Materials Unlimited Building for sale for $845K

Ypsilanti institution Materials Unlimited building and business are for sale. The building at 2 West Michigan Avenue in downtown Ypsilanti is on the market for $845,000. Reynold Lowe, owner, said the business is for sale as well.

Materials Unlimited

The sale is brokered by Jackie Wright at Charles Reinhart Company.

Lowe said he has run the business for nearly 40 years and it is time to look for someone that can continue with the business.

Lowe said they have the complete package with up to date website with on-line sales, computer systems, and inventory. Lowe would not disclose the price of the business and referred inquiries to his broker.

“Before I started this business, I did painting and sculpture,” said Lowe. “I would like to get back to that.”

Materials Unlimited is a destination business in Ypsilanti. Lowe said he has worked with area business so that visitors know about local restaurants like Beezy’s, Sidetrack, and Haabs. Customers come from all over the country, Canada, and overseas and will often spend the entire day in Ypsilanti.

Virtual Tour of the Materials Unlimited building

Materials Unlimited

Maurer buys three more properties in downtown Ypsilanti (Update1)

April 21, 2010 by  
Filed under News

Eric and Karen Maurer announced this afternoon they have purchased three more properties in downtown Ypsilanti.

The properties are 120, 122, and 124 W Michigan Avenue and add over 18,000sf to their growing  portfolio. Maurer is the largest property owner in downtown Ypsilanti

Michigan Ave c. 1980. Photo Courtesy Ypsilanti Heritage Foundation

Michigan Ave c. 1980. Photo Courtesy Ypsilanti Heritage Foundation

Two of the properties were the former home of long time Ypsilanti clothing institution, Mellencamps. More recently Nobles Clothing, Jackson Hewitt, and Baker Accounting were tenants.

The buildings were all bank owned and are in need of significant work. The Maurers did not disclose purchase price.

Karen Maurer said these new properties would follow the concept for the already successful Kresge Block and the Mack and Mack building in downtown Ypsilanti.

The plan calls for three separate retail space on the first floor each with about 2,000sf. The upper floors will be upscale loft apartments with elevator service.

Maurer said they would be removing the metal facade and awning from the Mellencamp’s building. Construction is slated to begin in the Fall of 2010.

Website Maurer Management

Update 1: May 4, 2010 3:57p. Corrected name of tax preparation firm that was previous tenant in one of the buildings. The error was made in reporting.

Ypsilanti’s Historic Four-Named Street

April 16, 2010 by  
Filed under Columnists

The 1895 plat map shows "Race or Pierce" Street, the waterworks, and the old mill-race that used to extend across Waterworks Park.

The 1895 plat map shows "Race or Pierce" Street, the waterworks, and the old mill-race that used to extend across Waterworks Park.

South of downtown lies a street whose tiny length of 1.57 miles bears no fewer than four names: Harriet, Spring, Factory, and Maus.

Beginning at First Street, Harriet travels east, intersecting with Hamilton. At Huron, the name Harriet changes to Spring. At the Catherine intersection, Spring changes to Factory. As the road passes Prospect, the name changes to Maus.

The combination of peoples’ names, industries, geographical features, and the passage of time have resulted in this street so weirdly tetranomial.

A midcentury study of Ypsilanti street names written by one Mrs. Teaboldt and a peek at old plat maps explains the concatenation of names.

The story begins with intersecting Catherine Street, which also bore multiple names throughout its history—though only a mere three. Catherine appears on an 1856 plat map of the city. It does not, as today, curve 90 degrees and end on Factory—Factory street did not yet exist. Instead, it takes a 45 degree angle southeast and ends at a woolen mill on the riverbank. The site is today the southernmost tip of Waterworks Park.

On the 1856 map, the Waterworks Park acreage is labeled as owned by H. W. Larzalere, This was Harriet Larzalere, the widow of John Y. Larzalere. Harriet is likely the person for whom Harriet Street is named.

Harriet’s mother, Catherine Tice Larzalere, was the woman for whom Catherine Street was named. Catherine, in turn, was the daughter of Judge Jacob J Larzalere, who moved to Ypsilanti from Seneca, New York, and bought the land in this section of the city then owned by Detroit judge Augustus B. Woodward. “Catherine” and “Harriet” are the oldest of the two streets’ seven names.

“Judge Woodward’s purchase of six hundred and twelve acres lay mostly south of the Chicago Road [Michigan Avenue],” says Harvey Colburn’s “The Story of Ypsilanti,” “and west of the river. He seems to have disposed of it in parcels, Judge Larzelere being one of the purchasers.” Woodward had purchased the land from Godfroy and LaChambre, “the old French claims” at the very beginning of Ypsi history. Though he never lived in Ypsilanti, Woodward gave it its name.

Independence Island, a remnant of which survives today in the river forming the northern boundary of Waterworks Park, appears much larger on the ’56 map. In 1873, it was large enough to host a 4th of July celebration with speeches and festivities.

Factory Street was originally named Hunter, the name of the man who in 1844 platted two additions to the city. One extended between Cross Street and the present-day Water Street parcel, on the east side of the river. The other, south of the first addition, encompassed Factory Street.

In 1862, city council changed the name from Hunter to Factory, perhaps in homage to Cornelius Cornwell, who in 1856 built a paper mill next to the river just south of Factory. On an 1864 plat map, Factory street appears. From Grove, it travels west, bridges the paper mill’s mill-race, bridges the river, and connects with the angled portion of Catherine. This angled portion is, on the 1864 map, now named Race Street for the large mill-race that ran along it (now the west boundary of Waterworks Park).

The 1874 plat map shows Harriet extending from First Street all the way to Race. Here appear the same two bridges, over the river and over the mill-race for Cornwell’s paper mill. Factory Street extends west from Grove and appears to dead-end in a pond just east of the paper mill. The mill-race next to Race Street appears to have been drained and blocked up. It is labeled “Old Race.” The Waterworks property is still labeled “Mrs. H. W. Larzelere.”
Maus was named in 1892 for Lewis J. Maus, who purchased land in this area and sold off lots, says Mrs. Teaboldt.

On the 1895 map (pictured), the Race portion of today’s Catherine is labeled “Race or Pierce St.” No landowners adjacent to the street appear to have the name Pierce. It may have been named in honor of John D. Pierce, the first superintendent of public education in Michigan. Affectionately called “Father Pierce,” he lived in Ypsilanti for thirty years and died in 1882.

Race or Pierce converges with Harriet at the same double-bridges, and on the 1895 map connect once again to Factory Street. The paper mill building is now labeled “Water Works and Electric Light.” Samuel Barnard owns the Waterworks Park property. Barnard ran a dairy, and it’s possible he pastured his cows on the present-day Waterworks Park site.

On the 1915 map, the same configuration of streets appears. Race Street is once again called Race Street, not “Race or Pierce.” The mill-race along its length has been reopened. The owner of the northern 4/5 of Waterworks Park is now Elmer Brown, who ran a creamery and dealt in lumber. Elmer had a herd of 18 cows that generated 225 pounds of milk a day, says one old agricultural report. Brown also owned a large tract of land just south of Harriet St.

A 1912 inspection by state officials said the condition of his cows was good. They were fed on a diet of feed, hay, ensilage, and beanstalks. His stables looked good, said the inspectors, and his cow-yard was clean and dry. His cows drank from a spring on the property.
Spring Street was named, says Teaboldt, for the multiple springs in its area, though she doesn’t say who named it. As it does not appear on the 1915 map, it is the youngest name of all.

One of these historic names was almost lost in 1989 when real estate developer Robert Allison petitioned City Council to change “Factory Street” to “Spring Street,” according to a July 10, 1989 Ypsilanti Press article. The developer of the Riverside Manor complex, Allison thought “Spring” sounded better.

The move was protested by Jearald Dudley, owner of a collision service on Factory Street. “To Jearald Dudley,” said the article, “the name Factory Street is a symbol of Ypsilanti. Beside, it would cost him money to change his stationery and business cards if the street’s name were changed.”

“‘I would like it to see it stay Factory Street,’ said Dudley,” as quoted in he article. “‘I’ve heard about the investment he’s made. I’ve heard about the investment the state’s made. How about the investment Jearald Dudley’s made?’”

Thankfully, City Council showed good old-fashioned Ypsilanti common sense and refused to allow this historic name to be discarded. As it was in the days of the paper mill, Factory still forms part of the name of our city’s historic four-named street.

Laura Bien is a local history writer. On Saturday April 24 from 1-3 she will be giving a free talk about her new book, “Tales from the Ypsilanti Archives,” at the Historical Museum.
Have an old-time Ypsi story to share? She can be reached at [email protected]

Beal owes Ypsilanti over $84,000 in back taxes (update1)

April 9, 2010 by  
Filed under Featured, News

According to records obtained from the Washtenaw County Treasurer, Ypsilanti landlord Stewart Beal and his associated companies owe $84,136.96 in past due property taxes to the City of Ypsilanti. The report, dated April 6, 2010, lists the 38 properties Beal owns in the city.

Of the 38 properties, Beal is past due on 17.  Past due pay payments include missed payments in September 2009 and February 2010.

Beal owes $21,358.88 in back taxes on this apartment building in Ypsilanti.

Beal owes $21,358.88 in back taxes on this apartment building at 206 N. Washington in Ypsilanti.

For 206 N. Washington, Beal owes $21,358.88.

On Beal’s property at 711 Pearl St, he owes just $7.13.

Beal was before City Council on Tuesday regarding the fire ravaged Thompson Block in Depot Town.

After the fire in September 2009, scaffolding  was installed to support the walls of the building. The scaffolding and braces block part of the streets on both River and East Cross.

Beal was hoping to get a contract with the City that would have permitted the streets to continued to be blocked until October 2010, some 13 months since the fire.

During his testimony, Beal said the City could not hold up the proposed contract over past due taxes as the company that owns the Thompson Building, Historic Equities Fund 1, LLC, was current on their taxes.

When asked about his other properties, Beal admitted he did owe other taxes in the city and responded that he would pay them “soon”. Beal did not say how much he owed or when he would pay his taxes.

The Thompson Building was part of Beal’s portfolio owned by Beal Properties, LLC. Beal transferred the Thompson Building to Historic Equities Fund 1, LLC in 2008,

Council voted to not give Beal a contract or extend the time the scaffolding can remain in the right of way.

City Attorney John Barr said he has already prepared the filings to sue Beal to get him to remove the temporary supporting structures from Cross and River and require Beal to properly secure the building.

See the Beal Tax Report

(UPDATE1) April 9, 2010 12:24p Because of a math error, the amount owed by Mr. Beal reported in an early story is incorrect. Mr. Beal owes is $84,136.96 not $86,068.80 as was originally reported. The error was made by the reporter.

MSU to buy EMU in hostile takeover bid

April 1, 2010 by  
Filed under Featured, Humor, News


(April 1, 2010) has learned that lawyers from Michigan State University are in Ypsilanti this week to finalize the agreement to purchase Eastern Michigan University for $24 million. While all eyes are focused on Indianapolis and the MSU Spartans return to the NCAA Men’s Basketball Final Four, lawyers from the high powered Lansing law firm of Hykema, Lostit met with corporate counsel at EMU to discuss terms of the takeover.

Ypsilantians across the city were stunned upon learning the news.

“It seems as if something like this happens every year to Ypsilanti”,  said long time Ypsilanti resident and business owner Karen Maurer.  “I am not sure Ypslanti can take much more of this.”

Sources tell YpsiNews the takeover should be completed by August 2010, just in time for new student orientation.

So why is MSU buying EMU? YpsiNews takes you inside and explains what no one else wants to explain about the deal.

The Doyle Letter

The roots of this merger goes back to September 3, 2003 when then EMU Vice-president for Finance Patrick Doyle wrote a letter to EMU Regent Jan Brandon. The three page Doyle Letter, as it was to be called, was always rumored to explain the finances surrounding the controversial Presidential Palace.

Ann Arbor News sued EMU in a Freedom of Information Act case asking for a copy of the Doyle Letter. The Ann Arbor News, not too surprisingly, lost the case when the Appeals Court and Michigan Supreme Court ruled in favor of EMU.

The problem was the Ann Arbor News was too specific in their FOIA request when they asked to see the Doyle Letter.

d-letter-dIn December 2009, just two days before Christmas, YpsiNews submitted a new FOIA request to EMU this time asking for all letters in 2003 where the authors last name begins with the letter ‘D’.

It worked, got the Doyle letter and a letter about a leaking toilet in Pray Harold.

What was inside the Doyle Letter shocked even the normally unflappable YpsiNews Investigative Team.

While the Doyle letter did indeed disclose that the presidential palace had run far over budget, the shock was that the memo outlined how EMU could hide the cost overrun through an acquisition by EMU of another University.

Doyle’s plan was ultimately rejected by the Regents as unworkable because they couldn’t figure out how to buy another University and not make it look like they were covering up the costs surrounding the presidents house.

Mark Hollis, MSU Athletic Director

Mark Hollis, MSU Athletic Director

Regent Brandon, who has close ties with MSU, let it slip in 2008 to Michigan State Athletic Director Mark Hollis that it was possible for a state run university to buy another state run university.

Hollis began quitely lobbying MSU Regents and alumnus for the Athletic Department to buy a University and specifically EMU. Hollis believed EMU was the right choice as it was close to Lansing and it was likely to piss off the most Wolverine fans being that EMU was just 7 miles to the East of Ann Arbor.

Little did Hollis know how quickly MSU alumnus were willing to fork out the green. MSU raised the nearly $35 million they thought it would take to buy EMU in just 6 days. Hollis has not said what they plan to do with the remaining $11 left over after the deal  with EMU closes.

State Legislature Not Happy

“You can’t just buy a University” exclaimed State Representative and perennial gubernatorial candidate Alma  Wheeler Smith (D-54). “There are rules, this has to go before a committee and be approved by the legislature. We have to have hearings and town hall meetings!”

Mike Cox

Mike Cox

Gubernatorial candidate and current Attorney General Mike Cox (R) not surprisingly, disagrees with Smith.

Cox said in an AG opinion released on Thursday, April 1, 2010 that the public university is a creature of the State Constitution. Cox went on to say the transfer, ownership, or management of a State University is not subject to the approval of the state legislators nor the voters. The only requirement would be approval by both the Boards of Regents of EMU and MSU. The Board of Regents are independent bodies, they can do as they please with no accountability to the governor, state legislature, or the voters.

Cox,  a Michigan Wolverine, seemed nonplussed that he just wrote an opinion that says that Board of Regents at Public Universities don’t have to listen to the governor

“Who cares”, said Cox. “The Board of Regents at Public Universities in Michigan have never been accountable to anyone, this opinion doesn’t change anything.”

When this reporter reminded Cox that he was running for governor, Cox tilted his head to the side and said, “Oh.”

Wolverines not happy

At first, outgoing University of Michigan Athletic Director Bill Martin also seemed nonplussed about the MSU-EMU merger.

“Who cares”, said Martin repeating an oft heard phrase from U-M alumni.  “We kick EMU’s ass every year, nothing will change.”

Apparently Martin, like most of the rest of the nation, can’t fathom why MSU would want to buy EMU.

“It’s the Economics, Stupid”

So why would the MSU Athletic Department buy another University and why EMU? It is all about the scholarships.

Since MSU is acquiring an already establish NCAA Division I-A school, MSU will be able to maintain two football and two basketball programs. In a quirk of the NCAA rules, since MSU and EMU will be goverened by a single Board of Regents, student athletes can transfer from EMU to MSU without losing a year of eligibility. This is huge, says MSU’s Hollis.

With this purchase MSU has in effect created their own farm team system for all college sports. This will change college athletics forever and catapult MSU Sports to the top echelon of college sports.

For $24 million, MSU has been able to double the number of available scholarships. For football, MSU can increase their scholarships from 85 to 170 in a single year. The doubling of available scholarships will apply to all sports at MSU

When it was explained to U-M’s Bill Martin why MSU was buying EMU, Martin responded “No comment.”

Former CEO of Dominos Pizza David Brandon is the new incoming Athletic Director of Michigan to replace Martin and yes EMU Regent Jan Brandon is married to David.

Will other schools look to buy other smaller universities?

Already Norte Dame is in talks to acquire Sun Belt Conference school Old Dominion and Penn State is looking to acquire Lehigh University.

EMU’s Legacy and Advance Ypsilanti Future

The merger makes sense for some at EMU. EMU can once and for all put behind them the mess over the name change from the Hurons to the Eagles.

“Except for Athenians”, said EMU History Professor Mark Higbee, “everyone likes the Spartans. They are  the bad guys that ultimately get killed but still became heroes. Besides, the EMU football team won’t have to change the colors of their uniforms, so it saves the University money. That is a good thing.”

Ypsilanti Mayor Pauli Schwaibler, whose campaign slogan in 2006 was “I am going to march on Lansing to demand our fair share of taxes.” was relieved when he learned that Lansing was in town this week.

Not quite understanding it was Michigan State University in Lansing that was coming to Ypsilanti, Schwaibler saved some shoe leather and walked over to the Sidetrack where the attorneys had taken a break for lunch.

Schwaibler asked if they would like to purchase Water Street for $22 million.

The lawyers politely declined, saying that they only had enough bags of cash for one money pit and for $2 million more, EMU seemed like a better deal.


Reporter Steve Pierce is a former TV weatherman and made his first Final Four appearance with CBS in 1984 while living in Albuquerque. In his spare time he reads other peoples email using Wireless Ypsi.

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