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

Ypsilanti City Council to consider Burger King for Water Street

James Fitzpatrick, of Indiana-based firm Bravokilo, presents City Council with a plan to construct a Burger King on the northeast corner of the Water Street Project during Tuesday night's meeting. Photo by Dan DuChene

James Fitzpatrick, of Indiana-based firm Bravokilo, presents City Council with a plan to construct a Burger King on the northeast corner of the Water Street Project during Tuesday night's meeting.

Staff outline project's development delay, demolition progress

By Dan DuChene
Mar. 17, 2010    ·    1:15 a.m.

Ypsilanti City Council will be holding a special meeting next month to consider a purchase offer to develop a Burger King on Water Street.

The $400,000 offer, made by Indiana-based corporation Bravokilo, would use an acre of property on the Water Street Project's northeast corner to construct a new Burger King drive-thru restaurant.

Bravokilo owns 115 Burger King and 48 Chili's restaurants in Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey. The company owns the Burger King on Michigan Avenue, east of Ecorse Road, in Ypsilanti Township.

If their offer to purchase an acre of the Water Street Project is approved by City Council, then the Ypsilanti Township location would be moved to the new location in the city.

By comparing the project to similar fast-food restaurants in the city, staff estimate the development would generate approximately $29,000 a year in revenue through property taxes.

The city has amassed a $31.2 million debt acquiring the property on the 38-acre Water Street Project. Bond payments average $1.44 million a year until the debt is scheduled to be paid off in 2031.

If approved, the Burger King would generate approximately 2.01 percent of the revenue needed to repay the Water Street Project's annual bond payment. It would occupy approximately 2.63 percent of the Water Street Project's property.

These estimations do not include the money the city would have to spend on infrastructure construction, such as road and utility installation.

If City Council were to approve the offer from Bravokilo, it would be required to extend both Park and Parsons streets into the Water Street Project, which staff estimates would cost $2,800. If the city were to extend sewer lines under Park Street for future development of the project, it would cost an estimated $100,000.

City Planner Teresa Gillotti recommended funding the infrastructure costs through the revenue generated by the sale of the property.

James Fitzpatrick, of Bravokilo, made a presentation of the company's plan to develop the site at Tuesday night's City Council meeting. He recognized apprehensions about building a Burger King in an urban, downtown environment.

Fitzpatrick said the Burger King Bravokilo plans to develop on the site would have a “downtown feel,” with carpeted floors, sofas and an Internet kiosk capable of serving six customers.

Councilmembers had no questions for Fitzpatrick after his presentation.

If City Council were to approve the agreement, Gillotti estimated the deal could be closed by December at the latest and August at the earliest.

Additionally, there is a stipulation in the agreement that would not allow the city to sell any of the remaining property on the site to a competing fast-food restaurant. However, the contract does not forbid the development of traditional “sit-down” restaurants.

After the City Council meeting Tuesday, Mayor Paul Schreiber said he was not in favor of building a Burger King on the Water Street Project. He said the restaurant would be “sliding in from the township” would not create any new jobs in the area.

Schreiber also pointed to the inadequate potential for tax revenue, stating the site needs mixed commercial and residential development with a high-density, urban use.

Both councilmembers Brian Robb, D-Ward 3, and Peter Murdock, D-Ward 3, voiced similar objections.

“It's not a thrilling project,” Murdock said. “I don't think it has the support of Council.”

Unlike Schreiber, both Murdock and Robb said they were open to the idea though.

“I'm open to everything,” Murdock said.

Schreiber would not comment on how he thought City Council stood on the issue. Even if there is no support, however, he said staff are not wasting resources pursuing the agreement because this is the first time they have moved this far along in the process and thinks it is good experience for administration.

“I don't think it's lost time,” Schreiber said. “And I don't think we're stringing [Bravokilo] along either.”

During audience participation, Ypsilanti resident Beth Bashert criticized councilmembers for intentionally putting off developing the Water Street Project to create a "scapegoat" in the city for political gains. She pointed to a City Council subcommittee dedicated to discussing pending development on the site.

Because of a resolution requiring all city committees to adhere to the Michigan Open Meetings Act, there was no way the committee, which Robb, Murdock and Councilmember Michael Bodary, D-Ward 2, sit on, could have met as there was no meetings were publicly posted.

Robb and Murdock both agreed the committee had not met since before the holidays last year. However, they said the committee has not met because there has been nothing to discuss.

The special meeting for City Council to discuss the Burger King proposal is scheduled for April 6 at 6 p.m., an hour before the meeting scheduled on that date. City Council would then vote on the matter at its regular April 20 meeting.

During the last Water Street update by city administration, held in July 2009, staff said C.B. Richard Ellis, the firm selected by the city to sell property on the Water Street Project, was entertaining bids from four developers. The announced Burger King plan was among them. Other plans included German-based discount grocer ALDI Food Stores, a student housing development and a senior housing development.

Arthur Itkis, of CBRE, addressed City Council about the current development offers during the update at Tuesday night's City Council meeting. He said his company has been in contact with more than 100 developers but still only has serious prospects with the original four.

Itkis said his firm is currrently in negotiations with Campus Crest, the company interested in developing the 10.5-acre student housing plan. He said the developer is currently attempting to secure a loan, which has become difficult across the state. He said the firm interested in developing the 3 to 5-acre senior housing plan is currently reviewing the site.

ALDI, according to Itkis, is re-evaluating their market position in the area and the plan is on hold.

To make the property more marketable, the city has accumulated $1 million in grant funding to demolish the buildings currently on the Water Street Project. Gillotti said the city has selected a firm to carry out the work, but is waiting for approval from the Michigan State Historic Preservation Office.

As soon as the city's plan is approved, Gillotti said demolition work could be completed within 90 days. Due to the lower than estimated demolition costs and the grant funding attained, she said the project was able to take on an environment-friendly approach.

She said work equipment will use low-sulfur fuels and some materials, such as concrete, can be crushed and recycled into fill for soil remediation, which saves on landfill use and fuel costs to transport the material.

Related article:
Council may ease Water Street selling process

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