I encourage you to vote "NO" on City Proposal A.
If City Proposal A passes, we will lose hundreds of units of new, permanent affordable housing; miss out on millions of dollars of tax revenue to support basic city services; and be forced to either raise taxes or re-allocate millions of parks dollars to build and operate a failed park in the middle of our downtown. The passage of City Proposal A will sentence the Library Lot to remain what it is today: desolate and uninviting.
If City Proposal A is defeated, we will gain:
- $5M to use for affordable housing, sufficient to support the construction of 200 - 500 units of new, permanent affordable housing in Ann Arbor (we don't have a Plan B for this $5M);
- $5M to pay off the debt on the parcel next to the Blake Transit Center, the Y-Lot, which we can use for more affordable housing as well as partnerships with the AAATA and AADL (we don't have a Plan B for this $5M either);
- $600K/year to support basic services in Ann Arbor; and
- $1M+ per year for education and public schools;
Furthermore, we will gain a building on that site, which will support (pay for!) a 12,000 square foot open space for public use (think splash pad), 43 units of below market housing, 300+ market rate apartments, 100+ hotel rooms, and much needed office space. The Library Lot will bustle with activity, with developer funded open space and ground floor retail open for everyone.
City Proposal A reads as follows:
Proposal A: Charter Amendment for the City-Owned Public Land Bounded by Fifth Avenue, and William, Division, and Liberty Streets to be Designated, in Perpetuity, as an Urban Park and Civic Center Commons to be Known as the "Center of the City," by Amending the Ann Arbor City Charter Adding a New Section 1.4 to Chapter 1 of the Charter.
Shall the City-owned public land bounded by Fifth Ave, and William, Division and Liberty Streets be retained in public ownership, in perpetuity, and developed as an urban park and civic center commons, known as the “Center of the City” by adding a new section for the purpose as explained above?
Do you have any idea how many millions of taxpayer dollars it will cost to build, program, and maintain an "urban park and civic center commons"? I don't either, but I do know that we do not have millions of dollars reserved for this purpose, and I do know that an "urban park and civic center commons" does not pay for itself and the current proposal has no budget, no plan, and no funding.
Do you have any idea what is actually meant by "urban park and civic center commons"? I don't either, but I do know that an "urban park and civic center commons" at this location would be a failure. Our current urban park, Liberty Plaza, it's fair to say, does not meet our community aspirations. The Parks Advisory Commission took a long and careful look at urban parks and concluded that the Library Lot lacks most all of the attributes necessary to make an urban park successful – most importantly, eyes on the park with present and independent, active uses facing the location on at least three sides. The Library Lot has none of these attributes.
We all lose with City Proposal A. Please join me in voting "NO".