Remember how, a little while ago, I mentioned that I’d heard that Burger King was getting ready to make a bid on one of the Water Street parcels? Well, it sounds as though the subject is going to come up in the near future at a City Council meeting. I just received the following from a friend. I’m told it originated with Beth Bashert and an organization calling itself Advance Ypsilanti Political Action Committee.
Three of our city council members, Murdoch/Robb/Bodary, are presenting the first business proposals to purchase Water Street property.
Burger King & Student Housing
Bodary and Murdoch ran campaigns based on stating that Water Street was in need of their leadership. Robb has been highly critical of the project for its entire history. All three have political reputations and goals associated with Water Street. They have promised to take action on this issue.
OUR OBSERVATIONS AND CONCERNS:
• Burger King represents a business that is not in compliance with the plans or zoning for the area.
• BK will not generate the tax revenue that is expected for that area.
• Student housing demand is questionable. However, residency of some sort is in compliance with the zoning and plans for the area.
• Both of these businesses are weak attempts to fill space.
Murdoch/Robb/Bodary have placed themselves in a position where they need to say that something is happening with this issue, their constituents are watching anxiously. These proposals give them the appearance of action, but not the substance.
Is this their best effort? Is this the best Ypsilanti can do? We invested millions of dollars to get a fast food joint?
Ypsilanti deserves better from our leaders. We deserve an exhaustive effort to live up to the plans laid out for our leaders to follow.
The city needs to set AND HOLD a standard in compliance with the zoning and plans already in place. The businesses they bring forward for purchase need to benefit our city in some way, not just fill a slot of real estate.
If this task is too much for them and they cannot meet the minimal standards set by the city, they should give this task to other city council members to manage, hopefully a committee that includes representation from Ward 1.
After all the talk by these three about how badly Water Street has been managed, this first effort is extremely disappointing.
WHAT YOU CAN DO!
Write or call your city council person and/or Murdoch/Bodary/Robb. (A complete list of their contact information is below).
Go to City Council and express your opinion. Tell them NO, a fast food joint is not a good fit for Water Street.
First Reading of this proposal is Tuesday July 30.
Support AY PAC (Advance Ypsilanti Political Action Committee). Help us in our work to keep our leaders accountable and on track.
(734) 277-5446 (Cell)
S.A. Trudy Swanson-Winston, Ward 1
Lois Richardson, Ward 1: firstname.lastname@example.org
Michael Bodary, Ward 2: email@example.com
William Nickels, Ward 2: firstname.lastname@example.org
Peter Murdock, Ward 3: email@example.com
Brian Robb, Ward 3: firstname.lastname@example.org
I don’t know that I can offer anything new to the subject, as my opinion hasn’t changed since my last post. (Follow that first link to read what I had to say on the matter.) I still think that fast food is a terrible fit for Water Street, but I don’t know that we have a lot of options at this late date, as the bonds are coming due, and as Michigan slides into depression. And, for that I blame our City leadership, most notably those who assigned themselves to the Water Street sub-committee referenced above. Like Beth, I expected more from them, especially after all the vitriol they directed at the others before them who had been unsuccessful in moving the development project forward. The truth is, though, I don’t know what they could have done. Michigan is one of only two states in the country losing population, and, to my knowledge, there’s not another state farther along the path to complete economic collapse. So, it only makes sense that those looking to build new facilities would be predatory businesses that feed off the poor. No one is going to open a high-tech office complex in downtown Ypsilanti. We’re more likely to attract deep fried food outlets, blood plasma collection centers, and dollar stores.
I think we had a chance early on, but I don’t know that it exists now. If the State of Michigan, instead of throwing our money at Hollywood had instead offered those tax incentives to wind turbine manufacturing companies, I think we might have had a chance. We might have gotten a company to move into the Visteon plant, and that would have kick-started development on Water Street. Or, we could have given an acre for free to each to 6 builders selected from a nation-wide competition, under the condition that they build ambitious, green multi-family dwellings. Sure, it may not have gotten us the money we needed up front, but at least it would have set the tone for the other 32 acres. And it would have gotten us national press, establishing us a City with a vision for the future. There are any number of things we could have tried, but instead it looks like we have Burger King coming to town to employ a handful off people at minimum wage while pushing the rest of us that much closer to diabetes.
update: The following correction concerning the City Council’s meeting to discuss this comes from city planner Richard Murphy:
Just a quick note – there is no City Council meeting scheduled for June 30 (tomorrow night).
The next scheduled Water Street-related Council meeting is Tuesday, July 21, at 6pm (prior to the regular, 7pm, general Council meeting). The next scheduled Council meeting at all is on Tuesday, July 7, at 7pm.
You can check the agendas (entered as the link to this comment) and Council packets online as those meetings come up to see what’s scheduled for each night.