Stories indexed with the term ‘municipal center’

Transitions for Ann Arbor Art Commission

Ann Arbor public art commission meeting (Jan. 25, 2012): Two new commissioners – Bob Miller and John Kotarski – attended the art commission’s first meeting of 2012, and joined other AAPAC members in approving two public art projects.

Wiltrud Simbuerger

Ann Arbor public art commissioner Wiltrud Simbuerger, showing other commission members some proposals from artists for a mural at Allmendinger Park. A local artist, Mary Thiefels, has been selected for that project. (Photos by the writer.)

The group unanimously recommended selecting Ed Carpenter of Portland, Oregon for a $150,000 art project in the lobby of the city’s Justice Center, located at the corner of East Huron and Fifth Avenue. A task force had recommended the selection of Carpenter’s proposal from three finalists. It’s a sculpture called “Radius”.

Carpenter plans to create a hanging sculpture of dichroic glass, aluminum, stainless steel and lighting, including LED spot and flood lighting. Among the reasons for recommending Radius, the task force cited the sculpture’s metaphor: That the activities in the Justice Center have a “rippling” effect throughout the community, which echos the water sculpture by Herbert Dreiseitl that’s located in the plaza outside the building.

The Justice Center, a new building next to city hall, houses the 15th District Court and the Ann Arbor police department. The commission’s recommendation will be forwarded to the city council for approval.

In other action, the art commission voted to select Ann Arbor muralist Mary Thiefels for a mural project to be located on pillars at a building in Allmendinger Park. A task force had recommended her selection from among four finalists. Her proposal entails asking neighborhood residents for artifacts to create mosaics at the top and bottom of the pillars. The task force recommended that they continue to work with Thiefels on designing the remainder of the mural in the middle sections of the pillars.

Commissioners liked the concept of “found object” mosaics, but questioned whether the $10,000 budget was sufficient. They ultimately voted to approve selecting Thiefels for the project, contingent on her submission of a revised proposal and budget, with additional input from the task force. This project is the first one in a pilot mural program started last year by former commissioner Jeff Meyers.

AAPAC also discussed possible artwork for four sites connected to the East Stadium bridges, which are being reconstructed. The two commissioners who serve on a task force for that project – Wiltrud Simbuerger and Bob Miller – indicated that the budget recommendation will likely be at least $250,000 for artwork there. The task force is currently developing a request for proposals to be issued in the coming weeks.

In the context of developing their annual art plan for fiscal 2013, which by ordinance must be delivered to the city council by April 1, commissioners decided to hold a retreat next month. In addition to shaping the annual plan, the aim of the retreat is to develop a master plan that would provide a broader conceptual framework to guide AAPAC’s decisions. Input from an online survey of the public will also be used – the survey remains open until Feb. 20, and has garnered more than 400 responses so far. [Full Story]

Art Commission Preps for Dreiseitl Dedication

Ann Arbor public art commission (Sept. 28, 2011): Commissioners spent a portion of their monthly meeting discussing details of the Oct. 4 dedication of Herbert Dreiseitl’s bronze sculpture, the city’s largest public art project to date funded from the Percent for Art program.

Herbert Dreiseitl with design team in front of city hall

On the morning of Sunday, Oct. 2, Herbert Dreiseitl (center, in maroon cap) meets in front of city hall with the design/fabrication team for his sculpture. To the right is Rick Russel of Future Group, the Warren firm that fabricated the bronze sculpture. To the left of Dreiseitl is Patrick Judd of the Ann Arbor-based Conservation Design Forum, which helped with the design. In the background, electrician Jim Fackert hooks up wiring to operate the blue lights embedded in the bronze. (Photos by the writer.)

The installation was still underway – blue glass lights embedded in the elongated metal panel hadn’t been wired, and water wasn’t yet flowing over the sculpture. But those elements are expected to be in place by Tuesday evening, when the German artist will be among those gathering on the plaza in front of city hall for the dedication ceremony. [Dreiseitl and members of the design/fabrication team have been testing the lighting and water flow, but it will be formally "turned on" at the dedication ceremony.]

The Percent for Art program was also a topic of discussion at AAPAC’s Sept. 28 meeting, in light of recent proposed action by the city council. A council resolution sponsored by councilmember Sabra Briere – who attended AAPAC’s meeting but didn’t formally address the group – would explicitly exclude sidewalk and street repair from projects that could be tapped to fund public art. Briere’s proposal would also require that any money allocated for public art under the program be spent within three years, or be returned to its fund of origin. The council ultimately postponed action until their second meeting in November, following a working session on the Percent for Art program that’s scheduled for Nov. 14.

In the context of those possible changes, Margaret Parker made an impassioned plea for her fellow commissioners to increase their efforts at public outreach. Many people didn’t know about all the work that was being done through the Percent for Art program, she said. By not getting their message out, she cautioned, ”that can be the undoing of all the work that we’ve done.”

Updates on several projects were given during the meeting, and commissioners took one formal vote – giving approval to set up a task force that will select public art for the East Stadium bridges project. Other projects in the works include a mural at Allmendinger Park, artwork in the lobby of the new justice center, a possible partnership with the Detroit Institute of Arts’ Inside|Out program, and public art for a rain garden to be created at the corner of Kingsley and First.

Parker also made a pitch for a possible way to fund temporary art – such as performances or short-term exhibitions – that can’t be paid for by the Percent for Art program, as stipulated by city ordinance. Rather than describing it as temporary art, she said, perhaps AAPAC could characterize such temporary work as promotion for public art in general, or tie it to promotion of a permanent piece, like the Dreiseitl sculpture. There was no action taken on this idea, other than an apparent consensus to explore that possibility further. [Full Story]

Ann Arbor OKs Interfund Loan for Building

At its Aug. 15, 2011 meeting, the Ann Arbor city council approved the temporary loan of $3 million from its pooled investment fund (Fund 0099) to the building fund for its new municipal center (Fund 0008), which is nearing completion.

The loan is needed because the sale of the city-owned First and Washington property to Village Green for its City Apartments development has not yet been finalized. The new municipal center’s financing plan included $3 million in proceeds from that sale. The loan from the city’s pooled investment funds will allow the construction bills to be paid.

The city’s pooled investment fund includes all eligible cash across all city funds – interest earned on the pooled funds is apportioned back to each fund based on the relative amount of cash from that fund in the pool.

The building fund will incur a cost of 1.93% annual interest on the money lent from the investment pool. According to the staff memo accompanying the resolution, on a short-term basis, the interfund lending approach is more desirable than borrowing money from a lending institution, because of lower transaction costs, lower interest rates and no prepayment penalties. The short-term financing strategy of lending the building fund $3 million from the pooled investment fund will not have an impact on the city’s general fund, if the land sale is finalized. However, the short-term financing strategy does not eliminate the risk to the general fund, if the land sale does not go through.

The city bonded for about $47 million for the municipal building project. The yearly bond payments of $1.85 million can be broken down roughly as follows: $508,000 in TIF capture pledged by the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority; $490,000 in revenue from antenna rights; $455,000 in elimination of leases for space; $175,000 in elimination of utilities for leased space; $225,000 pledged by the 15th District Court facility fund.

The council had been advised by interim city administrator and chief financial officer Tom Crawford at its Aug. 4, 2011 meeting to expect some kind of short-term financing proposal on its Aug. 15 agenda. And more than a year earlier, at a city council work session in April 2010, the council discussed the city’s contingency plan of taking out short-term financing in the event the land sale did not materialize.

With respect to the land sale, at its Aug. 4 meeting, the council extended the purchase option agreement with the developer Village Green for the city-owned First and Washington site, where the developer plans to build Ann Arbor City Apartments. It’s a 9-story, 99-foot-tall building with 156 dwelling units, which includes a 244-space parking deck on its first two stories.

The land deal was originally set at $3.3 million, but was reduced by the council at its June 6, 2011 meeting to $3.2 million. The reduction in price approved at the council’s June 6 meeting was based on a “bathtub design” for the foundation that is intended to prevent water from ever entering the parking structure, eliminating the need for pumping water out into the city’s stormwater system. However, the Aug. 4 purchase option extension came at a cost of $50,000 to Village Green.

The parking deck portion of Village Green’s City Apartments project is being developed in cooperation with the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority, which has pledged to make payments on around $9 million worth of bonds, after the structure is completed and has been issued a permit for occupancy.

According to the staff memo accompanying the Aug. 4 resolution, Village Green still hopes to break ground on the project in the 2011 construction season.

As a historical point related to the planned use of the sale proceeds for the new municipal center construction, the council defeated a resolution on March 17, 2008 to extend the Village Green purchase option agreement for First and Washington. At the council’s following meeting, on April 7, 2008, the measure was brought back for reconsideration, and the council voted unanimously to extend the agreement. The key difference was the addition of a “resolved clause,” which stated: “Resolved, that the proceeds from this sale shall be designated to the general fund, Fund 010.”

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] [Full Story]

Beyond Pot: Streets, Utilities, Design

Ann Arbor city council meeting (June 6, 2011, Part 1): While the largest chunk of time at the city council’s Monday meeting was devoted to consideration of ordinances regulating medical marijuana, the agenda was dense with other significant material.

Tom Crawford John Hieftje

Mayor John Hieftje (standing) and interim city administrator Tom Crawford before the start of the city council's June 6 meeting.

For road users who head to the polls on Nov. 8, possibly the most important issue on the agenda was a brief presentation from the city’s project management manager, Homayoon Pirooz, on the city’s street repair tax, which would reach the end of its current five-year life this year, if not renewed by voters. The city council will convene a working session on June 13 to look at the issue in more detail.

Also related to infrastructure was the council’s initial action on setting rates for utilities (water, sewer, stormwater), voting unanimously to send the rate increases on to a second and final vote with a public hearing. The rate increases range from 3-4% more than customers are currently paying. All new and amended city ordinances require two votes by the council at separate meetings.

The council also approved an $800,000 agreement with the Michigan Dept. of Transportation for the initial, right-of-way portion of the East Stadium bridges replacement project. Construction on that public project is due to start later this fall.

For another public project, the council voted to add a previously budgeted $1.09 million to the construction manager contract for the new municipal center at Fifth and Huron.

In an action designed eventually to reduce employee benefits costs, the council passed a resolution – brought forward by its budget committee – that directs the city administrator to craft an ordinance revision that would alter the way non-union employee benefits are structured. What’s planned is a change from three to five years for the final average compensation (FAC) calculation, and a change from five to 10 years for vesting. In addition, retirees would receive an access-only health care benefit.

The city’s newest non-union employee is Chuck Hubbard, whose appointment as the new fire chief was approved by the city council on Monday night. Hubbard was previously assistant chief, which, unlike the chief’s job, is a union position. Hubbard has 25 years of fire protection experience, all of it in Ann Arbor.

Expected to begin construction this year – in late summer – is a private development on the First and Washington lot currently owned by the city. On that lot, Village Green is planning to build a 9-story, 99-foot-tall building featuring 156 dwelling units and a 244-space parking deck on the first two stories. After much discussion, the council approved a $100,000 reduction in the purchase price – from $3.3 million to $3.2 million – that Village Green will pay for the First and Washington parcel. The price break came in the context of water management and a decision to use a full “bathtub”-type design for the foundation. The unanimous vote came after two councilmembers had already left the meeting (which pushed nearly to midnight), but it seemed at one point to hang in the balance, with two of the remaining nine councilmembers expressing reservations. Because the resolution involved land purchase, it needed eight votes to pass.

Village Green’s project, a planned unit development (PUD) approved over two years ago, was not required to undergo the mandatory process of design review that is now part of the city’s code. The council gave final approval to that design review process on Monday night. The new ordinance sets up a seven-member design review board (DRB) to provide developers with feedback on their projects’ conformance to the design guidelines. While the DRB process is required, conformance with the recommendations of that body is voluntary.

Also receiving approval at first reading was a revision to the landscaping ordinance. Fuller Road Station also drew comment from the public and the council.

Final action on medical marijuana zoning and licensing is not expected until the council’s June 20 meeting. Council deliberations on medical marijuana will be covered in Part 2 of The Chronicle’s meeting report. [Full Story]

Leadership Change for Art Commission

Ann Arbor public art commission meeting (Dec. 14, 2010): On Tuesday, Margaret Parker presided over her final meeting as AAPAC’s chair, a position she’s held since 2004. She had previously announced her intent to step down, with the hope that commissioners would elect a replacement. Parker has been attempting to relinquish the job for more than a year, and the vice chair position has been vacant since December 2009.

Margaret Parker

Margaret Parker, the long-time chair of the Ann Arbor public art commission, stepped down from her leadership role at Tuesday's meeting. The commission haven't yet elected a new chair. (Photos by the writer.)

After some discussion, commissioners decided to postpone the election of officers – no one is eager to take on that responsibility. Instead, they plan to rotate the chairmanship on a monthly basis, until they can come up with a way to resolve the situation.

Tuesday’s meeting also included some debate over how to handle debate and discussion during AAPAC meetings, with Parker’s call for more formality meeting resistance from other commissioners. Parker observed that the city councilmembers don’t debate at their public meetings – they make statements. She felt that AAPAC should use that as a model, to make its meetings more orderly and efficient. A compromise was eventually reached, eliminating some of the stricter rules that Parker proposed.

Commissioners also got updates on several projects, including Fuller Road Station. Though city council hasn’t given final approval to Fuller Road Station – a joint city/University of Michigan parking structure and transit center – work is moving ahead, including the formation of a task force for public art.

For the municipal center – also known as the police/courts building, at Huron and Fifth – AAPAC approved the installation of nine-panel, 27-foot-wide mosaic murals by artist Gerome Kamrowski in the building’s atrium area. The murals were previously located on the outside of city hall, at its main entrance. There was no update available on the municipal center’s largest public art project – the outdoor water sculpture by Herbert Dreiseitl.

Looking ahead, Parker announced that starting next year, AAPAC’s monthly meetings will be held on the first Tuesday of the month, not the second. The request is to accommodate the schedule of AAPAC’s newest commissioner, Malverne Winborne, who did not attend Tuesday’s meeting. [Full Story]

Funding Set for More Art at Municipal Center

Ann Arbor Public Art Commission meeting (Aug. 10, 2010): Ten minutes past the starting time of Tuesday’s art commission meeting, a fourth commissioner walked in – and a quorum was reached. “So this is the jolly crew!” AAPAC chair Margaret Parker declared.

Ann Arbor municipal center

The Ann Arbor municipal center, under construction at the northeast corner of Huron and Fifth, will house the city's police department and 15th District Court. It will not include interior artwork by Herbert Dreiseitl. (Photos by the writer)

“It’s August,” commissioner Cathy Gendron noted. “August is always like this.”

The four commissioners were joined by Ken Clein of Quinn Evans Architects, who came to give an update on the large water sculpture commissioned from German artist Herbert Dreiseitl, to be located outside the city’s new municipal center. Clein also provided a revised, lower budget for a proposed interior piece by Dreiseitl – a work that commissioners ultimately voted to reject. At last month’s meeting, they had voted against another interior Dreiseitl piece as well.

Instead, AAPAC is directing its task force for the municipal center to revisit other public art options, with a proposed budget of $250,000. That’s in addition to the cost for Dreiseitl’s water sculpture and related expenses, which are approaching $1 million. [Full Story]

Art Commission Sets Deadline for Dreiseitl

Ann Arbor Public Art Commission meeting (June 8, 2010): With some members expressing frustration at the lack of response from German artist Herbert Dreiseitl, the city’s public art commission set a deadline for him to provide information about two interior art installations proposed for the city’s new police/courts facility. AAPAC first asked for the information, including a revised budget estimate, in October 2009.

Abracadabra Jewelry storefront on East Liberty

The Abracadabra Jewelry & Gem Gallery storefront on East Liberty, just east of Fourth Avenue. The business is being given a Golden Paintbrush award by the Ann Arbor Public Art Commission for contributing to the streetscape. (Photos by the writer)

Also at their Tuesday meeting, commissioners voted on the annual Golden Paintbrush awards, recognizing contributions to art in public places. Winners this year are Abracadabra Jewelry on East Liberty, the University of Michigan Health System, and Tamara Real, president of the Arts Alliance.

The group also discussed how to publicize a public open house set for Wednesday, June 23 from 6-8 p.m. at the downtown Ann Arbor District Library, 343 S. Fifth Ave. The event will include a talk by Chrisstina Hamilton, director of visitors’ programs for the UM School of Art & Design who also runs the Penny Stamps Distinguished Speakers Series.

Tuesday’s meeting was attended by Lee Doyle, who might be joining the commission. She’s chief of staff for the University of Michigan Office of the Vice President for Communications and a member of the UM President’s Advisory Committee for Public Art. Doyle is also a founder of the university’s Arts on Earth program, and oversees the UM Film Office. To serve on AAPAC, she would need to be nominated by mayor John Hieftje and confirmed by the city council. [Full Story]

Key Art Vote Coming Up Quickly

A model of the water sculpture by German artist Herman Dreiseitl, proposed for the new municipal center, is displayed outside of council chambers on the second floor of city hall.

A small-scale model of the water sculpture by German artist Herman Dreiseitl, proposed for the new municipal center, is displayed on a table outside of council chambers on the second floor of city hall. (Photo by the writer.)

Ann Arbor Public Art Commission (Oct. 13, 2009): In a move that came as a surprise to some commissioners, the Ann Arbor Public Art Commission was asked at its Tuesday meeting to schedule a special session this Friday to vote on the Herbert Dreiseitl art project.  The project is  a three-piece installation planned for the new municipal center, which includes a large waterscape sculpture in the building’s outdoor plaza.

However, the city still doesn’t have a final budget or final designs from the German artist – those will likely be provided by Thursday afternoon, according to Katherine Talcott, the city’s public art administrator. It’s also possible that the Friday meeting will be postponed, if information isn’t provided in time. The meeting, which is open to the public, is tentatively set for noon at the City Center’s 7th floor conference room, 220 E. Huron St. [Editor's note: At around 10:00 a.m. on Thursday, Oct. 15, the city clerk's office contacted The Chronicle with the news that the Friday meeting would be rescheduled. UPDATE, Oct. 16, 2 p.m.: A special meeting of the municipal center task force has been scheduled for Monday, Oct. 19 from 1-2:30 p.m. at the City Center's 7th floor conference room, 220 E. Huron St. Also on Monday, a special meeting of the Public Art Commission is set for 5:30 p.m. at the same location.] [Full Story]

What’s Next for Municipal Center Art?

Ann Arbor Public Art Commission (Aug. 11, 2009): The art commission made no decision at its monthly meeting on whether to recommend German artist Herbert Dreiseitl’s proposed art installations at the new municipal center, saying they need more details, including cost estimates. However, they debated another aspect of the center’s public art: Whether to put out a nationwide call for artists to compete for additional art installations there. Some commissioners spoke in favor of supporting local artists instead, and others were concerned about spending another $225,000 on municipal center art – in addition to nearly $800,000 budgeted for Dreiseitl’s work. [Full Story]

Dreiseitl Coming to Ann Arbor in July

Public art commissioners Connie, Jim Curtis and Elaine Sims.

Public art commissioners Connie Brown, Jim Curtis and Elaine Sims at their April 14 meeting.

Ann Arbor Public Art Commission (April 14, 2009): Much of Tuesday’s meeting focused on issues related to communication, and in particular how it related to the controversial Herbert Dreiseitl project for the city’s municipal center.

And though his visit wasn’t discussed at length, the German artist is coming to Ann Arbor on July 20 to present his designs to the commission and city council. Using funds from the Percent for Art program, the city is paying $77,000 for his preliminary design work, but would still need to sign off on the entire project, which is estimated to cost around $700,000.

There will be a public reception for him, said Margaret Parker, chair of the art commission. It’s not clear whether the commission will see his designs before he arrives, but they might try to vote on the project and take it to city council for approval while he’s here, she said, adding that details about his visit have yet to be finalized. Before he arrives, the commission also plans to have an open house for the public on May 21, to talk about their mission and goals. [Full Story]

Air Testing at Larcom During Construction

asbestos pump

Receptacle for sample collection affixed to air pump.

On Tuesday night, heading to the planning commission working session, we headed into the Larcom Building through the newly constructed side entrance off Ann Street. That’s the door that will be used for the next couple of years as construction activities on the new municipal building take place.

We noticed a guy standing at the table in the lobby next to the table with all the full-sized planning drawings for projects under current review. But it wasn’t the guy so much as his very science-guy gadgets that we noticed: microscope, slides, vials … and a black box with a thin plunger-like mechanism sticking out of it.

What was he up to? [Full Story]

Police-Courts: Get Your Shovels Ready

Ann Arbor City Council (Feb. 2, 2009): “This is one of the most significant things we’ll do this year,” councilmember Leigh Greden said. But he wasn’t talking about the final budgetary approval of construction on the municipal center project (also known as the police-courts facility), which will likely see shovels hitting the ground in two months. Greden was talking about the commercial recycling program, which was passed on its first reading Monday – there’ll be a public hearing and second reading before it receives its final vote. In other business, council tabled indefinitely the resolution authorizing the budget for renovation of the Farmers Market, passed a raft of resolutions connected with the city airport renovation project, and gave approval to a planned project with smaller setbacks than current code allows. [Full Story]