Should Stewart Beal be given more than 6 months to figure out the Thompson Block?

Remember how Ypsi’s historic Thompson block burned down last fall, and how the building’s owner, Stewart Beal, had blocked up the streets with scaffolds in order to prevent what remained of the brick shell of the Civil War-era building from falling over into traffic, and how Beal was given unprecedented leeway in order to figure out a way to save what remained? Well, it looks as though, after almost six months, the City is finally starting to grow impatient. Councilman Pete Murdock just sent out the following:

Late this afternoon we received the proposed resolution and recommendation of the City Manager about the continued street closing order…

As you may recall, the 45 day street closing order expired in the beginning of February and an additional time was granted until March 3. The City and Mr. Beal were to come to some agreement on clearing the streets and public ways and plans with timeframes and dates for stabilization/restoration/demolition of the building remains. The agreement was to be voted on at tomorrow’s City Council meeting. After meeting with Mr Beal and reviewing his responses, the City Manager has made the following recommendation to proceed with ordering Mr. Beal to remove his structures from the public right-of-way.

Recommendation: That City Council considers not extending the existing Traffic Control Order and initiate legal action requiring Mr. Beal to remove the structural supports from the City’s right-of-way. This recommendation is based upon the fact that Mr. Beal has not provided sufficient assurances regarding conditions of the proposed agreement to remain in the City’s right-of-way.

A resolution to that effect is on the agenda for tomorrow’smeeting at 7:00PM at City Hall.

Given the current investment environment, I’m sympathetic toward Beal. People aren’t building new retail space anywhere, let alone Michigan. But, it seems to me that 6 months was generous enough. While I’d love to see the project move forward, I don’t see as how the City can stand by for another 6 months, waiting for Beal to figure out financing, while traffic remains blocked.

This entry was posted in Ypsilanti and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

124 Comments

  1. What's In A Name
    Posted March 1, 2010 at 11:13 pm | Permalink

    While it would be sad for Ypsi to loose the Thompson Block bldg even more than it already has, I think it’s time that the City cut it’s losses and tell Stuart to face reality. While granted these have been tough economic times, Stuart has had a long, long time to line up financing on the building, at a time when other similar projects were moving forward with financing elsewhere.

    Stuart seems to think he has the Midas touch with everything he does but a lot of people, myself included, have been saying the Thompson Block is going to be the first time Stuart falls on his face and loses a lot of money. It’s not that I want Stuart to fail or that I want the Thompson Block to fall down, but I think the writing is on the wall and has been there for some time: this project just isn’t going to happen for a whole lot of reasons and won’t anytime in the near future (ie. the next 10 years). The sooner the City comes to this realization, the sooner folks can move on and begin the grieving process instead of clinging to false hopes that will result in the same conditions today 10 years from now.

  2. Woody Lefurge
    Posted March 1, 2010 at 11:29 pm | Permalink

    I think it’s worth imaging the alternatives (see the current Water Street as an example of a city’s impatience with private owners). So, let’s ask ourselves, if the city forces Beal’s hand, what will replace the burned out hulk? A chain linked hole? Is that an improvement? How long will it take to finance and fill that ugly void?

    I’m not happy with the rate of progress (which seems like no progress), but I do believe Beal wants to develop the property.

    Remember, he owns it. The city can force him to get off the streets. After that, if they force him into a situation where he has even less financial resources to develop it, what will replace it?

    In brief, a question: If Beal is forced to tear down the building, what do you think will replace it, and what do you base that assumption on?

  3. mike
    Posted March 1, 2010 at 11:49 pm | Permalink

    Have you seen that building? You can see through the bricks ad mortar. There is no way in hell that shell can be used in any future construction. Bite it, knock it down, and move on for goodness sake.

  4. Erich Auerbach
    Posted March 2, 2010 at 9:05 am | Permalink

    Is it Stuart or Stewart?

    Being a materialist, I have very little interest in a citizenry “thanking” investors, property owners, corporations for infusing life and/or business into a city. I do have an interest in a citizenry perpetually questioning, overseeing, scrutinizing the actions of those with financial power.

    More than both, I have a profound interest in an engaged citizenry. One major thing such a citizenry can do is brainstorm proposals towards the amelioration of a city.

    To that end, I submit this proposal for the Thompson Block:

    > Any unsalvageable part of the property should be razed

    > In a show of good faith and thanks to the community from which he has profited, Beal should donate the parcel of land to Ypsilanti

    > With an arrangement that the site will contain some manner of green commons or urban garden, and be unavailable, in perpetuity, for commercial use

  5. kjc
    Posted March 2, 2010 at 9:23 am | Permalink

    i love that idea, Erich.

  6. Phelps
    Posted March 2, 2010 at 10:21 am | Permalink

    I say we take down the supports but allow Beal to keep the structure standing for as long as he’s willing to sleep in a tent, right at the base of the two-story tall brick wall. If he’s that confident that it’ll remain standing, I’m willing to give him more time.

  7. Posted March 2, 2010 at 10:21 am | Permalink

    Taking the gutted portion of the building down would solve a problem that has plagued the Thompson Block for many years: topography. The southern end of the Thompson Block was significantly elevated above the street grade, which slopes south and west towards the river. This required a non-handicapped accessible and remarkably steep set of stairs to reach the building entrances at the south end.

    Taking the building down would allow redevelopment of the site in a way that would provide at-grade pedestrian access and better integrate the building into Depot Town.

    I put the responsibility for the loss of this historic structure squarely on Mr. Beal’s shoulders. He proved to be a poor steward of the building, after the City’s legal machinations ultimately placed it into his hands to make weathertight and fix certain fire code violations.

    Having said that, there is nothing left to save in the gutted portion. It would be better to remove it quickly and move forward.

    As for an urban garden, I would only say that this site has been in heavy commercial and quasi-industrial use for 100+ years. Growing vegetables there seems like a bad idea when we have the twin jewels of Frog Island and Riverside parks just down the street.

  8. Posted March 2, 2010 at 11:45 am | Permalink

    Time to knock it down.

  9. Ronal Reagan's Ghost
    Posted March 2, 2010 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

    “Tear down that wall, Mr. Beal!”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WjWDrTXMgF8

  10. Mr. X
    Posted March 2, 2010 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

    We should tear it down and use the bricks to dam up the Huron, as Puppet Mark commanded!

  11. Whatever
    Posted March 2, 2010 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

    Tear it down and make it a parking lot.

  12. Depot Neighbor
    Posted March 2, 2010 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

    Just for clarity, the road isn’t “blocked.” One of the two west-bound lanes is taken up, but traffic can flow just fine. That said, let’s see some real plans with real dates for moving forward, and a real budget with real funding attached to it, or, honestly, tear it down and start from scratch (though I do fear it will be an empty lot for quite some time).

  13. James Madison
    Posted March 2, 2010 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

    I like Erich’s idea a lot, and I have to ask: Is it true Mr Beal has put a lot of money into this building? Not much that one can see. He has clearly hoped to “make” a lot of money, but wasn’t he GIVEN the building? What money has he actually put into it? IS there any audited statement that reveals any investment by him?

    And it’s not fair to say that traffic isn’t impeded. It’s not blocked, but there are serious and rather frequent risks posed to north bound traffic on River, due to southbound drivers not realizing what lane they are to follow. Mr Beal is plainly indifferent to the public good (ever talk to the man? A walking portrait of arrogance). I commend the city for getting ready to take action.

  14. Rob
    Posted March 2, 2010 at 7:35 pm | Permalink

    The most “historic” thing that building had going for it were the old wooden beams and posts that bored civil war soldiers scratched their names upon– The very things that burned away. It’s nothing but a source of 19th century bricks, perhaps best used in some southern patio now, and as the designated one above said, the grade and setting of the building as it stood prior to the fire was a detriment to modern use or development anyway. Time to start over.

  15. rp
    Posted March 2, 2010 at 11:18 pm | Permalink

    There are a lot of things that are not around now that I miss quite a lot. I remember bringing grain into Ypsi, to be ground to the Farm Bureau on Forest St., when I was a kid. I remember when there were houses, a sort of park, and a State Police post at Michigan Ave. and Park St. An A&P store. Beyer Hospital. The Ford Plant. Hydra-matic (not Powertrain, that was the beginning of the end at the Willow Run plant by the way – when it was folded into Powertrain, and was no longer the center of ALL of GM’s transmissions). Tens of thousands of auto jobs and auto workers. The Peninsula Paper Company. Things in AA, like The WhiffleTree, Flood’s, The Del Rio, Second Chance/Chances Are, The Pretzel Bell, The Ark (when it was in a house), the Campus Theater, the Ann Arbor Theater, etc.

    But throughout all the time I’ve ever been around Cross and River streets, I only remember the Thompson Block as being – a lump. And now it’s a hollow lump. That is incapable of standing on it’s own. From what I can see of the building, all those Civil War soldiers can’t hold it up anymore.

    Time to start some NEW history on that corner.

  16. Larry Seven Larry
    Posted March 3, 2010 at 10:01 am | Permalink

    The former Ann Arbor News has a story today on last night’s City Council meeting:
    http://www.annarbor.com/news/impasse-between-beal-and-city-of-ypsilanti-could-lead-to-court/

    They also have a scanned copy of Beal’s letter to Council:
    http://www.annarbor.com/2010/03/03/Letter%20to%20Koryzno%203-2-10.pdf

  17. Murdock by Proxy
    Posted March 3, 2010 at 10:47 am | Permalink

    Pete Murdock sent the following out this morning. It includes a childish letter from Mr. Beal.

    Hi All –

    After nearly six months, the City Council at last night’s meeting voted (4-3) to start legal proceedings to have Mr. Beal remove his property from the city right of way. (Votes for: Bodary, Murdock, Richardson, Robb – Votes Against: Nickels, Schreiber, Winston-Swanson). The operative part of the resolution is as follows:

    “Now Therefore Be it resolved that city Council directs the City Attorney to initiate action to require the owner of 400 N. River Street to remove the support system from the city’s right-of-way.”

    Mr. Beal was encouraged to meet with the City Manager to see if some agreement and timetable could be reached.

    His response as posted on AnnArbor.com is below. It speaks for itself. If you have any comments or questions either e-mail or call me at 485-7799.

    Please print this completely or not at all:

    I am as sad about City Council’s vote tonight as I am about the fire. I am particularly disgusted by the blatantly disingenuous and false comments made by Council Member

    Pete Murdock, who continued to demonstrate his inability to offer any intelligent or meaningful contribution to a discussion being held in council chambers.

    Tonight City Council had a choice, to continue to support a 26 year old entrepreneur who has invested his entire adult life in improving real estate in the city, or to do everything in their power to make a extremely difficult project even more difficult.

    Tonight City Council did the citizens of Ypsilanti a disservice because:

    • Tomorrow morning I will be hiring an attorney instead of hiring a Brick Masons and Carpenters.

    • I will be investigating defensive measures, instead of investigating how we can obtain financing to redevelop the building.

    • I will spend many days in court over the next several months that could be better spent improving the built environment in the City.

    • The City of Ypsilanti will be paying a City Attorney with your tax dollars to take legal action against me, instead of using that money to fund its public safety department.

    I will absolutely meet with Mr. Ed Koryzno and will do so immediately. I am confident that without the distraction of Mr. Murdock blubbering, rational thought will prevail. I am now more than ever determined to redevelop the Thompson Block, more determined than ever to work with the City of Ypsilanti, and more than ever determined to complete this project. I would also like to thank Council Members Robb, Bodary, Richardson, Swanson, Nickels, and Mayor Schreiber for their continued support.

    So, who believes that Beal would have been hiring brick masons today?

  18. kjc
    Posted March 3, 2010 at 10:53 am | Permalink

    Seriously. It’s hilarious this guy would accuse anyone of disingenuousness.

  19. Erich Auerbach
    Posted March 3, 2010 at 11:08 am | Permalink

    Unfortunately, KJC, what matters in these corporate-civic disagreements is how a capitalist can retail his own (often dishonestly) manufactured self-portrait.

    Can any of our elders recall what kind of citizen the Beal grandfather was? I would like to learn if dissimulation and predatory investment has been a hereditary issue for the Beal clan.

  20. Mason Cutter III
    Posted March 3, 2010 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

    Thanks guys. There goes the brick-laying job I had lined up for today.

  21. Posted March 3, 2010 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

    What if the Thompson Building demolition were turned into a city fundraiser, like a bigger version of those carnival car-wreckings? For a few bucks, citizens could give the wrecking ball a swing or two. Or instead of charging a flat (per swing?) price, demolition roles could be auctioned off.

  22. kjc
    Posted March 3, 2010 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

    I think “securing financing” should be a new code phrase, similar to how, back in the day, “available to run for president” meant unemployed.

    “a 26 year old entrepreneur who has invested his entire adult life”

    i just love this. love it!

  23. Edward
    Posted March 3, 2010 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

    EMyou magazine ran a feature about Beal a year or so ago in which he said that he was the hardest working person that he’d ever met. I thought the writer was probably misquoting him. Now I see that he really is that arrogant. It’s a shame we had to lose a building, but it’s good that this bratty youngster, with his feeling of entitlement, is finally getting taught a lesson. Maybe it’ll build some character.

  24. Jennifer Beal
    Posted March 3, 2010 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

    i could be wrong, but i believe beal is commenting here

    http://www.annarbor.com/news/impasse-between-beal-and-city-of-ypsilanti-could-lead-to-court/

    as “delorean.”

  25. tim
    Posted March 3, 2010 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

    “REAGAN SMASH!” “BEAL SMASH!”

    IliveinYpsi.

  26. Lorie
    Posted March 3, 2010 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

    I was at the meeting. I found councilmen Robb and Murdock’s behavior to be in kind with Mr. Beal’s – really embarrassing for the city. If you can’t come across any better than that young man, its a sad statement on our leadership for sure.

    Cheap shots at the end of the meeting were clearly cheap shots as well.

    My question is this, why not some compromising language: if not agreement by the end of the week on points 1 – 13 then off to court we go.

    I found the entire debate to be lacking in maturity, civility and creativity for the betterment of the city.

    I am someone who wants that building to come down. I came here in the early 80s. The building was scary then, it is unimproved now. The materials used to build it were soft. The history is great but not when its present and presence are unsafe.

    Given that I was inclined to agree with anyone trying to move Mr. Beal along. I was surprised at the lack of intellectual capacity shown. Wow

  27. Posted March 3, 2010 at 8:27 pm | Permalink

    So, Jennifer, you think Beal wrote this?

    I HAVE to believe that 98% of you don’t have any idea what Stewart Beal has done for “your city”. He owns over 30 houses that were bought with boards on the windows and used needles and crack pipes on the ground in the yard. Now, every one of them provides housing for people moving to “your city”, now they are aesthetically pleasing and aren’t attracting addicts to “your city”. But, by all means let’s only look at the setback Stewart is facing. Has anyone even attempted putting yourself in Stewart’s shoes? The Thompson Block building is his dream project for “your city”. It literally went up in smoke at the hands of an arsonist. The immediate response and skill provided by Stewart Beal to shore the building and make it safe for passer-byers is an accomplishment in and of itself. If Stewart would have demolished the building you would all be complaining that there is another empty lot in “your city” and how could Stewart have let that historic building go without even trying to salvage it. I’m curious how many of you are structural engineers? It must be all of you since you are all saying it is not salvageable and should be torn down! I encourage any of you who have literally invested your life’s savings and life’s work into “your city” and who also lays his head every night in “your city” to step forward.

  28. Posted March 3, 2010 at 8:28 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for the report from City Hall, Lorie.

  29. Thomspon Neighbor
    Posted March 3, 2010 at 10:44 pm | Permalink

    There’s a few things worth remembering. Not long ago, there was immense opposition from certain Depot Town businesses and residents to Beal’s plan to put a bar and concert venue in the building.

    Then there was an arson. (Problem solved?) Some people, on this blog, accused Beal until it was revealed he had nothing to gain, financially, from the arson. Somebody else, in all probability, lit the match. Many people are now clamoring to to finish the job the arsonist began. It’s not often I’ve seen people so eager to finish the work of an arsonist when the property owner desires otherwise.

    Beal has sunk several hundred thousand into the project. His losses on this project will be enormous if it fails.

    However cock-sure Beal comes off, he’s matched and goaded by certain personalities on city council and in Depot Town.

    Beal has been made an easy target. He seems to be the only one who refuses to give up on the project. Why? Yes, it’s ugly now, but the scaffolds around a burned out shell are a sign that someone is intent on investing in Ypsilanti. I wish Water Street could garner the same level of interest. I wish every wasted property was encased in scaffolds with someone laboring for its future.

    I suggest we pause and look at what may be rustling under the eaves. Who has the most to gain from an empty block? Who has the most to lose? Where should we train our sights?

  30. Jennifer Beal
    Posted March 3, 2010 at 11:45 pm | Permalink

    That’s correct.

  31. Emma
    Posted March 4, 2010 at 8:17 am | Permalink

    In Beal’s letter to council linked to by Larry Seven Larry above he admits that he does not have the money to complete the project and has no idea when he will get it. It doesn’t matter who burned The Thompson Block or who benefits from its destruction. The fact is that no one has any idea when this building can be made habitable. It has been vacant for too long. Maybe a structural engineer feels it can be salvaged right now but what will happen to the structure if it remains in its current state for five more years? For ten more years? Beal was basically given the building and has not been able to secure financing to renovate it since day one. He may have spent money on that giant luxuary lofts banner but I would love to see evidence that any substantial work was done to build those apartments.
    Maybe the “building” needs to be taken away from him, as it was the previous owner, and given to someone who can fund the project. If that person does not exist, it should be torn down.
    It would make a great parking lot for this Restaurant/Bar and its “potential tenant” they supposidly have lined up for 408 North River where work, they hope, will start in the spring. Everyone so worried about the historical value of the missing structure can get some funds together and erect a plaque like the one for the flying fur frog, or whatever it is, down in the park as a testament to what happens when people don’t maintain their buildings.

  32. Kathy Waugh
    Posted March 4, 2010 at 11:38 am | Permalink

    Interesting letter to the editor in Ypsiciti (by a MM.com reader, no less.)

    http://ypsiciti.com/section/Opinions/-article-1674.html

  33. wetdolphinmissile
    Posted March 4, 2010 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

    Lorie you accuse our east side reps of being immature, but with nothing to corroborate that claim, just a bunch of your opinions. Yet we can read exactly how ridiculous Mr. Beal sounds out of his own mouth. Seems like a poor report of council to me, far from objective and full of hearsay.

  34. Lorie
    Posted March 4, 2010 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

    @Wet,

    OK, let me be specific: leaning all the way back in your chair while telling someone that “have no credibility” only goaded Mr. Beal rather than pushed any kind of solution forward. Further, seat shifting, eye-rolling, russling with papers without purpose when Mr. Beal and other council members were speaking, was disrespectful to EVERYONE in the room.

    Waiting until Mr. Beal was gone to take a cheap shot about “people illegally living” in a house that is been and managed by Mr. Beal is something I would expect in Detroit, not here. Ask him to his face.

    Refusing to consider compromises. Clearly not listening to others at the table. Ranting and raving doesn’t solve solutions. I expect from children not adults elected to office.

    I am not a Beal fan per se. I respect that he owns the property but I think the building should come down – its been an eye-sore and dangerous since the 80s. I’ve been in this area that long.

    Seriously. I was appalled that this is the leadership as demonstrated. I will be at council meetings in the future. I hope to see better behavior on everyone’s part.

    BTW – Mr. Beal is no longer a kid. He is a business owner and operator who has rights and responsibilities. He is also a terrible writer and I would suggest to him to engage an editor before he has any further interaction with this city. He has shown a particular bent about him that does not win friends here either. He has no excuses as I see it. But overshadowing his bad behavior with your own does not represent your ward or your city in a way that is helpful.

    Incidently, I would point you all to YpsiCity.Com where apparently someone else had problems with their behavior too.

  35. Jennifer Beals
    Posted March 4, 2010 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

    Lorie DeLorean?

  36. Lorie
    Posted March 4, 2010 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

    wow, sorry about the terrible tense, and wording issues in my comment. Obviously, I need an editor as well.

  37. wetdolphinmissile
    Posted March 4, 2010 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

    I read the Citizen account, it seemed to differ widely from your opinion. I read the majority agreed with Mr. Murdock and that included the city administrator. I know it is a big concern for east side neighbors, hence Mr. Murdocks pressure on this issue. Through this ordeal I have witnessed numerous close calls of pedestrians trying to negotiate the intersection as well as traffic skirmishes. Most eastsiders appreciate historic preservation but we have watched Mr. Beal stomp his feet and w/ tantrum, make demands and accusations on numerous occasions. How much l longer must we show him patience and wait to get our intersection back?

  38. Lorie
    Posted March 4, 2010 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

    @wet

    Again, I agree that the building should come down and I drive and walk in that area now about once a week now. I agree with your concerns about the building and the right of way and I agree with that Mr. Beal has stalled. I think the building should come down. Unlike many, I think it all should come down. All of it – start over.

    I was appalled that the behavior demonstrated by Mr. Murdock and Mr. Robb. I stand by my statements on that, they did nothing but goad someone who was already behaving badly.

    Ward 3 should demand better behavior out of its representatives.

  39. Alfie
    Posted March 4, 2010 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

    I love that we’re debating who’s more infantile – Stewart Beal, Brian Robb or Pete Murdock.

  40. Joe
    Posted March 4, 2010 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

    LORONAH THOMS A.K.A. “LORIE” IS JUST A PLANT FROM ADVANCE YPSILANTI PRETENDING TO BE A “CONCERNED” CITIZEN. HER ONLY “CONCERN” IS TO SPREAD LIES FOR JOHN GAWLAS AND BETH BASHERT.

    IF JOHN GAWLAS REPRESENTED HIS WARD LIKE MURDOCH REPRESENTS HIS MAYBE GAWLAS WOULD STILL BE ON COUNCIL.

    LORIE IS A FRAUD AND A LIAR.

  41. MCS
    Posted March 4, 2010 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

    Joe – I’m curious. How do you know that Lorie is Loronah Thoms?

  42. Lorie
    Posted March 4, 2010 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

    Hi Joe,

    Last name is Thom, not Thoms. I am not pretending to be concerned. I am concerned. I am not a plant. I have my own opinion. Yes, I am very familiar with Advance Ypsilanti and know John as well, as I know many others here. I have been in and around this town for 28 years.

    I was at the meeting, that is my opinion. Now that I am here full time, I will be vocal, very very vocal.

    Joe, because this blog uses pseudonyms, I am not sure who you are but there isn’t anything fraudulent about me. Calling me a a liar doesn’t move the conversation forward either. I’m sorry if you don’t agree.

  43. observingthis
    Posted March 4, 2010 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

    Did anyone videotape the city council meeting?
    Also, has Murdock commented publicly on this issue since the meeting?

    One last note, I wonder what it is like to work for/with Beal?

  44. Max A. Million
    Posted March 4, 2010 at 7:18 pm | Permalink

    I can’t tell if Joe is really Robb or Murdock, he sounds so much like both with all his SHOUTING about nothing.

  45. Posted March 4, 2010 at 7:22 pm | Permalink

    Oh, no… Joe used ALL CAPS! Is everyone alright?

  46. Lorie
    Posted March 4, 2010 at 9:00 pm | Permalink

    somebody was certainly trying to video tape it. But that person seems awful interested in the argument so I don’t know what is on the tape or not. I hope it gets posted somewhere.

    To answer a question above about what it is like to work with Beal, I don’t know but from what I saw last night, he is darn short sighted and politically tone deaf. He could have made some real news but again, this was/is a race to the bottom, not the top.

  47. John Gawlas
    Posted March 4, 2010 at 10:45 pm | Permalink

    I had my head to close to the screen and now my ears are bleeding…but thanks for asking, Mark.

  48. Peanut
    Posted March 4, 2010 at 11:29 pm | Permalink

    Observe,

    Not sure if Murdock has responded, but the only thing self-designated councilman of public accountability Brian Robb has commented on in the past month or more is his self-congratulatory pictures of him and his bud knocking old shit down.

    Thanks Robb, I feel so informed now. Really, photos of you really advance public discourse. I can’t wait for the photos of you planting more bulbs in a dry pond this spring.

    Props to whatever giant cat has your tongue. (As for video of the meeting, Steve Pierce seems to have lost interest in public record once his boys were in charge. Must be one hell of a cat.)

  49. Hot Knuckle Lover
    Posted March 5, 2010 at 12:05 am | Permalink

    JOE! I THINK WHAT PEOPLE ARE TRYING TO SAY IS WHEN YOU WRITE IN ALL CAPS YOU COME OFF AS A BLAZING LUNATIC! I HAVE NO IDEA WHO YOU ARE, BUT I HATE YOU AND THINK YOU MUST BE VERY OLD AND VERY STUPID. AM I RIGHT? I THOUGHT SO. BUT GOOD FOR YOU FOR LEARNING HOW TO TYPE! THE KEY TO YOUR LEFT IS CALLED A “CAPS LOCK.” TRY PRESSING IT ON AND OFF. NIFTY HUH, YOU DUMB FUCK!

  50. Posted March 5, 2010 at 8:52 am | Permalink

    Also, Joe…If you are gonna try to run people through the mud on this blog, and be a major dick, then at least have the courtesy to use your full name, asshole. Nobody likes a smart ass secret squirrel. Now, go get your fucking shinebox.

    THIS MESSAGE WAS APPROVED BY BILLY LALONDE

  51. Lorie Thom
    Posted March 5, 2010 at 9:25 am | Permalink

    Hey John,

    Since its clear I’m always going to be aligned with you and Beth and I don’t view it as a bad thing. Can I come help AY PAC? Maybe with the website or something?

  52. Lorie Thom
    Posted March 5, 2010 at 9:31 am | Permalink

    @Billy,

    Joe can say what he wants. I don’t have a problem with that. I do want to make it clear that I used “Lorie” because it is how I am known in person and I have always gone by that name. I didn’t include my last name because it didn’t seem like it was how this blog worked.

    Note the change so its clear who I am. BTW…I live in Normal Park that I am a citizen and voter here in Ypsilanti.

    And clearly, thanks for the push, include me in the AY PAC camp if their is such a thing. However, I will be bringing my voice to the party for sure.

    I tend to be interested in more factually based information so I’m looking forward to the discussions about the budget.

  53. Posted March 5, 2010 at 11:32 am | Permalink

    Sorry Lorie…I didn’t mean to stick my beak where it doesn’t belong.

  54. Lorie Thom
    Posted March 5, 2010 at 11:40 am | Permalink

    nah – its all good, really, its all fine.

    and…entertaining

  55. wetdolphinmissile
    Posted March 5, 2010 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

    I love how westsiders think they all know what we eastsiders need and even who should we elect as our reps. I am very glad to have such great representatives on council looking out for our interests. The Thompson block is in our neighborhood. We heard from one Beal believer wondering why we were upset about East Cross being blocked. The exact words were “But they only have to go around the block…” Just this morning I saw an elementary age child walking outside of the barrier right in traffic.
    Re: Advance Ypsi, from what I have been able ascertain from the website it only seems to be a bunch of naysayers attacking the character of the 3rd wards reps. I think they exist only to undo the choices we ward 3 constituents elected to represent us on council. People in glass houses…

  56. Alice
    Posted March 5, 2010 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

    What about a Murph & Maynard ticket?

  57. Lorie Thom
    Posted March 5, 2010 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

    @ wet…please notice that I did not say you all should change reps. I said I expect/demand better behavior. Its a big difference, one that I deserve some credit for.

    If the course of this political conversation is going to be characterized by calling names like Fraud, Liar and Plant…that will be someone else’s problem not mine.

    What you can expect to hear from me are demands for transparency and ethical behavior and professional behavior – a call for a robust but civil debate.

    You can also expect that when I say I’m unhappy with someone or something, like I did before, I will list what made me unhappy.

    Everyone has differing perspectives. That is why I love our democratic process and why will participate.

  58. clear vision
    Posted March 5, 2010 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

    I thought this thread was about the Thompson Block? Are all the important issues now going to become political because it is election time?
    I just want to know if those Historic tax credits even exist given the conditon of the building? If so, the building still has a chance to survive and become a viable project. Beal should share that federal tax information with the city.

  59. Karen Brusk
    Posted March 5, 2010 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

    Beal said in the Ann Arbor News a few days ago that he always finishes what he sets out to do. And I’m confident that, in this instance, he’ll be good to his word. He’ll keep going until the whole building is down. It may take him a few years, but he’ll get there. Just have faith in him.

  60. Peanut
    Posted March 5, 2010 at 11:14 pm | Permalink

    Wetdolphinmissle,

    I love how westsiders think they all know what we eastsiders need and even who should we elect as our reps.

    Since we’re discussing this online, I can’t tell if you were smirking when you wrote that. Have you checked out Pete’s impressive list of financiers? There’s a lot of other-siders who seemed to think they knew what was best for the east side during the election. Nobody complained then, yourself included.

    There were also some generous donations by a business based in Albuquerque (but operating out of midtown) and, I have to mention it, a substantial contribution from the owner of one of the businesses that vocally opposed Beal’s plan for the Thompson Block.

    Look, I like Pete despite his public terrets, oops, I mean Tourettes. Just don’t pretend in a town the size of Ypsilanti that we aren’t all way up in each others business unless you promise never to say an ill word about Gawlas or Swanson. Next time you’re that disingenuous, try not be so painfully obvious about it. Unless you wink. ; )

  61. Pott Kettle Black
    Posted March 6, 2010 at 11:07 pm | Permalink

    It’s great to see those geniuses of real estate in city hall spouting about how much time it’s taking Beal. I got a proposal. Once the first new project breaks ground on the massive perennial eyesore of Water Street, Beal should have to level the Thompson building. No good?

    How about once the city clears even one more of the vacant, crumbling properties it owns, council earns the right to bemoan Beal’s lack of activity.

    I’m dead serious. Am I the only one who finds it sickening and laughable that city council talks about the hardships of the real estate downturn when dealing with their own lack ability and then dogpiles a developer who is facing the same challenges?

  62. Thai Girl Would
    Posted March 7, 2010 at 7:27 am | Permalink

    Is demoliton of the Thompson Block something the state would help take care of, or completely up to Beal to pay for?

  63. Sunny Side Up
    Posted March 7, 2010 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    I’m inclined to side with the forces aligning against Mr. Beal because I believe he has been, at best, a horribly incompetent guardian of the Thompson Block. As the fire that destroyed the building was not caused by lightening, one can only assume that it started because of the conditions inside the building (electrical, etc) or because of the terrible security precautions (allowing people to easily gain access, etc). In spite of that, though, I’m finding your argument very persuasive, PKB.

  64. Pott Kettle Black
    Posted March 7, 2010 at 10:52 pm | Permalink

    Sunny Side,

    I agree, in large part, to your assessment of the Beal building’s conditions. And two wrongs don’t make it right. But the being a “horribly incompetent guardian” and “terrible security precautions” are equally, if not more so, true of Water Street. I think it’s also true that both Water Street and the Thompson Block were at least partial victims of the current economy. I’m frustrated by both but am willing to believe that each were, and continue to be, well-intentioned.

    It’s worth a walk around Water Street. Last time I was there, virtually every building was open access with teetering public safety hazards at every turn.

    Just to clarify, my point isn’t that Beal has even come close to delivering. I just find it a little mind-blowing that members of city council/staff can sit with a straight face and accuse him of not moving fast enough on the property. To me, it speaks of something deeply amiss about how council views itself and is, frankly, an immense and rather blatant hypocrisy.

    Of course, as has been pointed out, Water Street isn’t in my district and I’m sure no one wants yet another Normal Parker poking their nose in where it doesn’t belong. ; )

  65. YpsiBitc#
    Posted March 9, 2010 at 8:52 am | Permalink

    Should have prolly just let Dave keep the building.

    ;)

    xo- Ypsibitc#

  66. shaun
    Posted March 11, 2010 at 9:41 am | Permalink

    i love this stuff, mr beal would not hire any masons or brick layers. that’s not his style , he uses his own people to do the work without any permits. lets remember he was doing work in the building without permits when it burned.

  67. dastardly bastard
    Posted March 11, 2010 at 11:02 am | Permalink

    So…the city can fine people for not shoveling snow, to try and fill their coffers, but someone can work on a building with no permit, and we don’t fine him? Ypsi City…you can blow my snow!

  68. Pott Kettle Black
    Posted March 11, 2010 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

    shaun.

    The city database of permits is free and easy to use. It lists many permits issued to Mr. Beal for work on the property, including one for the temporary electrical system that was installed to code. Here’s a random selection of a permit issued to Beal for 400 River. It’s from the public record available to me, you and dastardly bastard:

    Number: PBLDG-08-0087 Category: 101-000-477-00 BLDG
    Type: Building Status: EXPIRED

    Applied Date: 04/28/2008 Expire Date: 04/29/2009
    Issue Date: 04/29/2008 Finaled Date:

    Work Description:
    MISCELLANEOUS EXTERIOR RENOVATION TO INCLUDE: DEMOLITION OF PORTION OF ONE STORY STRUCTURE, EXTERIOR AND INTERIOR MASONRY RESTORATION, REPLACEMENT OF WOOD FLOOR AND ROOF, NEW WALL AND COLUMN FOUNDATIONS, NEW MASONRY BEARING WALLS, STRUCTURAL STEEL COLUMNS AND BEAMS. ALL WORK TO MEET ALL HDC AND ALL CODE REQUIREMENTS.

  69. Posted March 11, 2010 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

    Thanks Jimmy Carl Black. Are you still the Indian of the group?

  70. Posted March 11, 2010 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    would you be so kind, as to share a link to this database? Thanks!

  71. Pott Kettle Black
    Posted March 11, 2010 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

    Sure DB. Go to http://www.cityofypsilanti.com. On the middle of the homepage, you’ll see an icon linking you to “tax and assessing.” Click and proceed to the database. There’s lots of fun info there, including sales history (Beal apparently paid $346,186 for the pile of bricks), taxes, and so on. But you’ll want look under the “Building Department” page to see permits. Here you can view the permits (and citations, including snow removal) issued for any property within the city limits. (I think even dog permits are listed?)

    Note, if you know the address of a property, it’s usually better to enter that than the owner’s name (Beal has Historic Properties down as the owner).

    To be clear, I’m not here to defend Beal’s plans or lack of activity. I just wanted to check to see if shaun’s comments had merit. Same is true of the other opposition which just seems oddly virulent given the circumstances.

  72. Mark H.
    Posted March 11, 2010 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

    I have asked Mr Beal to his face what his plans were for clearing the streets by his property, and why it’d been left so open and unsecured for so long before the fire, and he told me that he “had no information on that” and was very, very rude. He also denied that the disruption of traffic was a threat to safety, and he insulted me what I told him that I’d seen near accidents there. He hasn’t been a responsible owner of the property, to say the least.

    My council members, Robb and Murdock, have been principled in pressing him for responsible and timely actions.

  73. Tate 57
    Posted March 11, 2010 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

    When it does fall and kill someone standing on public property, will it be the city that’s sued, or Mr. Beal?

  74. Posted March 11, 2010 at 10:19 pm | Permalink

    I’d probably act like an overly-defensive a-hole for a while too if some evil jerk tried to destroy my project to sabotage me out of spiteful envy.

    However, it’s still not okay to build your stuff out into the public’s streets and sidewalks and just let it sit there doing nothing. Sorry some evil jerk burned your project down, but that doesn’t justify jerking everybody else around. You were pwnt by an unworthy; it happens a lot. He’ll get his in the end. Don’t burden everybody else with it against their wills, it’s not our fault either.

    I’ll stop with the bold if it gets too annoying. I just couldn’t resist.

  75. Pott Kettle Black
    Posted March 11, 2010 at 11:16 pm | Permalink

    The Friends of the Ypsilanti Freighthouse was given control of the building in 2005. This spring, real work will finally begin. Sincere kudos to the Friends! I’m glad we, as a community, had patience to see this project through. FYI, Black Jake, public streets and property will be closed to allow for the Freighthouse construction. Closing or restricting access to public streets is standard to allow for public and private construction projects. Have you driven through Ann Arbor in the last two years?

    In a bit of irony no one has yet mentioned, Beal is extremely well-positioned to tear defunct buildings down. That he is not taking the easy route on this property, may say something about his intentions.

    Mark H. Beal rubbing you the wrong way isn’t grounds for a public policy decision like this, is it? I’m concerned that some of our elected officials think it is, and they’ve got the big stick.

  76. dastardly bastard
    Posted March 12, 2010 at 12:09 am | Permalink

    Thanks Jimmy Carl Black! That is a fun little site! Good luck with the Frieghthouse!

  77. Donald Washburn
    Posted March 12, 2010 at 12:15 am | Permalink

    I don’t care if it’s youthful optimism or petulance that motivates him, but in the words of Ronald Reagan:

    “MR. BEAL, TEAR DOWN THIS BUILDING!”

  78. Posted March 12, 2010 at 12:48 am | Permalink

    Touche, Mr. Black.

  79. John on Forest
    Posted March 14, 2010 at 8:52 pm | Permalink

    Wetdolphinmissle,

    Although a majority of the 3rd ward, who voted, elected the current 3rd ward representatives to city council, I wouldn’t call them 3rd ward representatives. They represent only themselves and their friends.

    There are significant (if not quite a majority) numbers of 3rd ward residents who are not represented by our current council members and who are disgusted by what the 3rd ward reps do and don’t do on council.

    On the Thompson Block Building: I am absolutely not happy with Mr. Beal’s responsiveness to the city’s concerns. We need to know for sure whether there is a sound engineering possibility of preserving the facade of the building. IF so, then, let’s all do what we can to see that it is preserved. Otherwise, I agree with the city that it should be demolished. As for the streets: I drive that intersection every day going all four directions. I am in no way hindered by it’s current state. I also walk my dogs past it and find navigating past it to be no big deal. Yes, it’s a sad looking building in it’s current state; but, there is no reason in this current economic environment to rush to do anything about it, if there is a remote possibility it can be salvaged.

  80. Andy Ypsilanti
    Posted March 17, 2010 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

    So, um anybody else that attended or watched last night’s city council meeting catch that bit at the end, during Ed Karyzno’s comments, “concerning the building at 400 N. River” that Beal has missed his deadline with the city and the city was now within it’s legal rights to pursue demolition, and would do so post haste?

  81. Andy Ypsilanti
    Posted March 17, 2010 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

    I mean, I could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure that’s what I heard.

  82. Pete Murdock
    Posted March 17, 2010 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

    Monday’s deadline passed without any filing of an appeal by Mr. Kircher for 107 E Cross Street (building behind Thompson block). The City has a court order to demolish and will be proceeding with demolition as soon as possible. At least this saga is coming to an end – I think.

    Pete

    485-7799.

  83. Andy Ypsilanti
    Posted March 17, 2010 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

    Now that Pete has put that up, I’m pretty sure that’s what I heard. Sorry for the false alarm….

  84. Meta
    Posted April 7, 2010 at 9:07 am | Permalink

    AnnArbor.com has an article on last night’s City Council meeting.

    The Ypsilanti City Council rejected a proposed agreement with Thompson Block developer Stewart Beal on Tuesday, a move that will likely send the months-long battle to court.

    The council voted 4-3 to turn down a plan developed by Beal and City Manager Ed Koryzno that provided a timeline for removing shoring from the city’s right-of-way. Koryzno said the city will file a lawsuit today, whether or not negotiations continue.

    The city of Ypsilanti and Thompson Block developer Stewart Beal have been battling for months.
    In a tense moment before he cast the fourth “no” vote, Council Member Pete Murdock summed up the frustrations of those who opposed the plan.

    “We’re going to be in court one way or another – no,” he said.

    The vote could spell the end of the Thompson Block development, should the city win the court case that now appears likely. The Thompson Block was badly damaged in a fire last September.

    You can read the rest of the article here:
    http://www.annarbor.com/news/ypsilanti-to-file-lawsuit-against-stewart-beal-over-thompson-block/

  85. John on Forest
    Posted April 8, 2010 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

    Seems like our City Council is simple irresponsible nowadays.

  86. lorie thom
    Posted April 9, 2010 at 6:52 am | Permalink

    @john – well, that and willing to accept pretty bad legal advice as fact because they want to be bullies and it fit their want. That whole show was bone-headed. Glad its on tape and glad this was be re-hashed when Beal heads off to court.

    btw…here is the fun part…festival season is here in a month. Unless Beal gives this up, court process will take longer than the October date given in Beal’s agreement. I loved the leaping logic in the whole discussion on both sides but again – I would like to see better decision-making!!

  87. No Money
    Posted April 9, 2010 at 10:44 am | Permalink

    According to Ypsi News, Beal owes $86,000 in back taxes.

    According to records obtained from the Washtenaw County Treasurer, Ypsilanti landlord Stewart Beal and his associated companies owe $86,068.80 in past due property taxes to the City of Ypsilanti. The report, dated April 6, 2010, lists the 38 properties Beal owns in the city.

    Of the 38 properties, Beal is past due on 17. Past due pay payments include missed payments in September 2009 and February 2010.

    The rest of the article-
    http://ypsinews.com/index.php/201004-beal-owes-86000-in-property-taxes-in-ypsi/

  88. Brackinald Achery
    Posted April 9, 2010 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

    I actually feel sorry for City Council people sometimes. They’re damned if they do and damned if they don’t, all the time, and they have to suck up to every pushy contrarian dolt on the block in order to keep their crappy jobs, all the while on guard for their political opponents who are circling overhead, waiting for a real or imaginary misstep. No one here, I mean, just in general.

  89. Posted April 9, 2010 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

    An update this afternoon says that Beal owes $84,136.96.

  90. MCS
    Posted April 9, 2010 at 6:08 pm | Permalink

    Interesting that he owes $8378.54 in back taxes on the house at 113 E. Cross…just a few doors east from the Thompson Building. According to city records, he bought it in February 2009. Doesn’t seem like he’s paid much, if any, taxes on the property since purchasing it.

  91. Michael
    Posted April 9, 2010 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

    During his Dreamland Tonight interview, Beal said that 90% of his Ypsi rentals were full. That would indicate to me that he has the money to pay the taxes, unless he’s just chosen to spend the money elsewhere, like by buying new properties.

  92. Pott Kettle Black
    Posted April 9, 2010 at 10:18 pm | Permalink

    The ironic thing about the tax accusation is it comes from Steve Pierce (who is Ypsinews). Pierce operates the successful Internet firm HDL.com. Despite running it out of Ypsilanti for more than a decade, he still lists his “headquarters” as the address for a paperback bookstore in Albuquerque, New Mexico. This has allowed him to avoid paying any taxes in Ypsilanti. Oddly, the NM county site (http://www.bernco.gov) also shows him paying zero tax dollars there…

  93. Urop
    Posted April 9, 2010 at 10:35 pm | Permalink

    Wow. It kind of makes you wish we had a local press that wasn’t terrified of Steve Pierce.

  94. Billy
    Posted April 9, 2010 at 11:08 pm | Permalink

    or that we had responsible business people in Ypsilanti, who would quit be bitches and pay their fucking taxes! And that goes for Pierce AND Beal! Maybe someone should notify the proper authorities. What’s that old saying? The squeaky wheels get the grease? I’m sure they would appreciate the grease before the tax man comes a’ fuckin’!

  95. abbbinor
    Posted April 10, 2010 at 8:58 am | Permalink

    There wouldn’t be a conflict of interest if someone asked Robb and Murdock to look into why HDL is not paying taxes.

  96. jorj
    Posted April 10, 2010 at 10:08 am | Permalink

    Maybe you should both pay your taxes?

  97. Urop
    Posted April 10, 2010 at 11:00 am | Permalink

    It’s my understanding that Robb has a financial interest in Wireless Ypsi, which, if I’m not mistaken, is owned by HDL. So, yes, there would be a conflict of interest there.

  98. Urop
    Posted April 10, 2010 at 11:03 am | Permalink

    While we’re on the subject, I’m paying taxes today, and my wife and I are going to have to go into debt to do it. We’re having to take out a loan to pay them. It irks me something awful when I see so called community leaders who feel as though they don’t have to play be the same rules.

  99. Destro
    Posted April 10, 2010 at 11:08 am | Permalink

    Yeah, so, how does someone else’s sins acquit Beal? All that means is everybody’s gotta pay up. This “I can’t be held accountable for my crimes because you’re a criminal too” garbage has zero traction. Pay your fucking taxes and knock that worthless piece of shit building down, dickhead.

  100. Sanford
    Posted April 10, 2010 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

    You might want ask Pierce about it. It’s possible that HDL is a small enough that he claims the income on his personal taxes. Next time anyone sees him or his wife, just ask. I’m sure it’s a simple explanation.

  101. abbbinor
    Posted April 10, 2010 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

    Sandford,

    I don’t think we’re talking about income taxes here. I’m sure Mr. Pierce also pays personal property taxes on his house which is presumably where his HDL office is physically located. The real tax that is probably being avoided somehow, is property taxes on his capital equipment. HDL must have it’s servers somewhere. Is it possible that State of Michigan can not collect property taxes on HDL’s capital property because it is incorporated in NM, even if that capital equipment is located in the State of Michigan (using State of Michigan here as proxy for city, county, school district, etc.)?

  102. What's In A Name
    Posted April 10, 2010 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

    Stewart Beal has always had problems paying his taxes in Ypsilanti. Even on properties he’s been given tax breaks on. Seems he has poor accounting practices, or he pays his accountants poorly who give him poor accounting services.

    As for HDL’s taxes, I think that’s a very fair question. I’d like to know too.

  103. EL8
    Posted April 10, 2010 at 7:18 pm | Permalink

    Mark, can you start a new thread about this?

  104. Donald Washburn
    Posted April 10, 2010 at 11:45 pm | Permalink

    Right around now is where someone usually interjects that all these anonymous comments on an actual citizen are inappropriate…

    Here’s what I LOVE about “Ypsinews.” Steve Pierce is listed as the “reporter” for this story. According to Ypsinews, he makes an error in his calculation. Then the mysterious editor (which I have to assume is Pierce) prints the following retraction:

    “Because of a math error, the amount owed by Mr. Beal reported in an early story is incorrect. Mr. Beal owes is $84,136.96 not $86,068.80 as was originally reported. The error was made by the reporter.”

    The guy comes up with a fake news site, writes all the actual stories, then pretends there is some editorial oversight and he is just “the reporter” in an attempt to maintain the illusion that this is an actual news site. He can’t even bring himself to say “I made a math error.”

    I would find it even more funny, if the actions weren’t so cynical about the role of a free press in our society. Seriously. To me this is on par with impersonating and officer (however badly the impersonation is done).

    I know Pierce has a lot of friends in the community, many of whom I’ve previously admired. I’m seriously curious how they feel about his attempts to impersonate an actual news source.

    If he hasn’t, Beal should pay his taxes. I hope you’ll forgive me if I don’t get up in arms based on a story from Steve Pierce cross-dressing as a reporter. A real news source would’ve interviewed Beal and representatives from the city. This is not news. It is nothing close to news, folks, come on! It’s a stupid one-man smear that benefits his elected buddies and is no more news than an anonymous blog comments by someone making vague accusations and calling themselves “Pott Kettle Black.”

    My guess? Pierce has a reasonable explanation about his tax situation. Beal may have one too. A real news source would’ve tried to reach either.

    Sanford raises an excellent point about asking Pierce. Somebody should give the same advice to Pierce. Ask Beal. At least if you’re going to continue to pretend you’re reporting.

    Sorry. I’d like to hold onto what’s left of our press.

  105. Billy
    Posted April 11, 2010 at 12:41 am | Permalink

    For years, I thought that Pro Wrestling Illustrated had a crack staff of reporters and editors covering the wide world of pro wrestling, but later in life, I found out that it was 3 or 4 dudes writing under 8 names and personalities. My faith in reporters was shattered that day, and will never be regained. And to think…I actually had a crush on you , Brandi Mankowitz, and your villianous ways!

  106. Posted April 11, 2010 at 8:55 am | Permalink

    I’m not sure the HDL issue has much relevance here. HDL’s Albequerque incorporation means, what, that he has a PO Box in NM that his business is addressed to. But keep in mind that Ypsi wouldn’t see any difference if HDL were addressed to, say, a PO Box on South Adams, across the street from Steve’s house. (Though the State of Michigan might.)

    Michigan municipalities can only collect property tax (well, and income tax, if we choose to, which Ypsilanti voters chose not to), and a company like Steve’s doesn’t really have much to collect. He may own his own servers – but how many of us expect he’s got his basement full of server racks? (Answer: nobody who knows anything.) HDL’s servers are going to be co-located in some dedicated facility, somewhere in the country, that neither Steve’s location nor HDL’s really has any bearing on. Or they may even be virtualized – HDL may not even own any physical equipment. (In which case, Steve may not even *know* where the servers are located that have HDL’s bits on them.)

    I expect all Steve has at his house relevant to HDL is maybe a desktop computer and a filing cabinet. My knowledge of personal property tax ends at the point where maybe he should be paying on that (like, $50/year?), or maybe he’s under some threshold.

    More generally, though, this is a big part of why Ypsi and similar municipalities are in fiscal difficulty these days. Michigan’s tax code doesn’t give us good tools for dealing with web hosting companies, or graphic designers, or online newspaper journalists (I’m thinking YpsiCiti), or freelance iPhone programmers, or what have you. Michigan’s tax code assumes that we’re either dealing with literal bricks-and-mortar or huge honking assembly lines and tool and die shops with capital-M Machinery valued in million dollar increments – and when the latter ceases to be the case, well, too bad, because that’s the only thing in our toolbox. (Well, that and local-option income tax, which I don’t want to get into.)

    This is why (re)development is such a big deal for a city like Ypsi – with half our property tax equation gone (the machinery), we have to make the most of the bricks-and-mortar side of the equation.

    (Incidentally, this is why a project like Water Street, in the general case, Makes Sense fiscally, and why building things like a taco bell or a wal-mart on Water Street would not make sense fiscally – if our only fiscal option as a city is bricks-and-mortar, we’ve got to make sure we’ve got as many bricks as possible.)

  107. Posted April 11, 2010 at 11:28 am | Permalink

    I’ve moved this discussion on who does and doesn’t pay local taxes to the front page. Please make your comments there.

  108. Meta
    Posted April 16, 2010 at 10:09 am | Permalink

    It looks like it’s going to court on the 28th.

    From AnnArbor.com:

    The City of Ypsilanti and developer Stewart Beal will meet in court on April 28 to decide the fate of the Thompson Block building.

    Washtenaw County Circuit Court Judge David Swartz signed an order for Beal to appear and explain why the structure isn’t a nuisance and why Swartz shouldn’t order it to be razed.

    The city filed a complaint April 7 against Beal that contains several counts. The move followed the City Council’s vote not to approve a deal at its April 6 meeting developed between Beal and City Manager Ed Koryzno. The deal would have allowed shoring to remain in the city right-of-way.

    Without permission to be in the right-of-way, the shoring and property are considered a nuisance or hazard on several counts, assistant city attorney Karl Barr said. Beal’s Historic Properties 1 LLC owns the structure.

    The rest of the article:
    http://www.annarbor.com/news/court-date-set-for-city-of-ypsilnati-stewart-beal-over-thompson-block-building/index.php

  109. Tim as Paul
    Posted April 19, 2010 at 10:56 am | Permalink

    Dear Ypsilanti Neighbors:

    On Tuesday, April 20, Ypsilanti City Council will consider the sale of a portion of the Water Street property to Bravokilo, which plans to build a Burger King restaurant. Citizens are encouraged to comment on the proposed sale during a public hearing before the vote. Details can be found beginning on page 3 of the April 20 city council packet. The meeting starts at 7 p.m.

    Best regards,
    Paul Schreiber
    Mayor, City of Ypsilanti
    734-277-5446

  110. kjc
    Posted May 7, 2010 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

    interesting.

    http://ypsiciti.com/section/News/Beal+develops+three-point+plan+to+defend+Thompson+Block-article-1955.html

  111. Meta
    Posted May 10, 2010 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

    Councilman Bodary comments on Beal’s suit against the city.

    http://ypsiciti.com/section/Opinions/Bodary+argues+against+Beal%27s+statements-article-1966.html

  112. Posted May 11, 2010 at 7:26 am | Permalink

    My favorite parts of Bodary’s letter:

    “The owner of this property, Stewart Beal, has recently initiated a lawsuit against the City of Ypsilanti, but so far has failed to serve it on the City. Until contacted by AnnArbor.com, city officials were not aware of this lawsuit…This reporter said Mr. Beal had given a “press conference” and had apparently given a copy of the complaint to the press but had not yet seen fit to serve a copy to the City.”

    “Mr. Beal also complains that the city abused its discretion by failure to grant a Right of Way Permit (ROWP). This matter was included in the proposal that City Council did not approve. The suit claims that Mr. Beal cannot remove the obstruction without an ROWP. This argument is disingenuous for two reasons: a) A ROWP is not required to remove a road obstruction, and b) he has never applied for a ROWP to remove the obstruction.”

    I can’t help but laugh at Beal every time I read that.

  113. Posted May 11, 2010 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

    This comes from Councilman Pete Murdock:

    Memorandum

    To: Ed Koryzno, Ypsilanti City Manager

    From: John M. Barr, Ypsilanti City Attorney

    Date: 5/11/2010

    Re: City v Beal, Thompson Building, 400 N. River

    This memo is in response to your request for information about the law suit that Stuart Beal (Beal) recently filed against the city as reported in the news. I have not seen the official law suit papers, but when a reporter called me this morning, I asked that he fax me a copy of the complaint that Beal gave to him. The reporter said Beal had a “press conference” where he told his side of the story.

    Based on the copy of the complaint I have, it appears that Beal, through his attorney, filed the suit on or about the 6th of May, the date the attorney signed the complaint. Beal has apparently given a copy of the case to the press but has not seen fit to serve a copy of the city.

    The complaint asks that the court enter a writ of mandamus. This is a historical writ to order a public official to do or not do something required.

    Specifically the complaint alleges that city council abused its discretion by not approving the proposed agreement with Beal and that the city abused its discretion in not granting a right of way permit and a building permit.

    I have begun research on the law and facts of the matter, but at this time it appears that:

    1) Fail to approve agreement. City Council is elected by the people to uphold the laws of the state and city and to protect the interests of the public. Because of an emergency after the building fire, the City Manager approved an initial Traffic Control Order (TCO). This was done for safety purposes and in part to allow time to determine if what was left of the building could be saved.

    Council approved an extension of a TCO. When Council extended the order they requested a definite plan of action on the part of Beal. When no satisfactory plan of action or agreement was forth coming Council refused to extend the TCO. When the TCO expired, Beal’s shoring materials were and are obstructing the city road right of way and impeding traffic, both contrary to city ordinances.

    2) Failure to grant a Right of Way Permit (ROWP). Part of Beal’s complaint is that the city abused discretion by failure to grant a ROWP. It would be inconsistent for the city or city staff to grant a ROWP when City Council had indicated that they did not approve of a ROWP. A ROWP provision was included in the proposal that Council did not approve.

    Beal also claims that he can not remove the obstruction of the city right of way without a ROWP. I find this argument ingenuous for two reasons: a) a ROWP is not required to remove a road obstruction, and b) Beal has never applied for a ROWP to remove the obstruction. He has applied for a ROWP in order to work on the building.

    3) Failure to grant a building permit. Beal also claims that the city abused its discretion by not granting a building permit. Apparently Beal has applied for a permit and one has not been granted because of the fact that Beal has not submitted a plan that was satisfactory and the fact that Beal is obstructing the city right of way and granting a building permit without a plan would be implying tacit approval of continued blocking of the city street. Beal also claims he can not remove the street obstruction without a building permit. This again is ingenuous. If Beal applies for a permit to remove the obstruction it would be granted.

    Several other points are important in this matter. Beal is obviously trying to influence public opinion to his point of view. I have not seen all of the materials, but what I have seen is certainly slanted toward his personal point of view.

    At the time of the fire the city had authority to knock down the standing wall as it was a safety hazard. Instead, the city tried to work with Beal and went out of the way to grant a TCO and give him time to get a plan together.

    The city continued to work with Beal and extended the TCO and worked toward a mutual agreement. Beal dug in his heels on several key provisions, including a short time line, and Council refused to approve a further extension of the TCO.

    The remaining part of the fire damaged building is unsafe unless substantial work is done on it.

    Beal has not submitted a plan for a finished building, but only a partial plan for a non-habitable shell. Council found this unacceptable.

  114. Ypsilantian
    Posted May 11, 2010 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

    The email Stewart has been emailing:

    As you might know, on September 23, 2009, I awoke to news that the Thompson Block in Depot Town, Ypsilanti was burning to the ground. http://www.easternecho.com/index.php/multimedia/1853

    I rushed to the scene and worked tirelessly with the Ypsilanti Fire Department over the next 15 hours to put the fire out without collapsing what remained of the building. Over the next 30 days an expert team from JC Beal Construction designed and installed a support system that has permanently stabilized the building from collapse. Since the fire, we have been prevented from doing further work on the building because of the 7 month long arson investigation, a particularly bad winter, and now a lawsuit from the City of Ypsilanti.

    While we have been prevented from doing actual construction work we have worked aggressively behind the scenes to position us to redevelop the building when allowed. Specifically I have sought financing, located new investors, designed a new project, and identified 2 tenants who are in a position to lease 100% of the 1st floor as soon as the lawsuit is resolved. I am now entirely confident, that given adequate time, this building can be saved.

    On Wednesday May 12th our legal team will be arguing why the City of Ypsilanti should allow us the time that is necessary to repair this historic structure. Despite the fact that the City of Ypsilanti has worked for 20 years to save this building, the City attorney is now asking the Judge to order that the building be demolished within 7 days. I am emailing you today to ask for your support by signing the attached document called “Thompson Block Letter of Support.” I have also attached a picture of what the building looks like now and a rendering of what the completed building will look like.

    We are gathering 2,500 letters of support to provide the Judge so that he will know that the vast majority of people that enjoy Depot Town would like the building preserved.

    If you value historic preservation and would like to support our efforts to save a Civil War Barracks from unnecessary demolition please sign and email (or fax to 734-662-5869) the attached document back to me as soon as possible. If you would like to discuss this matter in further detail please feel free to call me at (734) 320-6376.

    This building means a lot to people. Here are 2 perspectives other than my own:

    http://www.annarbor.com/entertainment/the-deuce/what-the-thompson-block-fire-means-to-depot-town/

    http://www.annarbor.com/passions-pursuits/the-thompson-blocks-place-in-ypsilantis-history/

    Dear Honorable Donald E. Shelton,

    I am writing to urge you to use all your judicial powers to continue to protect and preserve the Historic Thompson Block on North River Street in Ypsilanti, Michigan. The Thompson Block is one of the most historic buildings in the State of Michigan. It was occupied as a Civil War Barracks in 1861, and has been a part of the Depot Town story ever since. The building is a vital asset to the community and should be preserved for future generations to enjoy.

    Furthermore:

    • The Thompson Block was partially damaged by fire in September 2009. Through a heroic effort by Beal Properties and JC Beal Construction Inc. in the days immediately after the fire, the façade was stabilized in place and remains standing.
    • The north two bays of the building are undamaged and with the façade stabilized, the building can be rebuilt.
    • An agreement was developed with the City Manager for the City’s concerns to be resolved, including removing all scaffolding from the street, and the repair of the facades by year end.
    • This agreement was rejected by City Council in favor of costly litigation that could lead to the demolition of the entire structure.
    • If the building is demolished in this economic climate there is no chance that a new building would in be built in its place.
    • It is not desirable to have a vacant lot at one of the most prominent intersections in the city.
    • Beal Properties, LLC has developed a comprehensive redevelopment plan and has identified tenants for the completed building. They should be allowed to proceed with their plan.

    Please allow Beal Properties adequate time to safely arrange for building repairs and re-development.

  115. notoneofthecoolkids
    Posted May 12, 2010 at 6:51 am | Permalink

    Oh brother!
    This kid has done this letter writing thing before…maybe Judge Shelton goes for that sort of thing. Beal does everything but the right thing. Plain and simple.
    …plus I thought some “Historic Equities thingamajigg” owned the Thompson Block, not Beal Properties? Maybe aliens own it…

  116. dragon
    Posted May 13, 2010 at 12:17 am | Permalink

    Has he shown the judge the philosophical rendering of the barracks of his mind and what he could have already achieved if just…everybody wasn’t so fucking mean to him. He’s knows that we are here to help others, he just needs to figure out what all the others are doing here.

  117. observingthis
    Posted June 29, 2010 at 7:16 am | Permalink

    What the hell is going on with this pile of crap?
    and who is this Ypsi Tattler chick?

  118. Mr. Kim
    Posted June 29, 2010 at 11:55 am | Permalink

    Her name is Brenda. She’s like Pat Lesko in Ann Arbor, only not so smart.

  119. Posted July 13, 2010 at 10:38 pm | Permalink

    Anyone else notice the ‘work’ going on at the Thompson Block this week? They
    (a very small crew) have been filling dumpsters with crap from the shell for the past few days. A few weeks ago there were folks stacking bricks up….anyone have an update on the legal status or the ‘rebuilding’?

  120. Hubcap
    Posted July 28, 2010 at 7:33 am | Permalink

    I was biking by the building yesterday and saw that they indeed seem to be carefully pulling the bricks from the west wall and putting debris in a couple of rolloff containers. A good chunk of the wall is now gone. I have a very vague hunch that they are going to take down most of the ruins and leave the smaller north section intact. Does anyone know differently?

  121. EE 62
    Posted August 10, 2010 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    A new report says that the Thompson Block is putting lives in danger. Here’s part of the story from the Ann Arbor News (http://www.annarbor.com/news/engineers-report-thompson-block-masonry-could-topple-into-cross-street/):

    A new report conducted by an independent engineer says a portion of the Thompson Blockbuilding could collapse into Cross Street.

    The report also detailed extensive damage to portions of the exterior walls and recommended 70 percent of the west wall and 40 percent of the south wall be demolished and replaced.

    The city and Beal are currently in court-ordered facilitation over a dispute on how to proceed with reconstruction of the historic structure, which was significantly damaged in a fire last September.

    The report, prepared by Wiss, Janney and Elstner Associates in Bingham Farms, followed aJuly 8 inspection of the property, which is owned by developer Stewart Beal’s Historic Equities Fund I LLC.

    Ypsilanti Assistant City Attorney Karl Barr said the report confirms what the city has already known and serves as further evidence that the building is unsafe.
    “It just provides a lot of detail to what everyone can tell when walking by the building,” he said.

    Beal said he hasn’t seen the report and declined to comment on its specifics. But he said his engineers’ own assessments, which were provided to the city, found the shoring system to be stable.

  122. Actly
    Posted September 6, 2012 at 7:58 am | Permalink

    I’ve been searching online for an update concerning this project, but cannot find anything. Does anyone know if it’s moving forward in any way?

  123. Kowa
    Posted December 26, 2012 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

    It’s about time for an update on this, isn’t it?

  124. Posted July 8, 2013 at 10:56 pm | Permalink

    http://www.concentratemedia.com/devnews/Thompson0237.aspx

2 Trackbacks

  1. By What’s up with the Thompson Block? on April 26, 2011 at 10:35 pm

    […] had lots of good posts about the Thompson Block since then, but I think my favorite was the one on November 2, 2009, about the City Manager giving Beal an additional 10 days to start the process of r…. Here’s a quote from the City Manager at the time: …In the order we are asking the […]

  2. […] community feel as though Beal, who is one of the City’s largest property owners, has been less than honest in his dealings with the City concerning the development of the block, and not terribly proactive with regard to […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Connect

BUY LOCAL... or shop at Amazon through this link Banner Initiative Dave Miller 3