Ann Arbor has a special identity within Michigan and the Great Lakes region. Within downtown Ann Arbor there are the numerous museums, concert halls, galleries, and entertainment facilities that make it a regional cultural center. Many elements combine together to create that which makes Ann Arbor special.
For the DDA, two critical areas of downtown's uniqueness exist in which it can actively preserve and promote the identity of downtown: downtown retail and the historic and aesthetic character of the downtown area's distinct commercial and residential neighborhoods.
StrategiesPromoting Ann Arbor's Unique Vitality
Encourage an appropriate, identity-building mix of local and national businesses downtown. Much of what makes downtown retail a special experience is the personal relationships between the businesses and their clients.
- Encourage downtown developments that complement the existing character of the neighborhoods in which they are sited. New development should ideally be designed to be attractive, respect the height and mass of adjacent buildings, attract new pedestrian traffic, and provide space for ground floor retail where possible.
- Design future DDA improvements and developments to augment the unique vitality of the city. This can be accomplished through attractive architecture in DDA developments, streetscape improvements that are consistent with the character of the surrounding neighborhood, and programs, such as the placement of historical markers, that promote the area's unique history and identity and add to the downtown pedestrian experience.
- Ensure that sidewalks, street furniture, and other elements are regularly cleaned and maintained.
Support historic property owners who seek to improve and restore the appearance of their building with historic fa¨cade improvement grants. Much of Ann Arbor's unique character is from the historic architecture of many of its commercial buildings. This can also include directing funds to prevent the deterioration of historic buildings. Likewise, the DDA should encourage new developments whose architecture respects nearby older or historic buildings.
- Support programs that educate the public about the history of downtown, such as the Historic Marker program.
In addition to its unique content, the Ann Arbor downtown is a pleasant and enjoyable place to walk, shop, and relax. Two elements that contribute to the downtown's attractive character are the physical design and the many activities and events in the area. Supporting and promoting these two characteristics are essential for the continued health of the downtown area.
- Create pedestrian improvements and DDA developments that add to the excitement of walking through downtown Ann Arbor. This can include installing streetlights, maintaining landscape design, and financing public art, as well as attractive architecture in DDA developments.
- Support local business associations and civic groups that are involved in beautifying and celebrating the downtown. This can include providing grants and other incentives to area area associations and other civic groups whose activities and events draw people downtown.
- Directly arrange and finance public events that enhance the attractiveness of downtown (e.g. organizing walking tours, historic street exhibits, concerts, block parties). These events can be concurrent with milestone events for the Authority, such as the opening of a new parking structure, completion of a redesigned streetscape, completion of a new downtown development project in which the DDA was involved, etc.