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Birmingham N.O.W. prop fails at the polls

By: Tiffany Esshaki | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published August 6, 2019

 Gigi Debbrecht casts her vote at Birmingham City Hall Aug. 6.

Gigi Debbrecht casts her vote at Birmingham City Hall Aug. 6.

Photo by Deb Jacques


The nays have it.

A contentious ballot proposal for a $57.4 million bond to replace and expand the North Old Woodward parking structure was defeated with 68% of the vote Aug. 6. 

At press time Tuesday night, 5,798 ballots from nine precincts had been counted, rejecting the bond that would have updated the structure at 333 N. Old Woodward Ave. and replace it with a larger structure with more spaces, an extension of nearby Bates Street out to Woodward, and the opportunity for mixed-use development. 

“The city of Birmingham would like to thank everyone that voted on the ballot proposal for funding to replace the North Old Woodward parking structure and related street extension project. This ballot proposal did not pass, and the lack of funding for the public elements will not allow the project to proceed. As the city continues to work to address the growing demand for parking in the downtown, it will look to implement parking mitigation programs in the near term until a permanent solution is advanced,” reads a prepared statement released by Birmingham Communications Director Kevin Byrnes.

The statement went on to thank all who participated in the development of the project, including various boards and committees.

Before the election, the Birmingham City Commission said that any plans in the works to develop the site would dissolve, including private projects like the potential for a Restoration Hardware gallery.

“While we’re disappointed in the outcome of the election and the lost opportunity for downtown Birmingham, the voters have spoken,” Birmingham architect Victor Saroki said in a press release. He is a partner in the Woodward Bates team, which was contracted to develop the private end of the project. 

“As a longtime Birmingham resident and someone who has been very involved in the city, I was looking forward to the progress and boost this would give our downtown businesses and seeing the fulfillment of the 2016 Downtown Plan.”

The proposal faced vocal opposition from the political action committee Balance 4 Birmingham and civic activist Clinton Baller, who argued the project was a better deal for private developers than city residents.