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Downtown Parking Dilemma Adds Up To Shortage

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Downtown Parking Dilemma Adds Up Shortage

By Glen Harris
(City Government Reporter)

There's no doubt a new fed-
eral office building will be""an
economic blessing for down-
town Ann Arbor. But for an-
yone with a car to park it will
also cause some headaches.

Finding a parking place in
the central business district
isn't easy now, and it will get
even harder after the federal
building is completed and its
255 employes go to work.

The parking issue wfll like-
ly be getting more and more
attention as the federal build-
ing comes closer to becoming
a reality. Present plans say
all the.ll^ssaiXJSTODerties
"should, be, acquired .bsL next,
December, wit1" ^""^^lition. of
^xistmg_stru'. i a:. iary

will_beJpcated in the block
bounded by Liberty, N. Fifth
Avenue andN.Fou r t h


The park; ne was'
raised in the city planning
department's response to a
preliminary environmental
impact statement prepared by
the federal General Services^
Administration (GSA^7 which
is responsible^ for the_project.
A public information meeting
on that impact statement will
be held at the Aug. 13 Plan-
ning Commission meeting.

The impact statement its-''

skimmed over the parking is-
sue by simply stating there
will be 90 spaces provided on
the site.

But city planners have *
timated the new building v,
create a need for 209 addition-
al parking spaces. Even with
the 90 spaces the facility will
provide, this would leave
about 119 more cars looking
for all-day parking downtown.

This by itself is a problem.

i-hT^ 5s it isn't h'-


Also contributing to the
worsening parking situation
in the downtown 'area is the
^.•..-: •:\i^ i-iF fhr,i rity not to tear

ii the historic
Haarer-Walker block (the 100
block of W. Liberty). The city
had purchased three buildings
there with the idea of demol-
ishing them for additional

Another contributing factor
will be the loss of 67 parking
^ spaces at the Huron and Ash-
ley Streets park" " '•"i The
city has been K that
space from the Ann Arbor
Trust Co., which is cancelling
the lease and will use the lot
for customer parking only.

But that's not all. Also ad-
ding to the problem will be
the loss of, some 30 street-
metered parking spaces on
both sides of Liberty Street to
make way for a shuttle bus
scheduled to begin operation
next fall between State and
Main Streets.

City planners have also es-
timated when the federal
building construction begins
about 50 private, off-street
parking spaces on that
property will be lost.

And consideration is still
being given to a plan to make
Washington Street, now one-
way west, a two-lane street.
This would remove an es-
timated 30 on-street parking

Altogether, there will be a
need for nearly. 300 parking
spaces in the downtown area:

which would be enough to fill
a facility like the Maynard
Street parking structure.

What all this adds up to is
the likelihood of a lot of extra
minutes being tacked onto the
time it takes potential shop-
pers to find a parking space
downtown. Thus, while the
federal building will provide a
financial shot-in-the-arm for
downto •--.---- - ^g

parking cono'-siion ii .»LI add
could have counter effects.

The city plannig staff, in re-
sponding to the GSA's lack of
.attention to the parking prob-
lem in -.-., -ict statement,
wrote that, "If (federal) em-
ploye parking has the impact
of reducing the r of
spaces available i ,yers,
then our efforts at revitalizing
the CBD (central business dis-
trict) will be severely ham-

City officials have tried,
thus far unsuccessfully, to
convince the GSA to increase

••'"•"; facilities at the
p; .(pi:-.. ; li^w building. Mayor
James E. Stephenson pro-
posed a joint city-federal gov-

ernment parking structure in
connection with the site, but
the GSA declined, saying it
could not legally do that.

The two principal off-street
parking areas servicing the
federal building site will be
the public lot in the 300 block
of N. Fifth Avenue, and the
William Street parking struc-
ture. The lot, however, is al-
ready operating at capacity
during the day and the struc-
ture's use is increasing, some-
times to the point of being full
• ' normal weekdays.

parking system got a

m- • •'- ..' : ^ •- i;i«-' iu- ^
mer Feiner Glass Co. proper-
ty at First and William
Streets and turned it into a lot
for employes. This freed
about 75 public parking

The only other recent im-
provement was the opening of
the city lot on E. Washington
between State and Division.
Thi| added 47 spaces to the

parking system.

Ann Arb ' im-
provements budget ^ pro-
gram has only one parking
project listed for the next five
years. It would turn the E.
Washington lot into a parking
structure, but not before 1979.

Guy C. Larcom Jr., execu-
tive director of Ann Arbor
Tomorrow, a downtown revi-
talization organization, says
the city will be needing addi-
tional parking in the near fu-
ture. And despite the parking
problem the federal building
will create, construction of the
should not be delayed,

- • s.

Larcom says efforts are be-
ing made to see if the city
could purchase property at
the south end of a city park-
ing lot in the 300 block of S.
Ashley. This land would per-
mit expansion of that lot to
more than make up for the
spaces lost by preserving the
Haarer-Walker buildings.