Outgoing Ann Arbor DDA Director Reflects On Over Two Decades In The Position As She Steps Down

Dec 29, 2020

Susan Pollay
Credit Susan Pollay

Susan Pollay has been executive director of the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority since 1996.  She decided to step down from that position at the end of this year and talks to WEMU's Lisa Barry about how she has seen the city change and grow in her 24 years in the position.


Outgoing Ann Arbor DDA director Susan Pollay says she had been thinking about stepping down from the position for the past couple of years and decided to leave hoping to do some international travel before the pandemic began.  She said the DDA is in the middle of doing some outstanding projects, and she felt it was a good time for her to step aside from the job.

Pollay says while a lot has changed since she started the job, "so much has not changed" as well.

She says the banking and retail presence has changed in downtown Ann Arbor over the past two decades mentioning the old Jacobson's store that used to be located downtown.  She said they've seen a dramatic change in the amount of people who want to live in downtown Ann Arbor vs. run a business there.  She says there are now more than eight thousand people living in downtown Ann Arbor, making it more of a "mixed use" community.

She says downtown Ann Arbor is still the place with many historic buildings that are "unbelievably lovely" and give you a sense of place as you're walking down the sidewalk.  

She says what hasn't changed about downtown Ann Arbor is how walkable it still is.  She says downtown Ann Arbor has always had the sense that "we are the center of things."  She says most of downtown Ann Arbor hasn't changed even though many things actually have.  Pollay says she sees opportunities in the challenges downtown Ann Arbor faced, including pedestrian safety and affordable housing.  She says the Ann Arbor DDA is an essential element in sustaining a downtown, which has a passionate advocacy for what takes place in this area.

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— Lisa Barry is the host of All Things Considered on WEMU. You can contact Lisa at 734.487.3363, on Twitter @LisaWEMU, or email her at lbarryma@emich.edu