marketing ypsi’s water street

In May of this year, I started bugging the folks at City Hall, asking for a brief “one-page sales document that states what we have available and what the terms would be if a company were interested” in the City-owned parcel commonly referred to as Water Street. Well, on Friday, I got the attached pdf. I thought that some of you might all like to see it. If you know of a developer who might be interested, please feel free to forward it. And, if you have any thoughts as to how we, the people of Ypsilanti, could better market the property, leave a comment. We need everyone working on this.

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  1. rodneyn
    Posted July 23, 2007 at 8:01 am | Permalink

    You’re on the right track to ask for a one-page brochure on Water Street. What the City gave you does not seem very useful as a marketing brochure, or as a concise document for site selectors and developers.

  2. Posted July 23, 2007 at 10:41 am | Permalink

    It also has some old data that doesn’t reflect the latest prognostications of City Council and the Planning Department. It was likely put together so the city could go up to Novi(?) last week for the Shopping Mall Builders Conference that was held there. The city had a booth/table staffed with the Dir of Planning and the Dir of the DDA for the afternoon. Wonder what that cost in labor for that trip and time in the booth?

    Considering how the City has demonized the baseball stadium and shopping malls; telling us Briarwood killed our downtown, seems interesting that the City is now courting mall developers for Water Street, but hey, I am for looking at all options for the property at Water Street.

    One idea being talked about in the downtown is a solar panel OEM. They are apparently looking for a facility that they can make a LEEDS/green manufacturing site. As one downtownie correctly pointed out, being next to the river is a perfect site for a geo-thermal or heat exchange system that could reaslitically provide heat and cooling for much if not all the site.


    – Steve

  3. dm
    Posted July 23, 2007 at 11:41 am | Permalink


    There was an article in the Seattle Times last week about a guy in Seattle who used an immigration program called EB 5 to get funding for the purchase of 40 acres of land south of downtown. He is pissing off a lot of people for reasons you can read about in the article. Here is a clip about the law that explains why it may be extremely useful in the Water Street development:

    “In the early 1990s Liebman learned about a new federal program aimed at attracting foreign investments to American businesses. Pushed by Democrats such as Sen. Edward Kennedy and signed into law by President George H.W. Bush, the EB-5 program works like this: Foreigners can gain green cards by investing $1 million in a business that directly creates at least 10 jobs, or by investing $500,000 in a “regional center” — an area targeted for economic growth — and producing 10 jobs directly and through spin-off jobs.”

    Here is the full article:

    And here is a link to more info on the EB 5 program:

    You could bring capital investments and jobs to the area and give permanent residency for foreign workers. I would start with trying to get some of the high tech workers that are here on temporary work visas and find foreign companies that want a US presence. Considering how large that parcel is, I would try to diversify the industry there and include light manufacturing that would compliment high tech and take advantage of the existing skilled labor in SE Michigan, bringing in another set of workers and foreign investment.

    The combination of Willow Run being 5 miles away ( cargo planes ), 94 a half mile away with Chicago about a 4 hour drive, Detroit Metro a 20 minute drive, and Detroit and Ann Arbor easily accessed by expressway as well is very compelling. Combine that with affordable ( and very nice ) housing and a vibrant community and it keeps looking better and better.

    The EB 5 option would allow Ypsilanti a lot of autonomy for determining how the land will be used by finding the tenants first rather than finding a developer who will build the shells and fill the space with whoever will pay. If Ypsi was aggressive enough, they could probably flat out retire the loan within a year and work out a 5 year plan to bring in a select group of complimentary industries, hire someone to create a masterplan, and then find a third party to act as developer. The tenants could then be actively involved in the planning and development of that space for specific purposes rather than making a bunch of guesses about how best to develop it.

    Considering what you do for a living Mark, you should be able to come up with quite a few interesting combinations of businesses for that site. US investors mostly want BlingBling real estate. Foreign investors just want in.

    ( All – I’m aware this comes off as very removed and grandiose. It is just a suggestion from an outside perspective with some possibilities explored. Take it for what is worth. )

  4. Posted July 23, 2007 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

    DM, great suggestions. 20/20 material for sure.

    – Steve

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