Plymouth Looks to Purchase Church Parking Lot Property
The addition would increase the city's downtown parking inventory by about 100 spots.
Downtown Plymouth’s shortage of public parking might get a remedy with the acquisition of space owned by the First Church of Christ Scientist, at Ann Arbor Trail and Harvey Street, which would expand the city’s public parking inventory by about 100 spots.
The Plymouth City Commission voted to approve the concept of buying the property, after which the city’s negotiating committee will work out more specific arrangements with church officials.
A shortage of public parking has long plagued the city. Of downtown’s 2,350 parking spots, just 40 percent are managed by the city, according to Rich and Associates, a parking firm hired by the city to analyze the city's downtown parking, which presented its findings to the city commission in August 2011.
The purchase would come at a bargain price. City Commissioner Ron Loiselle said the price of $750,000 is about half of what the same property had been on the market for in the past.
“I’m very much in favor,” Loiselle said. “I really think this is a unique opportunity we have to acquire an asset for the city of Plymouth that, number one, increases our parking for a pretty reasonable per-spot price.”
The prospect of acquiring the lot came with a unanimous recommendation from the Plymouth Downtown Development Authority.
Commissioner Meg Dooley said she was “enthused by the opportunity” but still had some unanswered questions, starting with a vacated church building. The church would shift its programs to its classroom buildings.
“A vacant building, to me, opens up a whole host of issues,” said Dooley, who cast the lone dissenting vote.
Mayor Dan Dwyer said that while the church property acquisition isn’t the perfect answer for downtown parking, it’s the best plan the city can afford.
“Time after time, we get close and then back off because it’s not the perfect answer,” Dwyer said, referring to past attempts to acquire the land.
He said the lot would primarily be for downtown employees, leaving the “prime” spaces near businesses downtown for visitors. Dwyer said discussions would be held with local business owners to instruct employees to park at the church lot.
Plans for the church’s sizable auditorium building have not been decided yet, as the resolution the commission passed was intended to approve the concept of just buying the property. If the building is eventually bulldozed, even more parking would become available for the city.
Also yet to be decided is the parking lot’s potential impact on those who live nearby. Loiselle said measures will be taken to minimize the lot’s impact on neighbors, and Dwyer said the lot will not become an overnight parking lot.