how we market ypsilanti’s water street ‘opportunity’

    The Washtenaw County economic development organization, Ann Arbor SPARK, just launched an online campaign designed to attract interest in the 2 million square foot facility that Pfizer will soon be vacating in Ann Arbor. It would be easy enough to poke fun at the piece, which, with its cheesy stock photos and not-quite-so-hip soundtrack, comes across as a bit dated, but I admire them for doing something. At least they’re being proactive and putting the word out there. I’ve asked people in our city a few times now for a simple piece outlining the specifics of what we have available on Water Street, and I’ve yet to see anything.

    As far as I know, there isn’t a one-page sales document that states what we have available and what the terms would be if a company were interested in it. If it does exist, I haven’t seen it, and I can’t find it on the City’s website. Maybe that’ll be my first suggestion as a member of the 2020 Task Force… It doesn’t have to be animated either. I’d settle for an airial shot of the parcel, a mention of the proximity to the highway, a few statistics about local demographics and traffic patterns, and a clear explanation of what the value proposition is, from a corporate perspective.

    And, as long as I’m giving out advice, I wonder to what extent we’re integrating Ann Arbor SPARK into our business attraction efforts. As they’re charged with bringing companies to Washtenaw County, it seems like they’d be a natural channel through which to market what we have in the Water Street parcel. I don’t know that we’d warrant a mention on their page for corporate site selectors, but, at the very least, I’d like to know that every person answering the phone at SPARK when a company calls, knows exactly what we have here. What about renting a bus and bringing the SPARK staff out here for lunch at Sidetrack? Maybe this has already been done. If it has, I apologize. If it hasn’t, though, why not pick up the phone?

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      28 Comments

      1. Dave Morris
        Posted May 18, 2007 at 12:54 am | Permalink

        Mark-

        Take a look at the Union Park project in Las Vegas. It is very interesting what they are doing. The parcel is a 62 acre brownfield that was an old train yard just north of the old Las Vegas section of town. They hired a company to develop a master plan for the parcel, designating the usage of the subdivisions and creating massing models that have already accomodated for airspace, height restrictions, and footprint restrictions and setbacks. The great part of this for developers is that half the damn work is done already in terms of getting a master use permit for construction. The city and the parcel owers showed that they mean business. It appears to be working well. The specific developer I am potentially working with did something similar by working with the FTC to set up a Foreign Trade Zone in their building ( WJC ) to attract international companies to the site. That is about all I can say on that…

        Anyways, here is a link to the Union Park site: http://www.lasvegasnevada.gov/Government/7598.htm?ID=

        Although the scale of the project is not appropriate for Ypsi, it is still a fantastic model. From a quick glance at the Design Guidelines, it appears they have set up LEED requirements for all of the development, balanced usage of space ( open space, office space, recreational, retail, parking, cultural, medical, government, etc. ), and set it up as a transit oriented development.

        The business plan and the design guidelines are available on the site, which surprises me. I thought I was special last Friday when the architect gave me a set. It is well worth the read and is directly applicable to the Water Street project.

        I suspect that a lot of developers are not so much concerned about the location of a development as they are about getting tied up in a never ending design review process with a MUP constantly just out of reach. State what you want and give them what they need.

      2. Dave Morris
        Posted May 18, 2007 at 1:00 am | Permalink

        Another thing that I keep thinking about is Willow Run. That place is a huge asset to the area and could be a great selling point for companies interested in locating their offices close to an airport that can handle cargo planes and can provde an enormous amount of existing warehouse capacity ( the old B17 Bomber plants. ) Building runways is a very expensive endeavor. They are already there.

      3. schutzman
        Posted May 18, 2007 at 8:56 am | Permalink

        Dave Morris,

        the willow run bomber plant is still technically occupied by GM powertrane, I believe. There are probably auxillary warehouses in the general vicinity that are empty, but I don’t know if they’d be attractive to investors who would typically build their own.

        I like the parcelling and pre-configuring ideas you suggest about watery street, though. The only problem would be if the parameters become too strict, which i could certainly see happening.

        I believe that I speak for nearly everyone interested in the matter, when I agree with the basic idea that if the city seemed to be trying to do nearly anything, I would be much happier about things. Start planning a body farm, or an oil well, or a theme park. Even the most ridiculous plan at this point would instill some measure of confidence in the fact that they weren’t just sitting on their hands.

        The thing that I have been feeling from the beginning is that cities using eminent domain in this manner is a very tricky business in itself, even if you ignore all of the financial issues, and so it’s very important that something like water street not be started if it isn’t a ‘sure thing’, and if it becomes an ‘unsure thing’, every effort has to be made to fix it.

        I have grown weary of people just talking about repayment of debt. It’s unproductive, and also paralyzing, at a deep psychological level.

      4. Dave Morris
        Posted May 18, 2007 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

        Brett Schutzman,

        I lived in Ypsi for about 5 years. Although it was a little rough around the edges, it was ( and still is ) a very beautiful and unique place. The poor economy in the area over the years, combined with preservationists like Oscar Haabs and even the slum lords, has had the positive result of saving many late 1800′s commercial and residential buildings from the wrecking ball. Parts of the town felt like walking around a forgotten extension of the Henry Ford Greenfield Village. This sense of history, in my opinion, is its most valuable asset.

        It appears that there is a desire to preserve this quality, and it may be the driving force behind some of the decisions to reject certain offers to develop the Water Street area. I don’t know. If there is any truth to my speculation, I would suggest looking at putting together through a community effort a Design Brief for a developer. Something like SurveyMonkey could be helpful in taking polls and getting a large set of feedback.

        I have suggested variations of the following idea here before – MAKE IT A WORKING MUSEUM. Write a design brief and submit it to Disney ( they developed the master plan for Celebration ). Invite them out and show them around. Make an offer to give them the property at a cut rate in exchage for development within a set amount of time. They would do a phenomenal job of making that area into something unique and sensitive to the existing historic qualities. I’d even try to tie the themeing to the Willow Run Bomber plant. There is an incredible amount of interest in WW2 history and this could be taken advantage of.

        I know this probably sounds ridiculous, but I’m absolutely serious. Disney and DIsney Imagineering have experience working on planned communities and they have also successfully designed city civic centers – Seattle Center for example. Can’t hurt to ask.

        I know that the “Celebration” idea is likely to get stuck in the craw of many people, but of all potential options it doesn’t seem like a bad idea. It could become a showcase for architects too, which in itself would make it a destination. I believe that there is a planned community somewhere in Ypsi by Willow Run that was master planned by one of the Saarinens.

        I’m just shooting from the hip on this, so take it for whatever it is worth. I have only a basic idea of what is going on with Water Street from reading Mark’s posts. My instinct would be to go big, communicate clearly what the wants and desires are, and remove as many barriers as possible as quickly as possible.

      5. Ol' E Cross
        Posted May 18, 2007 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

        When the last developer was surveying us on what we’d like to see on Water Street, I was thinking I’d prefer to see us try to add something new to the city landscape than to simply poorly mimic and blend in styles of old. I was thinking of something like an architectural sculpture garden, with innovative designs and living spaces from architects around the world. I figured it was pipe dream. Not sure if it’s been done, but I’m guessing if some notable designers agreed, it wouldn’t be hard to find folks willing to move into an exhibit in an architectural art park.

      6. egpenet
        Posted May 18, 2007 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

        Please … NOT Disney. Those communities are SOOOOO sterile and SOOOOO right of center you can’t even buy a lefthanded glove or a left-footed shoe in those towns.

        Seriously, in principle you’re right, Mr. Morris … I used “imagineering” in another post a few moments ago. I was thinking of Uncle Walt and his people years ago buying up swampland in Florida.

        I was referencing the fact that the ideas for revitalizing the city are not going to come from within, but from outside “imagineers” and entrepreneurs. And that what WE need to do here is get our zoning, planning and development process ready. We have a solid core now of very bright staff. Projects are under way in these regards.

        What is not happening is a simultaneous effort to market what we have available for adaptive reuse or new development. Some new businesses will certainly move or expand here from within the state, but we need to be going further afield to sell the opportunities we offer.

      7. schutzman
        Posted May 18, 2007 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

        dave morris,

        I believe I recall disney’s name being involved at least once, in regards to water street, though it was for the purpose of locating the main hub of the proposed AATA monorail system there, I think.

        As for everything else you said, I am probably the worst person on earth to talk about this with, as each of the comments you made are things i could go on and on and on about forever.

        but i won’t.

        i do think, specifically, that the planned community would be a hard sell, for a few reasons:

        1) It sounds too much like the original water street plan.

        2) If it’s like ‘celebration’, it will also be like ‘cherry hill’ (which i believe is the planned community you were thinking of), and which a lot of people i’ve talked to are completely creeped out by.

        A world war II museum seems like it will- or could- be rising from the ashes of the old yankee air museum, so from a destination standpoint that seems like a bit of stepping-upon-toes to try and make a competing venue.

        ypsilanti has a great many old buildings, yes, i agree. It’s an asset, I also agree. where i think i start to disagree is when we try to imagine anyone from anyplace else actually wanting to come here to see them, just for their historic value.

        I hate to be a buzzkill, but ypsilanti’s history isn’t particularly unique. It should be celebrated by the citizens, we should all know more about it, structures should be preserved, events can be held, lectures can be given, and I’ve been, arguably, the loudest voice saying that we are not doing a good job in many of those departments, and that the organizations theoretically providing such stewardship and interpretation are failing in their tasks.

        But, I don’t think that we can bank, financially, on anyone outside of ypsilanti agreeing with us. Marketing local history is a tricky, tricky balance, and to draw in people you need to offer something truly universally applicable, or specifically famous, and I don’t think we really have either (Not now that the only surviving paper mill in the region has been demolished, which was the last particularly unique AND universally relevant industrial site we had to work with).

        I…well, like i said, just because i could go on about this all day, doesn’t mean i should.

      8. Dave Morris
        Posted May 18, 2007 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

        OEC/ egpenet-

        Seattle recently put in a scupture garden along the north end of downtown. It preserved a large parcel of open space and the people who lived in condos up the hill are certainly thrilled to have that across the street from them. It preserved their view of the Olympics and the Sound. I have not been down to the garden yet, but one criticism that I have heard is that the sculptors represented are the standard fair for large cities – Oldenburg, Calder, etc.

        My thinking on inviting Disney is that they have the experience already, could do design / build, and could do a nice development of the area that would include attention to the history and architecture of the area. They also have the resources to develop it top notch, putting in a transit oriented development and lobbying for transit money, making it a LEED / Green Council certified developement, etc. Ideally, they would partner with HFGFV in the design phase. Disney may not be the best choice for this, but they were what came to mind.

        Also, another great model for adaptive reuse ( if this is still an option for the Water Street project) is Granville Island in Vancouver, BC. It is an incredible mix of heavy industry, light manufacturing, a huge farmers market in an old industrial space along the river, an art college, galleries, restaurants, retail, parks, theaters and parking garages. It is always packed with people. The island is probabaly around 30 to 40 acres if I had to guess, and sits under a bridge. The mix of uses and the adaptive reuse of existing industrial structures is VERY impressive.

        http://www.granvilleisland.com/en/island_experience

        I seem to remember talking to Mark a while back about the Project for Public Spaces. I know of them, but not a lot. They may be a good resource as well for planning a large urban space or finding a referral to address the specific problems with Water Street-

        http://www.pps.org/

        Another organization that I know little about, but may also be of assistance is the Urban Land Institute.

        http://www.uli.org//AM/Template.cfm?Section=Home

        Hope some of this helps.

      9. Ken
        Posted May 18, 2007 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

        Someone should get the Pappas Art Foundry
        to help out with the sculpture garden part
        of the project. I am sure they have a lot
        of artist connections.

      10. Dave Morris
        Posted May 18, 2007 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

        Brett-

        It appears to be a tough problem. My qualifications for making suggestions are few, if any. I still feel an attachment to Ypsi and it pains me to hear about the city struggling. The option of inviting outside investors will most likely have a negative consequence along with any potential positive economic impact.

        The slow rate of change in Ypsi is one of the comforting things about it for me. The frustration I am seeing expressed here over taxes and city services seems to be on a collision course with that quality of life. It is really disconcerting to see structures, trees and landscapes ripped out and shiny new buildings pop up in a relatively short timeframe.

        I certainly don’t have the answers. Just suggestions..

      11. schutzman
        Posted May 18, 2007 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

        understood, dave.

        i lived in pittsburgh, as well as akron and kent, ohio, and i recieve daily email alerts concerning historical loss in those communities, which from my vantage point here in ypsilanti i’m basically powerless to assist with.

        part of that, though, is what makes me so frustrated with the lack of involvement by locals in solving the problems we’re confronted with. I can convince myself that there are phantom people possibly trying to save Braddock, PA, for example, just because i’m not there and have no way of knowing otherwise.

        when i walk around ypsilanti every day, though, and see this slow-motion train wreck happening all around us, it’s much more difficult to just give the players involved the benefit of the doubt.

        so yeah, i know how you feel, and keep suggesting away, talking about it doesn’t hurt anything. unless, of course, the water street debt payment comes due and all anyone’s doing is still just talking about it.

      12. Dirtgrain
        Posted May 18, 2007 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

        How much do we owe? Maybe we could get all of Ypsilanti together on a fund raiser. Just like high school groups do, we could all sell gummi bears to raise money to cover the debt. How much is it, again?

      13. schutzman
        Posted May 18, 2007 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

        Here’s an idea: would it be possible to pay off the debt entirely with Tower Hours?

      14. murph
        Posted May 18, 2007 at 8:03 pm | Permalink

        Like town-wide indentured servitude?

      15. egpenet
        Posted May 18, 2007 at 9:03 pm | Permalink

        David M … Disney has experience in harnessing the ennui of the remnants of the jerry Falwell look-alikes to build robot communities that are soooooo sterile and Monohanish that I’d rather sleep one night with Hitchens than stop at a red light in one of those towns! Yikes! Zikes!

        Seriously, folks … the Disney experience is so old … and the “experience” of their devlopers is soooo lame … check out the names of their streets. Puke!

        Now … Pennsylvania! You have’ta cut a shelf into the side of a mountain to live there. I lived there on the West side of the tunnel from Pittsburgh. What a great state! Corroplis … steel … awesome place … and look what Pittsburgh has done to turn itself around. I especially like the university neighborhoods, the sidewalks, the lighting, the landscaping … some new … but mostly re-use.

        I tried years ago to sell some of that here along Cross Street with the University Village concept. Again, the locals here have no imagination and are divided into little ethnic and/or political subgroups that you can’t get momentum going.

        Ypsilanti has no Temple, but somehow we manage to kill the Messiah in every generation here. Who’s next to be sacrificed to the Jehovah of “Thou shalt not change what I hath wrought.”

        More seriously …

        Standing here at the bridge this afternoon along I-94, even though the water level looks down a bit, I felt that even more of our money was floating into the lake. Hmmm.

        Maybe Howie Mandel could convince the next big winner to move here and spend all their money simply painting the shabby facades downtown and bringing the vacant buildings up to code as a gift to the stingy landlords who have been sitting on this collection of empty brick buildings for more than a generation (25+ years of emptiness since I moved here.)

        Ok, Ok, OK! Quite serious, now.

        As I posted earlier … our job now is to get our city ready with zoning and land use changes that will attract outside investment. It’s clear that property owners heree will NOT invest another nickel, much less pay an income tax to support the city. The ideas and the money will come from outside the area. Will we be ready? We have now in place the core of a solid zoning and planning team. In the big room on the first floor … is THAT team ready? Dunno.

      16. Dave Morris
        Posted May 19, 2007 at 10:40 am | Permalink

        egpenet-

        I share your reservations about the sterility of a Disney development to an extent. The suggestion was made in response to what appears to be concern about putting in an econimically viable develoipment that is sensitive to the history and architecture. The financial situation that the city appears to be in may warrant some compromising.

        I would argue that most developments are sterile when they are first built. It is how they hold up in the long run as people use the space that matters. Levittown is a good example of sterile becoming layered and complex. The thing that would concern me about Disney is their desire to control the city governance.

        Another more modest suggestion would be to ask for funding from the Veteran Affairs office to build free apartments for homeless vets. That, combined with funding for a food bank and mental health services, may keep the finance dogs at bay for a while and also provide a much needed service to an overlooked community demographic.

        There is a 75 unit apartment building with a food bank and mental health services going up a few blocks away from me. All the units are available for free to homeless vets with no conditions set for staying sober. The place will also have storage lockers and showers for those still on the street. There is a large low income housing development next to that as well for families below the cities median income.

        Here is a link to another planned community that combines housing for a variety of income levels:

        http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2003705070_newholly13m.html

        There is another interesting large parcel development going in a mile from me that plans to daylight the headwaters of Thornton Creek, build native buffers, and put in a large mixed use condo, apartments, office and retail space. The development is just across the street from an enormous bus transfer station that will also be served by light rail in 2 years. The place is now just a very large abandoned parking lot – the size of a city block. It is also right along 1-5. I’ve worked with this developer on other projects. All their work is local, but some of the project managers may be willing to answer questions. Let me know.

        Well, enough from me for now.

      17. schutzman
        Posted May 19, 2007 at 11:14 am | Permalink

        dave morris-

        now you’re talking more along the lines of something that ypsilanti could really use, in my opinion- My first thought was actually a skyscraper apartment building, when i initially saw the empty space on the site.

        The VA plan might not fly, though, because one of the complaints I’m sure you’ve heard in ypsi is that we have too many non-taxable non-profits already taking up residence here, and so people might feel this was another drain on the coffers, as they say.

        And, rich people don’t like poor people, of course, which is what got us into this mess in the first place (specifically as the motivation caused city council to propose “Upscale Condos” to lure a new (read: “better”) type of resident to ypsi).

      18. Dave Morris
        Posted May 19, 2007 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

        Yeah, it is a tough problem. It looks like what the city was trying to do was fashion itself in the image of some other city rather than develop its existing strenghts. I don’t know.

        Why couldn’t the area couldn’t have a working community there? Another model would be an organization out here called Northwest Center where my wife once worked. It was put together by parents of developmentally disabled adults. The organization functions as a job shop for light manufacturing, laundry, etc. and can do the work at a very competitive price. The main goal is to give the DD adults work to do – occupational therapy in the sense that John Ruskin and William Morris intended it.

        Maybe a low income development with homeless housing along with small job shops and a large community garden / greenhouse to grow vegetables for local restauarants? Both operations could be very competitive and provide the vets with occupational therapy. Considering that they would be given free shelter and would be on disability, the labor cost could be kept at minimum wage.

        There are a couple of other organizations out here that make good models. One is called Bikeworks. They take in donated bikes, teach at risk kids how to repair them, and give the bikes to the kids, homeless gradutates of the FareStart program, kids in the foster care system, and deliver shipping containers full of them to villages in Africa. Here is their site:

        http://bikeworks.org/

        The other organization, FareStart, is a restaurant that has visiting chefs from upscale restaurants around the city. The chefs prepare a menu and work with a staff of homeless people that help prepare and serve the food. The price per meal is fixed somewhere at $15 a person. It is an opportunity for homeless people to gain a marketable skill and for people to get a chance to have a $40 meal from a local chef for much less.

      19. schutzman
        Posted May 19, 2007 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

        dave, those are all good ideas, and worthy causes, and i certainly think that one of ypsilanti’s greatest needs is more jobs, and not just for the disabled. The loss of industry is the overriding reason that we and all of southeast michigan are in a bind, so obviously more industry is a very logical direction to look in.

        “the city was trying to fashion itself in the image of some other city”

        OMG, I wonder which city that could have been, LOL?

        Ypsilanti already has a base of citizens who need 1) jobs, 2) better and more affordable housing, and 3) better access to services (real stores, grocers, etc). One or all of the above is what water street should provide, and not anything remotely like their initial plan of just making new homes for people who don’t even exist here.

      20. Posted May 19, 2007 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

        Dirtgrain asked how much does the City owe.

        Total debt of the City is about $70 to $75 million. When the former mayor took office in 1995, it is estimated the City owed less than $10 million. The City used to have one of the strongest financial sheets and lowest debts of any community in the region. Today, we have some of the highest debts, we have the highest taxes in the County, and we are on the brink of financial ruin. This seems to be a clear indicator that you can’t borrow and tax your way into prosperity. When ever I bring this up, the former Mayor always blames Lansing and the economy and takes no responsibility that the course set by the mayor and council has put us in this position today.

        There is never been an accurate accounting of what is exactly owed on Water Street. City Watchers were stunned but not surprised when the City announced last week a new $1/2 million debt payment is due in 2009 and those payments climb to a million a year for about 10 years. Oh yeah, they sort of forgot to tell us about that debt. Oops.

        This is in addition to the some $900,000 bond payment that is also due in 2009-1010 and that bond payment climbs to $1.4 million annually by 2011. Add it all up and the annual debt payment just for Water Street climbs to a staggering $2.4 million a year.

        From watching all the meetings and reading as much as I can from city documents, it appears that City has spent about $40 million of taxpayer money on Water Street and owes about $25 and perhaps as much as $30 million in debt and obligations.

        For example the city doesn’t consider the obligation to rebuild the railroad spur, if Visteon requests it to be restored, as part of the City debt. That alone is probably a $500,000 to $1 million cost to put it down Park rather than Lincoln.

        However, the government and financial accounting standards do require communities to account and disclose those debts and obligations as part of any bond financing.

        The City also never told the property owners along Park St, that the City is required to install a railroad track down the middle of their street if Visteon says they need it.

        The City is desperately hoping that Visteon wont ask for the railroad back. However, it is fiscally irresponsible for the city to to “hope” a bill won’t come due as justification for why they didn’t tell the public about this additional obligation.

        There were earlier Water Street documents about land contracts with the Bank of Ann Arbor and other loans and grants as part of the Water Street project. Today, it is unknown if those loans and land contracts have been rolled into other debt or if they are still out there somewhere. Again officials at the City have never given a full and accurate accounting of the costs and debt surrounding Water Street.

        Remember the EMU presidents house. When they accounted for expenses, despite spending millions on landscaping, they moved most of that money into other accounts and only counted that land within 5 feet of the house in the costs of the landscaping for the house. The rest of the landscaping bill was hidden elsewhere. Only when the State came in and did an audit, did they find what EMU had done.

        The City is playing the same games hiding expenses for Water Street in other accounts. They have never accounted for the time the planners spent on Water Street, not the time of in-house council, City mangers time, Finance, DPW, DDA and other departments.

        Local citizens, not just me, have been asking since 2003 for a full accounting of what was spent and borrowed on Water Street. In 2003, I said at a public meeting that by my estimate the city had between $7 and $12 million in debt. The Mayor at that time launched in to a personal attack saying I didn’t know what I was talking about. She was right. I had sorely under estimated what had been spent, the city had borrowed and spent far more than than the $12 million I was estimating. Remember this was at the time when the City was saying that they were spending between $5 and $7 million on the total project.

        A year later, the City announced they has spent over $13 million just on land acquisition. That was double what the costs the City had been saying for the ENTIRE project. The $13 million was to just buy the land.

        Even that accounting was incomplete because it didn’t include staff time, legal time, contractors and consultants that were paid as part of the land acquisition.

        In 2003, the mayor said the City would give a complete accounting of the money spent and owed. She promised this at a meeting at her house where the developer, local citizens, city staff and three elected officials met. The City Manager at that same meeting personally promised me an accounting of the money spent, if I would not push for a public accounting in front of the developers and their attorneys that were attending the same meeting that evening. The City Manager said it would weaken the City’s position if they made those disclosures to the developer.

        Trying to be a team player, I agreed and then for the next two years no one at the city would disclose the financials.

        Folks they are spending taxpayer money on this project, it is your money. They should be held to account for how it was spent, every penny, and how much debt they have committed this community to pay back.

        No accurate accounting has ever been released by the City. I have every FAQ every released by the City. They never gave an accurate accounting of the debt. All the FAQ’s failed to disclose that much of the grants received turned into loans if they didn’t meet certain deadlines. The City finally pulled all those Water Street documents off the City’s website in December when it was became clear what the city had said in previous documents was not true. However, before they removed the documents, the entire city website was archived and it is nearly 1GB of data.

        As those bills and bonds are coming due, the City is finding it harder and harder to hide the problems with the project or what the City has been spent and what they owe on Water Street.

        - Steve

      21. schutzman
        Posted May 19, 2007 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

        so, by steve’s calculation, I think that each of us has to sell about $2,800 worth of gummi bears.

      22. schutzman
        Posted May 19, 2007 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

        which, assuming I’ve done the math right, and we can get them at wholesale prices, would be approximately 260,680 individual gummi bears that each ypsilantian needs to sell.

        In other words, ypsilanti would need to sell around 6.5 billion gummi bears total.

        i hope there’s another option.

      23. schutzman
        Posted May 19, 2007 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

        alternately, the city of ypsilanti could also just sell a single gummi bear that would weigh 1,326,530 pounds.

        That would be roughly the size of a space shuttle booster rocket.

      24. UBU
        Posted May 19, 2007 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

        possum taste better

        (I love it when I come up with a phrase that works on more than one thread)

      25. Posted May 19, 2007 at 7:57 pm | Permalink

        Perhaps we could build a Gummi Bear factory on Water Street.

        - Steve

      26. Ol' E Cross
        Posted May 19, 2007 at 10:18 pm | Permalink

        Just to clarify my bad idea, by “architectural sculpture garden,” I wasn’t meaning a sculpture garden, but a neighborhood of homes where each unit was designed by one of the kick-ass architects I see New Yorker from time to time. Live-in sculptures.

        If The Rocket store on Mich Ave agreed to donate 10 percent of the proceeds from their gummy bear sales to the City, how many gummy bears would I have to eat?

      27. Dirtgrain
        Posted May 20, 2007 at 8:29 am | Permalink

        This just in! City officials, in anticipation of our jokingly speculative giant gummi bear notion, have just issued another million dollar bond that will help pay for “Ypsilanti, Home of the Giant Gummi Bear” signs that will line our downtown streets, boosting civic pride and alerting all to the fact that Ypsilanti is the home of the Giant Gummi Bear (a fact, seemingly, that we would not know without said signs). Ever prudent, Ypsilanti officials see this as a sure-fire way to increase tourism–tourism that will bring in money to pay off all the bonds, Water Street included, in no time. That said, they have no idea where to put the giant gummi bear. Not a clue.

        At an ad hoc meeting on the giant gummi bear’s legitimacy, local skeptics questioned the city’s proposed giant gummi bear, noting that based on the model on display in the basement of the downtown library, it appears the “giant gummi bear” will be only the size of a small dog. City officials were visibly chuckling and making sly glances at each other as the doubtful voiced their complaints. Apparently, through nifty accounting, they will be able to make a giant gummi bear that looks to be only the size of a small dog–but is in fact 1,326,530 pounds!

      28. Posted May 20, 2007 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

        Dirtgrain,

        I bow to you, great post. Have you ever thought about running for city council?

        - Steve

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