Burger King likely to occupy Water Street

    We’ve known that it was looming out there. First there were rumors. Then the prospect got mentioned at a City Council meeting. But, now it’s apparently real. According to tomorrow’s City Council packet (PDF), an official offer has been made by a Burger King franchisee… They want to own a piece of Water Street.

    I know. I know. It’s a lot to swallow. But, I don’t know what can be done about it at this point. We’ve debated the hell out of it on this site, and kicked around ideas for the past year, but, the sad truth is, we’ve got bills to pay, and Burger King is the only entity out there willing to invest in Ypsilanti. As much as I’d like to fight it, at some point you have to look at the situation straight on, and acknowledge that the only thing we’ve got going for us as a community is a captive population of wheezing fast food junkies… OK, I’m being somewhat facetious, but you get my point. There comes a time when we have to give up the hope that anyone from outside is going to come in and open that green residential community / solar cell research facility that we’d all like to see.

    Here, by way of background, is something I wrote a while back, when the Burger King rumor first surfaced:

    …If you’ll remember, when all of this Water Street business started, we were promised a beautiful residential neighborhood along the river, full of happy, tax-paying families and the like. And, now it’s looking like what we might get instead is more fast food, and discount stores, contributing little to the economic health of the City going forward, and helping to erase what it is about Ypsi that makes it unique and beautiful in the process.

    For those of you not from the area, Water Street is a 38-acre parcel in downtown Ypsilanti, right along the banks of the Huron River. It had been, until relatively recently, the home of many small manufacturing companies and the like. City leaders, looking for a way to grow the City’s limited tax base, however, saw an opportunity in the underdeveloped property, and set out to buy the individual parcels. The plan at first was to build a new residential development, perhaps with some unique retail spaces along the Michigan Avenue frontage. Work, however, stalled when it was discovered that there were environmental issues on the site that needed remediation. (We, of course, hadn’t sought out a developer with brownfield experience, even though we knew that there must be contamination issues.) The developer we’d brought on board then backed out, to be replaced by another, who would, in due time, also back out… Something about Michigan having a dropping population and the worst economy in the country… Which brings us to today, where, with only 146 days left until the next payment comes due, the City is desperate for something to happen. (I believe the City still owes some $18 million on the project which, to date, has cost in excess of $30 million.)

    We’ve questioned the logic of the entire enterprise in the past. In retrospect, I think it’s safe to say that most people think the whole thing was stupid – that the City Council, regardless of its motives, shouldn’t have been playing the role of real estate developer with taxpayer money – but what’s done, as they say, is done. The fact is, we’ve got 38 acres of prime real estate, and, like it or not, something’s got to happen with it soon. And, as no one is looking to build residential homes in the City, or build anything remotely interesting, it looks like, at best, we’re talking discount stores, like the food chain Aldi, and fast food, like Burger King. Both, I suppose, would pay taxes, and employ a few people at something close to minimum wage, but is that really what we want our future to look like?

    And I’m not saying that I have a better idea. (Or, more accurately, I do have a better idea, but I don’t think it would bring in the kind of tax dollars we need to pay back the bonds that are coming due.) We may not have an option at this point, though. Burger King may be the best thing we’ve got. It just depresses me to think that we’re going to be stuck with a Burger King on our most prime real estate for the next 30 years just because the economy sucks in Michigan today, and because we couldn’t make something better happen. It just seems so short-sighted… I could rant for another hour, but it’s time to call it quits for the night…

    And I know it’s not likely to make you feel a whole lot better, but it is just half an acre out of a 38-acre parcel. Sure, I personally think it’s an ominous portent of bad things to come, but, then again, I have a history of overreacting and catastrophizing.

    Oh, and this is just Council’s first look at the offer. No action will be taken until the next meeting. So, if you can’t make it out tomorrow night to scream, yell and throw produce at Council members, just be patient. You’ll have another chance.

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      47 Comments

      1. John Gawlas
        Posted March 15, 2010 at 9:31 pm | Permalink

        A little more reading will reveal that the developer wants a clause to preclude any other “quick service restaurant with a drive-through serving primarily hamburgers and French fries or tacos” within the 38-acre site. This development will also be handled through the PUD process. (The Water Street Action Plan update to council will also point out the failure of council to take action on developing, adopting and implementing a new zoning district for the project area…probably what accounts for having to pursue a “Planned Unit Development” for a 1-acre building site.)

      2. Posted March 15, 2010 at 9:37 pm | Permalink

        Thanks for the information, John. As much as I’d like to see 38 individual fast food franchises on the site (think Mall of America, but for fast food), I suspect having a clause like that might be a good thing.

      3. Posted March 15, 2010 at 10:19 pm | Permalink

        John, the problem is that no overall development plan was ever approved for the site under the PUD process. If that milestone had actually been accomplished back when you were on City Council, the process today to approve an individual project within the PUD development area would have been much simpler (essentially site plan approval).

      4. Woody Lefurge
        Posted March 15, 2010 at 10:23 pm | Permalink

        Since we’re being pragmatic, how much in tax dollars will the half-acre Burger King bring in? Which half-acre is it? How much will that impact future developments? I’m guessing someone on council or on city staff can answer these questions. They seem rather foundational to any pragmatic discussion. Councilman Gawlas, a sincere thank you for commenting here. Do you know if this informational is available? Thanks again.

      5. Lacy
        Posted March 15, 2010 at 10:44 pm | Permalink

        I thought this was America. If I’m not free to choose between a dozen different burgers, conveniently packed within a few acres, then how free am I?

        This is fast-food fascism.

      6. Mike Shecket
        Posted March 15, 2010 at 10:55 pm | Permalink

        Would the Burger King less than a mile east on Michigan move to Water Street, or would there be two of them?

      7. Posted March 16, 2010 at 5:51 am | Permalink

        My advice to folks is not to worry about the details. The free market, I’m quite confident, will take care of everything.

      8. Posted March 16, 2010 at 5:53 am | Permalink

        Just kidding.

        I actually think we should pass an anti-chain resolution through City Council.

        I’m not dumb enough, however, to bring it up now. Now, I’m afraid, we just need something to happen, even if it’s Burger King.

      9. Mike Walsh
        Posted March 16, 2010 at 8:07 am | Permalink

        If the Burger King has a play structure, we can close the remaining public parks. That’s another silver lining.

      10. Ham Burglar
        Posted March 16, 2010 at 9:10 am | Permalink

        Woody.

        From what I can tell, the KFC on Michigan and Taco Bell on Ecorse each contribute a bit over $3,000 in annual taxes. The McDonalds at Ecorse and Michigan contributes $40,000 annually. (Am I missing something; that seems like a big disparity?)

        I agree, we need to know how much we’re getting. There’s no way $3,000 a year would be worth it.

      11. Mr. X
        Posted March 16, 2010 at 10:47 am | Permalink

        How is it that a business downtown, with a lot bigger lot than mine, pays half the taxes that I do? That makes no sense, what so ever. If KFC is paying $3k a year while I pay close to $6k, I’m going to make a scene.

      12. Posted March 16, 2010 at 11:25 am | Permalink

        Ham Burglar – looking at the online assessing data, you generally need to combine 2 different records to get the taxes on a business. A business is going to have a “real property” record, showing the land, improvements, and building, as well as a “personal property” record, showing (in this case) things like grills, fryers, etc.

        In KFC’s case, at Michigan & River, you’re looking at parcel #11-99-27-820-100, showing $3,200 in 2009 taxes. “99″ designates a personal property parcel. You need to also look to the “real property” parcel for that address – 11-11-09-155-019, showing $32,000 in 2009 taxes. So that KFC is paying a total of $35,000 in taxes annually.

        Similarly, for that Taco Bell on Ecorse, look at parcel #11-11-10-335-021 for the real property – about $13,000 in 2009 taxes.

        The reason they look different than the McDonalds at Mich Ave & Ecorse is because (I assume) you’re looking them up by owner name. McDonalds owns their land and building, so you’re seeing their “real property” when looking them up by name, while KFC and Taco Bell lease their buildings from April Restaurants and Sundance LLC, respectively.

        (By contrast, look at the Wendy’s in the new EMU student union – in their case, they pay “personal property” tax of about $1,300/yr, but their landlord is EMU, who doesn’t pay property tax, so there is no “real property” tax attached to that.)

      13. ABR
        Posted March 16, 2010 at 11:53 am | Permalink

        According to Brian Robb’ site, it’ll never happen:

        “I don’t know of anyone on Council who is in favor of this.”

        http://east-cross.com/?p=595

      14. Lorie Thom
        Posted March 16, 2010 at 11:59 am | Permalink

        Just my two cents but…if Council hasn’t updated zoning based on the recommendations of the planning commission – they are behind the ball on this one.

        Wasn’t there some sort of committee working on this?

        How does one attract a developer? By giving a straight forward process and a clear understanding of what can and cannot be done with the land through a reasonable zoning definition.

        Whats up?

      15. Ham Burglar
        Posted March 16, 2010 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

        Thanks Murph!

        Brian Robb’s post (linked to by ABR) sure makes it sound like this is a dead duck and makes some backhanded comments on the unreliability of the internet (presumably referring to this site).

        My question is, if no one is for this, why the hell did the city pay an attorney to draw up a purchase agreement and why has council been stringing the developer along and making them waste time and resources on things like a site plan?

      16. dragon
        Posted March 16, 2010 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

        I’ll take city council for $800 alex.

        Trebek>I read on the internet that Mr Robb promised to never, ever, ever build a fast food joint at the Water Street Projects.

        K. Jennings>Why did the chicken cross the road?

      17. John Gawlas
        Posted March 16, 2010 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

        Since it has been 15 months since I was last on council, I think it worthwhile to point out that at least two current council members were elected based on their promise to take action on Water Street. So while I appreciate the insistence that Cheryl Farmer and I are primarily to blame for the city’s woes, that doesn’t really acknowledge that someone else has been driving the bus now for some time. If nothing was accomplished back then in regard to Water St, why did that preclude current council members from taking some action steps? Appointments for the subcommittee that the city manager ask be established was commandeered by Robb, Murdock and Bodary who wanted to be in the driver’s seat. Doesn’t their role also entail vetting development proposals in conjunction with staff? So now Robb says that this isn’t going anywhere because it doesn’t cover any appreciable portion of the city’s cost to enable this development but it’s still being ushered forward as though it is a viable proposal.

      18. Andy Ypsilanti
        Posted March 16, 2010 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

        Can someone tell me where to find the live stream of the meeting. Ypsi Citizen has it sometimes. Is the other on on Ypsi city? I have to be out of town tonight, but I will be able to watch if I can find the stream….

      19. Tim
        Posted March 16, 2010 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

        Based solely upon his blog post, I’m guessing this Brian Robb is something of a douche. Would I be right?

      20. Posted March 16, 2010 at 8:04 pm | Permalink

        Mr. Gawlas,

        In the 15 months since you were on City Council, a great deal has been accomplished, in my opinion. Kudos are deserved by Ed Koryzno and those current councilmembers who’ve worked hard to set aside funds to make the first couple of annual installment payments on the Water Street debt – while also managing to keep the city running so far.

        Making lemonade out of the Water Street lemon itself may take years not months, especially since nothing less than a collection of fully-occupied, 10-story high rise, high-end condo buildings with fully-staffed tech businesses and packed restaurants and brewpubs at street level covering all 38 acres would generate enough tax revenue to repay the whole debt run up during your years on Council.

      21. Andy Ypsilanti
        Posted March 16, 2010 at 8:24 pm | Permalink

        A I missed the first few minutes, but from what I saw, council basicaly decided to put off any decisions at all. They will have a work session April 6th. Beth B. lit up Rob, Murdock, and Bodrey for inaction in their Water Street commitee. She pointed out that there couldn’t be any work being done because nothing has been published, and for the committee to talk about anything at all in private would violate Mr. Murdock’s open meetings act. That part was funny.

      22. Posted March 16, 2010 at 8:25 pm | Permalink

        That’s cool if it’s true what Brian is saying about no one on Council voting for the Burger King. I didn’t think that there was the political will to say no to it, as not much else was on the horizon. Then again I haven’t been in any of those secret meetings. Maybe there are a ton of offers out there that we don’t even know about.

      23. Posted March 16, 2010 at 8:27 pm | Permalink

        For all I know there’s a good reason to have a secret Water Street committee. I just find it ironic that the people on it are those who campaigned on transparency.

      24. Lorie Thom
        Posted March 17, 2010 at 6:18 am | Permalink

        @Designated

        I appreciate your opinions about Mr. Gawlas. However, 15 months is a long time. What I learned last night was that these Burger King folks have been eyeing that spot for more than 8 years for the right time to purchase.

        In the time that Mr. Gawlas has NOT been present on council almost nothing. They have, from what I can tell, formed a committee that has yet to report a single meeting. They have recommendations to change the zoning – no movement. The marketing guy spent last night saying essentially that he is talking to lots of people and when they ask about zoning, he has nothing he can say other than “City Council will work with you”. At that point there was a barely audible grumble from the audience about city council telling developers they have no credibilty.

        So while I agree that Waterstreet is a lemon at this point. I don’t see any action that has improved the situation. I see couple steps back in its marketability and staff hamstrung by council inaction on zoning on one side and poor public performance on the other.

      25. Pie Sky
        Posted March 17, 2010 at 9:10 am | Permalink

        Maybe this isn’t the time after all to give up hopes of green residential communities and solar cell research facilities and other green-tech things on Water Street? Michigan is heading in that direction, Ypsi could lead the way. The Council needs to wake up and dream the dream again. With vigor. Easier said than done, I know. I just hate everyone giving up on the project at this late date. Now if BK all by itself could cover those payments due, that would of course justify its existence… later it could be walled off and covered with kudzu vines, thus quickly “greening” it.

      26. Posted March 17, 2010 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

        Regarding zoning:

        The City of Ypsilanti’s past efforts related to zoning “improvements” around town have proved to be ugly, divisive, and less than successful. The current Zoning Ordinance is a mish-mash of regulatory conflicts and tangled approval processes. That’s why the “Planned Unit Development” (PUD) zoning for the site is for the best.

        It leaves open greater flexibility for a developer to make creative and profitable use of the property, while giving the City greater opportunity to negotiate the character of the development in a way that benefits the area and the community.

        Knowing the details of the regular residential and commercial zoning districts, I would rather see the City move forward under the PUD option – at least until the current ordinance receives a comprehensive overhaul to bring it into the 21st century!

        For more about one option to update local zoning in a sustainable and community building manner, check out: http://www.buildingplace.net/place-zoning.

      27. oh well
        Posted March 17, 2010 at 9:17 pm | Permalink

        If I drive the bus over the cliff then hand you the wheel while we’re falling, is the resulting crash your fault?

        just wondering.

        John, you got some balls.

      28. ah well
        Posted March 17, 2010 at 9:51 pm | Permalink

        What do you call someone who takes control of the bus by screaming to the passengers, “Don’t worry! I’ve got this! Everything’s under control!” and keeps following the same downward trajectory?

        Just curious.

      29. Lacy
        Posted March 17, 2010 at 10:45 pm | Permalink

        oh well, I’m not sure that’s the best metaphor but I get what you’re saying. Thing is, it’s exactly what I’ve heard others say about former Mayor Murdock and past councils (they that were digging out from his administrations bad decisions and legacy of crumbling infrastructure). That’s not intended as a negative aspersion on Murdock (I’m in no position to judge the validity), just as a relevant example. It’s what Obama says, Bush said, Clinton said…

        I think it’s fair to hold all of our current elected officials accountable for what they’re doing, whatever side you’re on. I’d argue that real leaders don’t look back and make excuses, they look and move forward.

      30. Lorie Thom
        Posted March 18, 2010 at 8:16 am | Permalink

        @building…I disagree with your analysis based on the current situation. If our council members are willing to tell developers that they have no credibility and follow that up with stringing a developer along even after blogging a “no way in hell” perspective, then clear zoning is needed.

        They have a solid recommendation from the planning commission, they should make those changes – no mish mash, its empty…follow the recommendations of the commission appointed to do such work.

      31. Lorie Thom
        Posted March 18, 2010 at 8:20 am | Permalink

        @Designated…its my understanding that this current council merely didn’t object to plans laid out by city staff for money set-aside. More interesting, the city staff plans look amazing like the worst-case plans discussed at the time Waterstreet was approved. This is different that acting or proposing something, anything, better or new.

      32. Elf
        Posted March 18, 2010 at 9:15 am | Permalink

        I’m kind of new to all of this. Could someone tell me what Brian Robb has done to move the Water Street project forward during the years that he’s now been on Council? I know he proposed a baseball stadium, and joined a “secret” committee to discuss options, but did anything concrete ever happen?

      33. Posted March 18, 2010 at 11:34 am | Permalink

        Lorie,

        The Planning Commission made a recommendation regarding how to rezone the property – they did nothing and have done very little over the years to streamline and clean-up the antiquated, overly-complex, and multi-layered development requirements and approval processes required to actually do anything in the city.

        It takes far longer to get things done in the city than it does in surrounding communities. A good example of this is the Walgreens drugstore at Prospect and Michigan Ave. It took a nearly two years from the developer’s first contact with the city to the start of construction. Compare this to similarly complex projects involving CVS drugstores in Ypsilanti Twp., where the process was six to nine months in length.

        The PUD process has been used by the city to avoid the ordinance’s tangled mess – that’s how the Rite-Aid on S. Grove was built. Until the city decides to stop paying staff planners to push pencils and instead use those funds to give the city a state-of-the-art zoning ordinance, the PUD process is the best we have for future success.

        FYI – the zoning ordinance update project would take about a year and would cost the city about 65% of the city’s salary/benefits cost to have Murph be the city planner last year….

      34. wetdolphinmissile
        Posted March 18, 2010 at 11:56 am | Permalink

        elf- I believe you can sit in on the meetings of what you refer to as the “secret” water street committee, as part of the open meetings act, which incidentally is something the members of that committee support. Again that would require something other than snarking on this blog. It is clear that nobody wants to come to Ypsi at this time and bail us out of the badly conceived project. Between the poor planning at onset and the very bad economy we now find ourselves in, I don’t believe that your “secret” committee can spin gold out of straw on this one. Not anymore than great and experienced superintendants want to come and support YPS. But knowing this isn’t nearly as fun as shooting arrows at the elected officials that must deal with this every day, for very little compensation.

      35. Demitrius
        Posted March 18, 2010 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

        @ Wet

        ” … knowing this isn’t nearly as fun as shooting arrows at the elected officials that must deal with this every day, for very little compensation.”

        Seems to me that Murdock, Robb and Bodary campaigned pretty hard for their council seats — mainly by convincing many voters that they would bring more transparency to City Hall and move the Water Street project forward. So far, it seems they’ve failed on both counts.

      36. Lorie Thom
        Posted March 18, 2010 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

        @Building…no kidding and this is not changed because? Somebody hasn’t done their job. The zoning process problems are not new, why hasn’t this City Council demanded change?

        As I hear it – you either have a strong and clear zoning process or you have a PUD process. PUD gets our the zoning issues but only has value in the front part of the process if the Council is seen as willing to work with developers. Currently, this is not the case.

        I keep talking to my friends in the development arena and I keep finding out that if your zoning is solid, then PUD isn’t all that needed. If your PUD process is in front of a developer-hostile council then its more dead.

        Time to pick because right now, Ypsilanti City Council looks almost as stupid as it did with the bus/route 5 fiasco.

        I repeat, there are clearly things the City Council can and should do to streamline this process AND to make it more attractive to developers to even consider.

        We have a guy we are paying to make “strategic” phone calls and all he has to offer a developer is “The council will work with you”. We have a City Council that has taken a confrontational (Murdock “you don’t have credibility”) and cheapshot (Robb at the end the meeting) approach with one developer and we are stringing a Bravokilo along all the while Robb is out there on his blog calling the thing dead on arrival.

        And yet, there is a negotiated purchase agreement somehow.

        I see bullshit piling up here and it makes the credibility of Council’s ability to get anything done of concern.

      37. Ham Burglar
        Posted March 18, 2010 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

        Wetdolphinmissile,

        “The committee is limited to three members so they can meet without having to make the meeting public under the Open Meetings Act.”

        See this article. It’s no secret that the committee is free to meet in secret. That’s why many of us, who previously supported those on council who ran on transparency, are frustrated by this apparent about-face.

        Still, your bold display of ignorance on the issues is rather impressive.

      38. Elf
        Posted March 18, 2010 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

        Thank you for responding, Wet Dolphin Missile. I believe you’re wrong about that committee though. The reason they formed it is so that they could meet without the Mayor, the public, the press. Just now, confirming that, I found a great quote from Pete on why the Mayor couldn’t get into the secret meeting club.

        “If you don’t have any leadership someone else will do it.”

        (http://www.mlive.com/news/ann-arbor/index.ssf/2009/04/ypsilanti_mayor_left_off_water.html)

        That was almost one year ago now, and what has Pete given us in the way of leadership.

        I also don’t accept your “well the economy is really bad” excuse for why Mr. Rob hasn’t done anything. The economy was bad when he ran for Council. When was it, four years ago now? Has he really been on Council since 2006?

        Back to my question, what has he done in four years, other than propose we build a ridiculous baseball stadium, and insult us for asking him questions?

      39. Mark H.
        Posted March 18, 2010 at 9:39 pm | Permalink

        The irrational hatred expressed by anonymous commentators toward the eastside council members reeks of a political vendetta, rather than rational, fair criticism. Despite the crazed comments of some above, Brian Robb’s observations that he doesn’t support selling a small piece of the Water Street projects’s 38 acre to a Burger King developer is what it is: a statement that he’s not in favor of selling a small piece of a large property to an arguably not so attractive buyer, in return for which the city would get far fewer dollars in tax revenue than it’s put into preparing that small BK lot for “redevelopment.” Brian also seems to think that others on council share his lack of enthusiasm. He seems to have stated those views pretty clearly, and in so doing hasn’t contradicted previous positions of his as far as i can tell.

        The Water Street project is massive – in its size, in its costs and debt for the city; and you’d have to be on crack to think selling one sliver of it will do the city much good, in terms of revenue. One major reason why it is so hard to realize any means of recouping any value for the city from this massively expensive empty lot that the city has acquired under the city manager’s leadership is that….it’s so massive! A little piece of it is a very expensive, in terms of public investment in creating the empty plot suitable for redevelopment; but that little piece, by itself, isn’t worth all that much relative to the whole giant empty 38 acres.

        Apparently the commercial realtor representing the city has found a potential buyer or two, for small plots for very limited purposes. What body has the sole authority to actually sell city property? The council. But council cannot and should not try to do the prep work that would be necessary to produce an actual deal. So I’m guessing that the offer of the potential buyer has to be heard or addressed by Council; that hardly means the deal is set and done already. Not by a mile.

        I don’t know what Council will do about these apparently real but not very compelling offers on Water Street. I do know this: The crazed critics of the eastside council members will sling mud at Brian and Pete no matter what happens. If the BK deal is approved, it’ll be all because of Brian and Pete, who will be blamed for bringing fast food to what could have been a wonderful redevelopment; and if the BK deal is not approved, Pete and Brian will be blamed for that outcome, which will be inflated into The reason that the Water Street project is a money loser. They’re damned if they do, damned if they don’t; but in reality they are keeping their word: They said they wanted the city to look at all serious proposals seriously, rather than ruling any out preemptively, as used to be policy before their election — and they seem to have brought about that change. Bravo for them!

        The architects of the brain-dead original fantasy scheme which gave rise to the Water Street fiasco should fold their tents, withdraw from Ypsi politics (both the over and anonymous types), cease throwing mud, and take the failed city manager they put into office with them. Years ago, they discouraged big box retailers from looking at the Water Street lands — and while not charming, such developers would have been large scale enough to create some value and revenue comparable to the project’s scale and public debt. I’d say Yes to a big box retailer now – but they aren’t interested, not at that location, in this economy.

        This much as clear: Anyone who claims that the Water Street project will inevitably, someday, be a jewel in the city’s crown is blowing smoke. It might someday possibly become an asset, but never enough to offset the debt it’s created.

      40. Woody Lefurge
        Posted March 18, 2010 at 10:37 pm | Permalink

        Mark H.

        I’m not sure phrases like “irrational hatred,” “crazed comments,” “crazed critics,” “you’d have to be on crack,” and “brain dead original fantasy” really serve to elevate the discussion. I read your post a couple times trying to see if I was missing the sarcasm?

        I suspect, as you do, that there a political vendetta is at play in some of the comments here. Still, I think some salient questions have been asked, notably:

        -Is a Burger King a good choice for Water Street?
        -Will the revenue justify the negatives.
        -If council is unanimously opposed to a Burger King, is it worth the time and legal fees?

        Personally, I’m glad Mark raised the issue here. I prefer an open discussion, and what messiness comes along with it, rather than risk learning about the new BK at the groundbreaking. I consider myself fairly impartial on Ypsilanti politics, and have seen a equal amount of “snark” and “vendetta” from comments on all sides of the political fence (on this blog and the others). I hope you take this the right way when I offer that your comment above does not seem promote level-headed discussion but further stirs the nest.

        All the best.

        WL

      41. Lacy
        Posted March 18, 2010 at 11:29 pm | Permalink

        A modest suggestion. These comments would be a lot quicker for me to read if people got rid of all the filler and got straight to what they care about the most — the name calling. I’ll start:

        Woody Lefurge: Peacenik whore!
        Mark H: Pompous coward!
        Elf: Pipsqueak mythical moron!
        Ham Burglar: Dumb fat dickwad!
        Lorie Thom: Poopy faced liar!
        Demetrius: Gyro eating bedpan breath!
        Wetdolphinmissile: Slimy creep retard!

      42. Alice
        Posted March 19, 2010 at 7:47 am | Permalink

        Here’s what I’m gathering from this conversation.

        Pete and Brian should be excused for their lack of ability to bring development to Water Street, despite their promises over the past four years, because of the Michigan economy.

        Mayor Farmer and those who first proposed the Water Street project should not be extended the same consideration. They should be run out of town on a rail.

        Am I getting that right?

      43. Mark H.
        Posted March 19, 2010 at 11:07 am | Permalink

        WL, your points are well taken. But as pointed as my criticisms may be, they aren’t expressed in terms of some people being motivated by dishonesty or hidden political agendas: my comments are motivated by dismay by the low level of discussion of the issues as evidenced by some (not all) of the comments above. But the “have to be on crack” crack – well, yes, that was meant as hyperbole, not literal. Sorry it came off flat. But yes, read some of the comments in this string, and they are crazed nonsensical smears.

        And yes, Mark Maynard has done a service by creating a venue for discussing these issues; and I praise him for that. None of my comments were objections to his observations. My criticisms all focused on anonymous posters blasting civic leaders in an irrational way. Read the comments above, and you’ll find a few. Mark Maynard creates this blog with his own name front and center, and I use my initial H instead of my full last name (Higbee), which is hardly secret.

        But the more personally hostile comments tend to be from people hiding behind aliases. That’s gutter politics, in my view. Disagree with someone’s ideas or positions anonymously – fine with me. Attack them personally behind the cloak of anonymous alias – that’s gutter politics worthy of Karl Rove, and it should have no place in Ypsilanti. IMHO.

        Alice – I don’t think anyone has proposed running anyone out of town on a rail. Least of all me. As an historian, I know something about that kind of horrid mob behavior, and whether you meant your accusation as a metaphor or literally, it’s a far cry from the kind of civil, open debate and criticism I advocate. The difference between former Mayor Farmer and her appointee, the city manager, on the one hand, and the current members of city council on the other, of course, is that the first group led the city into the Water St. fiasco and the 2nd group inherited that fiasco. Do you deny that there is a difference between the two? Here’s an analogy: Obama inherited a mess in Iraq, but he didn’t create it (Bush did), so no matter how dismayed I may be by Obama’s policy choices in Iraq, I gotta admit he did not create the mess. Chronology matters when assessing responsibility, doesn’t it Alice?

        A year or so ago, Mayor Paul S. affirmed in one of his informative emails to city residents that Water St will ultimately be a great benefit to the city. That’s crazy talk, pure and simple. There’s no feasible scenario by which the project earns enough, as a result of private investment, to earn enough to pay the city’s debt. Mayor Farmer and the old city leaders and the city manager closed down a group of somewhat marginal but tax paying small businesses, bought their land, and acquired huge brown field liabilities and the obligation to make 38 acres ready for redevelopment– – all based on a fantastical scheme that was little more than municipal speculation.

        Fantastical schemes should be called out for what they are – failures of leadership. Doing so doesn’t mean you want neighbors to move away. I’m glad Cheryl lives in town – she’s a good neighor and a reasonable person. So are Pete and Brian, despite the crazy smears aimed at them by individuals too cowardly to put their name to their screeds.

      44. Lorie Thom
        Posted March 19, 2010 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

        @Lacy :-)

        @ Hamburgler – it seems that Mr. Murdock pushed himself and his committee into that corner. They forced the formation of a Water Street committee by muscle and not consensus. They kept representatives from that ward off the committee. Then, I don’t understand the rumored motivations, but then in an unrelated situation, Murdock pushed an open meetings requirement for all committees and commissions. BTW – we’re the only city to have such a thing. So, their “secret” (someone else’s terminology, not mine) committee has to follow the open meetings act because of Mr. Murdock’s proposal on another issue.

        Its this kind of circular thinking that screwed Ypsi in the past. It negates any credibility this council has and it looks, well, it looks like the council doesn’t know what it is doing or doesn’t trust its commissions or the DDA or something. All of which points to a development process that won’t end successfully.

        All of this goes back a clear issue: if you are going to be personally offensive from your council seat to developer(s) and/or string them along while blogging about the DOA nature of another development proposal, then you cannot rely on a PUD process to get our land even considered for purchase because its a terrible bet – worse than one where the council is more consistent and business-like and/or worse than one with a more clear zoning situation.

        The question remains: does the committee that appointed themselves want success for Water St? Or is Beth Bashert correct in her assertion about keeping the scape goat alive.

      45. Edward
        Posted March 19, 2010 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

        With all due respect to Beth, I can’t imagine that members of our Council are dragging their feet on Water Street in order to have something to shake their fists over and blame the former administration for. Robb and Murdock have been in their positions for several years now. At some point you have to stop blaming the guys who came before you. I think it’s mainly the Michigan economy to blame. People don’t want to invest in new construction, then vacancy rates are so high and population is falling. Regardless though I’d like to see some sign of progress other than hiring a firm to market it to fast food companies and big box retailers. I thought, at the very least, we’d call together a special task force of regional developers to lay out options.

      46. Dave Rose
        Posted March 19, 2010 at 11:33 pm | Permalink

        I have mixed emotions about being new on the Ypsilanti economic development scene, however, it seems to be mostly a blessing. In my position at the Chamber, I have been honestly immpressed and excited about the enthusiasm within this city. It may be harder for those who have been active for years to see…or maybe it’s seen as the same old thing. I see many organizations and individuals from the Council, City Staff, DDA, DAY, SPARK, SBTDC, ETCS, EMU, and more wanting the best for Ypsilanti and honestly desring to work together in order to accomplish goals. Water Street looks exciting to me…but then again I’m new. Maybe it won’t look so exciting in a year or two, but right now it does. I hope we keep an open mind and look at the positive aspects of this community and the reasons new businesses would want to move here. I’ve had the opportunity to talk to several people that are considering investment in downtown. This city really does have a lot to offer.

      47. Meta
        Posted February 10, 2013 at 9:12 am | Permalink

        I’m not sure where to put this, but it seems like a headline that should be preserved in the historic Water Street record.

        “Aldi confirms up to 100% horsemeat in beef products”

        http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2013/feb/09/aldi-100-percent-horsemeat-beef-products

      3 Trackbacks

      1. [...] I feel the need to take the pulse of the other side, I can always find it fussing or obfuscating over at MarkMaynard.com.  Especially ex-councilmember Gawlas, who rarely responded well to folks [...]

      2. By Maybe I spoke too soon about that Burger King on March 16, 2010 at 9:58 pm

        [...] night, I posted something here about the likelihood that Ypsi City Council would vote to approve the sale of a half-acre of downtown real…. Given the fact that we’ve been sitting on 38 acres of undeveloped land for over 8 years, I [...]

      3. [...] [...]

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