Arbor Update

Ann Arbor Area Community News

Downtown parking - how valuable is free?

Posted by Murph on 19. December 2009

It’s been a while since we had a good parking fight around here, so thanks to for throwing us a bone. In two pieces today, they post one downtown merchant’s op-ed for free parking during the holidays, and an article on the Ann Arbor City Council’s upcoming discussion of extending meter enforcement from 6pm to 10pm. (full resolution text.)

City Councilmember Sandi Smith cites, in her explanation of the time extension, the importance of convenient, high-turnover parking at the curb for downtown businesses and customers. For at least five years, the DDA has observed that the 6pm end time encourages all-night parking – a downtown employee or patron arriving at 4 or 5pm pays the meter through 6pm, then leaves the car there for the rest of the night, forcing later patrons to park further away even for short trips.

Commenters on, by contrast, are heavily skewed towards the attitude that parking should be free, so that downtown Ann Arbor businesses can compete effectively with WalMart.

Extending meter enforcement can, according to Don Shoup and others, help downtown businesses in this competition by providing parking convenience, often a stronger factor than price in the mall vs. downtown decision. (This, as observed, rarely factors into the visceral reaction to pricing parking.)

Notably, past discussions of downtown parking pricing and timing have typically led to the concern that lower income downtown employees priced out by such a decision be provided with an alternative – such as extending the hours of bus service. The resolution at hand does not seem to include consideration of such alternatives.

The resolution references the 2007 Nelson/Nygaard study of downtown parking, available online.

Comment [28]

Michigan Economic Development Corp. names new head

Posted by Murph on 15. February 2009

Ever since Jim Epolito announced his departure as Michigan’s top economic development material, speculation has flown over who would succeed him (at least, among we geeks who read the business press). Ann Arbor SPARK‘s own Mike Finney was among the leading names, but MEDC has recently nominated Greg Main.

Grand Rapids area native Main formerly worked in Michigan’s Commerce Department in the 1980s sees familiar issues: “We were talking about diversification back in the 1980s. As soon as the auto industry started coming back we sort of forgot about that. I think what has changed is the world has changed… As the economy comes back, the places that prosper are going to be strong, innovative economies.”

Main will be moving home from Oklahoma City, where he recently retired from economic development group i2E, Inc.

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McKinley renovates part of Liberty by the Michigan Theater

Posted by Nancy Shore on 22. January 2009

You might have noticed some signs of construction on Liberty Street where the old National City used to be.

According to Concentrate, this space is currently being renovated by Mckinley, who also renovated the building next door that houses Salsaritas, Bar Louie, Google, Ann Arbor Spark, Renaissance, and other businesses.

Originally, McKinley had intended to raze the old buildings and put a new 2 story building in its place. Now, they are just going to renovate the buildings to make room for tenets.

According to Concentrate:

“Renovation includes a new brick-and-stone fa├žade. The 15,000 square feet McKinley is renovating doesn’t have a tenant yet. The project is supposed to be done and ready for occupancy within four months.”

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Dominick's Proposes PUD

Posted by Nancy Shore on 8. January 2009

  • a bed and breakfast?
  • residential apartments?
  • small grocery store/gift store with a coffee shop?

All of these ideas and more are on the table as local institution Casa Dominick’s (812 Monroe) is looking to rezone its restaurant and some surrounding parcels as a Planned Unit Development.

There is a public meeting planned at Dominick’s to talk about this proposal on January 12, 2009 at 6pm.

All of the info including a map of the areas impacted can be found here.

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Bello Vino and Kitchen Port Closed for Business

Posted by Nancy Shore on 30. December 2008

The Ann Arbor Chronicle and Ann Arbor News recently reported that Bello Vino Marketplace at the Plymouth Road Mall is closing.

In the comments section of the Ann Arbor Chronicle article on Bello Vino, it was also noted that Kitchen Port will be closing its doors.

On their respective websites, both stores cite the economic downturn as a reason for their closing.

Perhaps this is a good time to think about shopping locally.

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Downtown Library Project Suspended

Posted by Bruce Fields on 24. November 2008


This morning the Board of the Ann Arbor District Library voted unanimously to suspend work on the project to renovate, or tear down and rebuild, the Downtown Library at 5th and Division.

The Library’s 2004-2010 Strategic Plan called for this project, but with more bad economic news expected for Michigan, Board members agreed that continuing this project now would be inappropriate. The AADL will instead focus its attention on maintaining the Downtown Library.

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Ann Arbor News shrinking

Posted by Bruce Fields on 17. November 2008

Mary Morgan at the Chronicle reported last week that “Buyouts Hit The Ann Arbor News“:

This morning, management at The News and all seven other newspapers owned by the Newhouse family in Michigan announced a massive round of buyouts and plans to consolidate some operations in Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo.

No longer breaking news (and probably not a great surprise), but worth a discussion thread.

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Suit Against Leopold Bros Building Owner

Posted by Chuck Warpehoski on 26. September 2008

The Ann Arbor Business Review reports that developer who bought the Leopold Brothers site is now being sued over three years of late payments at the 200 E. Washington building.

I guess that helps explain why the plans they put forward for a hotel at the Leopold site have been withdrawn.

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Should PFC Expand to Liberty Lofts?

Posted by Nancy Shore on 16. September 2008

I don’t know about you, but when I read this article in the Ann Arbor Business Review, I thought it meant that the People’s Food Coop was considering moving to the Liberty Lofts space from their present location.

No so.

When I was shopping at the Co-op on Sunday, I spoke with an employee. He told me that the Co-op is actually looking to add another store in the Liberty Lofts space. The employee also told me that the Co-op is surveying members to determine if the Liberty Loft space is a good location.

A paper survey is available at the Co-op at the table close to the registers. The survey asks information on where you came from, how much you spent, etc. It will help the Co-op Board as they consider this opportunity.

If you are interested in seeing another grocery store in the downtown, please take the time to fill out the Co-op’s Survey the next time you are in the store.

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Impact this Weds.

Posted by Nancy Shore on 9. September 2008

Thought Arbor Update Readers might be interested in getting information about what’s going on with the Schools and Local Government straight from the people in the know.

That’s what Impact is all about. Here are the details:

At Impact 2008, local leaders will be providing conference attendees with a picture of the current state of affairs as well as a vision of hope for the future. Attendees will have the opportunity to interact with leaders and administrators from Ann Arbor Public Schools and Washtenaw Intermediate School District and government officials from the City of Ann Arbor and Washtenaw County in a community dialogue on the issues of cooperation, collaboration and shared services.

Attendees can choose from two breakout sessions where there will be a closer look at the issues and the challenges. The sessions will consist of:

1) “The Schools” Dr. Bill Miller, Dr. Todd Roberts and other school administrators will be heading up discussions on the innovative programming going on in area schools, the gaps in the financial structure and plans for developing a ‘Washtenaw Promise.’

2) “Local Government” Roger Fraser and Bob Guenzel, among other local government leaders, will be leading discussions regarding ongoing and future collaboration efforts, government efficiency, your expectations of your local government and the difficult choices ahead.

Cost is $65 for Ann Arbor Chamber of Commerce Members, $75 for others. You’ll need to register for the event by Tuesday, Sept 9th at 12noon.

Even if you can’t go we can start a discussion here about these topics and how folks think they should evolve in the coming years.

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