(January 29, 2007) The Smith Furniture building at 15 South Washington is for sale. The asking price is $1.6 million for the 28,000 square foot building built in 1965.
The long time vacant building in downtown Ypsilanti was one of three buildings targeted for redevelopment by city officials in 2000. The others, the old Kresge building on Michigan Avenue is now 12 up scale lofts and a new destination restaurant is planned for the first floor. The other building was the Huron Hotel, now called the Centennial Center, is fully built out on the first floor and most of the upper floors are now renovated and occupied.
(January 28, 2007) e•LocalLink has updated their Google Video and put EMU back in Ypsilanti.
(January 10, 2007) Many in Ypsilanti might be shocked to learn that Eastern Michigan University is located in Battle Creek, Michigan.
At least that is what the folks at e•LocalLink think. On October 1, 2005, e•LocalLink posted a student recruiting video to Google. The video appears to have been produced by EMU. In the accompanying text, e•LocalLink says EMU is located in Battle Creek.
e•LocalLink provides video services for city governments and businesses. In a video promo on the e•LocalLink website, the mayor of Plymouth, Michigan touts the benefits e•LocalLink brings to the city of Plymouth and the local business community. However, when you go to the City of Plymouth website, it is hard to figure out how Plymouth uses or benefits from e•LocalLink.
e•LocalLink even provides a link to Eastern Michigan’s website. It is unknown if EMU is an actual client of e•LocalLink or even paid to have the video posted. As of January 9, 2007, the site still says Battle Creek.
Last updated: Jan 28, 2007 3:05 pm
First reported: Jan 10, 2007 1:32 am
(January 24, 2007) One suspect is dead after being shot by police and a second suspect, hit by a police car, was injured during an undercover drug buy that police say “went bad.”
Around 9:20 pm Tuesday, undercover officers from LAWNET, the Livingston & Washtenaw Narcotics Enforcement Team, were involved in a drug buy in the parking lot of the Keg Party store on North Huron Street and Forest inside the city.
According to the Michigan State Police, David Antjuan Ware, 29, from Washtenaw County, was shot and killed by police. The second suspect, whose name has not been released, was injured when he was struck by a police car.
Ware was transported to St. Joseph’s Mercy Hospital where he was pronounced dead from a gunshot wound. The second subject was treated for his ‘non-shooting related’ injuries and is currently in the Washtenaw County Jail.
Neighbors from the Riverside Neighborhood Association reported hearing two and possibly three gunshots. Neighbors said that one suspect had collapsed in the driveway on Arcade Street and North Adams Street. Police were observed talking to the man before he was transported by ambulance.
Ypsilanti Police officers on duty did not know about the undercover operation until they heard radio traffic from LAWNET officers at the scene and neighbors began calling 911. Ypsilanti Police assisted in securing the area and then turned the scene over to Michigan State Police investigators as they arrived.
Michigan State Police are handling the investigation. Once the investigation is completed, it will be forwarded to the Washtenaw County Prosecutor’s Office for review.
Last updated: Jan 26, 2007 3:45 pm
First reported: Jan 24, 2007 3:18 am
(January 23, 2007) The controversial Peninsular Place apartments may have found a new buyer. Officials at Hendricks & Partners, the exclusive sales agent, have confirmed that the property is under a sales contract with a new buyer and according to their website is currently in escrow.
Peninsular Place is across the street on the north side of EMU on the corner of North Huron River Drive and Leforge Road. The property has been on the market since May of 2006 and is listed for $24.7 million. Edwards Communities of Columbus, Ohio, the current owners, listed the property with Hendricks & Partners. Hendricks bills itself as the nations largest apartment sales firm.
Edwards has bundled Peninsular Place with two other Edwards properties, Newton Crossing in Lexington, KY and Olde Towne University Square in Toledo, OH. The package price for all three properties is $112.3 million. All three properties are in escrow. However, it is unknown if it is the same buyer.
In the sales flyer produced by Hendricks, they glowingly describes all three complexes as “Property sites (which) are irreplaceable in high barrier to entry, infill locations.”
Hendricks indicates that Peninsular Place has a net positive cash flow of $483,000 a year. This is after paying all expenses and debt service.
Even while Peninsular Place was on the market, Rick Kirk of Edwards Communities was asking the City for more tax breaks. Edwards has already received about $1.5 million in property tax credits from the City when they first began development in 2002. Edwards currently pays about $17,000 a year in property taxes for the 184 unit apartment building.
Watch Video of the Ypsilanti City Council, January 16, 2007
Kirk was before Ypsilanti City Council just a week ago on January 16, 2007 asking for a new property tax break of $490,000 from the city for Peninsular Place. It is expected that Council will vote on this new tax break at their February 6, 2007 meeting.
This is not the first time Kirk and Edwards Communities have appeared before city council asking for additional tax breaks, despite having already built Peninsular Place.
In March 2006, Kirk, along with two other associates and armed with three binders almost two feet in height, came to Council to ask for $1 million in new tax breaks. Kirk probably couldn’t have picked a worse night to come before council to ask for money. This was the same night Council was considering the resolution to cut funding for the AATA bus service. So with a packed house at the Senior Center, and residents unhappy with the $180,000 cut in bus service, Council wisely took no action on the request for $1 million more in tax breaks for Peninsular Place. A year later Kirk is now back with a revised number, this time asking for $490,000 in property tax breaks.
Many have wondered, given the continuing problems with the City’s struggling Water Street Project, as well as Visteon/ACH having announced they are pulling out of Ypsilanti, the recent announcement that Pfizer is leaving the area with 2,100 layoffs expected, and the ongoing threat of a City Income Tax, can the City of Ypsilanti really afford to give away another $490,000 in tax breaks for an apartment complex that is already finished?
This $490,000 tax break would go to an Ohio company who will likely not reinvest the money in Ypsilanti and in fact is actively trying to sell the only property they own in Michigan to a new owner. This same company in their sales brochure, claims they are generating a $483,000 per year positive cash flow on the Peninsular Place yet they want more tax breaks from the City of Ypsilanti
At the same time, in the City’s three year solvency plan, the City of Ypsilanti is planning to lay off three firefighters and two police service officers which will increase the load on already strapped public safety departments. It is hard to see how this new tax break will benefit the residents and taxpayers of Ypsilanti.
Peninsular Place Video
(January 14, 2007) “Disgusting,” said one local veteran. “No flag would be better than this flag,” said another veteran who had served in Afghanistan. A third offered to go cut the flag down.
Veterans and citizens alike were disturbed to see the condition of the American Flag that has been flying in front of the Ypsilanti Housing Commission administrative offices on Armstrong Street. The Housing Commission is part of the City of Ypsilanti and the former chair of the Housing Commission is now Mayor of Ypsilanti.
Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm ordered all flags to be flown at half staff for 30 days to honor native son and former President Gerald R. Ford who died in December. Flags are to be flown at half staff until January 25th. President Bush also issued an order to fly flags at half staff.
It is hard to believe the Housing Commission director or employees didn’t notice the condition of the flag as they walk by it every day to enter commission offices.
Besides the tattered condition of the flag, the Housing Commission flag is flown at night and is unlit. The United States Flag Code states that all U.S. flags are to be lowered at sundown unless lit.
January 17, 2007 — Problem solved. After reading the YpsiNews.com story, a city council member spoke to Mayor Schreiber on Sunday evening about the flag. By Tuesday, Housing Commission officials had cut down the torn flag.
(January 14, 2007) Detroit Tigers Coach Jim Leyland, several Tiger ball players, and the American League Trophy will be paying a visit to Ypsilanti and the EMU Convocation on Thursday, January 18th. There is a free event open to the public, and then a VIP event will follow to raise money for EMU Baseball and Softball. Visit EMU Athletics for more information including how to get tickets to both events.
YpsiNews.com is pleased to announce a new feature, editorial cartoons and pictures. To submit a cartoon or idea, contact YpsiNews.com.
Thanks to JJ Chandler for the picture.
(January 1, 2007) All traces of the City’s struggling Water Street project have disappeared from the City of Ypsilanti’s website.
For over three years there was a link on the right side of the City’s website that took the reader to documents about Water Street including the always changing Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ), design plans, project updates, Brownfield plan, amended development agreement, schedules, and tax and bond information.
The City announced in early December that the second developer chosen by the city had backed out of the project leaving the city with an ever growing mountain of debt and no immediate prospects. A week later, city officials pulled all Water Street information from the city’s website.
City officials are now saying that they will bring the development in house by first finishing the clean-up of the property. The City is estimating that it will cost $1.5 million dollars to remove the rest of the buildings and they want to complete that work in 2007.
Consultants familiar with the project believe the city is under estimating the true clean-up costs. Biltmore, which was the first developer chosen by the city, had wanted the city to clean the property before they began development. At that time, Biltmore and city consultants had estimated that it could be as much as $10 million to complete the clean-up and build the infrastructure including roads and sewers. However, the design and number of units ultimately built will greatly impact the final infrastructure costs for roads and sewers.
In comparing similar Brownfield projects from around the state, a rough estimate on the costs of clean-up is about $100,000 per acre or an estimated $3.8 million for the 38 acre Water Street site. At a minimum, the City is likely under-estimating the costs to demolish the remaining the buildings and remove the contamination by at least $2 million.
Links for the proposed City Income Tax, which was tabled by City Council in August 2005 are still on the city’s website.
You can use Archive.org to find old documents from the City’s website about Water Street.