I Weigh In On the DDA’s Plan for Downtown Ann Arbor

I haven’t been paying much attention, but after a little research: Sounds like a good idea to me.

there’s a little controversy. Doug Cowherd, co-chairman of the local
Sierra Club and czar of the local NIMBY “environmentalists� who lobby
like hell for little parks in their back yards but could care less
about planning for development from a regional perspective, has started
a lobby to oppose the plan. Because I couldn’t resist, more info after
the jump.

Here’s what the
wants to do, from an AA News column:

proposals on either side are more detailed than I can report in this
column, but here’s a quick outline. The Downtown Development Authority,
whose mission is to foster the city’s economic vitality, wants to: 1)
turn a surface lot at First and William streets into a multilevel
parking structure, with a small park; 2) sell a surface lot on South
Ashley – known as the Kline’s lot – to a developer who’d put up a
multilevel building with retail, offices and housing; and 3) tear down
the parking structure at First and Washington streets, and sell the
land to a developer who’d build a mixed commercial/residential complex.

the DDA’s three-site plan – often referred to as the TSP – are some
local residents who’ve formed a group called Friends of the Ann Arbor
Greenway. They argue that the land at First and William would be best
used as an anchor for a ribbon of connected north/south parks along the
city’s near west side. Their Web site – www.aagreenway.org – shows
their vision for this project.

And, from the same column, some commentary about my friend Murph:

it turns out, is an environmentalist, someone who grew up in this area.
He’s a University of Michigan graduate student, studying urban
planning. He helps run a Web site called Arbor Update
(www.arborupdate.com), which hosts lively discussions of this and other
local issues.

And, the 25-year-old says, the DDA’s plan “is one of the better things (I’ve) seen come out of Ann Arbor in a while.�

it’s a little weird for him that he’s been called names by some
greenway supporters: “car lover,â€? “a pawn of big development,â€? and –
after he applied for and got an internship with the DDA, in part
because he was so impressed with their approach – a “bought man.â€?

fact, it struck me while watching the public comments that many of the
people supporting the DDA plan seem like exactly the kind of people
that government officials say they want to attract. Young,
well-educated professionals who embrace the urban environment, who want
to live downtown and who would help support businesses there.

who, like Murph, take a thoughtful, regional view of development. Who
hope that building more housing, stores and offices downtown – where
infrastructure to support it already exists – will help save
undeveloped land outside that city.

Who understand that – guess what? – cities actually do need parking structures.

I have a name for Murph, too. I’d call him smart.

ArborUpdate has MUCH more, a good place to get started is Murph’s post from the hearing earlier in June.


Author: Rob Goodspeed