The city also wants to sell a lot it owns across from the library at Fifth Avenue and William. But four years ago, it walked away from a plan to redevelop the former site of the Ann Arbor YMCA--and into a $30 million lawsuit. Though the suit was thrown out by a federal judge, it's still on appeal; in January, city attorney Steven Postema was in Cincinnati to argue the city's case before the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. With an opinion pending, that saga is now entering its ninth year.
Next door to the library, work is wrapping up on the city's first underground parking structure. But there, too, city council wanted much more. Plans to build a hotel and convention center on top of the structure were debated for years, only to be killed once it became clear that the center would need public subsidies.
Why is it so hard to redevelop the city's prime downtown real estate? The Downtown Development Authority thinks it knows the answer--and has been working for more than a year to get the chance to try its solution.
The redevelopment at Washington and First is a win-win. But it almost didn't happen.