Ann Arbor Area Community News
At today’s DDA Annual Meeting / Retreat (expect A2News article tomorrow), City Councilmembers Greden and Easthope attempted to talk the DDA into compromising their current goals and working on a Two-Site Plan that would leave out the parking lot at 1st & William. DDA Board members gave reactions ranging from silence (at the most positive) to derision; the general conclusion was that the Councilmembers can’t wiggle out of taking some official position on the Three-Site Plan. The DDA plans to ask the Council to discuss the Three-Site Plan and vote – yes, no, or amended, the DDA members seemed not to want to proceed without some official guidance from Council, especially when they saw this idea as giving up on some of the public benefits they saw in the Three-Site Plan.
No official proposal was brought forward by the Councilmembers; the general concept involved,
Greden and Easthope seemed to think that their idea could serve all of the goals served by the Three Site Plan, in a smaller area, at lower cost, and with a better chance of Council approval. The DDA was skeptical.
While the DDA agreed that they’d explore a “Two Site Plan” if that was what Council wanted, they seemed unwilling to give up on the Three Site Plan or to undertake an entirely new planning process without firm guidance from Council – if Greden and Easthope wanted the DDA to scrap the Three Site Plan, they were going to have to bring it to a vote at Council, vote against it, and provide direction for a revised planning process. Mayor Hieftje, who sits on the DDA Board, was silent during the discussion until directly asked for his opinion, at which point he stated that he did not support building a parking structure on the 1st/William site, and additionally was against “ramming anything down anybody’s throat”, giving as an example the conversion of Main Street into a pedestrian mall as something that he was in favor of but wasn’t pursuing because the Main Street merchants are against it.
After the Councilmembers’ failed attempt to get the DDA to back down without Council taking any official stance on the Three Site Plan, the theme of the meeting moved from chicken to golden goose – The next item of discussion was the potential of supplying the City with $15-$18million in aid to construct an expansion to City Hall. DDA Board member Rob Aldrich(?) noted that the DDA had become involved in the City Hall expansion discussion at a point when that expansion included several hundred public parking spaces, with the DDA estimating a $15million involvement to construct that parking. Current discussion of the City Hall involves no public parking, but Roger Fraser and other City officials are still expecting at least the same amount of assistance.
UPDATE, 7 July, 1pm (Murph): The Ann Arbor News has two stories online about yesterday’s DDA meeting; one on this conversation and one on proposed changes to parking rates:
> Ann Arbor News, 7 July: Easthope calls for change to DDA’s redevelopment plan
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