Downtown Street Design Manual

Ann Arbor Main StreetAn enjoyable pedestrian experience is one of downtown’s principal attractions and its streets host the highest intensity of activities and uses in the City – providing public space for more than 100 sidewalk cafes, 73% of all City-permitted special events, and a density of businesses and residences.

We are proud of our streets and sidewalks and recognize their importance to maintaining and enhancing the personality of downtown Ann Arbor.

Why a Framework Approach?

People love living, working, and visiting downtown due to the high quality of place and co-mingling of activities that occur, particularly in the sidewalk space. Several prominent downtown streets help to create a great experience; Main Street in particular won a “Great Places in America” award from the American Planning Association. Conversely, other streets lack character, a clear identity, and the infrastructure to support increased social and economic activity.

Streets and sidewalks work best when they take into account the needs of people who use the streets and the nearby uses and context. A comprehensive set of design, construction, and maintenance standards can enhance and maintain the high quality experience provided by some streets and improve the identity of others. A Downtown Street Design Manual will result from this process and will be a tool to ensure downtown streets provide a high quality of place for all users, while also meeting broader community goals.

Awards and Recognition for the Street Design Manual

The Street Design Manual has been recognized by the following groups-

  • Michigan Association of Planning Excellence Award – Best Practice Category 2015
  • HONOR Award from the Michigan Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects- 2015
  • IDA (International Downtown Association) Merit Award- 2015


This effort resulted in two documents – one that is technical in nature and guides the construction and maintenance of downtown streets, and another that examines the policy and management questions that arose through the process.

Downtown Street Design Manual
Technical guidelines for incorporation into the City’s Standard Specifications. Document Sections below:

Draft Best Practice Findings

DRAFT Best Practice Findings for Street Policy and Management – a compilation of best practices tailored to Downtown Ann Arbor. These are not policy recommendations, but a well informed tool to use as policy is formed.