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Ann Arbor Downtown Library Lot Development Discussion May Regain Life Soon

As of last Thursday, there are big changes beginning near the Ann Arbor Downtown Library. Fifth Avenue from Liberty to Williams is now closed, and will remain so for at least a year. The northern section of the Library’s porch is closed, and handicap access has moved to William Street (with a new incline that ends across from the automated door). Bike hoops are now near the flagpole. So why are all of these changes being made?

At present, the Downtown Development Authority (DDA) is building an underground parking deck on the Library Lot site, which is the cause of the immediate (and ongoing) disruption. However, the top of the lot has been – and remains – under discussion. Several months ago, the League of Women Voters hosted a public meeting about possible uses for the Library Lot. At that meeting five, five-minute proposals for potential development were presented, followed by an hour of questions and answers. The League’s intent was to keep the city council apprised as to what kinds of development Ann Arbor residents were interested in seeing.

Part of the issue, as discussed in our previous blog Plannning for Green Space in Arbor, No Walk in the Park, is over whether the land should be used for commercial development or for greenpsace or other public purposes.

Two proposals for the development of a combination hotel/conference center at 319 South Fifth Street are still in competition, but things have come to a momentary standstill. That’s because both of the companies accepted would like for the city of Ann Arbor to risk millions of dollars

In January, the DDA earmarked $50,000 for the hiring of an independent real estate consultant to evaluate the proposals for the Library Lot. A consultant firm had been selected, but circumstances within that firm changed, causing a re-evaluation of that choice, according to City Council Member Stephen Rapundalo (D-2nd Ward). In June, Rapundalo said that the city still hopes to hire a consultant to determine the feasibility of the project. Mayor John Hieftje and the city council all want firm assurance that any project will be financially beneficial to the city.

Want to be in on future developments in Ann Arbor? Martin Bouma – your Ann Arbor neighborhood expert – can meet all of your Ann Arbor real estate needs. Whether you’re buying or selling a home, the Bouma Group can answer any questions you have about real estate in Ann Arbor. If you’re interested in Washtenaw County, or a specific Ann Arbor neighborhood, call the Bouma Group today! Don’t forget to check out our Condo Hotline – we’ve got a handle on the Ann Arbor condominium market.

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