the ypsi freighthouse is awarded $35k

There’s still a long way to go, but I’ve just received word that Friends of the Freighthouse were successful in getting a $35,000 historic preservation grant from the U.S. Department of the Interior. Here’s a clip from their announcement:

…A $35,000 grant from the Department of the Interior and administered by the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) was awarded to the City of Ypsilanti. The Ypsilanti Freighthouse is the designated beneficiary of the funds. Grant proceeds will be matched at 40% with additional funds from The Friends of the Ypsilanti Freighthouse, the Depot Town DDA and the Ypsilanti Heritage Foundation.

“Our confidence is really boosted by this success,” said Bonnie Penet, FOYF Co-Chair and co-author with Nathalie Edmunds of the grant. “This site is a crown jewel in historic Depot Town.”

“This grant targets some of the most critical site issues surrounding the Freighthouse,” stresses Edmunds, “water run-off and accumulation, which is undermining the foundation and producing what is called ‘rising damp’ in the brick walls and mortar.”

Repairs will involve the installation of proper drainage systems, collection of rain water run-off into the drains, and the contouring of the surfaces around the entire site, including nearby parking areas.

“We were very confident, because we did our homework and prepared our application with great care,” says Edmunds.

The Friends of the Ypsilanti Freighthouse are also hoping for positive news regarding their General Mills/Hamburger Helper application for a $15,000 grant, which was crafted as a follow-up to this State grant. The Hamburger Helper grant will allow for foundation repairs, installation of proper foundation venting, and initial control of the brick-and-mortar moisture issues in the walls.

Hamburger Helper challenges applicants to rally local citizens to support the need for funds with personal stories and other positive comments. The FOYF Hamburger Helper application received nearly 300 supportive comments from Ypsilantians. Notification is expected around May 15, 2008.

Having already begun the administrative work on the project, the FOYF look forward to the contractor’s work on the project to begin this summer and to be completed by the end of 2008.

Congratulations and thank you to everyone involved.

When asked about the repairs that are necessary, Bonnie and Nat have told me that we’re looking at almost $400,000 in work. I don’t, however, know how much of that is absolutely necessary to getting the Freighthouse open to the public. As I understand it, the only thing keeping the building closed right now is the fact that it can’t, in its current state, be insured. I’d like to have a better sense from the Friends of the Freighthouse as to just how much of the $400,000 we actually need to secure insurance and get the doors open. I suspect – and I haven’t confirmed this with anyone – that this amount is significantly less than $400,000. The rest, while necessary in order to keep the building viable for the long term, I suspect is not really critical at this point. I’d like to know exactly what the dollar amount needed to get the doors open is. And, I’d like to know if it’s conceivable that we could have it open for business in a year. I’d also like to see a thermometer in Depot Town this summer (by Heritage Fest) showing that number, and I’d like to see everyone in the community coordinated and working toward that goal.

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  1. Dirtgrain
    Posted May 12, 2008 at 8:27 pm | Permalink

    Good news. I wonder if it is a structural problem with the foundation. That could be pricey. I also wonder if some of the repairs could be done by volunteers. For sure I would like to help with this, although my skills are limited.

  2. Dirtgrain
    Posted May 12, 2008 at 8:33 pm | Permalink

    Here is a report on repairs needed:

  3. Dirtgrain
    Posted May 12, 2008 at 8:39 pm | Permalink

    It says Phase I is critical, costing $365,498.00. I wonder how much costs will rise as time passes–or if some of these estimates are too high or too low.

    What are concrete wheel stops?

  4. Dirtgrain
    Posted May 12, 2008 at 8:43 pm | Permalink

    Phase IV, $1,106,000.00? Yikes.

  5. mark
    Posted May 12, 2008 at 8:50 pm | Permalink

    And tomorrow is the Freighthouse fundraiser at Frenchies!

    Ypsi Lovers-

    Tomorrow is your chance to eat great food and help save our beloved freight house!

    By eating dinner from 5pm to 9pm at Frenchie’s (Sidetrack Food) you can help support our fundraising efforts to help restore the Ypsilanti’s Historic Freighthouse Community Center.

    Sidetrack will donate back 50% of the sales of Food and Beverage (including our great beers!), plus 100% of the tips. Also, there will be an awesome auction by Steve Gross and 100% of the auction proceeds go to the freighthouse! Items being auctioned include…

    – multiple sets of really great Tigers tickets
    -Dinner AND DRINKS (!) for 2 at The Sidetrack Bar and Grill with chauffeur service to and from your house in a 1947 Hudson.
    -A Dozen roses a month for a year from Enchanted Florist
    -Hand blown artisan bowl made by a local artist from Concordia College
    -a Growler of Beer every month for a year from Corner Brewing
    -Lunch for 2 at Haab’s
    -Neon ‘Ice Cream’ sign
    -a Side-by-side pedicure from Eleven West Salon and Spa
    -A Case of fine wine plus 2 bottles of delicious Boone’s Farm
    -2 five gallon bottles of fine wine
    -a cup of coffee a week for a year from cafe Luwak
    -The entire contents of the Sidetrack’s lost and found box! This may or may not include multiple umbrellas, a few sweatshirts, a plethora of folders, books and binders, a watch, six hats, a small animal, a tuba, a single sock, a half consumed Miller Lite, Kwame’s cell phone, a fake Coach bag with a fake ID, a downtown left turn, and the one person who voted in favor of the city income income tax!

    So come on down to Frenchies tomorrow for great food and a great cause. There will be piano playing and tons of fun for everyone!


    I think I’m guest bar tending too….

  6. egpenet
    Posted May 12, 2008 at 8:58 pm | Permalink

    What Mark doesn’t mention is that the SHPO grant is a 40% match by the FOYF, DTDDA and the generosity of the Ypsilanti Historical Foundation. So, the total is more like $60-65,000.

    The key is the Conditional Assessment Report or CAR.

    The CAR report, which Dirtgrain cites and links, is quite clear about the “Critical” repairs, which actually amount to an estimated $365,498. These are 2006 repair estimates, give or take 5%-10%.

    Once “open”, there will remain an esimated $32,000 in “Serious” repairs, and an estimated $28,550 “Minor” repairs.

    From that point, “Upgrades” of the HVAC,Sound system, Kitchen, Toilets, Platform, and other improvements could amount to another estimated $300,000 to $1,106,000, according to the CAR. But these could be devloped over time or refined.

    I urge everyone to read the CAR (see above link) and understand the issues involved.

    And, yes, Dirtgrain … there will be a lot volunteers will be able to do prior to the opening and after the opening. First, the heavy lifting will have to be done by the pros, bid out by the City, approved by the HDC and SHPO. Once stabilized outside and inside, we can start pulling teams together and have some fun.

    We’re on our way.

    Tuesday night at Frenchie’s 50% of all food and beverages go to the Freighthouse. There wikll be silent and live auctions as well … including several Tigers’ tickets! See ya’ll there.

    Thanks for the post, Mark.

  7. Brackache
    Posted May 12, 2008 at 10:33 pm | Permalink

    It seems like we could just bribe somebody with what we’ve already got and forget the $400,000. Or bulldoze it and make a new one. Geez.

  8. Brent
    Posted May 13, 2008 at 10:33 am | Permalink

    I don’t mean to thread jack, but could someone please give me a relative timeline of the story of the train station on the opposite side of the tracks? I know it is owned by the same guy that owns Bell Tower Inn, etc. in A2 and he has been resistant to development, but the water is still muddy for me as to the full story. Feel free to contact me directly at and spare everyone on here from a rehashing!

    Also, does anyone have any backstory they can share on the former bar on Cross Street near Ballard (not Andrews)? Again, feel free to contact me via email. :)

  9. schutzman
    Posted May 13, 2008 at 11:07 am | Permalink

    Brent, I think you’ll find that everyone here is far too freighthouse-happy to even discuss that matter.

    The northern French faction set up a blog here:

    it hasn’t been updated in a while, but deals with the timeline you mention. I made a post here around the same time, but sadly not all the links are functioning, as I’d love to be able to go back and re-read the bit where “somebody” said it should just be torn down; I mentioned it again recently, but I feel any pleas will continue to fall upon deaf ears, as apparently the matter just isn’t sexy enough to elicit interest.

    Basically, the building is too small to house a Zingerman’s, there’s not enough room for an “Upscale Loft” in the attic, and people in this town only appreciate historical value if it involves personal nostalgia (so conversations around pot-bellied stoves, auto shows, and italianate villas will trump industrial heritage every time).

    I think that covers the matter.

    As for the freighthouse, I seriously doubt that the C.A.R. is accurate, and even if it was, then the city itself could have made those repairs a dozen times over, by this point.

  10. Dirtgrain
    Posted May 13, 2008 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

    Oh, I just figured it out–concrete wheel stops for parking lot spaces. Duh.

  11. egpenet
    Posted May 14, 2008 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

    The tally at Frenchie’s is in. According to the website, the fundraiser at Frenchie’s in Depot Town netted over $5100!

    Thnk you, once again, Ypsilanti, from the Friends of the Ypsilanti Freighthouse.

    And thanks to Linda French, the chief sponsor, Steve Gross, our auctioneer, and all of the fabulous donors listed on the foyf website, who gave generously to the auction.

    We expect to hear from General Mills/Hamburger Helper tomorrow or later in the wekk one way or the other. Toes and fingers crossed.

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