Ypsilanti Citizen News Lincoln Schools

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 decide on Water Street offer

Site plans for the proposed Burger King on the Water Street Project, with a single-story drive-thru restaurant the site's northeast corner. Photo by City of Ypsilanti

Site plans for the proposed Burger King on the Water Street Project, with a single-story drive-thru restaurant the site's northeast corner.
Dr. Kimberly A. Rice DDS

No clear direction for proposed Burger King development

By Dan DuChene
Apr. 7, 2010    ·    1:09 a.m.

After discussing the merits of developing a Burger King on the Water Street Project Tuesday, Ypsilanti City Council will be deciding on the matter later this month.

City staff had asked Council to hold a special meeting an hour before its regular meeting in order to get direction from the body on whether to propose a resolution to adopt an agreement with developers to build the restaurant or one rejecting it.

After the meeting, City Manager Ed Koryzno said City Council will be presented with a resolution containing blanks they will have to fill at the meeting.

In March, James Fitzpatrick, vice president of development for Indiana-based Bravokilo, presented his company's plans to build a Burger King on a 1-acre piece of property on the Water Street Project's northeast corner.

Bravokilo has offered $400,000 for the land, some of which the city would use toward the estimated $2,800 cost of extending both Park and Parsons streets into the Water Street Project. The city could also extend the sewer line beneath Park Street for future development on the site, which is estimated to cost approximately $100,000.

Bravokilo owns 115 Burger Kings 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.

Councilmembers Lois Richardson, D-Ward 1; Peter Murdock, D-Ward 3 and Mayor Paul Schreiber all spoke out against accepting the offer. Councilmembers Trudy Swanson-Winston, D-Ward 1, and Michael Bodary, D-Ward 2, spoke in favor.

Richardson said she wanted to see development on Water Street fit with the vision for buildings on Michigan Avenue downtown.

“I don't think we should let desperation determine our destiny,” Richardson said.

Schreiber agreed with Richardson's complaint.

“I would like to see a multi-story building and something that could be reusable if Burger King chose to leave,” he said.

Murdock said staff had tried to direct representatives from Bravokilo to present a concept similar to Schreiber's suggestion.

“Obviously we didn't influence them in that way,” Murdock said. “Now we have what we have—a typical cookie-cutter Burger King.”

He said the plan fails to “generate the taxable value per acre that we would need throughout the site to make the debt payments.”

Winston said the city has been sitting on the site for too long with little development and while a single-story drive-thru restaurant isn't ideal, it is development that will generate income for the city.

“It would be nice to have a fine dining,” Swanson said. “But, the city is in dire need of collecting taxes.”

Winston said the development could bring in more traffic to the city and help kick-off attracting more developers to the project.

“How much longer must we wait?” she asked. “We're starting with something, and it beats nothing.”

Bodary agreed with Winston's comments, adding that rejecting the first formal offer the city has received could deter future developers.

“I think this goes a long way towards that first step,” Bodary said. “That first perception that we're moving forward.”

Councilmember Bill Nickels, D-Ward 2, disagreed with Bodary's statement. He said rejecting the first offer wouldn't be a negative, he said “it's setting a standard.”

Suggesting City Council take a realistic look at what development projects the Michigan economy has been able to sustain, Councilmember Brian Robb recommended a meeting with the real-estate brokerage firm charged with selling parcels of Water Street, C.B. Richard Ellis.

“We need to have a deep-down discussion... about what is building in Michigan,” Robb said. “I think Council is totally out of touch.”

Robb also pointed out it would take several years for the city to begin capturing tax revenue from any development on the site to put toward bond payments, and said discussions about the development's taxable value were not as impending as some might assume.

After Tuesday's meeting, Fitzpatrick said he had anticipated an inconclusive discussion amongst City Council after communications from city administration.

“I've been told to expect that this project would be somewhat controversial,” Fitzpatrick said.

He said he understands a Burger King may not have been what the city envisioned for the Water Street project, but the city may have to recognize the “realities of the economic situation.”

Fitzpatrick said Bravokilo wouldn't be interested in the suggested multi-story development with a Burger King on the ground floor because he said the foot traffic in downtown Ypsilanti wouldn't sustain a fast-food restaurant without a drive-thru.

He said his company made the offer on the site, despite the anticipated controversy, because the vehicle traffic is heavier through downtown. He said the store in Ypsilanti Township is successful where it is located now, however.

If the plan is approved, he said Bravokilo would leave its currently leased building in Ypsilanti Township.

A public hearing will be held when City Council discussed the offer from Bravokilo at its next meeting on April 20.

Related article
Ypsilanti City Council to consider Burger King for Water Street


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