Ann Arbor DDA, 4 December 2013, meeting notes

This is a lightly edited version of the notes I took at the Ann Arbor DDA meeting for 4 December 2013. The notes are a bit rough; they are notes, not a proper meeting report.

2013-12-04 12.04.35

New on the board: Steve Powers

Media in the audience: Dave Askins, Ann Arbor Chronicle; Andrew Cluley, WEMU; Ryan Stanton, Ann Arbor News.

Audience Participation

Main Street BIZ, Ellie Serras. January 28, coffee and pastries (9am, board meeting at 8am). BIZ not assessing December taxes; considering expanding boundaries of the current BIZ district. (No map provided of new district, and I don’t know how quickly this might happen).

624 Church Street, Brad Moore. Asking DDA to modify terms of leasing spaces for payment in lieu of parking. Currently allocated 48 spaces for 15 years. Financing company wants to see 2 10-year extensions added to agreement to make spaces available to let leasing agreement exceed minimum of financing agreement (30 years financing).

Downtown Area Citizens Advisory Council, Ray Detter. Holiday party. Commitment to the survival of the State Theater. Short history of theaters in Ann Arbor; refers to State Theater, Michigan Theater area as “Theater District”. Owner of building is State Street Theater LLC.

Communications from DDA members.

Sandi Smith: new member introductions. Steve Powers, City Administrator. Cyndi Clark, Lily Grace Cosmetics / Lily Grace Spa.

Russ Collins: Michigan Theater board in communications with owners of State Theater building.

Minutes approved.

Motion to approve annual audit, which is done by Rehmann Robson, the same firm that does the City of Ann Arbor audit. Approved unanimously.

Motion to pay remainder of Main Street Light Pole Replacements, total of $280,000. Of which this is $120,000 from a State Street improvements fund left over from 10 years ago, $160,000 from 2015 TIF budget. Discussion of State Street improvements as well, need expressed by Susan Pollay to revisit light levels in that area. Noted by Russ Collins: Washington Street (south side) lights are off. Approved unanimously.

Old Y Lot: Substitute resolution re “Waive DDA Reimbursement”, not included in board packet. Substance: “The DDA hereby waives its interest in the net proceeds of $1,439,959 from the sale of the 350 S Fifth Avenue property.” “The DDA strongly recommends that City Council follow the DDA’s example to waive reimbursement to provide the maximum benefit for affordable housing in our community.” Noted that the lot just about breaks even on parking revenues vs. interest payments; $1.4 million figure mostly reflects demolition costs of Old Y as well as the costs of creating the parking lot. Goal of DDA to put maximum set aside for affordable housing in the Affordable Housing Trust Fund. Goal/promise to rebuild 100 beds in downtown area has not happened. Russ Collins asks about strategic planning for use of these funds. Sandi Smith: current fund is nearly depleted. Passes unanimously.

Interesting quote from previous discussion, here slightly but not much out of context: “We are told we are a shadow government” – Russ Collins.

New resolution, to address parking agreement brought up for 624 Church Street, not included in board packet. “The DDA recommends that the City extend the length of the parking contract for the 624 Church Street project with a term renewal of _ years.” Roger Hewitt reluctant to commit to a parking agreement for 30 years, perhaps past the length of the structure. Documents provided indicate that other developments have extended parking agreements, including Ashley Mews (20 yr), McKinley (20 yr), Village Green (20 yr + 4×5 yr extensions), Corner House Lofts (some perpetual, some 20 yr + negotiable renewal).

“Connector – Update”. Video presented. 3 alternatives studied: bus rapid transit, streetcars, light rail. “Today buses are overcrowded so we can’t just add more.” Project 50% increase in auto trips in 20 years. 3 public meetings held in November, input on route options. Study needs to be completed in Q1 2014, “preferred local option” alternative provided in next few months. Two locations considered, one for central campus, one near Blake Transit Center. Federal funding depends on “savings in travel time”. Cost as little as $100m, as much as $500m, about 1/2 from Federal funding (stand in line). Local match (50%) to include U of Michigan dollars. Don’t expect anything rolling in less than 10 years. “Very long process.”

“Bicycle Projects – Update”. Keith Orr. Bike Share (B-Cycle). No specific requests to DDA, still looking at sites for 14 locations, goal to launch on Earth Day. Maynard Bike House largely a commuting option, not always the same people. So successful that already looking at other locations for bike houses.

GetDowntown – More rides, more participating organizations, more cards sold and used, continuing to be more popular. Nancy Shore point of contact.

NHL Winter Classic – parking. Planning. The Puck Drops Here for New Year’s Eve. Parking strategy: NYE expecting everyone going home at the same time. Flat rate fee where there is congestion, 4/william and forest flat rate, don’t have to stop at cashier booth. Consider for other facilities. New Year’s Day: lot of reliance on buses. NHL asked to staff public garages to reserve parking space in advance, flagged in like Art Fair. “Ambassadors” to give you directions back to the garage. Specific map produced for the event. Republic Parking to provide labor. Charge for parking in structures and lots, $5 flat fee. Not meant to be an excessive amount. No projected numbers for parking demand is available. Urging mass transit as a way to get to and from the venue. Lawn parking will be allowed in the neighborhoods. Not likely to have as many locals as out of towners.

Downtown ambassador program. Roger Hewitt. “A number of views expressed.” Most people thought it was a good idea, should “aggressively pursue it”. Would like to see something in place for the summer. Learn from Grand Rapids experience. Not sure how much it’s going to cost.

Chamber Impact conference report, report from Joan Lowenstein. Refer to prosperity, not unemployment. Michigan and Ann Arbor “lagging behind” Madison e.g. in attracting young professionals. Suggestions: transit, private sector growth, density. Attracting young professionals leads to attracting families (people settle down where they get their 1st job). “The nature of the media and social media you can get trashed just by putting yourself out in public.”

Communication: Al McWilliams, Rishi Narayan.

2014 Calendar: propose to move 1/1 DDA meeting to 1/8, Partnerships move from 1/8 to 1/15. Otherwise calendar is the same.

Public comment: I talked about the need for pedestrian safety in the downtown area, based on observation that there’s a density of car-pedestrian crashes downtown and on campus.


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