Ypsilanti Citizen News ]]>

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

Thompson Block agreement rejected by Ypsilanti City Council

Scaffolding supports the Thompson Block's facade after a devastating fire in September. Photo by Citizen file

Scaffolding supports the Thompson Block's facade after a devastating fire in September.
Dr. Kimberly A. Rice DDS

Staff likely to ask court to remove supports from road, sidewalk soon

By Dan DuChene
Apr. 7, 2010    ·    5:04 a.m.

Ypsilanti city staff plan to file a suit to have the scaffolding supporting the Thompson Block removed from city-owned property.

City Manager Ed Koryzno said this is the directive he has taken from Ypsilanti City Council's vote to deny an extension for the traffic control order to allow the scaffolding in the streets and sidewalks Tuesday. It was the second time City Council rejected the extension.

“Council has spoken,” Koryzno said after the meeting.

The extension City Council discussed Tuesday was the result of an agreement reached between Koryzno and Stewart Beal after an extension was denied by Council last month. The TCO expired March 3, a day after City Council denied the third extension.

Beal is the managing member of Historic Equities LLC, which owns the former Civil War barracks on the northeast corner of River and Cross streets.

At the City Council meeting in March, Beal said the original agreement from the city encroached too far into his company's private business affairs and created unrealistic construction requirements. City Attorney John Barr said the agreement was created to ensure the building would not stand indefinitely in Depot Town as a dilapidated structure.

Koryzno recommended denying the extension in March because the two sides could not come to an understanding.

The agreement was a 15-point document that required to have all scaffolding removed by May 1, have financial backing to begin work to completely restore the building in July and have all work completed by the following year.

The proposal also required Beal to establish a bond to cover the cost of the building's demolition if contract stipulations were not met.

Beal presented a plan in February that would see River Street completely clear of scaffolding by March 15, Cross Street completely cleared by Aug. 30 and sidewalks completely cleared by Nov. 30. He said the time-line could not be changed and called the construction stipulations in the city-proposed agreement impossible.

The negotiated agreement City Council discussed Tuesday, a 12-point plan, would have all public right-of-ways cleared by Oct. 4., with the exterior of the building in the same appearance it was in before the September fire that ravaged the building.

Unlike the previous agreement, the newly negotiated agreement Council rejected Tuesday did not require proof of financial ability in renovation work.

A $60,000 performance bond was a part of the newly negotiated agreement, which would be used to demolish the building if Beal did not meet any part of the agreement.

Additional measures in the agreement City Council rejected Tuesday required Beal to fund structural engineering assessments from firms selected by the city to assess the safety of the walls and supports. If the structure were deemed unsafe, it would be considered a default.

“The city wants to be assured that if the structure is in right of way that the structure is safe,” Koryzno said Tueday.

Tuesday's vote to reject the agreement was made in a split decision, with councilmembers Trudy Swanson-Winston, D-Ward 1; Bill Nickels, D-Ward 2, and Mayor Paul Schreiber dissenting. The vote was along the same lines that denied Beal the TCO in March.

Because March's City Council decision was to both deny the TCO and direct city attorneys to file suit to have the right-of-way cleared, City Attorney John Barr said his office would be ready to file the motion today. He said his staff had been working on the matter while Koryzno was negotiating with Beal.

“We're ready,” Barr said at the meeting. “We've got everything ready to file.”

Winston asked Beal how much money his company had put into restoring the Thompson Block Tuesday. He said $800,000 had been invested, with half of the funds coming from his and his family's personal money. He said an additional $100,000 had been spent after the fire.

“It would be a shame to demolish or not give him the extra time he needs given the amount of money has spent on renovating that building,” Winston said Tuesday.

“What took place tonight had nothing to do with demolition,” Councilmember Brian Robb, D-Ward 3, said after Tuesday's meeting. “It had to do with the clearing of the streets.”

However, Beal said he would not work on removing the scaffolding and stabilizing the facade through interior methods until an agreement is worked out with the city. He said he doesn't want to waste resources working on the building if it's proved fruitless in the future.

Robb said part of his vote to deny an extension was because he didn't want to engage the city in an “endless appeals process.” Though he admitted the outcome could be possible even with Tuesday's decision, he said by rejecting the agreement “[City Council] didn't codify that as being acceptable.”

Councilmember Peter Murdock, D-Ward 3, was the last vote against the agreement Tuesday. He took an extended amount of time to consider his agreement. Before casting his no-vote, he said, “We're going to be in court one way or another I suppose.”

Councilmember Lois Richardson, D-Ward 1, said the timing to have the streets cleared wasn't quick enough given the amount of festivals the city sees during the summer. She said the right-of-way would have to be cleared by “at least June.”

Richardson said, “If we're going to do this we need to bring that October date up much, much, much closer to where we are.”

After Tuesday's meeting, Beal said a June deadline wasn't “absurd.” However, he said the October date was more realistic.

“Sad, just emotionally sad,” is the reaction Beal gave after City Council's decision Tuesday. “We're going to think about what just occurred.”

Beal said he would be contacting Koryzno today to try and work something out without having to take the matter to court. However, he said it was improbable that he could achieve that goal.

“This Council will never pass an agreement regarding this building,” Beal said after the meeting.

As far as Tuesday's decision leading to the ultimate demolition of the Thompson Block, Beal said knocking the building down is “not an option.” He pointed to the Ypsilanti Historic District Commission as an obstacle between the city and demolition.

“This building will never be demolished,” Beal said.

Schreiber said he had no idea how the HDC might respond to the building's demolition, but said the group is normally with City Council on most decisions.

Related articles:
City, Beal come to agreement on Thompson Building
City Council denies extension for Thompson Block

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