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Ann Arbor City Hall Plans

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Council may stick with city hall plans Panel named to prepare for addition to building

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

News Staff Reporter

They'll listen to other options for building a new city hall, if the price is right.

But otherwise, the Ann Arbor City Council will go through with its current plans to expand the existing building.

Full article

Current building: :sick:

cityhall4.jpg

I was more in favor of a brand new city hall. I'm not sure if this correct, but I believe the current building shown above was only able to hold a third of the activities of the city government. Last time I was in there, I recall seeing file cabinets and copy machines in the hallways, with barely enough room to walk by. It's also kind of embarassing the city has to rent space in various office buildings.

The proposal near the library sounds good, but there have been two proposals for residential towers on that site. I'd rather see more housing or business in that area, and have the city hall rebuilt on the current site. This would keep all the city services in one area.

Finally, I don't like the current city hall. I think it's ugly. This is not reflective of the type of city Ann Arbor is.

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I'd like to see a new one, as well. Lansing is going through the exact same trouble with it's city hall: it's way too small believe it or not with file cabinents int the hallways and offices created out of closet space. They have also been looking to build on a surface lot, and put the new one above underground parking.

It seems like the 60's city hall boom left us with some buildings that only function mediocrely.

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Oh god. I literally stare at this building directly through my office window all day (when I'm not staring in the other direction). It is an eyesore built on top of a parking lot (with another parking lot behind it). They could simply build more midrises on the land currently used for parking (okay, not bloody likely)! At the recent community charette there was definitely support for replacing it with something on the Library Block. What if civic, retail, and residential uses could all be built on the same site?

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Here are the proposals for over near the library. These proposals also cover the future use of the YMCA building (which is also ugly as hell)

-A $110 million development proposed by Farmington Hills-based Steuer and Canvasser Inc., that expands beyond the YMCA to include all or part of four city blocks. The plan specifically calls for a relocated AATA terminal with access to Division Street and Fifth Avenue. It also proposes adding a floor to the parking structure at William Street and Fourth Avenue, and construction of a multistory retail and residential building at William and Main streets where a surface lot currently sits. 100 "very affordable" housing units with private baths and kitchens, and 200 market rate and upscale residences are included. The developer would also build a new, more prominent entrance for the Ann Arbor District Library and expand its parking lot to include underground levels.

-A two-phase, $50 million project, proposed by Avalon Housing and the Ann Arbor based-MAVD Development Co., that would include a 9-story building with efficiency apartments and a 16-story building with condominiums, retail, office space and underground parking. The affordable housing would be owned and managed by Avalon Housing.

-A $57 million, 310,000-square-foot development proposed by HDC LLC of Novi and the Hope Network of Grand Rapids that would expand the AATA transit station, create 30 transitional and 70 permanent affordable housing units and establish retail and commercial space and 16 market-rate condominiums with underground parking.

-A mixed-use site of about 225,000 square feet that includes a low-rise building for 100 affordable housing units and 200 market-rate apartments retail space and a new AATA station. The project would add $22 million in value to the city's tax base. The project is being proposed by Ann Arbor developer David Kwan.

-Redevelopment of the existing site to become a "community commons" that would include renovated living quarters and space for community organizations to meet and operate programs. Applicant Alan Haber, an Ann Arbor carpenter, envisions art, dance and musical performances taking place there as well as social work support, vocational rehab and an Internet cafe.

-Local developer Peter Allen submitted a proposal asking the city to give additional time for preliminary site planning. His plan would incorporate neighboring sites and other city-owned property could double the value of the three principal parcels (YMCA, AATA and the library parking lot), according to the proposal. That, in turn, would increase money available to subsidize housing by millions and increase funding for social and environmental issues through tax intake.

IMO, I really think city hall should stay where it is. It's convenient to have all the city services in one place. City hall is also located on Huron St, one of A2's biggest downtown thoroughfares. It's convenient for everyone. I think they should build the new city hall where the current parking lots are surrounding the old building. They would continue building around it, until they could finally demolish the old one, and continue to add space where necessary.

I would like to see the transit center near the library redone. It's inefficent We also need a better looking federal building. Maybe the transit center and federal building could be better incorporated into one single project. Then we can build some nice residential towers on the rest of the available space.

I have to say, Ann Arbor is very different from other cities. I like the fact that the city is demanding underground parking for most new projects going up. Basically, if you aren't building that, you won't get approved. Because of this, we are seeing more buildings going up, and parking lots dissappearing. Already there are two 10 story buildings slated to go up soon. If one of the above proposals get selected, Ann Arbor really won't have any more surface parking lots downtown. At least, not any major ones.

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I'd like to see what Peter Allen can come up with. I also like the idea that affordable/subsidized housing need not necessarily be placed exactly where the old Y is, if taxes from the area can be used to put housing in another spot (hey, how about putting some not immediately downtown, in NIMBY-land!). I also don't see why we don't add a floor to the William/4th structure regardless of whose plan is chosen! And build something on the surface lot across the street while we're at it.

Otherwise I'm glad they all call for more retail, which I think should be on the ground level of every block in downtown.

I was in a meeting with Alan Haber discussing the future of the former YMCA site where he talked about the need for community space, maybe a co-op bookstore, and the need to keep out "yuppie condos". I said at the time that I felt retail was a better use for the ground floor, and that the money that brought in could be used to subsidize community space on higher floors.

City Hall sure is convenient for me. :) But I wouldn't be that upset if it moved two blocks away down a 3-lane one way road either, and if you're driving there it's like an extra 30 seconds of driving or something. But I'd be okay with a building that matched the size and density of the buildings on the other side of Huron, such as City Center, if it could be built in-place. I don't know if they'd be willing to spend the money for that kind of unconventional in-fill construction.

Re: the federal building, I was always under the impression that there was very little that the city of A2 could do about it. I'd love to use their parking space for something else and thus covering up the back side of the building which is currently a massive wall.

I think that underground parking is only feasible in some parts of downtown, away from the flood plain, and where the water table isn't high. As for leftover surface lots, there are still a lot of smaller ones. Across Huron from City Hall is one that was supposed to be developed (for over a year). There's a nice sized lot west of Instant Furniture on Liberty, as well as north of the store on Division. Kerrytown still has a lot across from the courthouse's surface lot. Etc. Those are just the ones I have to walk by a lot. None are the size of the library lot but they are all large enough to site significant development. I prefer midrise buildings that don't have a massive footprint which would fit perfectly on any of them.

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