the tour of ypsilanti

In the past week, I’ve had two people ask me for tours of Ypsilanti. Both are thinking of purchasing homes here. One presently rents in Ann Arbor. The other is moving to our area from out of state. As I’m anti-social by nature, have absolutely no sense of direction, and suck at sales, I think it’s likely that I’ll fuck up both opportunities.

Not that I’m trying to get out of it, but wouldn’t it be cool if we had little self-guided tours that people could take either virtually, by car, or on foot?

I’m not sure how to go about doing such a ting, but wouldn’t it also be cool if we had a “Moving to Ypsi” webpage that had maps, photos and background information on of each of our neighborhoods?

Getting back to these people I have to show around, I’d be curious to know what you think that I should show them. I’ll definitely show them the river, the parks, Eastern Michigan University, the Water Street property, the Michigan Avenue strip and Depot Town, as I take them from neighborhood to neighborhood, but is there other stuff that I should point out? Are there things that I should avoid?

Actually, I’m just kidding about avoiding stuff. The last thing I want to do is to lure someone here under false pretenses only to have them pissed off at me for the rest of their lives. It may not be the best sales tactic, but I don’t intend to hide or sugarcoat anything. I don’t want neighbors that want to live in Ann Arbor, or, worse yet, Northville.

This may be a terrible idea, but what if we had a list of volunteer tour guides that people could be shown around town by? I’ve got to think that there are a lot of people who would rather be shown around by a local person who loves the community rather than a real estate agent with an agenda… Do other areas have things like that?

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  1. Suzie
    Posted June 28, 2008 at 7:14 am | Permalink

    If I may say, I think if people have asked for a tour, then they may be looking for a personal connection in the community, and a sense of the feel of the place, rather than just oh here are all the sights. So if you’re friendly & have a cup of coffee, a beer, or lunch with them, in addition to pointing out some sites, then it’ll be great.

    This is a tangent, but we do have some real estate agents who are local people who love the community – and are straight-up about stuff – including mine, PJ Moffett. (And no she didn’t pay me to say that or anything.)

  2. mark
    Posted June 28, 2008 at 8:52 am | Permalink

    In at least one of the cases, Suzie, it doesn’t seem to be a person that is longing for the kind of community I talk about on this site. It’s a person that would like to live in Ann Arbor, but is priced out of the market. My guess is that they will end up in Ypsi township somewhere. Still, I’ve offered to drive them around the city and tell them more about why I think living here is worth the work.

  3. Dirtgrain
    Posted June 28, 2008 at 9:13 am | Permalink

    It might do to divvy up the city. While I know the city quite well by foot and bicycle, I know especially the best things and worst things about living in my neighborhood, College Heights. I am willing to contribute, both by writing about these things, taking photographs, and leading tours.

    I’ve never gone on any of Ypsi’s bicycle club’s rides, but that might be an excellent way to tour the city.

    Other things to show:
    – The border to border path (my favorite thing about my neighborhood)
    – Restaurant options, maybe by type of food (breakfast, Coney Island, Chinese, Mexican, meat and potatoes, etc.)
    – Some historic buildings
    – Exercise facility options (WCC, EMU, other)
    – Recreational activity options (sports leagues for kids–and for adults (do we have any for adults?) I see a lot of soccer at Frog Island.)
    – The many things that are within driving distance in Southeastern Michigan (Science Center, Detroit Zoo, Henry Ford Museum, Hands-on Museum, etc.)
    – Where to grocery shopping–Meijer, the co-op, Kroger, Farmer’s Market, other?
    – Festivals and Events (Heritage Festival, parades, Elvis Fest, Shadow Art Fair, etc.)
    – Washtenaw Community College
    – Our many car-related events
    – On Tuesday (or Wednesday?), I walked through Depot Town and the street was lined with motorcycles. That was cool.
    – Last night, I walked through downtown, and I saw part of Washington blocked off with a band playing for an audience. I’ve seen this several times in the last few months, and I don’t recall ever seeing any publicity about it.
    – Events relating to specific cultures.
    – Community education and class opportunities
    – Educational opportunities for youngsters (like the daycare thing you told me about)
    – Medicine-related options–I think we truly have it good here, with two big hospitals so close, and so many options for doctors and health care
    – Community clubs and groups (book clubs, hobby clubs
    – Options of places to practice religion (no, I won’t be leading that part of the tour)

    Now that I think about it, some of what I have listed is included in the Ann Arbor News’ annual guide. I wonder if it’s on the web. Does the city have any website with this sort of information?

  4. Posted June 28, 2008 at 9:30 am | Permalink

    You could entice the Google street view van to drive up and down your streets… or, better, populate the Google maps with more than the 2 user photos already posted. If you had a lot of photos you could then find someone smart to create a Choose Your Own Ypsilanti Adventure page that shows a walking/driving route and links to the photos…

    Easy for me to say.

  5. Dirtgrain
    Posted June 28, 2008 at 10:15 am | Permalink

    Sorry, I stupidly posted a bunch of things that are covered here: Ypsilanti Area Convention and Visitors Bureau

  6. freeman
    Posted June 28, 2008 at 11:55 am | Permalink

    It looks like Dirtgrain has got it all pretty much covered.

    The medical options is a good point, as we’re just a short distance from one good and one world-class hospital.

    While Suzie may not care, I’d consider showing the other person one of the many community gardens in town, as a way to show off community spirit.

    It’s also nice having not one, but two farmers markets in town. Perhaps having a tour on one of the days with an open market would be a bonus.

  7. Lisele
    Posted June 28, 2008 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the plug of the community gardens — AND while I’m at it, if anyone would like to do a walking tour with us, on July 18 at 5:30 pm we’re starting at West Middle School Community Garden, walking on the Rec Park & Midtown gardens, then Frog Island Community Garden and ending up at the Corner Brewery. All are welcome to join us!

    In general, I’m happy to tour somebody around my neighborhood (Normal Park) and the west side community gardens anytime! We could go by bike or foot…

    Also, bringing together three mentions above: Bike Ypsi does an “easy ride” on the first Saturdays of each month at 9AM, meeting at the Freight House Farmer’s Market. Get your veggies, your bike ride, and your community all in one shot!

  8. Posted July 2, 2008 at 2:31 am | Permalink

    I think people look for different things from a local person or a real estate agent. The former might be more friendly and less persuasive, but the later can be helpful with his expertise. Depends on what the visitor wants to get.

  9. Andy C
    Posted July 2, 2008 at 10:44 am | Permalink

    We took some of our friends to the Sidetrack one night, Haabs happy hour another, and now they’re looking for a house in Ypsilanti. Yep, that’s all it took. We’ve been scouting for them while walking the dogs. I can’t wait until they discover the Corner Brewery.

  10. Ol' E Cross
    Posted July 2, 2008 at 11:39 am | Permalink


    Not sure of their price range, but if they’re “move in condition” rather than “fixer foreclosure upper” folks, 216 Grove (MLS#2806654) is recently listed and worth a look.

  11. Andy C
    Posted July 4, 2008 at 8:39 pm | Permalink

    Ol’ E Cross,

    They just picked one up yesterday in Normal Park. Thanks anyway for the tip.

  12. Scarlett
    Posted July 15, 2008 at 10:14 pm | Permalink

    I am the owner of the home at 216 N. Grove, have lived in this quite neighborhood for 40 years. The house is within walking distance of depot town and has been well maintained over the year and would be a wonderful home for a young couple with children and pets because of the fenced yard.

  13. mark
    Posted July 16, 2008 at 12:58 am | Permalink

    I’ve seen your house and it’s attractive. Best of luck selling it, Scarlett. I’ll certainly encourage people to check it out.

  14. egpenet
    Posted July 16, 2008 at 8:47 am | Permalink

    Thanks for the chance to comment on this thread ….

    The Riverside Neighborhood Association has prepared a guided walking tour of Michigan Avenue (Hamilton to the River), a tour of North Huron (Michigan to Forest) and is developing tours for Cross down Hamilton (the new campus to downtown route) and also for North Washington and N. Adams … our neighborhood.

    Tours will premiere at the Heritage Festival, Saturday after the parade from 1PM to 7PM. Cost: $10.00. Proceeds go to cover initial start-up expenses for James and myself, cost of materials, and the balance to the RNA to continue developing its tours idea.

    Participants will receive a 45-minute to one-hour guided walking tour, a pamphlet on Ypsilanti History, and a lapel button worth its weight in discounts at D.A.Y. member merchants!

    The emphasis is getting people to walk the neighborhood, come downtown to shop and have fun, and also appreciate the history and architecture.

    Kurt Anscheutz from the North Prospect Park Neighborhood, and local history buff, will participate. And we will add his neighborhood to our future tours.

    James Mann and myself compiled, researched, and prepared the Guide Manual “scripts.”

    Preservation Eastern grad students will be the guides, along with James, Kurt and myself.

    The Riverside Neighborhood Association, the Downmtown Association of Ypsilanti, and EMYOU! Magazine are underwriting these pilot tours.

    Our goals are to add other neighborhoods in the Historic District, while at the same time offering these tours throughout the yar via the Chamber, VCB, B&B’s, Marriott and other organizations as guests, groups, tourists, students come through town.

    While this is volunteer up till now … we consider this an incubator idea and will form a company, sooner than later.

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