Stories indexed with the term ‘office space’

Collingwood Site Plan Gets Planning OK

A proposal to expand an office building at 278-280 Collingwood received a recommendation of approval from the Ann Arbor planning commission at its March 18, 2014 meeting.

Ann Arbor planning commission, The Ann Arbor Chronicle

Aerial view indicating location of 278-280 Collingwood Drive.

The site plan calls for removing the existing second floor on the east side of the office building and constructing a 2,451-square-foot second floor over the entire building for office use. A new staircase will be added at the southwest corner of the building. The second floor will overhang the first floor along the front of the building and along part of the north side. An existing curbcut … [Full Story]

Leases OK’d for Head Start, County Offices

The Washtenaw County board of commissioners took action on two leases at its Aug. 7, 2013 meeting.

The board approved the 10-year lease of a county-owned Head Start building at 1661 Leforge Ave. in Ypsilanti to the Washtenaw Intermediate School District. [.pdf of lease agreement] The WISD is taking over management of the Head Start program from the county, which has administered it for over four decades. After considerable debate, the board made the decision in late 2011 to relinquish the Head Start program.

The county took out bonds to pay for the construction of the $2.29 million Head Start facility in 2002. Ten years remain on the bond repayment for a total of $1.66 million.

WISD will begin making payments … [Full Story]

Strategic Plan for County Facilities Approved

At their July 10, 2013 meeting, Washtenaw County commissioners gave final approval to a range of infrastructure projects totaling about $5 million for county government facilities – including redeveloping the Platt Road site where the old juvenile center was located. Commissioners had given initial approval to the overall proposal – called the “strategic space plan” – at their June 5, 2013 meeting.

The final resolution included a two-part amendment proposed by Andy LaBarre (D-District 7). He called for the creation of a 9-member advisory committee to guide the dispensation of the Platt Road site, which is located in his district. The space plan proposes demolishing the former juvenile center and exploring redevelopment of the site at 2260 and 2270 Platt … [Full Story]

County Weighs $5M in Facilities Improvements

A range of infrastructure projects totaling about $5 million are being proposed for Washtenaw County government facilities, including redeveloping the Platt Road site where the old juvenile center was located. The county board of commissioners gave initial approval to the overall proposal – called the “strategic space plan” – at its June 5, 2013 meeting. A final vote is expected on July 10.

Projects include:

  • Demolish the former juvenile center and explore redeveloping the site at 2260 and 2270 Platt Road for affordable housing, alternative energy solutions, and county offices.
  • At 200 N. Main in Ann Arbor, consolidate the land records from the building’s lower level to the 1st floor, and remodel the lower level to accommodate administrative offices.
  • At 220 N. Main in … [Full Story]

New Plan Proposed for County Infrastructure

A reorganization of Washtenaw County facilities is underway, spurred in part by excess building capacity and a push to cut expenses. As a result, some departments and programs will be relocated, and the long-time leasing of some sites might be eliminated.

County Annex on Fourth Avenue

The County Annex building at 110 N. Fourth was built in 1904 and houses several county units, including the public defender's office, the office of community and economic development, Project Outreach (PORT) and the Washtenaw Housing Alliance. Total annual operating costs were $407,206 in 2010. (Photos by the writer.)

The Washtenaw County board of commissioners were briefed on these plans at their most recent working session by Greg Dill, infrastructure management director. The March 8 briefing included an update on information technology infrastructure, which Dill also oversees.

Washtenaw County owns about 1 million square feet of building space and about 62 miles of fiber network. Building operating costs in 2010 – the most recent data available – totaled $9.979 million, including $1.62 million for utilities and $965,800 for security, primarily at the county courthouses.

Dill told commissioners that the goal is to be more strategic about the use of facilities, in part by maximizing occupancy at county-owned buildings and minimizing the amount of leased space. The county pays about $500,000 annually for two major leases in the city of Ypsilanti, both used for Michigan Works workforce development programs: at the KeyBank building at 301 W. Michigan Ave., and at 300 Harriet St. on the south side of town.

The space plan Dill and his staff are developing includes making better use of the county’s Zeeb Road facility, which has been partially vacant. In the short term, offices of the Washtenaw Community Health Organization will move there, freeing up space in their current location – at 555 Towner in Ypsilanti – for possible use by the workforce development programs. In the long term, the Zeeb Road site might be the future home for 911 dispatch operations, which the county recently consolidated with the city of Ann Arbor.

Two other properties are being evaluated for possible sale: (1) the vacant building and land on Platt Road, site of the former juvenile justice center; and (2) the Head Start building at 1661 Leforge in Ypsilanti. The county is relinquishing the administration of Head Start later this year.

Dill also talked about his goal of cutting annual operational costs by $1 million, through a combination of eliminating leases and creating energy efficiencies – migrating to LED lights, for example. Efforts to cut energy expenses were supported by several commissioners, as was the plan to hire an energy manager for the county. Commissioner Leah Gunn noted that several years ago the county had invested heavily in what’s known as the Chevron project, a multi-year contract aimed at cutting energy costs. She asked for an update on the effectiveness of that effort, which Dill said he’d provide. [Full Story]

City, DDA Continue to Talk Parking, Taxes

Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority board meeting (April 6, 2011): Since June 2010, the city of Ann Arbor and the Ann Arbor DDA have been negotiating a new contract under which the DDA would continue to operate the city’s public parking system.

While the city and the DDA have achieved much agreement on the non-monetary details of the arrangement, Wednesday’s board meeting left the financial piece still unclear.

Keith Orr DDA Ann Arbor

Keith Orr pores over the figures under various scenarios for the new contract under which the DDA would operate the public parking system. (Photos by the writer.)

The board discussion included a focus on the contrast between the combined fund reserve of the DDA – which includes those funds it collects as a tax-increment finance authority – and the reserves of just the public parking fund. Sandi Smith, who’s a DDA board member and an Ann Arbor city councilmember, stressed throughout the conversation that it’s not just the overall fund balance, but the public parking fund balance itself that needs to be monitored.

Last week, the board had come to a consensus that the public parking system could absorb a payment to the city equal to 16% of gross parking revenues in every year of a 10-year contract, which represented a revision upward from its previous position of 14% in the first two years, followed by 15% in subsequent years.

After lengthy back-and-forth, the only consensus reached by DDA board members was that they were not prepared to revise their position upward (again) to meet the city’s request that the city be paid 16% of the public parking gross revenues in the first two years of the contract, but 17.5% in remaining years. Mayor John Hieftje, who serves on the DDA board, was the lone voice of support for that position.

The mayor also found himself somewhat isolated on another issue in front of the board at its Wednesday meeting – the only action item on the agenda. The board voted to sign a new, more favorable lease agreement for its roughly 3,000 feet of office space at 150 S. Fifth Ave. for a term of five years.

Although the mayor voted with the rest of the board in authorizing the lease agreement, he had announced at the city council’s Monday, April 4 meeting that he would be asking his fellow DDA members to consider moving into space that’s currently being renovated in the city hall building. Two days later, at Wednesday’s DDA board meeting, the mayor appeared to understand that there was little enthusiasm on the board for the move, based partly on the fact that it would cost the DDA more in the short term.

At the meeting, the board also heard its usual range of reports and communications, including an update from DTE on the addition of a new substation near the Broadway bridge, to meet increased demand for electricity. [Full Story]

DDA Renews Lease of Office Space

At its April 6, 2011 meeting, the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority board authorized signing a new five-year lease for its office space at 150 S. Fifth Ave.

Under terms of its current lease, which expires on June 30, 2011, the DDA pays $26 per square foot for 3,189 square feet of office space. Under terms of the new lease, the DDA would pay $16.75 per square foot in the first year of the five-year deal, for a total of $53,415. After the first year, the amount would increase to $17.25, $18, $18.75 and $19.50 per square foot.

The decision to renew the lease came in the context of mayor John Hieftje’s announcement at the April 4 city council meeting that he’d be inviting the DDA board to consider moving the DDA offices to newly renovated space in the city hall building. But at the Wednesday DDA board meeting, he indicated that he’d discussed the lease with DDA board member Roger Hewitt and understood that securing just a one-year renewal of the lease would mean agreeing to the less favorable terms of the current lease. Hieftje voted for the five-year lease extension, along with the rest of the board.

This brief was filed from DDA offices at 150 S. Fifth Ave. A more detailed report of the board meeting will follow: [link]
[Full Story]

DDA to Get Invite to Move Office to City Hall

During his communications period at the conclusion of the Ann Arbor city council’s April 4, 2011 meeting, mayor John Hieftje announced that he and councilmember Sandi Smith (Ward 1) would be presenting the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority with an invitation to move its offices into newly renovated space on the lower level of city hall. That invitation will be made at the DDA’s Wednesday, April 6 board meeting. The DDA is currently contemplating signing a lease renewal for its existing space at 150 S. Fifth Ave.

This brief was filed from the city council’s chambers on the second floor of city hall, located at 100 N. Fifth Ave. A more detailed report will follow: [link] [Full Story]

Transitioning the Ann Arbor Chamber

John Hansen talks to the media  in this case, both The Chronicle in the room and Paula Gardner of on the phone.

John Hansen talks to the media – in this case, both The Chronicle (in the room) and Paula Gardner of (on the phone).

John Hansen’s title on his business card is “Transitionist” – and he isn’t kidding. Hansen has been on the job only a few days as interim president of the Ann Arbor Area Chamber of Commerce, but he’ll be shepherding what could be a significant physical transition too: A possible move out of the business group’s third-floor offices at 115 W. Huron St.

On Monday, the chamber announced plans to sublet all or part of its 6,300-square-foot warren of offices. There’s too much space for the 10 or so people who work there, Hansen said, and they’re paying too much for it. He declined to say how much, noting only that “it’s very expensive” – the biggest cost after payroll in a roughly $1 million budget.

The Chronicle talked to Hansen on Monday about both transitions: The possible move, and the process of choosing a new leader for the 1,200-member group. Along the way, we learned a few things about what it’s like to be a state legislator and school superintendent, too. [Full Story]