Ypsilanti Citizen News Ypsilanti Cycle

City Council approves all mayor's re-appointments
By Dan DuChene
Jun. 16, 2010   ·   3:42 a.m.

Jone Coleman, president of downtown business LookInTheAttic, shares his thoughts with City Council about the discussion and procedure taken to pass mayoral re-appointments, which he was being considered for the Downtown Development Authority.

After much procedure, Ypsilanti City Council approved six mayoral re-appointments to city boards and committees Tuesday, including the two postponed from earlier...read more

Council postpones two reappointments
By Mark Tower
Jun. 4, 2010   ·   4:57 p.m.

Two of Ypsilanti's volunteer board members were not reappointed on schedule Tuesday night, owing to a 4-2 vote by City Council to delay the appointments until...read more

Downtown properties to be rehabilitated
By Mark Tower
Jun. 4, 2010   ·   10:40 a.m.

The three properties located at 120, 122 and 124 West Michigan Avenue in downtown Ypsilanti will soon be rebuilt into commercial and office space and loft apartments, thanks to a planned $1.7 million investment by developers.

Three recently-vacated properties in downtown Ypsilanti, two of them condemned, will soon be renovated owing to recent purchase by a local development company and...read more

Ypsilanti Township authorizes litigation against Liberty Square
By Mark Tower
May. 28, 2010   ·   6:53 p.m.

Many of the homes in the Liberty Square complex on Grove Street in Ypsilanti Township are already boarded and ready for foreclosure sale. All 151 units, some of which are still occupied, will be condemned Tuesday, Ypsilanti Township has resolved.

Residents living in the Liberty Square complex of townhouses will see a sticker appear on their homes Tuesday, when the Ypsilanti Township Building Department places...read more

Ford plant granted tax exemption by township
By Mark Tower
May. 24, 2010   ·   5:44 p.m.

Ford Motor Company's Rawsonville Plan, located at the intersection of Textile and Bridge Roads in Ypsilanti Township, will soon be the new home for production of Ford's Electric Focus batteries, formerly produced in Mexico.

New machines and equipment will soon be wheeled into Ford's Rawsonville Plant in Ypsilanti Township as it begins manufacturing a line of batteries for the new global...read more

Investigation of Depot Town blaze stalled

Fire investigators are awaiting building stabilization of the Thompson Block before proceeding to remove debris from the basement of the building. Portions of River and Cross Streets are expected to reopen Monday. Photo by Christine Laughren

Fire investigators are awaiting building stabilization of the Thompson Block before proceeding to remove debris from the basement of the building. Portions of River and Cross Streets are expected to reopen Monday.

Building stabilization, engineering study to be done first

By Christine Laughren
Oct. 2, 2009    ·    5:29 p.m.

The city of Ypsilanti is collectively biting its nails as it awaits the results of an engineering study for the Thompson Block to see if the burned building is salvageable.

In the meantime, Public Works Director Stan Kirton said the corner at River and Cross Street would remain closed throughout the weekend. Two lanes of North River Street are expected to be open again Monday and the left turn lane on the street will serve as the northbound lane as the fencing along the street remains in place.

Eastbound Cross Street is also expected to be open, however, the westbound lane could remain closed for a month or two as workers of the buildings owner, local developer Stewart Beal, salvage the building or demolish it.

“The (engineering) study should be out within another week,” Ypsilanti Fire Chief Jon Ichesco said Thursday afternoon.

Ichesco said the city, as well as Beal Inc., are anxious to know what direction to take with the building and start to move forward one way or another before the snow starts to fall.

An investigation into the blaze, the first flames of which were seen in the early morning hours of September 23, is stalled as investigators wait for the façade of the building to be stabilized. Ichesco said investigators with the city, the Michigan State Police Fire Investigation unit and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives examined the entire perimeter of the 148-year-old Civil War barracks and hope to start clearing out debris inside the building soon.

Investigators could determine whether the fire was arson or not but Ichesco said the cause of the fire may never be known.

“There’s really not much we can tell until we get what’s left of the roof and the other two floors out the basement,” he said. “Once we lift the floors out we could spend a week to three full days getting idea of what happened, but it depends on what the debris tells us, if anything.”

Approximately two thirds of the building was lost in the blaze. The original call was made from Café Racer, a vintage motorcycle shop near the west end of Depot Town. Ichesco said it took approximately two minutes for the first fire truck to arrive and the flames spread quickly when the department opened the doors to access the building.

Although Ichesco said there wasn’t much in the building to burn he also said over the years the building had been used for different machine shops and oils and other fuel-based chemicals had permeated into the wood-planked floors.

“There was also a paint shop in there at one time,” he said. “With a lot of combustible materials building up over the years those wood floors would go up pretty easy.”

A fire suppression system was removed from the building when it went into receivership after a lengthy court battle between the city of Ypsilanti and former owner David Kircher, who is currently in prison on unrelated sewage dumping charges.

“It really didn’t work when it went into receivership,” Ichesco said of suppression system. “When Barnes and Barnes had it the piping was removed.”

According to the fire chief, the Thompson Block blaze is one of the more spectacular fires Ypsilanti has ever seen.

“The last time we’ve had anything of this magnitude and nature was Sherzer Hall in 1989,” he said “But this one is right up there for fires.”

A follow-up from Beal by the Citizen is expected early next week.

Related articles:
Fire destroys Thompson Block
Beal responds to Thompson Block fire
Investigator: Thompson Block fire 'suspicious'

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