Well, it looks like it’s almost a done deal. According to the “Ann Arbor News,” the city of Ypsilanti has agreed to swap a few 99-year property leases with Eastern Michigan University. Here’s a clip from the “News” explaining the terms of the agreement:
Eastern Michigan University wants to make its campus more aesthetically pleasing and pedestrian-friendly, and the city of Ypsilanti wants to add more parking spaces for downtown visitors.
So the city and the university announced on Tuesday a plan to convert a city street near campus into a pedestrian mall and give the city additional parking downtown.
The city will lease College Place to EMU at $1 for 99 years to convert the small street into a pedestrian area. And the university will lease the North Washington Street parking lot to the city at $1 a year for 99 years to provide 60 additional parking spaces in downtown. The plan also includes converting a small portion of Perrin Street into two-way street…
So, what do you think? Assuming it passes the City Council and EMU’s Board of Regents, will this be a creative “win/win” for all parties involved or another colossal blunder? I guess only time (99 years) will tell… I haven’t had the time to start digging around yet (and I haven’t been to a City Council meeting in a long, long time), but I’d be interested to know what exactly the University means by “pedestrian mall,” and what the actual boundaries are… Are we talking about College Place on both sides of Cross, or just on the University side? Does it including the old Credit Union building and any other property, or is it just the street itself that we’re talking about? I suppose it’s conceivable that EMU could develop some of the property (assuming this includes College Place north of Cross) for retail, and keep it on the tax rolls. I suspect, however, that now that it’s in the University’s hands, we’re not likely to see any revenue from it. So, I’m not sure what we’re really getting in exchange for the garbage-filled parking lot across the street from the all-nude strip joint. (Sorry for the snark, but I’ve never liked that parking lot.) On the face of it, it doesn’t sound like such a good deal to me. But, if giving EMU the power to develop that plot as they see fit leads to happier students, and higher student enrollement and retention, and if it gets more students crossing over to the other side of Cross Street and entering into our downtown business district, then it’s absolutely a good deal.
So, what do you think?