The Thompson Block, and its effect on Depot Town retail

    As you know, the historic Civil War barrack here in Ypsi, commonly referred to as the Thompson Block, was set ablaze almost three months ago, leaving towering walls of unsupported brick. The owner of the building, Stuart Beal, within a few days, erected an enormous scaffold around the structure in order to support it, effectively closing off two lanes of traffic and a stretch of sidewalk in the process. And that’s the way things have been for a few months now.

    On November 6, the City Manager, Ed Koryzno, had a letter delivered to Beal, asking what his intentions were – whether he was going to take the structure down, or somehow secure the facade in a more permanent fashion. He was given ten days. Then, on November 24, another letter went out from the City Manager’s office, stating that Mr. Beal had not complied with the order. Which brings us to December 11, when Mr. Beal asked the City for for a 45 day extension. And, right about now, I believe, our City Council members are sitting across town, deciding what should be done… Among the other things they’re considering, no doubt, is this letter from Jim Karnopp, the owner of Depot Town’s Cafe Luwak.

    Members of City Council,

    After sending my letter to you on Friday, Stuart Beal came to see me to discuss the issue on Saturday. He explained that he needed the additional 45 days to determine the best plan for saving the building, but that he would have 2-way traffic flowing on Cross Street within 15 days. I told Mr. Beal I would support that, and he asked that I send the four of you another letter stating that.

    I have heard several arguments against giving him the extension, but the fact is we need the street open to two way traffic. If we can get that in 15 days that is better than waiting for the outcome of a court battle. In my discussions with several of my neighbors, the opinion is that we will agree to the 45 days and the road will be closed the entire time. To this I would say that there has to be a rock solid guarantee that the road has to be open to two way traffic in 15 days, otherwise all bets are off. The businesses in Depot Town are struggling, so I would even push to get the road open in less than 15 days. My business will pick up once the traffic returns, but the retailers have missed the entire Christmas shopping season. Retailers rely on Christmas sales to get through the first quarter. I have done some work in construction before, and it is amazing what you can get done with enough people, and if you are willing to put in a few extra hours. I am pretty sure I could even come up with some volunteers to help. There are a number of people in town who have mentioned being willing to take their 4×4’s and some chain to open the street now, so if labor is an issue, I will be willing to roll up my sleeves for the greater good. I am sure others will too.

    If City Council doesn’t approve the 45 day extension, I am afraid that nothing will get done anytime soon. I am not sure how the legal process works in a case like this, but my guess is that it will be pretty slow, and I doubt Beal will make any progress while the issue is in court. The City is already looking at losing some businesses in Depot Town, and if we can get the street open in two weeks then we might be able to save some of them. If we could get two way traffic by this weekend we might even be able to get one weekend of Christmas retail in.

    I would also like to mention that I found the quotes from Beal in the AnnArbor.com article that came out today very disappointing. Stuart came across as being extremely insensitive to the local businesses in my opinion. One of his quotes was “Beal added he sympathizes with the business owners, but believes they should take the long view and see saving the Thompson Block building can only improve the district.” It is very hard for a lot of the businesses to take a long view when they are facing going out of business in the next couple of months. The Thompson block isn’t going to improve the district by wiping it out first. In fact allowing that to happen would make any business that would ever think about locating in the Thompson block or Ypsilanti think twice before doing so. The City needs to show that they are supportive of their businesses. If Beal says he can commit to opening the street up to two way traffic in 15 days, then he already knows how to do it, and it is just a matter of taking the action and getting it done.

    And if anyone knows anybody who hasn’t finished their Christmas shopping yet, let them know that Café Luwak will be giving away free lattes this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday to anyone who is willing to navigate the streets to get to Depot Town and purchase an item from one of our retailers. Just tell people to bring their receipt to the café and they will receive a free latte or hot chocolate just for shopping in our district. And if they spend $50 or more in any one day, I will give them a free $5.00 gift card to use on their next visit as well as a free latte.

    I really do appreciate your attention and concern on these issues. I don’t envy the position you are in, and I wouldn’t want to be in your shoes. I don’t want to be someone who complains without being part of the solution, so if there is anything I can do to help bring this to a resolution quickly, please let me know.

    Thanks,
    Jim Karnopp – Owner
    Café Luwak

    And I wasn’t going to mention it, but, as the Ypsi Citizen has already brought it up, it looks as though Jim is looking to either sell Cafe Luwak, or bring on a partner. It seems as though running a restaurant in addition to having a full-time job, and five years of work with only a few days off is beginning to take it’s toll. So, if you know someone good – perhaps someone who manages a restaurant elsewhere, who is looking to open a place of his or her own – put in a good word for Luwak. With a five year track record, there’s an existing client base to build on, which I have to think would be worth quite a bit in an industry where most businesses don’t make it one year… And, of course, as you know, Ypsi is the center of the universe.

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      68 Comments

      1. Andy Ypsilanti
        Posted December 15, 2009 at 9:57 pm | Permalink

        In a classic moment for Ypsi city council they have vote to postpone a vote on extending the street closure untill Dec. 22 so that staff can look at the plan Beal presented to them tonight. Keep in mind they didn’t even know there would be a plan presented tonight. Beal says he can open west bound cross within 15 days if the street closure order is approved, but won’t do the work until he has that order and is sure that any work done wouldn’t have to be immediately undone. It really was a mexican standoff at the end. So, after over 2 hours of discussion, nothing changes.

      2. Agrilus Planipennis
        Posted December 15, 2009 at 10:11 pm | Permalink

        I find it remarkable that anyone believes anything he says.

      3. Posted December 15, 2009 at 11:07 pm | Permalink

        Ridiculous…

        If he says he’ll have the road open in 15 days, why wait? Coming to a conclusion on the 22nd is a complete waste of a week.

        It seems everyone, even Mr. Karnopp agrees it’s what’s best.

        A shitty economy and cold weather are tough enough on the retailers, get it together Council.

        *By the way, do the people with leases in Thompson Block have any say in what happens or are no?

      4. Posted December 15, 2009 at 11:16 pm | Permalink

        Can Beal be held accountable for shoveling the sidewalks on any of his properties, or does he get to write up plans and file extensions for everything?

      5. dan
        Posted December 15, 2009 at 11:37 pm | Permalink

        Mr. Beal — tear down this wall!

      6. Andy Ypsilanti
        Posted December 16, 2009 at 2:31 am | Permalink

        I thought I’d add that the folks from the Beal group were a little pushy and standoffish to council, but not unreasonable. Stubbornness won the day, but I’m not sure who was more stubborn, council or the Beal group. Beal doesn’t want to start work again untill he gets a signal of cooperation from the city, and I don’t blame him for that. I sat through the whole thing and I still don’t know who was right. If it was me on council, I would have given him his 45 days with the understanding that it would be revoked if he did not show significant progress in getting west bound traffic and crosswalks open in 15 days. Significant progress being open lanes or nearly ready to open lanes.

        That said, if someone can figure out how to knock the building down so it takes out Kircher’s (sp) condemned house and the abandoned depot, let’s do it.

      7. Kim
        Posted December 16, 2009 at 8:07 am | Permalink

        I think it’s obvious that he’s stalling while he tries to figure out the financing.

      8. Carl Tosen
        Posted December 16, 2009 at 8:09 am | Permalink

        If the walls come down, he loses the historic building tax credits. But, he doesn’t have the money to start the project. So, he stalls in hopes that the economy turns around.

      9. watching laughing
        Posted December 16, 2009 at 8:16 am | Permalink

        Kim and Carl,
        “BINGO!”

        Watching Laughing.

      10. Concerned
        Posted December 16, 2009 at 8:35 am | Permalink

        It is important to remember that City Staff took the time to make a recommendation to City Council that they approve the 45 day extension and then certain members on council ignored their own staffs recommendation. What is the point of city staff these days if some City Council members routinely ignore their recommendations?

      11. dan
        Posted December 16, 2009 at 9:17 am | Permalink

        That said, if someone can figure out how to knock the building down so it takes out Kircher’s (sp) condemned house and the abandoned depot, let’s do it.

        Hear hear!

      12. Posted December 16, 2009 at 9:32 am | Permalink

        What is the point of council if we just rely on what city staff says?

        (Not trying to argue, just throwing that out.)

      13. tommy
        Posted December 16, 2009 at 9:58 am | Permalink

        That building has been a rat infested pile of crap for years – historic or not. If the building comes down, so what. Just clean up the pile of garbage and move on.

      14. Karen Trotter
        Posted December 16, 2009 at 10:12 am | Permalink

        It would be great to get a young entrepreneur hooked up with Jim to run Luwak. The place is great, but it could be even better with the daily presence of an owner who cared about food and customer service. Maybe we could look for someone at the Schoolcraft culinary program. Someone approaching graduation might jump at the chance.

      15. Leo
        Posted December 16, 2009 at 10:50 am | Permalink

        He is stalling for sure. He was stalling even before the building burnt and he is stalling now. He has no money and he has no investors. If he couldn’t get investors before the fire, how in the hell is he going to get them now? We need him to open the streets so his stalling doesn’t hurt the neighborhoods and business in Depot Town and then just sit back and let nature take it course. People will eventually stop doing business with anyone named Beal. Money talks, bullshit walks!

      16. Movin' Out
        Posted December 16, 2009 at 11:41 am | Permalink

        This is your street, and Mr. Beal doesn’t care about that at all. Take it back, people. Tear that bullshit down…

      17. Brackinald Achery
        Posted December 16, 2009 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

        I should open up a pitchfork and torch store in Depot Town. Maybe have a tar and feather grand opening special.

      18. The Kingpin
        Posted December 16, 2009 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

        Can I get a job there, Brackinald? I have a great idea…instead of talking this to death, we give Mr. Beal “X” amount of days to remove his junk from our street. Then, at the end of said time period, if he doesn’t, we take one of the rails from his barricade, tie Mr. Beal to it, and run him out of town on it. God, I miss the Little House On The Prarie days of public horse whippings, tar & featherings, and stockades. Going back to these things would get rid of a lot of modern day posturing and cocky attitudes…

      19. tommy
        Posted December 16, 2009 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

        If you start with the premise that most developers (whoever and wherever)do not have the best interests of any community in mind and are motivated – pure and simple – by making money, you can see how this situation is playing out. No backing, no one chomping at the bit, hence no real motivation to his own spend money to do anything. Throw in a City Council that wants to believe that a project ‘might’ lead to greener pastures for the city and spark a new wave of development, and it looks like this mess may go on for a while. Depot Town is a great place – with or without the Civil War Era barracks that has been an eyesore for the better part of 25 years (perhaps more)

      20. Citizen Blogger
        Posted December 16, 2009 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

        Andy, I don’t get it. You’re saying that Mr Beal claimed for three months that he didn’t need to do anything, then showed up at the council meeting with plans in hand that nobody had seen before, and council was “stubborn” for wanting staff input before blessing the plans?

        In the metaphor of policy as sausage-making, this sounds like the waiter at a fancy restaurant grinding up raw meat and stuffing it into intestines at your table – just not very appetizing.

        When you say they postponed voting on the extension until December 22 to give staff time to review the plans, what does that mean? There’s no Council meeting scheduled on the 22nd, is there?

      21. Lawrence
        Posted December 16, 2009 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

        From Councilman Pete Murdock:

        At last night’s City Council meeting, Council postponed a decision on the 45 day street closing request by Mr. Beal until next Tuesday, December 22 at 7:30AM.

        At the meeting Mr. Beal presented a long awaited plan for the opening of Cross to two way traffic and a pedestrian access across River Street . City staff had not seen this proposal. The decision to postpone was to allow City Staff to review the proposal and come to some agreement. City staff committed to meet the following morning to review the proposal and resolve any street reopening issues and to proceed with implementing them. No further Council action would have been necessary and the street would be open at the earliest possible time.

        The short delay in granting the request for the 45 day extension was to ascertain the exact scope of the extended street closing order –i.e. what public property was necessary for the stabilization of Thompson Building while Mr. Beal pursued his options for the building – and this could only be done with the knowledge of the configuration of the street opening scheme which staff had not yet seen.

        Mr. Beal rejected that and said he wouldn’t meet with staff and would not proceed with any street reopening plans until he is granted an extension. I hope after a night’s sleep he reconsiders.

        In any event the street will eventually be open with or without the cooperation of Mr. Beal.
        Pete

      22. kjc
        Posted December 16, 2009 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

        what a tool.

      23. FedUpwithYpsi
        Posted December 16, 2009 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

        I think we need to take city council put them in the thompson bldg and demolish it. The city would be better off with both being gone….

      24. Oliva
        Posted December 16, 2009 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

        There is no question that the obstructed road and precarious wall and supports are harming the local businesses–and are just such a discouraging sight. It’s greatly unfair to the Depot Town businesses.

      25. Ishmael
        Posted December 16, 2009 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

        I realize that people are upset about the lane closures (and the fact that Mr. Beal didn’t keep the property locked up, making the fire possible), but talking about running him out of town on a rail isn’t going to help things. Personally, I feel bad for the guy. No one is lending money right now, even in the states that doing well.

      26. tommy
        Posted December 16, 2009 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

        Ishmael – don’t feel bad for a developer … ever. It’s a risk / reward game. Mr. Beal will be fine.

      27. Chaely
        Posted December 16, 2009 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

        I LOVE depot town and I’m neutral on the act of saving the Thompson Block in its current state (in other words, it would be cool for preservation purposes but I don’t see that it’s likely & there’s not much left to preserve by historical standards anyway) so please don’t take this as snark…

        I just don’t think that a 100ft long stretch of road being closed in one direction – the one heading out of town, no less – is discouraging anyone from shopping in Depot Town. I have driven past the Thompson building a number of times since the fire and never once thought “oh crap, there’s stuff in the road, what am I going to do?” If I’m already deep enough into depot town enough that I can see the scaffold, I can just wait a moment for traffic to clear and drive around it – I’m not about to turn around and head for Briarwood.

        I honestly don’t think that the building or the structure holding it up is chasing anybody out of depot town. I think that the loss of a handful of the already small number of retail stores in the area is the undoing of the shopping district. Lately, when I think of that part of town, I believe most people think of the restaurants, Fantasy Attic (for those who even knew it was there), the Co-op & that’s about it. It doesn’t exactly scream, “do your Christmas shopping here!” the way it used to.

        I think that the DDA or PSD or whoever is in charge of that area needs to work on sustaining the public image of Depot Town as a shopping district rather than an entertainment district to bring the shopping crowd back. Remind us of the stores that haven’t packed up & gone home. Host a Festive Friday or a Midnight Madness sale. Encourage some temporary storefront-fillers like a holiday artist market or a gift-wrapping center. Show us that Depot Town isn’t as desolate as it looks when Sidetracks & Aubree’s aren’t jam-packed & that there’s a reason to be there besides grabbing a burger and beer.

        It’s tempting to make Beal & his sad, old building the scapegoat now that things down there are getting dire, but I truly believe that his actions are only a tiny fraction of the reason that people aren’t shopping in Depot Town.

      28. the kingpin
        Posted December 16, 2009 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

        Actually, last week, on the way to band practice, I witnessed a car driven onto the railroad tracks facing north. So as far as danger is concerned, it’s there. I did not see what caused the accident, but if I were a betting man, I would have to say that the snarled up traffic lanes on that corner, and the danger and confusion they create, maybe played a role.

      29. Posted December 16, 2009 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

        “His current focus is on the Thompson Building, a dilapidated Civil War-era structure on River Street at East Cross Street. Beal intends to turn the long-neglected building into 16 luxury lofts with 10,000 square feet of commercial space holding The Barracks bar, a music company and other tenants. Theoretically, the $6 million project will be finished by April 1, 2009.
        If all goes as planned, he wants to own a $100 million company by the time he’s 30 – five short years from now. ”

        Its admirable to gamble on high risk/high reward. But I don’t feel bad for him. He chose his path.

      30. Oliva
        Posted December 16, 2009 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

        I just don’t think that a 100ft long stretch of road being closed in one direction – the one heading out of town, no less – is discouraging anyone from shopping in Depot Town.

        Well, not not “anyone.” Can’t say how many, that’s true, but some, and some maybe not as eagerly, readily, or as often. Maybe it’s visceral. A looming bare-toothed monster (okay, dramatic, but this is the viscera speaking) sits at the far end from where we approach–unwelcoming, sort of like those snarling grills they put on the front of SUVs to make them menacing to other drivers (or so said 60 Minutes or somebody [!] a few years ago, Hummer meanest-looking of all). So visceral considerations matter–a la feng shui–just aren’t always easy to talk about or put hard numbers to. The charming old blue building, old guy, is now a spooky thing with poor prospects, with winter coming. (Hmmm, if Mr. Beal could forestall winter indefinitely to get the extra time, maybe some of us would rethink this whole thing.)

      31. Posted December 16, 2009 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

        Thanks to Jim’s letter, a number of Depot Town business’ have come together to offer a whole bunch of fun stuff this weekend! There will be lot’s of freebies- Baseball Cards, (shankwiler 123),
        Latte & $5 gift card (see store for details) (Cafe Luwak),
        Hydroponic Magazines & GIFTS for the first 50 customers! (Stealth Hydro)
        Temporary Hair Color Streak! (Paula’s Barber Shop).
        There is also a toys for tattoos event going on @ depot town tattoos & an artists reception Saturday at 8pm. kids art projects (baseball card & beaded ornaments/jewelry etc)@ shankwiler 123 gallery.
        The resturaunts are offering 10-15% off any order for patrons who show a reciept from a purchase at another store in Depot Town, and so much more! Fliers are being printed now and will be available at all Depot Town establishments over the weekend so everyone can see what’s going on! (If they can get here, lol) :) p.s. every time I post on this site, I always use the handle shankwiler or shankwiler 123, so if it didn’t say that it wasn’t me :) p.s.s. Happy Holidays everyone! -Michelle

      32. Andy Ypsilanti
        Posted December 16, 2009 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

        All I am saying is that Beal says he will open west bound cross within 15 days of being granted a 45 day extension. That means its up for review again in 45 days no matter what! So what the hell did we have to loose? What do you think is shorter, 45 days or a court fight between Beal and the city? What would be cheaper ? Its been 90 days, what would another 45 hurt? Especially if it ultimately means getting the street open sooner? If we don’t get the street open we pull the order and go to court anyway, just like the city attorney explained right before Beal and council had the pissing match.

      33. Curt Waugh
        Posted December 16, 2009 at 6:59 pm | Permalink

        I think I get it now. Beal is just showing his Ypsilanti spirit by royally screwing up a property deal. It’s in our town DNA.

        One of us, gooble gobble, one of us….

      34. Jiggs
        Posted December 16, 2009 at 8:08 pm | Permalink

        I’m confused by Leo’s comment above, “He has no money and he has no investors”. I’m not a greedy real estate developer, so I don’t understand how the Beal$ have bought so many properties in the last few years without any money or investors! Perhaps someone can explain that. The Beal$ clearly have our city government by the balls and they clearly have the means to put their time (and money) into other projects.

        They should either tear it down and walk away or sell some other properties and put the money into the Thompson building, which they neglected for years while expanding their empire. In an annarbor.com article Beal says “Ypsilanti residents have spoken mostly in favor of preserving the site”. Not from what I’ve seen or heard! It’s time for action…support local businesses that truly care about the community and don’t rent from the Beal$!

      35. Kerri
        Posted December 16, 2009 at 9:29 pm | Permalink

        Wow, Jim Karnopp is a very gracious man. I hope Ypsi doesn’t lose him and Cafe Luwak. I’m going to make sure to go eat there this week.

      36. elviscostello
        Posted December 16, 2009 at 9:58 pm | Permalink

        I saw former Mayor Farmer said that giving him the time is a good idea. As good an idea as Water Street?

      37. Mark H.
        Posted December 16, 2009 at 10:13 pm | Permalink

        I’m not too involved in this, but i’ve paid enough attention to Beal’s management of this now burned out property, and his long record of over promising and under-delivering, to have to wonder, Why on earth would anybody take him at his word about getting the streets open in 15 days? Is there even one single promise he’s made about the building since he’s owned it that he delivered on?

        As for the impact on merchants — the impairment of access is a serious concern. Merchants rely on not just those of us who live very close by and thus know where the street is or isn’t open, but also on the less frequent visitors — and big obstructions do make people avoid an area. Why bother going there if your way out isn’t clear? Common sense and much experience shows that this street obstruction is a real problem. Beal’s attitude as quoted in the press basically amounts to a “screw you” to local merchants.

        I hope he does open the street in 15 days. I’ll buy coffee for Beal at Cafe Luwak if he does so.

      38. Posted December 17, 2009 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

        “I just don’t think that a 100ft long stretch of road being closed in one direction – the one heading out of town, no less – is discouraging anyone from shopping in Depot Town.”

        Maybe I’m missing something, but isn’t Cross St closed on the westbound (headed toward Depot Town) side? I used to drive home that way, going through Depot Town, but since the fire I’ve been taking Michigan Ave.

      39. Brackinald Achery
        Posted December 17, 2009 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

        Westbound E. Cross is closed from Park to River. Perhaps Chaely was referring to N. River?

      40. Posted December 17, 2009 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

        As I was reading the letter posted here – I have to say that blaming Depot Town’s struggling xmas business on the Thompson Building blocking *one* of the four roads, at one of the intersections on the edge of town, seemed a bit of a stretch.

        Maybe it’s just me – but I would think the economy might have more to do with spending habits than say… having to drive one small block over and then turning back into town.

        But anyway – it does kill me to see this feet-dragging and conflict pushing Ypsi one step closer to loosing yet another one of it’s promising projects. Somedays it feels like it’s being chipped away from the inside… very, very slowly.

      41. Posted December 17, 2009 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

        Oh – one other thing, Mark, I noticed you used the wording: “was set ablaze”. Did the fire dept ever announce what they found? Was the fire started intentionally?

      42. The Kingpin
        Posted December 17, 2009 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

        Why should there be a court fight. It’s against city code, on city property. If you don’t shovel the sidewalk, they shovel it for you and send you the bill. So…after 15 days…if it’s still in the street, the city should take down the barricades, bulldoze the unsafe structure and send Mr. Beal a big fat bill. Why do certain people get special consideration over others. Shit or get off the pot. The tax paying citizens should have the right to say what happens with their streets within reason.
        Wasn’t the big increase in the water bills this year for sewers & street cleaning? Well there is a big mess to clean on the Thompson block. People vote for the City Council…not Mr. Beal’s developments & tax credits. Follow the rules like everyone else are required to…

      43. Kelty
        Posted December 17, 2009 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

        I may be mistaken, but I think the Thompson Block was ultimately gotten away from Kircher when the city hired a contractor to come in and bring it up to code. The work was done, and Kircher was billed. Then, when he didn’t pay, the property was given to Beal, who had been the contractor. If he paid the city anything additional for the building, it wasn’t much.

        Maybe it’s time for the same thing to be done to Beal. The city could hire a firm to clean up what he won’t, and he can then be handed a bill. And if he doesn’t pay it, he forfeits the property.

      44. Andy Ypsilanti
        Posted December 17, 2009 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

        That’s right folks. Some people here have got it. You give the extension. If the roads aren’t opened in a timely manner or in a way that city inspectors approve of, you begin the abatement process, just as was done with Kicher. All this “I think he’s stalling, I don’t believe him” stuff is silly. If Beal isn’t telling the truth the abatement begins. That simple. The city attorney told council to approve the order. All council did was needlessly delay the whole thing. Sitting in the audience, certain council members came off like they just wanted to show Beal who’s boss and put him in his place. This delay is a costly, petty waste of time.

      45. Posted December 17, 2009 at 6:59 pm | Permalink

        They are the bosses of public property. We elected them. They represent us. Beal should be put in his place.

        I totally agree with what they did.

      46. watching laughing
        Posted December 17, 2009 at 7:44 pm | Permalink

        You gotta admit it; this town is freakin awesome.
        Another day, another show.

        Watching Laughing.

      47. Andy Ypsilanti
        Posted December 17, 2009 at 8:02 pm | Permalink

        If putting Beal in his place causes delay and nothing else, how has the public interest been served? I guess getting to see a controversial person admonished trumps common sense and negates urgency. What an intelligent way to run a government.

      48. Posted December 17, 2009 at 8:13 pm | Permalink

        Common sense says you view the proposed plan first. What if the plan said he was going to cover the other lane as well? His history says be cautious with him. That makes sense.

        The plan should state that his stuff is entirely off the street. Its not that unreasonable. He needs to legally follow uniform traffic codes. The city needs to follow those to continue to receive Act 51 funding. If your not familiar with Act 51 or uniform traffic codes you can look them up.

        If Beals plan violates that, and the city goes along with it, they can lose significant streets and CIP money. Its worth a week to determine that.

        He needs to follow law. So does council. Its that simple.

      49. Posted December 17, 2009 at 8:15 pm | Permalink

        Common sense trumped urgency.

      50. Andy Ypsilanti
        Posted December 17, 2009 at 10:43 pm | Permalink

        If I were a betting man, I would bet council approves Beal’s plan to only open one more lane (west bound Cross) for the time being, saying he must present a permanent plan at the end of the 45 day extension. I would be shocked(though not opposed) if they do anything but that. And again, the city attorney told them to approve the plan, taking the uniform traffic code into consideration. So, if council approves the plan as written on the 22nd, what exactly did they do except delay the possibility street opening until after Christmas? And that is what Depot Town Retailers want the least.

      51. Leo
        Posted December 18, 2009 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

        As a resident of the district, I contacted my councilman, as did a lot of my neighbors, and asked him to get that mess out of our street now. If it means putting Mr Beal in his place, so be it.
        I thought the council was elected to hear our views not just the merchants of Depot Town.
        Thank you to our elected officials for going to bat for us and letting our frustrations be heard, Enough is enough.

      52. Concerned
        Posted December 18, 2009 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

        Leo:
        Your elected officials clearly did not listen to you. What they did delayed the opening of the street by one week.

      53. Posted December 18, 2009 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

        I did the same Leo. It might have been delayed a week but will most likely be done sufficiently and correctly.

      54. Leo
        Posted December 18, 2009 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

        Concerened, It is worth the week if we finally have their attention and it is going to get done correctly. I think council should listen to their constituents more often since we are the ones who elect them. Maybe, just maybe, Ypsi could turn the corner if they all listened a little more to the voters. Write, call or email your council member and make them go to bat for you as we pay the taxes and we are the ones who vote them in or out.

      55. Brackinald Achery
        Posted December 18, 2009 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

        They did pretty well with the bees and chickens, remember.

      56. Fred
        Posted December 18, 2009 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

        City Council doesn’t want to deal with this. If there’s even a glimmer of hope that Beal will follow up and do something with the property, they’re going to let this thing drag on. They don’t have a lot of options. It’s not like other developers are chomping at the bit to inherit Beal’s mess.

      57. sadiebird8
        Posted December 20, 2009 at 12:01 am | Permalink

        “If there’s even a glimmer of hope that Beal will follow up and do something with the property, they’re going to let this thing drag on. They don’t have a lot of options. It’s not like other developers are chomping at the bit to inherit Beal’s mess.”

        If they tear down the ruins and clear the lot, then developers are going to see a prime spot of real estate in a bustling business community.

      58. Andy Ypsilanti
        Posted December 22, 2009 at 8:37 am | Permalink

        The traffic order passed this morning 5-0. You can get my blow by blow off Twitter (AndyYpsilanti) or you can wait for the more even tempered Ypsi Citizen article that should be out soon. Speaking of the Citizen, read the great editorial on why Ypsi city council should take a pay cut. I think 30% is a nice round number myself.

      59. Tim
        Posted December 22, 2009 at 9:16 am | Permalink

        40% has a better ring to it actually.

        And, I think if we did that, we might have some Councilpeople rotating off, which would be a nice unintended consequence.

      60. Larry
        Posted January 6, 2010 at 11:29 am | Permalink

        I haven’t been down to see it, but I hear one of the lanes is open.

      61. Andy C
        Posted January 9, 2010 at 10:17 pm | Permalink

        Roads open, sidewalk is open (kinda), and the building is still standing. Funny no one reports on it or cares. I’m sure everyone would have been geeked if it was torn down.

      62. Posted January 10, 2010 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

        I’m certainly less mad now that they have a lane open, and yes, I would have been geeked if they tore it down.

      63. Posted January 10, 2010 at 8:48 pm | Permalink

        Not to bust your balls, Andy, the comment right above yours was from someone reporting on it… And, yeah, it’s a good thing. I still, however, have my concerns about how structurally sound the facade is.

        I’d love to save the building, or at least what’s left of it. I really would. I’m just not sure how much time we’ve got before the whole thing comes crashing down. Bricks, as you may recall, were falling on the sidewalk even before the fire. I just don’t want to see anyone get hurt (and take the City to court).

        And, for what it’s worth, I don’t know how inclined I am to keep giving Beal the benefit of the doubt. He was, after all, the guy ultimately responsible for what happened to the building in the first place. If he’d just secured the building, and taken better care of it, it’s likely that the fire never would have happened. Still, with that said, I’d like nothing better than to see him successfully reconstruct the block.

      64. Andy C
        Posted January 10, 2010 at 10:37 pm | Permalink

        “I haven’t been down to see it, but I hear one of the lanes is open.” isn’t really saying anything new. One lane has been open for months.

      65. Posted January 11, 2010 at 7:51 am | Permalink

        I took that to mean “one of the closed lanes is now open,” Andy, but I can see how you might have interpreted that differently.

      66. Mr. X
        Posted February 1, 2010 at 10:50 am | Permalink

        The 45 day Street closing order expires this Friday, February 5th.

        Stewart Beal is on City Council’s Agenda for Tuesday, February 2nd at 7:00 PM to give a “An Update on the Thompson Block.”

      67. kingpin
        Posted February 1, 2010 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

        hey…I just wanted to check…what is the fine again, if you don’t shovel your sidewalk within 48 hours? Is their a fine for keeping your sidewalk blocked for months? If I don’t feel like shoveling this winter, could I just put up some scaffolds and beams, make some signs, and start a project in my yard? It seems to work for Mr. Beal…I just thought it may be a good plan. Maybe everyone in Depot Town could do the same.

      68. Meta
        Posted February 3, 2010 at 9:07 am | Permalink

        From Ann Arbor dot com:

        He said the long-term goal is to “build an entirely new building inside the old building.” Maintaining the facade on the 148-year-old structure will allow Beal Properties to obtain historic structure tax credits through the State Historic Preservation Office, which city officials previously said were necessary to keep the project financially feasible.

        Beal said the first step in phase one is to pull all fire debris out of the basement and fill it in to solidify the foundation, per his engineers’ recommendations. He expects the steps to be done by May 30.

        By Aug. 30, Beal said all necessary interior structural support on the Cross Street side will be installed, and his company will “return both sidewalk and street to public use.” The River Street side of the structure will be secured by Nov. 30.

        “Under this plan, we will be completely out of the public right-of-way by next winter,” he said.

        The plan’s second phase involves renovating one-third of the structure that wasn’t damaged by the fire. Beal said a bar-restaurant will occupy the north part of the building, which will become 408 N. River St. The damaged part of the building will remain 400 N. River St.

        Beal said he anticipates starting and completing construction of the north third of the building in 2010.

        “That will allow us in the community to look up at the building and see activity and see that something is being done there,” he said.

        When pressed for a schedule for 408 N. River St., Beal said he’s waiting on the tenant, who has been presented with a lease and is modifying a business plan to seek financing.

        “The bar-restaurant is not my baby, so to speak,” he said. “I’ve done all I can to date to move that forward, and we’ve put it in the tenant’s hands.”

        more:
        http://www.annarbor.com/news/stewart-beal-presents-thompson-block-plan-to-ypsilanti-city-council/

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