ANN ARBOR NEWS: DEVELOPER INVITES ANN ARBORITES TO DISCUSS 17-STORY HIGH-RISE PLAN
WGI’s Parking Solutions Division, then still Carl Walker, is finally seeing a schedule for additional public input on the Library Lot, intended to update the public on the project timeline and gain feedback on this multi-year process…
A Chicago-based development team planning to build a 17-story high-rise and plaza along Fifth Avenue in downtown Ann Arbor is inviting the public to give additional input.
Core Spaces, which intends to purchase the city-owned Library Lot from Ann Arbor for $10 million, is asking community members to attend a neighborhood meeting from 5:30-7 p.m. June 20 at the downtown library’s all-purpose room.
Luke Bonner, a local consultant working with the developer, said the purpose of the meeting is to update the public on the project timeline and gain feedback. Anyone who’s interested in learning more and giving input before the developer submits formal plans to the city for review and approval is welcome to attend.
The Library Lot is the parking lot atop the city’s Library Lane underground parking garage next to the downtown library.
The City Council voted 8-3 to approve the $10 million sale in April 2017, after which the city and Core Spaces worked for more than a year to negotiate and finalize a purchase agreement.
As tentatively planned, the building, known as the Collective on 5th, would include retail space on the ground floor, along with a hotel lobby, residential lobby and common area, office space on the second floor, 131 hotel rooms on floors three through six, 360 apartments on floors seven through 17, and a 12,000-square-foot plaza.
The developer and the city executed the purchase agreement for the property on May 31, one week after the city clerk notified a grassroots citizens group that its proposal seeking to halt the development had enough signatures to go on the November ballot.
The question going before city voters in November is whether to add a section to the city charter stating all city-owned land on the Library Lot block, which includes both the Library Lot and Liberty Plaza, must be retained in public ownership in perpetuity and developed as an urban central park and civic center commons.
The group behind the proposal, the Ann Arbor Committee for the Community Commons, believes the fact that its proposal is on the ballot now means the city must hold off on selling the Library Lot until voters have had an opportunity to vote.
City Attorney Stephen Postema has not yet publicly offered an opinion on the matter or responded to questions about it.
The newly signed purchase agreement doesn’t identify a specific closing date for the sale, but it states it’s expected by Nov. 22, 2019. It gives the city an option to repurchase the lot for fair market value if a development doesn’t happen within five years of closing.
Core Spaces still has to present its building design plans to the city’s Design Review Board for review, and then go through the city’s site plan approval process, which includes Planning Commission review and then ultimate approval or denial by the City Council.
Core Spaces last year estimated the building would generate about $2 million per year in property taxes, $200,000 per year in hotel accommodation taxes and $130,000 per year in sales taxes, while creating hundreds of temporary construction jobs, plus 186 permanent jobs related to the office, hotel, residential and retail uses.
In addition to roughly $5 million for affordable housing that’s expected to come from the sale, there would be dedicated workforce housing included in the mixed-income high-rise building.
The purchase agreement states 12 percent of the apartments (but no fewer than 35) would be leased at 150 percent of fair market rent for people with incomes at 60-80 percent of the area median income. As tentatively planned, that would mean 43 workforce apartments at that level.
Another 2.5 percent of the apartments (or at least nine more) would be leased at 150 percent of fair market rent for people with incomes at 50-80 percent of AMI. To get the extra nine units, the city has agreed to pay the developer $1.475 million, and that’s expected to come from the Downtown Development Authority.
The workforce housing would be a mix of efficiencies, studios, and one-bedroom apartments.
The council resolution approving the Library Lot sale in April 2017 approved the additional nine workforce housing units at 120 percent of fair market rent, but the purchase agreement now states they’d be set at 150 percent of fair market rent, which is what Core actually offered in March 2017.
One of the attachments to the purchase agreement is an undated “Library Lane Underground Parking Structure Future Development Report” from Carl Walker, a DDA consultant.
It discusses future development above the Library Lane garage, assuming an 18-story, 240-foot-tall building.
What’s been discussed publicly by Core Spaces and the city is a 17-story building that stays within the city’s 180-foot height limit. It steps down along Fifth Avenue by the proposed outdoor plaza.
DDA Executive Director Susan Pollay said the Carl Walker report was prepared several years ago around the time the underground garage was designed and constructed. She said the garage was designed so there’s flexibility for a variety of future uses. Not knowing what those future uses would be, she said, the foundation and footings were over-engineered for the size of building that might someday be built, and that’s how the future development assumptions were calculated.
Bonner said the development team is starting with the assumption of a 17-story building heading into the upcoming process of engaging the public, finalizing the design and seeking city approval.
The $10 million purchase agreement was signed May 31 by Mayor Christopher Taylor, City Clerk Jackie Beaudry, City Administrator Howard Lazarus, City Attorney Stephen Postema and representatives of purchaser Core Spaces Ann Arbor Fifth LLC, including David Nelson, vice president of Convexity Management LLC; and Marc Lifshin, manager of Core Campus Manager LLC.
Read the article and view the 23-image gallery on the MLive.com website here: http://www.mlive.com/news/ann-arbor/index.ssf/2018/06/developer_invites_ann_arborite.html