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Federal Site Rezoned, But There's Big Step Yet

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Federal Site Rezoned, But There's Bis Step Yet

Ann Arbor is now just one step away
from final approval for the construction
of a federal office building.

City Council voted 8 to 1 Monday night
to approve a rezoning of two acres of
land in the downtown for the four-story
structure. But the still unsettled site
plan for the project could face stiffer op-

The rezoning vote more than anything
else reflected the council's approval for
construction of a new federal building.
But complaints about the proposed de-
sign, which will be considered during the
upcoming site plan review, continue to
be heard.

A public hearing on the rezoning pro-
duced before council the same com-
plaints voiced during the Planning Com-
mission's review of the project. Namely,
critics object to plans for a surface level
parking lot replacing the Masonic Tem-
ple, and to a design they say does not fit
in with the existing buildings in that

The property involved, which the gov-
ernment either already ow ';»• ii in the
process of purchasing, is i. , on the
north by Liberty Street, the west by
Fourth Avenue and the east by Fifth

The rezoning received only brief atten-
tion from council before it was approved.
But two council members who voted for

it — Dpmocrats James Kenworthy and
:-.,.... ihomas — indicated they may not
support the site plan.

The only "no" vote came from Coun-
cilwoman Kathleen Kozachenko, HRP-
Second Ward, who said she felt the city
could force the federal government to
make design changes by putting more
pressure on it.

But Mayor James E. Stephenson said
seeking a new location or new design for
the building could delay it indefinitely.
"A bird in the hand is worth a lot more
than two in the bushes today," he said.

The city technically has no veto power
over the project. The government is not
bound by loca1 building and site plan

procedures and could construct the ofTliT
building even with Ann Arbor opp

The objections to the project came
from half the 14 speake he
public hearing. The most ' ' .- Ke- vas
local architect Richard Ahearn, who
called th0 proposed federal building a

The ground level parking for 90 vehi-
cles would create a "bombed out" look
o the area, he charged, advocating in-
teao that a podium parking arrange-
ment (partially underground parking) be
used instead.

The Liberty Street entrance to the
building may present a pleasing front,

but it is not in keeping with surrounding
buildings, he said. The back and sides of
the proposed structure are "windowless,
bleak facades," he said.

Louise Piper, speaking for the Citizens
Association for Area Planning (CAAP)
said the building is needed, but changes
in its design are also npp^ecl

CAAP's specific , that
the building is sei 11.1' ck from
Liberty; parking access n be limit-
ed to Fourth Avenue to lessen tne impact
on busy Fifth Avenue; the surface level
parking; the planned demolition of the
Masonic Temple; and the question of
whether or not the building conforms to
federal energy guidelines.

A frequently mentioned idea was to ar-
range for the building to use city parking
structures instead of the lot.

The project received support from sev-
eral labor and business group represen-
tatives. Fred Veigel, from the area
AFL-CIO council, noted that unemploy-
ment rates in some construction locals
range from 20 per cent to 40 per cent.
The economy depends on construction
jobs, and the new building will provide
many, he said.

Veigel ch." ' "t some of the oppo-
sition to the i , ••' is coming from per-
sons favoring a no-growth policy for Ann