What we are talking about


Building and Zoning


City zoning plays a role in the location and scope of proposed changes to our community, and so do the City's Master Plan documents. These rules and studies help define our vision for the future – and help to guide where and how much development we encourage. In order for that vision to accurately reflect our values, we need to be regularly changing, updating and improving our rules and the studies that guide them.


What's going on now?


Right now, the City is working to make the zoning ordinances that govern new development easier to understand and use. And that means easier for all of us, not just developers.


Several developers are looking at Ann Arbor's housing market and designing new housing projects. Quite of few of these projects – like the ones proposed for Nixon Road and Pontiac Trail – are not downtown. These projects will add residents to the neighborhood – and with new residents will come requests for more sidewalks and more investment in parks, streets and lighting.


Affordable housing – housing that is affordable to seniors on a fixed income and young workers just starting out – is in short supply in our community. One of the possible ways to increase the amount of affordable choices is to allow Accessory Dwelling Units – ADUs – in our neighborhoods. Another way is to increase the number of multi-family housing developments at the edges of the City, on currently undeveloped land.


Here's where I stand


In the past eight years, I have worked to increase opportunities for residents to ask questions about a development at the beginning of the process and get answers. By bringing the community into the discussions early, we have an opportunity to teach developers – what we want, how we want it to look, what we want it to do for the community. Developers who ignore or manipulate the process need to be held accountable.


I support improving the guidance we offer to developers by updating the City's master planning documents to better reflect community goals and values for development and redevelopment. That means that zoning needs to be enforceable – not so restrictive as to prevent development, but clear enough that we know what we want, and make it clear to developers what they need to do. Our zoning should also not be so vague and general that nearly anything goes. We care about how our community grows and changes – and that includes caring about what it looks like today, and how future developments respect the history of our community.


I support crafting a better transportation plan, one that looks at all modes of transportation, including trucks and cars. And one that really addresses the new streets and improved intersections that we need to see when a new project or new development is proposed. We must make certain the rules for new developments adequately include consideration for transit and traffic – just as they do now for public parks and sidewalks. And that new developments are as respectful of the environment as they can be– saving energy and creating better places.


Increased density in neighborhoods does not mean living next door to housing projects. Your elderly neighbor might want to downsize from that 4-bedroom house; the nice young couple might want to move in, but find the house just costs too much. Both could benefit from stable, slightly denser neighborhoods. I support continued consideration of  ADUs. And I recognize that not everyone will want to be a landlord, and few will choose this opportunity.





The Library Lot




The Council has not committed to selling the lot for development and has the right to reject all proposals.


On the January 19, 2016, the City Council will decide whether to proceed with negotiating the sale of the development rights on the Library Lot to CORE development.  If the Council approves this resolution, it is not agreeing to sell the land.  It is agreeing to enter into negotiations.  This resolution takes six (6) affirmative votes to pass.  In the event that the Council agrees to move forward with the process, it will require eight (8) votes of City Council members in order for any development on this site to proceed.


The City staff and the broker (CBRE) have evaluated all development proposals submitted in response to the offering memorandum and have recommended that the City Council approve further negotiations with CORE regarding the sale of this space.


At this time, the Council is not deciding on the merits of the proposed design of the building or the public space.  It is also not deciding on the community benefit (50% of the proceeds of this sale, were it to be approved, would be placed in the Affordable Housing Fund).


News Coverage:


March 18, 2014: Ann Arbor putting downtown property known as Library Lot up for sale

June 5, 2015: 9 development proposals submitted for Ann Arbor's Library Lot

June 23, 2015: 5 proposals make short list for the Library Lot

June 23, 2015: Download developers' proposals for Ann Arbor Library Lot

Jun 30, 2015: Updated drawings of developer plans

August 31, 2015: 2 development proposals in running for Ann Arbor's Library Lot

October 23, 2015: Developers present plans for Library Lot in downtown Ann Arbor


Project information:


•  Response to RFP (PDF, 10MB)

•  Best and Final Offer (PDF, 6 MB)

•  BAFO Civic Plaza Design (PDF, 1 MB)


History of this project:


Council Resolutions:


Resolution Designating an Urban Park Location on the Library Lot Site -March 3, 2014 (PDF)

Resolution to Direct the City Administrator to List for Sale 319 South Fifth and to Retain Real Estate Brokerage Services - March 17, 2014 (PDF)

Resolution to Establish a Policy for the Distribution of Proceeds from the Sale of Development Rights on 291 S. Fifth Ave. (the Library Lot) - April 7, 2014 (PDF)


Boards and Commissions Documents:


Ann Arbor Planning Commission Resolution to Request City Council Utilize an RFP/RFQ Process for the Sale of the Development Rights Over the "Library Lot" Underground Parking Structure -  Approved by Ann Arbor Planning Commission March 18, 2014 (PDF)

Park Advisory Commission Recommendation for Redevelopment of Library Plaza and Development of the Library Lot - September 2, 2014 (PDF)


Communications from City Administrator to Council:


Memo to Mayor and Council - June 4, 2015 (PDF)

Memo to Mayor and Council - August 31, 2015 (PDF) and attachment (PDF)

Memo to Mayor and Council - September 18, 2015 (PDF)


Other project documents:


Hotel Market Study - October 24, 2014 (PDF)

On Development


“We pride ourselves on our good fortune to have choices - where we work, where we shop, where we live. But if our community becomes too much one thing, too expensive, too restrictive, too intensively developed, we take many of those choices away. The task is to find balance. That task is never completed and never more important.”


– Sabra Briere

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Paid for by Sabra Briere for City Council, 1418 Broadway, Ann Arbor, MI  48105