Partial failure of retaining wall near Earthen Jar, Jerusalem Garden at Library Lot

A portion of a retaining wall failed on March 24, 2011 before 5:00 p.m. at the Ann Arbor "Library Lot" construction project, and Earthen Jar and Jerusalem Garden have been evacuated as a result.

Picture 12

Contractors from Christman, Soil and Materials Engineers, DTE Energy, and Doan Companies were on site at 9:00 p.m. to stabilize the sinkhole that formed when a portion of the retaining wall gave way. 


I spoke with senior project manager Adrian Iraola of Park Avenue Consultants, who got on site about when I did shortly after 5:00 p.m; he said that "any incident is serious", and reported that a portion of the retaining wall had broken as depicted in this photo taken at the site.



Via @mcburton:

I can confirm, the wall beneath Earthen Jar has collapsed a little. lot of people milling around.

The site is located at 319 S Fifth Avenue, on a block that also contains the downtown branch of the Ann Arbor District Library and the downtown branch of the University of Michigan Credit Union.

Previous incidents at the site include

  • March 22, 2011. Teen rescued after falling into hole near University of Michigan Credit Union. (Ann Arbor Chronicle)
  • March 8, 2011. Two steel workers injured after partial collapse of reinforcing steel. (Photos:
  • Late November or early December, 2010. Small breach in southern retention wall near Ann Arbor District Library; no injuries. (

Two businesses are directly affected by this cave-in.

Earthen Jar, at 311 S Fifth Ave, is temporary closed due to the cave-in. Their web site has been updated.

Picture 11
Jerusalem Garden has also closed temporarily. A sign was on their door at 5:00 p.m.


Updates as they are available; as with all stories this will be updated before it's done, and some updates may take weeks should they require FOIA requests to be fulfilled.

The immediate aftermath, some days later:

The Ann Arbor Chronicle story of Sunday, March 27: "Column: Library Lot – Bottom to Top; A retaining wall breach; conference center idea could sink". Dave Askins speaks with a civil engineer and the project manager about the failure of the retaining wall; plus, reading the council tea leaves on whether the project will be approved.

The story of Sunday, March 27: "Ann Arbor conference center proposal: Some say it'll work, some say it won't, City Council must decide". The story runs with a photo which was taken before the retaining wall breach, and the story and its comments omit discussion of the wall and focus on the council decision.

Damn Arbor blames Cthulhu. "You heard it here first friends. All hail our new Mayor Cthulhu."

Update 3: add partial chronology 7:48pm. 3/24

Update 4: add jar, garden links 8:02 p.m. 3/24

Update 5: add J-G sign, accident 3/8, construction worker night photo. 11:22 p.m. 3/24

Update 6: add reverse angle pile closeup, update credits. 12:15 a.m. 3/25.

Update 7: add reference to 3d incident, 12:51 a.m. 3/25.

Update 8: Add Ann Arbor Chronicle, stories of 3/27; Damn Arbor from 3/24.

Edward Vielmetti likes the falafel at Jerusalem Garden and the okra at Earthen Jar. 16 CFR 255 notice: Ali Ramwali, owner of Jerusalem Garden, gave me a Turkish coffee once gratis (and it was delicious). 

Thanks to Matt Burton, Bill Merrill, Ryan Burns, Spencer Thomas, Kip DeGraaf, Lucy Ann Lance, Richard C. Adler, Kyle Mulka, Eric J. Klooster, Joe Minock, Stephen Clark, and the editors of Damn Arbor for their assistance in assembling this story.


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