The DDA and Ann Arbor City Infrastructure
Alley Assessment & Repairs
As part of an initiative to improve the quality, usability, and attractiveness of downtown Ann Arbor’s alleys, the DDA commissioned a downtown alley repair plan. To date a total of ten alleys have been repaired, replacing damaged storm sewers, improving drainage, installing conduit to anticipate future utility needs, and replacing asphalt with attractive colored and stamped concrete.
Downtown Wayfinding Project
The DDA worked with the community to design a comprehensive wayfinding sign system to assist visitors and community newcomers. The design was approved in 2009 and the system was installed in 2010, including vehicular signage pointing the way to downtown, pedestrian-scale signage pointing to downtown destinations, and you-are-here maps.
Fifth & Division Improvements
Division Street and Fifth Avenue are an important one-way street pair that connect the north and south sides of Ann Arbor through downtown. In 2011-2012, DDA’s project transformed these once auto-centric streets into walkable and attractive downtown corridors, that have subsequently encouraged new restaurants, residences, and other attractions to spring up along their length The improvements included expanded sidewalks, bump-outs at intersections, additional on-street parking, bike lanes, extensive new trees planters, seating, and pedestrian-scaled LED streetlights.
LED Holiday Lights
The Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority provides the funding for holiday lights in all four commercial districts downtown, which are on display every year November through March. This festive glow not only brightens up downtown during dark winter months, but is one of the largest LED holiday lighting displays in the country.
LED Street Lights
In Summer 2007 the DDA voted to approve a $630,000 grant to retrofit 1,400 downtown globe lights to more energy-efficient LED, thus making it the first downtown in the nation to transition 100% of its downtown street lights to LED. LED lights use half the energy and last longer than conventional bulbs, and produce directional light thus reducing light pollution and wasted energy. The project garnered tremendous regional, national, and international attention, and encouraged the City to replace nearly all street lights within the City to LED.
In 2015, the DDA received a grant from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs which enabled the board to approve $50,000 in matching funds for a partnership with Arts Alliance on their PowerArt project. The project has brought art to eight downtown traffic signal boxes. The boxes are covered with vinyl printed art replicas, both as a way to bring high quality art images into the public sphere and to help dissuade graffiti. The project helps to support the DDA’s Development Plan, which includes strategies to encourage walkability and to support downtown identity by working to bring art into the public realm.
State Street Improvements
In 2000, the DDA began work implementing improvements in the State Street area, the commercial district just west of UM Central Campus. The improvements included new street lights, seating, large tree planters, expanded plaza space at the UM Diag corner, and new crosswalks including some stamped in colored asphalt, and others in concrete. The biggest change to the area was the conversion of many short one-way streets to two-way traffic, which did a great deal to improve access into the area by transit and bicyclists, and made it easier for visitors and customers to frequent retail shops, restaurants, and entertainment venues.