In 1982 the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority (DDA) was created as a vehicle for urban renewal, and since its inception, the DDA has been an influential catalyst behind the revitalization of downtown Ann Arbor.
As was intended by the Michigan 1972 "DDA Act," the A2 DDA works to prevent deterioration of the downtown business district, promote economic revitalization, and encourage historic preservation. During its 20-year history, the A2 DDA has participated in more than 100 projects, with approximately $60 million reinvested in downtown.
Accomplishments have included:
- Increasing and improving the downtown parking system. Since 1982 the DDA has added over 1,700 public parking spaces to the public parking system including two new parking structures (Ann Ashley and Liberty Square). In 1992, the DDA took over management of most of the City's parking system, including its seven parking structures, with the goal of addressing extensive long-term deterioration. In 2002, the DDA took over operation of the remaining parking system, including the on-street meters in order to meet the community's goal of a self-sustaining downtown parking system that meets the needs of downtown stakeholders.
As parking system managers, the DDA has upgraded or replaced all but one of the city-owned structures; improved customer service, accounting standards, and profitability; commissioned parking studies which have led to better parking policies and administration; and developed long-term maintenance and repair programs that will save taxpayers tens of millions of dollars over the life of the parking system.
- Improving the pedestrian experience. The DDA has transformed the appearance and walkability of much of downtown Ann Arbor with several streetscape improvement projects that repaired and in some cases redesigned sidewalks, installed hundreds of pedestrian scale light fixtures, trees and bike hoops. As a result, downtown is a much more pedestrian-friendly and attractive environment.
- Encouraging mixed-use developments. The DDA has participated in the development of several important downtown projects, including One North Main, Tally Hall/Liberty Square, Ashley Mews, and Liberty Lofts. These projects mix commercial elements with residential or public parking, and have done a great deal to foster a 24 hour/day, 7 day/week downtown.
- Financial contributions to affordable housing. The DDA is committed to supporting a diversity of housing stock in the downtown to sustain the diversity of people we have living downtown. Within the DDA District, DDA has partnered with many local housing providers including Avalon Housing, First Centrum Corporation, Dawn Farm, and the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), contributing over $1 million to fund the creation of new housing units affordable to individuals and families earning below the area median.
- Participation in efforts to encourage downtown businesses. The DDA regularly partners with the four downtown Area Associations, and has funded several cooperative promotional efforts and area studies. The DDA has also funded such business initiatives as the IT Zone and Think Local First.
- Participation in the getDowntown program. Since 2001 the the DDA has allocated a significant amount to fund the getDowntown program and in particular, the cost of go!passes. More than 6,000 employees from 413 downtown businesses currently have go!passes, and the use of this pass greatly reduces parking demand and traffic congestion.