Challenges and Issues Facing the Allen Creek Area

The following project will show the Main Street as well as the Allen Creek area to the west. Main Street has many retail stores, office spaces, and restaurants, as well as some residential units on the upper floors. The area to the west has a mixture of parking lots, office buildings, entertainment establishments, industrial buildings, and housing further west. The Ann Arbor Railroad Line runs through the area, creating a barrier between either side.

Allen Creek flows through the area and, although it has been channeled underground since 1926, it is still prone to flooding. The Allen Creek floodplain covers a significant portion of the study area, and presents obstacles for development and the protection of existing structures. Federal and local regulations restrict development and land uses within the floodplain. The creek-bed has also shped the landform of the Allen Creek North area. The low creek valley rises at a moderately steep slope to the east, while to the west the elevation remains relatively low. This low elevation to the west causes most of the flooding to flow in that direction. These challenges have and continue to shape changes in this area.

The location of the Allen Creek area, between the heart of downtown's Main Strett area to the east and the Old West Side residential area to the west, would make it a natural throughway for residents to access downtown activities, jobs, and services. However, regular pedestrian traffic is impeded by the lack of linkages and infrastructure to provide a safe, secure, and welcoming route. This need is evident in the condition of sidewalks, which are restricted by both industrial and automobile oriented infrastructure.

Further limiting pedestrian trafic through the area is the fragmented character of development. The Allen Creek area lacks a unifying identity and is not well integrated into either of the communities to the east and west. It does not fully embrace its potential role as an entrance corridor into the downtown. The overall impression the area gives is unwelcoming, noted by the abundance of surface parking lots, old industrial buildings, and the railroad. The transition into the downtown is compromised by these factors.

The character of the Allen Creek area is influenced by the underutilization of valuable property adjacent to the thriving Main Street area. The potential uses for the land are much greater than surface parking lots given that the city faces a deficit of affordable housing and open space, and is a popular destination for retail and entertainment uses. As Susan Pollay of the DDA has stated, the Allen Creek area contains some of the last remaining vacant property in the downtown. Therefore, it must be givien careful consideration as to how it should be used.