Friday, October 26, 2012

One For The Books

The downtown Ann Arbor library opened at the corner of Fifth Avenue and William Street in 1958. An expansion doubling its size was completed in the 1970s. A third addition was completed in 1991, again doubling its size. Hoping to cement the public library's future in the downtown, the Ann Arbor District Library is asking voters on Nov. 6 to approve a $65 million bond proposal for construction of a new library. Read the story.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Above The Surface

A shot of the Library Lot on a recent evening, as viewed from the fourth-floor board room of the downtown Ann Arbor library. I was there attending a meeting of the AATA, which is planning on demolishing and rebuilding the Blake Transit Center across the street from here. Meanwhile, library officials are asking voters on Nov. 6 for approval to demolish and rebuild the library. City officials also are talking about redeveloping the surface of the Library Lot as part of the Connecting William Street initiative. Underneath the surface here is where the city and the DDA recently built a $50 million underground parking garage. Let's not forget the talk of a new train station, all the new high-rise apartments going up downtown, the countywide transit expansion, etc., etc., and so on. A lot happening in Ann Arbor, for sure.

Remember The 1890s?

Onlookers used their cellphone cameras on Oct. 8 to capture the moment as an 1890s-era house at 417 S. Division St. was demolished. The brick house just south of downtown Ann Arbor stood in the way of the University of Michigan's $29 million expansion of the Institute for Social Research building. Another house to the south of the building, where famous playwright Arthur Miller first lived when he went to the University of Michigan in the 1930s, also could be demolished, though neither house actually stands or stood in the way of the expansion. As local resident Tom Whitaker pointed out, "While I value historic houses very much, perhaps the bigger story here is the senseless loss of decent housing, close to campus, where students, staff or faculty could have continued living and walking to class or work. If you look at the site plans and renderings, the ISR addition is shown with the three houses remaining in place. They did not interfere with the footprint of the new construction at all. No, this is all about creating some room for the contractor and but more importantly, to add surface parking lots later." Read the story.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Building A New Library

In addition to deciding on a $65 million bond proposal for a new downtown Ann Arbor library, local voters get to elect four library board members on Nov. 6. Five candidates are competing for four seats on the seven-member board of trustees that governs the Ann Arbor District Library. Read the story.

And Justice For All

Voters on Nov. 6 will get the rare opportunity to fill an open seat on Washtenaw County's 22nd Circuit Court bench and it's a choice between two attorneys who are political opposites. Ann Arbor resident Carol Kuhnke, a pro-choice Democrat, is running against Ypsilanti resident Jim Fink, a pro-life conservative who leans Republican. Read the story.

Dingell vs. Kallgren

U.S. Rep. John Dingell, D-Dearborn, and his Republican opponent, Cynthia Kallgren, disagreed on issues ranging from health care to the federal deficit at a Wednesday afternoon candidate forum hosted by the West Washtenaw Business Association. Read the story.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Thanks For The Adventure

Today was the final day for The Lunch Room, an ├╝ber popular food cart run by my favorite vegans, Phillis and Joel, in downtown Ann Arbor. It was Name Your Own Price Day. Over the past two summers at Mark's Carts — a hustling, bustling courtyard of up-and-coming food entrepreneurs behind Mark Hodesh's Downtown Home & Garden — the people who brought us delicious tofu banh mi and paid thai and summer noodle salad are on to new adventures, and luckily they have an adventure fund. What up! I'll keep this short and sweet and just say thanks to Phillis and Joel for two awesome, unforgettable summers, thanks for being two of the best people I know, and can't wait until The Lunch Room is rocking the Ann Arbor restaurant scene in a new permanent location. I know it'll be as wildly successful as this little ol' cart.

If you missed this pad thai, bummer.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Gone Baby Gone

The former Greek church property on North Main Street — just north of downtown Ann Arbor — as it looked on Tuesday afternoon following a recent demolition. A developer who purchased the property has plans for a new housing project here.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Questions And Answers

As downtown Ann Arbor continues to grow and city officials try to strike a balance between new development and open space, Mayor John Hieftje says he and other city officials have been eyeing the Palio Lot at the corner of Main and William as a potential location for a new public plaza. "I think there's some potential on the Palio Lot, and I've been walking around with a couple of council members and we're beginning to think about a little line of park plazas. You've got Liberty Plaza, you'll have one on top of the parking structure, and then you can have one over at the Palio Lot, or a different configuration." Read my Q&A with Hieftje.