DDA holds event to celebrate completion of underground parking garage

Terra Molengraff/Daily
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By Adam Rubenfire, Daily News Editor
Published July 12, 2012

In an event studded with antique cars, music and free food, the long-awaited Library Lane parking garage had its grand opening yesterday evening.

Located off of Fifth and South Division streets between East William and East Liberty streets, the four-level garage — with entrances on Fifth Street and Library Lane, which are not yet open to the public — has 711 underground and 52 aboveground spaces, bringing Ann Arbor’s total on- and off-street parking spaces to about 7,000.

The garage also has six electric vehicle charging stations and wiring that will allow for a total of 12 electrical vehicle stations in the future.

The $50-million project was managed by the city’s Downtown Development Authority, which is responsible for all of the city’s parking as well as other urban infrastructure programs.

Susan Pollay, executive director of the DDA, noted the garage is the newest public parking garage built in downtown Ann Arbor since the 1980s.

“We’ve added 3 million square feet. We’ve added 4000 residents,” Pollay said. “We’ve added so much downtown since the last garage — so it was time.”

Pollay stressed that the garage was built with not just cars in mind, but people as well.

She said the garage’s exposure to natural light and its use of materials such as stainless steel and glass make it a more comfortable environment for drivers and added that the garage’s structure was built to accommodate eventual aboveground development.

“It’s built for an apartment building, it’s built for a mixed building, it’s built for a lot (of possibilities),” Pollay said.

Pollay said the DDA hopes to have the garage open for next week’s Street Art Fair, though it still is required to undergo several city inspections. She said the garage will be ready for the fall at the latest, as the area gains new residents from the soon-to-open Zaragon West and City Place apartments.

Adrian Iraola, a senior project manager for the garage’s construction, said the parking garage is the largest the DDA has ever constructed.

He said construction of the garage was quite a feat, with four concrete trucks in the second-longest continuous concrete pour in the state of Michigan, pouring concrete into the library lot area for 36 consecutive hours.

“It’s really nice that we are at the end,” Iraola said.

Iraola emphasized that the project was the vision of Rob Aldrich, a former member of the DDA’s executive board. While Aldrich refrained from taking total credit for the project, he did acknowledge that he pushed for the additional parking.

“It was my idea that we needed to build a big parking structure on the site and martial our collective resources and political will to do it,” Aldrich said.

Aldrich said the new garage makes downtown Ann Arbor more attractive to residents and businesses.

“You need parking if you’re going to have people that want to work downtown,” Aldrich said. “Now we have, I think, sufficient parking to be able to attract employees and employers to come downtown.”