public parking system under a contract with the city of Ann Arbor – which stipulates that the city receives 17% of gross revenues from the system. The DDA in turn sub-contracts out the day-to-day parking operations to Republic Parking. The relationship between the DDA and Republic goes back to 2001. The contract ratified on July 2 is for five years through 2017, with two one-year options to renew.
For the first year of the contract with Republic, the DDA board will be led by Leah Gunn. She was elected board chair at the DDA’s annual meeting, which took place after the regular monthly meeting concluded. Outgoing chair Bob Guenzel, who will continue to serve on the board, was thanked for his service. Sandi Smith was elected vice chair.
One of the major tasks on the DDA’s work plan in the coming year will be to continue the Connecting William Street (CWS) planning effort. It’s a project the city council directed the DDA to undertake in early 2011 – to explore alternative uses for city-owned surface parking lots in the rectangle bounded by Division, William, Ashley and Liberty streets.
At its July 2 meeting, the DDA board got an update on that planning effort, which has reached the point of three draft scenarios for the five parcels in question. When the three draft scenarios are settled and shared with the public through an outreach process, a preferred scenario will be developed – not by selecting one of the three scenarios in its entirety, but in a “Mr. Potato Head” fashion, choosing features from each scenario on a parcel-by-parcel basis.
The study area of the CWS effort includes the top of the new underground parking garage, now dubbed the Library Lane parking structure – named after the new mid-block cut-through that connects Division Street and Fifth Avenue. [Despite the name, the Ann Arbor District Library does not own the garage or the lane.] The grand opening of the garage is set for Thursday, July 12 at 5 p.m. A significant number of the new spaces in the structure will likely be occupied by monthly permit holders who work for Barracuda Networks, a company that’s moving into the former Borders corporate offices on Maynard Street.
Also located in the CWS study area is the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority’s Blake Transit Center (BTC), which is set for reconstruction starting this fall. Michael Ford, CEO of the AATA, gave DDA board members an update on that construction project, which will see the center relocated from the Fourth Avenue side of the block to the Fifth Avenue side. Ford told the DDA board he hoped for a positive outcome on the BTC site plan at the city planning commission meeting on July 17, and at the city council’s Aug. 20 meeting. He hopes to break ground on the new BTC in September or October, with completion before the 2013 art fairs, which are held annually in July.
At its July 2 meeting, the board was also updated on some grant requests – one for a bike-sharing program and another for a transportation alternatives analysis study for the corridor starting at US-23 and Plymouth, extending southward to State and continuing to I-94. During public commentary, the board was also pitched the idea of supporting an online “tech bounty board” to match small technical projects with people who can do the work. [Full Story]