Stories indexed with the term ‘parking demand’

Prices to Get Tweaked as Parking Deck Opens

Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority board meeting (May 2, 2012): The one action item on the board’s agenda was a resolution directing its operations committee to start applying demand-management principles to the pricing for permits in Ann Arbor’s public parking system. The resolution, which passed unanimously, notes that the goal of the pricing strategy is to attract patrons to those structures that are located farther away from the University of Michigan campus.

Roger Hewitt and Keith Orr

Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority board members Roger Hewitt (left) and Keith Orr. They're examining a Girl Scout badge created for assisting in the Downtown Blooms event. The car on the wall in the background is a mockup of the planned wayfinding system for the levels of the new underground parking structure, anticipated to open by mid-July. (Photos by the writer.)

One of those structures farther west of the campus is the new underground parking garage on South Fifth Avenue, which is nearing completion. The garage, which the DDA is currently calling the “Library Lane” parking structure, is now expected to open by the time the art fairs begin, which this year fall on July 18–21. South Fifth Avenue between Liberty and William is expected to re-open by Memorial Day.

A characterization of that timing as “on schedule” was disputed during public commentary by Ali Ramlawi, owner of the Jerusalem Garden restaurant. Jerusalem Garden is adjacent to the construction site. Ramlawi noted that the structure was originally due to be completed by August 2011.

The future use of the top of the underground garage was the subject of public commentary from advocates who’d like to see it used as a green plaza. That suggestion was met with remarks from mayor John Hieftje, who sits on the DDA board, with a description of his expectation that three major parcels would soon be incorporated into the city’s park system – 721 N. Main, 415 W. Washington, and the MichCon property (located between the Amtrak rail station and the Huron River near the Broadway bridges). Hieftje’s point was that the additional financial burden for the maintenance of those parcels as parks might impact the city’s ability to add a downtown green plaza to the park system.

Requests for better information about the parking system and suggestions for disseminating information about the availability of open parking spaces were topics of additional public commentary.

Although it was not an action item, the board discussed a draft policy on supporting “brownfield” projects – a policy prompted by discussions at the board’s partnerships committee over the last few months. [.pdf of draft DDA brownfield policy]

The committee has been discussing a proposal by Dan Ketelaar for support of a proposed development at 618 S. Main, which received a positive recommendation from the Ann Arbor planning commission on Jan. 19, 2012. If the project moves forward, the 7-story building would include 190 units for 231 bedrooms, plus two levels of parking for 121 vehicles. Ketelaar has estimated that the tax on the increment between the current valuation of the property and the final built project would yield around $250,000 a year in TIF (tax increment finance) revenue to the DDA. If adopted as it’s currently worded in the draft, the formula in the policy would translate into up to $625,000 of support for 618 S. Main.

The board also received updates on the third-quarter financial statements for the DDA, as well as an update on the Connection William Street planning project.  [Full Story]

DDA OKs Shelter Grant; Mulls Committees

Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority board meeting (Oct. 6, 2010): In its main business, the DDA board approved a $218,050 grant from its housing fund to The Shelter Association of Washtenaw County for improvements at the Delonis Center on Huron Street. The money will pay for new washers and dryers, lockers and chairs, an emergency generator, energy conservation measures, medical equipment and software. The board is still weighing approval of more than $113,210 for installation of solar panels and for computer hardware. By board policy, the DDA housing fund receives an annual $100,000 transfer from TIF (tax increment financing) revenues.


Left to right: DDA board chair Joan Lowenstein, and board members Gary Boren and Roger Hewitt. (Photo by the writer.)

Another main topic of discussion was transportation, which came in the context of recent transportation committee talks with the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority. The discussion with AATA dealt with the possible return of a downtown circulator service [formerly The LINK] and improved service to Ypsilanti, as well as an initial study of bicyclist habits in the downtown area. Related to bicyclists, the board heard from one downtown merchant during public commentary about dissatisfaction with the “art” bicycle hoops, as one example of the DDA’s lack of success in considering the end user in some of its decisions.

The board also mulled over a possible restructuring of its committee structure – currently the board has a transportation committee, a partnerships committee, an operations committee, and a capital improvements committee.

Restructuring those committees is being considered in the context of the possibility that the DDA could begin to take a more active role in development of city-owned surface parking lots downtown. That more active role is one possible outcome of the ongoing city-DDA discussions about the parking agreement under which the DDA operates the city’s parking system. The new structure under discussion would add an economic development and communications committee, while merging the operations and capital improvements committees. [Full Story]