It is somewhat ironic that the Ann Arbor Planning Commission just approved a long-overdue underground parking structure. If you are unfamiliar with the project, let me assure you it is a very, very sexy parking garage. Like, the George Clooney of parking garages. There will be fancy way finding, and natural lighting, and all kinds of very forward thinking ideas.
Such as: interfacing with the lower levels of the soon-to-come new Ann Arbor District Library; planning for the redevelopment of the prior YMCA space; giving the structure the support to build a multi-story building on top of it, should someone in the next 50 years decide to do so. Let’s hope someone does. As discussed at the Planning Commission meeting, this structure is designed to be the be-all-end-all parking structure for the City of Ann Arbor.
This particular parking structure project has also been in the making for over 19 years. And construction has not even started yet. If all goes well it will be years before we can expect a ribbon cutting ceremony. (And we all know, darlings, how much I love a ribbon cutting ceremony.)
Never fear, dear Ann Arborites. Recently I learned that Arlington, Virginia's transformation from a sprawling, dying suburb to a vibrant growing city was originally planned in the late 60s and early 70s. According to Dr. Terry Holzheimer, Director of Arlington Economic Development, speaking at the Creative Cities Summit 2.0 in Detroit, the plans sat dormant for 20+ years before public transportation, and creative zoning, proved to be a catalyst for growth.
So while Ann Arbor is finally thinking about what our town may look like in 2050 (and beyond) as far as parking downtown, I am not sure it's thinking about long-term housing.
The groundwork for increased density in Ann Arbor’s expanding core is just being laid now. I just hope that it isn't another 25 years before anything actually happens. By that time, George Clooney will be old news, and so will the state-of-the-art parking garage that the generation before us had the forethought to dream up.
Next topic: You've managed to vote, now get out there Millennials and make something.