Creating a 24-Hour Neighborhood with a Full Spectrum of Housing Options in the Downtown
A local residential population is necessary for a dynamic, economically-strong 24-hour downtown. A substantial residential base near and in the downtown has a positive effect on the retail climate, local transportation systems, and quality of life. A densely inhabited city center creates an exciting place to live, and promotes a positive pedestrian atmosphere. In turn, downtown residents enjoy the convenient availability of community services, retail goods, cultural activities, and nearby employment.
To encourage a diverse downtown population, a wide variety of housing opportunities, retail and service business, food stores and other businesses providing basic goods and services should be available.
Interaction between Downtown Retail and Residential Development
A strong residential presence helps support retail selection. This includes not only residents living within the DDA district, but also residents in the neighborhoods adjacent to the downtown. The DDA can encourage this vital connection in several ways:
- Encourage mixed-use projects that feature retail businesses on lower floors and residential housing on upper floors.
- Work with the downtown area associations to strengthen the existing retail environment.
- Participate with the City and property owners in efforts to attract new retail and service businesses to downtown that support residential needs.
Maintaining and strengthening the traditional residential character of the near-downtown neighborhoods is essential for the economic and social sustainability of downtown Ann Arbor. These neighborhoods include the Oxbridge, Burns Park, Ann Arbor Hills, Old Fourth Ward, North Central, and Old West Side areas. Due to their close proximity to downtown, near-downtown neighborhoods face unique challenges to preserving their traditional residential character. The DDA recognizes the importance of high quality public schools near downtown neighborhoods in maintaining the desirability and diversity of the neighborhoods. The strategies below are aimed towards preserving and improving the symbiotic relationship between downtown and its nearby neighborhoods.
- Resist development pressures and uses within these neighborhoods that are not consistent with their residential nature.
- Consider the impacts of downtown development projects and improvements on near-downtown neighborhoods. This includes consideration of project design, massing, and height, possible future traffic impacts, and encouragement of elements that add to the attractiveness of living near downtown, such as open space.
- Continually monitor parking demand in near downtown neighborhoods by employees, residents, and visitors. Possible solutions can include the construction of new downtown parking, as well as the promotion of transportation alternatives and residential permit programs.
- In order to encourage and facilitate a full range of housing options, the DDA will work with developers to encourage a residential component to developments wherever feasible; the DDA will (in accord with policies adopted by City Council) encourage developer contributions to meet moderate income housing needs, and will provide grants and loans to support housing affordable to lower income persons and families. The DDA will also support services and transportation programs to assure that the downtown remains a viable residential neighborhood.
- Participate in projects that increase the supply of housing.
- Provide affordable housing grants for downtown and near downtown residential development and redevelopment projects when necessary. Encourage and support programs and developments that provide housing for the downtown workforce.
- Work with the City Planning and Building Departments and with developers to streamline site plan review and to facilitate development that increases housing while meeting established community goals and priorities.
- Work with the Downtown Area Citizens Advisory Council to support various strategies and projects to enhance downtown living.
- Promote downtown as a place for families with children, with the installation of park playground equipment and support for programs serving families and children, including the Hands-On Museum, YMCA, the Ann Arbor District Library and others.
- Promote the development of a range of housing options to meet the needs of all income levels and consider ways to address unmet housing needs.
In general, downtown residents are more likely to walk or use buses, and less likely to rely on automobiles for daily purposes than other area residents, thereby helping to ease traffic congestion on downtown and area streets. Nonetheless, most downtown residents will require nearby, convenient parking spaces for their vehicles.
The DDA can encourage this important relationship between downtown residential areas and transportation services in several ways:
- Participating in projects that increase the supply of housing.
- Providing residential parking permits as possible. This may need to take into account the large number of University of Michigan students living within the DDA District as downtown residents.
- Develop shared parking programs, taking into account the various kinds of patrons that will utilize parking spaces at different hours of the day.
- Create temporary loading/unloading zones on downtown streets for downtown residents to utilize for daily purposes such as unloading groceries.
- Work with downtown residents and other stakeholders to resolve potential noise and transportation conflicts in the alleys, including parking impediments and trash pickup schedules.
- Develop transportation programs for downtown residents to encourage bicycle and bus usage. This may include car and bicycle storage facilities, bus pass programs, and working with AATA to provide shelters and other amenities.
- Consider developing outskirt parking storage locations for residents, developing parking contracts for residential developments, and developing priorities for downtown residential parking.