ANN ARBOR, MI-The Ann Arbor City Council has approved a proposal to create redevelopmentplans for three city-owned parking areas.The lots are not contiguous, but are within one block of each other, saidSusan Pollay, executive director of the city’s Downtown DevelopmentAuthority.

The lots are at First and Williams, the South Ashley (Kline) lot and theFirst and Washington site, all of them west of Main Street.A 200-space parking structure at First and Washington is closing down,Pollay said, and the city saw an opportunity to see what can be done aboutredeveloping all three sites.

“We’ve been asked to create action plans for each of the properties,” shetold “They could be sold to the private sector for development,there could be a public-private partnership created…we just haven’t workedthat all out yet.”

A general city plan for the lots would replace the parking garage at Firstand Williams with a five to six story parking garage with up to 600 lotspaces. The DDA would work with the Washtenaw County Drain Commissioner’soffice and the city to address issues related to Allen Creek, which runsunder the area.The DDA recommended a $20 million limit on construction for the garageproject.

The Ashley lot could be redeveloped into retail on the first floor andoffice units above, as well as one level of underground parking. The Firstand Washington lot could be used for residential units, Pollay said.The area had been planned for a mixed-use development, she said, but theplans fell through.

In 2000, the DDA and council resolved to replace theclosing parking deck with a mixed-use building that would have containedpublic parking. The agreement with developer LibertyFirst was approved in2002, but site limitations made it impossible to pursue the project, according to Pollay. The project was terminated earlier this year, she said.

The new plans actmore parking spaces for the city, the home for the University of Michigan.Parking is usually extremely prized.Development on the first phase, the parking garage, could begin next year,Pollay said. The proposed project is directly across from the Eaton Corp.plant that will be closed by next year, and the city hopes a new developerwill have a good use for the plant.

“There’s not a lot of developable land downtown,” Pollay said. “Now we havean opportunity to define and shape a section and give vitality to the area.”

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