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Federal Building Changes Urged

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Federal Building Changes Urged

City Government Reporter

The Ann Arbor Planning Commission
wants to roll up its shirt sleeves and
fiprht for changes in the design of a new
i -nidingi. despite the fact the city
Tias iiu iegal control over the project.

The proposed building underwent its
first public review at a commission pub-
lic hearing Tuesday night, with the
unanimous opinion of those who spoke
being that changes in the proposed de-
sign Mid layout are needed.

Many of the con< 're over what
was called the wa^ ... ,s of the Ma-
sonic °. which is sche
torn u. - .id replaced wii.

The commission responded by approv-
ing a resolution, stating its intention to
do ev it can to save the temple.

Cor.> i- .ers also scheduled a spe-
cial session for Dec. 18 to review the site
plan for the federal building in more de-
tail. The complaints and suggestions will
then be given to government officials in
hopes of gaining desired changes.

About the only leverage the city has in
winning any concessions is through pub-
lic pressure and support from Congress-
man Marvin L. Esch, and U.S. Senators
Philip Hart and Robert Griffin. The Gen-


'YDEC T ' s/

eral Services Administration, which is
building the planned four-story complex
does not legally have to abide by city
zon '"'n or plan review laws.

1 iring was on a proposed
rezoning for the land involved, bounded
by Liberty Street and Fourth and Fifth
Avenues, a site plan and an environmen-
tal impact statement.

But Planning Director Martin Overhis'
er said the rezoning and site plan were
submitted at the request of the city, "We
asked them ts ' ;s to rezone it, and al-
so to be gn opportunity to com-
ment on the site plan. And it's only after
some arm twisting that they agreed to
'"iser salrl.

.,.,..„,„,.„ „.- „--.-... -- -.-•- .• ;•. .•;„ 10
a public land use, .the site plan and im-
pact statement was scheduled; but action
was deferred because of a lack of details
of the plan.

No constructios Me is known,
but Overhiser said the GSA is in the
process of purchasing the property. It
had been expected that demolition would
begin in Janiiflry.

Then' n obvious tear among
some coiiuiii&aioners and '•""^•"rs that
the government isn't willin changes. But Commissioner rranz Mog-
dis said he felt the problem is that the
local concer inicat-

ed to the GSA.

Changes are possible if the city can en-
list the efforts of Esch, Hart and Griffin,
he said. "To say nothing can be done is a
cop out by saying nothing will be done,"
Mogdis said.

He also suggested that "Pressure" on
the city to let the project slide ^ut
local input might be more ima^.— -aan

The resolution to try to save the Ma-
sonic Temple was made by Commission-
er Joyce K ; after several speak-
ers, durin nearing, urged that
h >Q preserved.

'Vilhelme. chairman of the

District Commission, told
til- ,--—_.-Jn of that group's efforts to
save the building earlier this year.

Wilh01"--" -'""^ "^"""os in the site sug-
gested ;»ion to save the
temple aid noi meet me approval of GSA
officials. He said he was told any
changes altering 10 per cent of either the
footage or cost of the planned project
would result in additional legislation
from fnnRTess being needed to construct
t ng. That could delay the pro-
je>;i acvi-ral years, if not doom it.

Wilheime said he felt if the Historic
District Co' ;s : ' 'ad pressed :? '
forts to gel ,/laced on l.. -
tional Registry of Historic Places it


could have been successful. But because
of the possibility of killing the entire pro-
ject, the commission voted to drop its

Last June, the GSA declined to recom-
mend that the temple be placed on the
National Register.

The temple was named as one of 28
buildings in the central business district
considered architecturally significant
and irreplaceable in a commission spon-
sored survey earlier this year.

The feelings during both the hearing
and commission discussion were that the
temple should be saved because of its
architectural significance, and because it
is reportedly in good physical and usable
shape. The owners, however, have had
problems renting space in the facility
during recent years.

, Suggestions for using the temple in-
cluded: a community center, as part of
the federal building complex, and as a
court building.

Members of the audience also objected
to a parking lot replacing the temple,
saying that would be a waste of space,
and could create a traffic hazard by ad-
ding more vehicle congestion.

Speakers, including several local arch-
;t "*" urged that changes be made to
,,,-,„ .he parking less visable from the