There's no doubt that downtown Ann Arbor feels uniquely like downtown Ann Arbor. On the other hand, points out Amber Miller, a planning & research specialist for the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority
, standing on a sidewalk on Huron St. near Main feels very different than walking down State St. near campus. In order to create a unified experience throughout downtown that is appropriate to each diverse area, the Ann Arbor DDA is launching a study to create a comprehensive plan.
"The city of Ann Arbor and the Ann Arbor DDA work to ensure that public and private investments help foster a great sidewalk experience that is reflective of the personality of our downtown," says Miller. "A Streetscape Framework Plan is a technical document to help us in pursuit of this goal."
"Streetscape" elements include all of the things that add to the look and feel of public spaces in downtown (sort of like landscaping, but with less focus on plants – get it?). This includes lighting, signage, street furniture, sidewalk cafes, storm water management and more. Because private developers, business owners, and public entities are constantly developing and redeveloping downtown spaces, the plan will act as a guideline for all to follow.
The Streetscape Framework Plan development is intended to be as collaborative as its eventual use.
"A collaborative approach will allow us to come together to create guidelines that help us prioritize the quality-of-place needs of the sidewalk, while also meeting commercial, technical and environmental needs," Miller says. "In a nutshell, we can foster a wonderful pedestrian experience, even as we are meeting city technical needs, improving community sustainability efforts, and helping downtown to thrive."
DDA staff and interns will begin documenting existing street conditions and types in the next few weeks. Miller anticipates a project consultant will be hired in late fall or early next year. The collaborative process will begin in March of 2014, with completion of the study expected by early 2015.
Source: Amber Miller, Ann Arbor DDA
Writer: Natalie Burg