I started to read the Sept. 20 Daily article Walking the Line: How Ann Arbor balances old with new in the hopes that you had finally realized how important historic preservation and historic districts are to the character of Ann Arbor. The cover photo of 19th century Main Street certainly led me to this conclusion. However, I was very wrong. Nowhere do you mention the Historic Districts that cover both Main Street and State Street and parts of Liberty and William. Without them, buildings would have been demolished and altered inappropriately. One example is how the city saved the Michigan Theater from becoming a mall in the 1980s. Also, the State Theatre still has its marquee because of its historic status — the owners at one point wanted to remove it.

Of course the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority and the landlords have played a major role, but without the force of district status (through which many of the renovations and upgrades have received tax credits) these blocks would not have the charm they have today. And despite being in districts, both CVS and 7-Eleven have opened stores and the buildings and businesses continue to evolve. There is the false belief that being in a district prevents change. We are not frozen in amber — we’re not frozen at all. Our business districts are buzzing with activity — proof that historic districts have proven a useful tool for managing change in an ever increasing complex reality.

Susan Wineberg
University alum

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *