Arbor Update

Ann Arbor Area Community News

Council asks DDA for a Two Site Plan

2. August 2005 • Murph
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Last night’s City Council meeting included fiery discussion of a resolution calling on the DDA for a “Two Site Plan”, which ended in a 10-1 vote in favor of the plan, with Council member Kim Groome casting the lone dissent. Under this resolution, 1st/William will remain a surface parking lot for now, in order to serve construction needs and parkers displaced from the other sites during construction, to be revisited after work on those sites is completed.

The original text of the resolution called for 1st/Washington to be used for “if feasible and practical, the following components: housing; and public and/or private parking”, and for the Kline’s Lot to be used for “if feasible and practical, the following components: a building(s) with ground-floor retail and/or
office space; market-rate housing; and underground and/or above-ground public and/or private parking”, without any of the housing specified as “affordable”. I’m unclear on the exact wording of amendments, but Groome proposed an amendment requiring affordable and market-rate housing on both of those two sites, which passed (6-5); after a recess, Greden proposed another amendment modifying the requirement on either the Kline’s Lot or on both lots to “affordable and/or market-rate housing”, which also passed (9-2).

Groome continued to criticize the resolution, saying, “I am afraid that this plan either sacrifices public parking or sacrifices affordable housing,” and other Council members stated they supported the resolution only reluctantly; Reid questioned the “11th hour, back-of-the-envelope” calculation showing that public parking could be provided more cheaply underground on the Kline’s lot than aboveground at 1st/William, and Lowenstein acknowledged this wasn’t the best possible idea, but, “If we wait for the best idea, we’ll end up with absolutely nothing – and I think some people would like that.”

  1. Does anyone have the text of the resolution that passed? There was a lot of behind-the-scenes horsetrading on this one, I understand, although I don’t have a clear picture of what was at stake. The text of the resolution might shed some light on this.

    For instance, one rumor I heard was that the resolution would ask the DDA to (1) complete its analysis of the demand for parking downtown and (2) analyze the costs of building parking spaces under both the two-site plan, which presumably calls for digging deep underground, and the original three-site plan. According to this rumor, although the resolution would direct the DDA to draft a request for proposals premised on the two-site plan, it would not authorize that that request for proposals actually be released. Rather, the draft RFP would be evaluated by the Council at the same time that the parking studies came in. So if the three site plan came out of those studies looking good, whereas the two site plan came out with egg on its face, then the Council might again reconsider in favor of the three site plan. (And we could all come shout at each other again in another round of public hearings; oh joy!)

    I’d be very interested to learn whether any of these machinations ended up seeing the light of day.
       —Ben Hansen    Aug. 3 '05 - 03:40AM    #
  2. The resolution was added to the agenda after the deadline for the packet, so I don’t know if anyone but the council members saw it.

    Greden looked REAL bored throughout most of the meeting until the TwSP came up. He seemed annoyed at the Groome amendment, then passed a note to Mike Reid and asked for a break since they had “been at this for two hours.” Reid, after the break, reluctantly supported the “11th hour” “back of the envelope” calculations and Greden’s amendment and Easthope’s Two Site resolution passed.
       —Dale    Aug. 3 '05 - 04:00AM    #
  3. Ben, I linked to the starting text of the resolution in the main post – while I’m not sure of the wording of the amendments, I think it’s just a matter of where and how “affordable housing” is specified. Everything else stayed as-is in the original text. It doesn’t mention parking studies at all, and does add the Fourth/William structure into consideration – part of the replacement parking could/would be in the form of an extra level there, to reduce the amount needed on the two sites.

    At this point, I’m willing to let the Three Site Plan rest in peace. I’m tired of talking about it, and I’d rather just see us move forward on a “best feasible” plan than try to open back up a “best best” plan and get bogged down again. The new resolution calls for RFPs to be prepared and presented to Council on a shockingly fast timeline – October 19 for 1st/Washington (which means the DDA probably won’t bother to sink the major investment into the existing structure needed to keep it open. I’m betting 1st/Wash will close permanently in the next six months), and November 1 for the Kline’s lot.

    Another several months to issue the RFPs and wait for response (if you’re in any kind of relevant grad program, get yourself into Peter Allen’s real estate classes this semester or next; they’re the place to be to watch this process!), and a few months after that for the City/DDA to pick an option – maybe up to a year to get all the relevant approvals, depending on whether or not the Friends turn out to support these other two sites now that they’re not linked to anything bad, like a parking structure – and we reasonably could see 1st/Washington torn down and rebuilding 12-18 months from now. I’ll get behind that.

    (And, of course, just to fulfill Mr. Cowherd’s expectations of the blogosphere, I’d like to propose we all join in a rousing chorus of “Three Sites good, Two sites better!” Well, no, maybe not.)
       —Murph.    Aug. 3 '05 - 01:29PM    #
  4. Was that an Animal Farm reference? I left my copy at home. Can you say it again in Dummy talk, you know, so me and Margaret can get it?

    Remember, not a NIMBY!
       —Parking Structure Dude!    Aug. 3 '05 - 01:35PM    #
  5. Some members of the DDA asked for more time to prepare the RFPs. Accordingly, the resolution was “friendly” amended on the floor to change the dates and give them more time. The DDA must now submit the proposed RFPs to Council for our approval by December 5, 2005.

    After Council approval, the RFPs will be issued to the public. Responses will be due back 30-60 days later.

    Kim’s amendment would have required market-rate AND affordable housing at both the Kline’s Lot and the 1st/Washington development. That was not consistent with the DDA’s original goals for those sites, and thus I amended the resolution to require “market-rate and/or affordable housing” at both sites. That gives the DDA the flexibility they wanted should they choose, for example, to keep only market-rate development at the Kline’s lot and only affordable housing at 1st/Washington.
       —Leigh Greden    Aug. 3 '05 - 01:49PM    #
  6. Never mind about Orwell—I just found the original post from back in April.

    That Cowherd is a fiendish guy. I’ll be he’s getting huge kickbacks from the slumlords to keep the stock of housing down, and a bonus if he can actually shrink it.
       —Parking Structure Dude!    Aug. 3 '05 - 06:05PM    #
  7. Wow. I think this is our first post from a Councilmember.

    ArborUpdate, together with AAIO has become an awfully relevant and powerful tool for discussion and change in Wash. County.

    Kudos to the management.
       —todd    Aug. 4 '05 - 04:40PM    #
  8. Nah, Greden’s posted at least twice before, always with the handy procedural corrections. That’s one of the wonderful things about this place – if you need to find something out, you can just make something up and one of the lurkers will step in and provide actual information. ;) Emergent truth, or something.
       —Murph.    Aug. 4 '05 - 05:42PM    #
  9. We at ArborUpdate take full advantage of (citizen) journalist Dan Gillmor’s observation that “my audience knows more than I do.”
       —Scott Trudeau    Aug. 4 '05 - 07:53PM    #
  10. Greenway Task Force and Lease Rules
       —Dale    Aug. 8 '05 - 05:08PM    #
  11. I think the Greenway Task Force article deserve its own thread, no?
       —todd    Aug. 8 '05 - 05:58PM    #