Is Ann Arbor headed toward a parking crisis?

As development downtown booms, parking lots are shrinking

Public parking spaces could disappear faster than the city creates them (Photo: Meredith Bruckner)
Public parking spaces could disappear faster than the city creates them (Photo: Meredith Bruckner)

ANN ARBOR – Parking in Ann Arbor is a sore issue for many, and as the city plans to open 375 more public parking spaces within the next year, it seems they might stand to lose more than that -- up to 483 spots.

An immediate concern is the ending of the lease on Nov. 30 between the Downtown Development Authority and Ann Arbor-based developing corporation First Martin for the First/Huron and Fifth/Huron (also known as Brown Block) lots. There were concerns that these 222 public parking spots would be lost as of Dec. 1 -- downtown's biggest shopping night of the year with Midnight Madness and Kerrytown's Kindlefest.

However, the crisis seems to have been averted, at least for now.

The deputy director of the DDA, Joe Morehouse, said, "There's been a verbal agreement with the owner that the lots will stay open, but the rates could change."

He explained that the lots will likely stay open as a private operation until they are approved for redevelopment, but that the rates are currently unknown.

In addition to the eventual loss of these 222 spaces, another 261 spots are planned to go up in the air with the closer of the city-owned First-William and 415 W. Washington lots as the city develops its Treeline Urban Trail Plan.

The plan to create 375 new spaces by winter 2019 lies in the $18 million addition of three stories on the existing garage on Ann/Ashley. 

In addition to this expansion, the DDA is also considering building-up and underground on new development projects at the city-owned Library Lot on Fifth, and an addition above the garage at Liberty Square.

We put in a call recently to Republic Parking System, a private company that operates a large majority of lots downtown. As it stands, the waiting list for a monthly membership to each of their lots ranged from six-months to one year. 

After 10 a.m. on any given day, many of these lots are full and residents or commuters are left circling around the different lots or having to find street parking spots, which are also few and far between on an afternoon downtown.

What concerns do you have about parking in Ann Arbor? Let us know in the comments below.




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