the consultants are coming, the consultants are coming

A while back, I think I mentioned here that Ypsi had received a grant that would allow us to temporarily bring on professionals whose job it would be to help us create a plan for the future of downtown Ypsilanti. Well, the consultants have landed, and they’ll be meeting with the community tomorrow evening, Tuesday, February 26th, at the First United Methodist Church (209 Washtenaw). The event is scheduled to run from 7:00 to 8:30. So, if you’ve got an opinion on what our downtown should look like, this in your chance to get it on the record. Linette (who designed the flyer) and I can’t be there, so please show up and stir the pot on our national chain-hating behalf… And, when it’s over, please come back here and leave a comment.

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  1. egpenet
    Posted February 26, 2008 at 8:04 am | Permalink

    Hey, everybody … I don’t want to put words in your mouths about what is BEST for Ypsi … but somewhere on everybody’s long list entitled: “Let’s Get A Few Things Right” should be the Ypsilanti Freighthouse.

    Please … pencil in the Freighthouse wherever you find room.

    Personally, when I think of serious projects in Depot Town … I think of the Ypsilanti Freighthouse, the Community Garden grow space expandsion and Frog Island Park redevelopment.

    BTW … Thompson Block construction should begin in earnest by the middle or end of March! Yahooo! Thank you, Mr. Beal!

  2. Dr Cherry
    Posted February 26, 2008 at 11:41 am | Permalink

    How about a monorail?

  3. nammeroo
    Posted February 26, 2008 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

    Do I understand correctly that this is the second go-around for Hyett Palma and their downtown study show and tell?

  4. Kat
    Posted February 26, 2008 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

    Not a monorail, Mr. Cherry. Mark had the idea quite some time ago for a water slide that would carry new EMU coeds from campus to DejaVu. That’s where I want my tax dollars spent.

    Seriously, Frieghthouse and the community pool are things that should be talked up.

  5. MaryD
    Posted February 26, 2008 at 8:57 pm | Permalink

    The school of business has always reminded us of a giant water slide. My youngest thought it was for awhile, listening in as young ones do. While I appreciate it’s presence, it is awfully ugly.

  6. Posted February 27, 2008 at 8:59 am | Permalink

    I thought the evening went well — great facilitator. It was such a thrill to see so many people I knew and feel really a part of such an involved and motivated community. Some of the ideas that I heard that I liked included getting rid of the one-way streets. Imagine the difference in feeling if Cross, Huron, Washtenaw, & South Hamilton were two-way. It would make them feel less like drag strips and more like part of the city. The perennial “No Lefts on Michigan” was mentioned — yay. The list of What We Like Best about Ypsi was inspiring and long.

    I was personally pleased that so many (other than myself) mentioned local food, green renovations, renewable energy and sustainability. A couple ideas I thought of later were nice large historic entry signs “Ypsilanti, est. 1824” (or whatever date) at the borders of the town — the strip mall mess along Washtenaw is not Ypsi. Also, TEA. I heard gossip of an eatery of some kind in Materials Unlimited. What about a tea shop overlooking the park? Not frilly Victorian tea, just nice loose, down-to-earth tea with scones. Herbal teas. Tea makes everything better.

  7. egpenet
    Posted February 27, 2008 at 8:26 pm | Permalink

    I wanna hear MORE! I was at the HDC and couldn’t attend.

    I trust there’s a video coming.

  8. Posted February 27, 2008 at 9:32 pm | Permalink

    Steve was filming…

  9. Posted February 28, 2008 at 9:26 am | Permalink

    And, oh yeah, one of the things I think Ypsi needs to do is join with other cities around the world as member of ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability. My rant here: I think we have to go ahead and make our visionary changes ourselves. We can ask Dingell to act, but what if he doesn’t? We have to hedge our bets and take the steps towards sustainability that will make for a viable community in a world of climate change and oil depletion. IMHO.

  10. egpenet
    Posted February 28, 2008 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

    Dingel-Dangle is NOT going to act. He CANNOT as long as his wife is in the auto industry and because he has BIG DEBTS to the industry and the unions. When and if any legislation happens to contribute to sustainability, he WILL BE at the photo op, to be sure … but in Row 2.

    Great idea, L.

    I’ve said over and over, what we want done here MUST be done by us. Let’s roll!

  11. Mark H.
    Posted February 28, 2008 at 7:48 pm | Permalink

    Did you see the article in today’s AANEWS about the report that the city of Ypsilanti, about 18 months ago, rejected overtures from an Ann Arbor realtor who was interested in marketing the Water Street land to devlophers? The city told him to shove off, despite his having a California firm interested in brown field developments.

  12. John on Forest
    Posted February 28, 2008 at 8:05 pm | Permalink

    Ed and Kat, the freighhouse and pool are not part of downtown which is what I believe this topic was specifically…I could be wrong, I suppose. I wasn’t there.

    Lisele, do you know when the consultants will publish a report?

  13. egpenet
    Posted February 28, 2008 at 11:53 pm | Permalink


    I know THAT! I am a downtown Business District/Historic resident, Sect’y. of the RNA (Riverside neighborhood Association) which includes 1/2 of the downtown, and an HDC Commissioner.

    However, on my list of priorities for the City … I am currently championing #1 the FOYF and #2 the Pool, then #3 Downtown (which BTW includs the RAC which is getting grant money up the kazoo).

    Just trying to create a little momentum.

    Oh, THAT downtown. I maybe was thinking of downtown Depot Town. Ooooooh! (NOT!)

    Gotta think citywide, brother. As Graham Greene said, “No downtown is an island … except in the case of Ypsilanti.”

  14. Posted February 29, 2008 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

    The Blueprint for Downtown composed a very specific map with lots of twists and turns. The area basically runs from the police station on the West, The East side of the river to the shores of Water Street on the East. The area then meanders to the RAC and behind the parking lot by the bus Center to the North. The South border extends along the back of the Downtown Post-office.

    I found the event interesting. There was a great turn out and a pretty good representation of the people that live in Ypsilanti. The entire meeting consisted of people answering the 5 questions presented by Hyatt Palma (basically what do and don’t you like about downtown now and what is your vision in 5 years). They didn’t accept any proposed solutions. I gathered that allowing the community to propose solutions is just a stupid idea and Hyatt-Palma didn’t have time for that nonsense.
    I don’t know if anything was accomplished at the meeting but it was good to see interested people and business owners. Perhaps we can get that same group together and discuss solutions and recommendations. The $50,000 Hyatt-Palma is getting paid sure would have helped paint buildings and clean up storefronts of the owners that would like to but can’t afford to.

    The point was made many times that Downtown is not an island but Hyatt-Palma made it clear that Jenny Granholm specifically ordered only the consideration of the ‘traditional downtown area’ when they made the matching funds available under the ‘Blueprints’ program.

    The results will be presented on Monday March 10th from 7-8:30pm (believe me they stick to that 8:30 stop time). They haven’t announced a place for the results meeting.

    Does anyone have a copy of the Hyatt-Palma blueprint for downtown they did 15years ago? I’d like to have that in my hand and read along with the ‘new’ blueprint.


  15. BrianR
    Posted February 29, 2008 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

    You can find it HERE.

  16. egpenet
    Posted February 29, 2008 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

    OMG, Brian … I HOPE that’s NOT what we’re about to get … a truly generic recipe anyone with one hand tied behind their back could Google these days.

    I was here then and it’s all coming back, now … including a project through ICARD which failed to stimulate the property owners/merchants along Cross Street to create a niche community called University Village. I wrote a companion document coining that name. The concept was based on two successful projects: one near Pratt in Brooklyn and another near Carnegie in Pittsburgh.

    So, with PDFs from 15 years ago in-hand … we shall see. Notice that the “Visioning Q&A” are nearly identical? Hmmmm.

  17. Posted February 29, 2008 at 8:55 pm | Permalink

    The meeting on the 10th will be at the Riverside Arts Center theater.

  18. John on Forest
    Posted February 29, 2008 at 9:38 pm | Permalink

    Ed, I too think the freight house and pool are worthy projects. As far as economical develop potential is concerned, I’d put the pool behind the downtown in priority though.

    I wasn’t saying though, that freight house and pool were not good ideas, just that they didn’t belong in the specific study.

    Frankly, I think a broad spectrum approach is what we need. If we can marshall the resources, we should attack all three subjects with vigor at the same time. Just not in the same room at the same time.

  19. John on Forest
    Posted February 29, 2008 at 9:53 pm | Permalink

    That 15 year old report looked to me like a “How to do” a visioning workshop. I hope what we hired them to do this time around was the workshop itself with specific outcomes, i.e. answers to the generic questions in that PDF.

    If not, let’s hire them back again in ten or fifteen years.

  20. Posted March 1, 2008 at 12:13 am | Permalink

    Will there be a follow-up report or follow-up meeting to discuss the results of the Feb. 26 community meeting?

  21. John Gawlas
    Posted March 1, 2008 at 7:20 am | Permalink

    Brian Vosburg has sent out a notice about the final presentation:

    “We’ve just finished up a week of meetings with our consultants, HyettPalma. Now it’s time for HyettPalma to present their final report on the strategic plan Downtown Ypsilanti should take for the next 5 years.”

    The event will be:

    Monday, March 10
    7:00 to 8:30 PM
    Riverside Arts Center
    76 N. Huron St.

  22. John Gawlas
    Posted March 1, 2008 at 7:42 am | Permalink

    The document that CM Robb references is not the final report ECONOMIC REVITALIZATION INITIATIVE FOR DOWNTOWN YPSILANTI that was the deliverable produced by Hyett Palma in 1992.

    The actual report documents the results of focus groups, resident phone surveys, analysis of the retail trade area, inventory of downtown businesses, and recommended strategies for business enhancement, retail mix expansion and real estate development.

    Brian Vosburg has copies of the 1992 report at the DDA, but I am not aware of an online copy. My expectation for the Blueprint for Ypsilanti Downtown is that it will be a more focused strategy document intended to set milestones over a 5-year period.

    (I believe the document Robb links is the training/orientation materials provided upfront of the original 1992 study.)

  23. John on Forest
    Posted March 1, 2008 at 8:44 am | Permalink

    CM Gawlas,

    Whew! I feel better now.

    I was misled by the way CM Robb presented it.

  24. amused1
    Posted March 1, 2008 at 9:30 am | Permalink

    It’s pretty obvious to everyone that business development is nedded in DT Ypsi. I hope HP’s final presentation will offer statistics on the mix of businesses needed to sustain a successful downtown. Basically, how many service providers vs restaurants vs offices vs entertainment venues are needed to draw enough spenders into the area throughout the day to keep it vital. And, dream of dreams, which percentage of businesses at which stage of development.

    The correct mix would, to paraphrase what one attendee said so well, “offer so much to do that I run out of time before I run out of activities”. With that kind of info in hand, I believe we can best focus our energy and resources.

  25. egpenet
    Posted March 1, 2008 at 11:13 am | Permalink

    Thank you JG for the clarification.

    What I was looking for in the earlier report was strategies and tactics … the Plan … so I could gauge in my own mind what progress had been made these last fifteen years.

    Prsonally, I feel that more progress has been made downtown in the last 1-1/2 years, thanks to two-three investors/developers and the new D.A.Y., than during the preceeding 15 … notwithstanding the streetscapes, lighting and bike racks.

    The current DT activity is the results of the investors/developers/entrepreneurs who have come into Ypsilanti over the past 24 months … THEY have made all the difference. D.A.Y. member meetings are very well-attended, action-packed and produce a lot of DT results.

  26. egpenet
    Posted March 1, 2008 at 11:28 am | Permalink

    One more thing …

    I said above in reference to the Hyatt/Palma Blueprint Manual that anyone could have Googled the same information 15 years ago!

    HA! HA! HA! How stupid! Thank the KLord nobody picked up on the fact that Google was incorporated in 1998 … a mere 10 years ago. Couldn’t have Wiki’d it, either.

    The common sense recommendations and the civic data in the manual WAS available on the WWW or at any local library, of course.

    The 15 year old “Visioning” Q&As are identical.

  27. BrianR
    Posted March 1, 2008 at 11:58 am | Permalink

    Sorry for any confusion I created by sharing the information that I had.

    You know what would be wild? Maybe someone should do a better job of posting the 1992 Blueprint online.

    Information sharing? That’s nuts.

  28. amused1
    Posted March 1, 2008 at 10:02 pm | Permalink

    Go for it BrianR.

  29. BVos
    Posted March 3, 2008 at 4:20 pm | Permalink


    To paraphrase BrianR, it’s about to get wild up her at

    I’ve posted the 1992 HyettPalma study on the DDA’s website. You can find all 156 pages of the study in 4 sections at the bottom of this page:

  30. mark
    Posted March 6, 2008 at 10:07 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for this, Brian. I appreciate it.

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