Torn from the Pages of Facebook… Stewart Beal announces ambitious plans for Ypsilanti’s Smith Furniture Building

Local real estate developer Stewart Beal recently posted the following to Facebook and I’m curious to know your thoughts on it… As I’m seriously light-headed from coughing, and about half way into a bottle of Tylenol, I’ll abstain.

smithfurniturebeal

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19 Comments

  1. Meta
    Posted September 29, 2014 at 11:20 am | Permalink

    The owners are Ash and Mike Farha, the owners of Washtenaw Auto Care. They bought the building at auction for $99,927 in August.

  2. anonymous
    Posted September 29, 2014 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

    I like the idea, but I don’t see how they’ll be able to save that building. It’s been vacant for 20 years, and it’s full of mold and standing water. I imagine it would be less expensive to build something new on the site.

  3. Nurses With Allergies
    Posted September 29, 2014 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

    Does this mean that the Thomspon Block is no longer his primary focus?

  4. Jean Henry
    Posted September 29, 2014 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

    I met briefly with a different contractor about this space. He presented the same compelling vision of a local food emporium/court and asked if any Small & Mighty members would be interested. I explained that most small local businesses do not have access to the necessary capital for a restaurant buildout in a stripped space– much less several. The developer would very likely need to do the commercial kitchen install (designed for shared use)and all upgrades to electrical service etc. to meet his vision. He could then recoup costs in higher rent rates. At that point, the developer tuned out. Too often developers only have experience with corporate restaurant groups (which make money on booze not food) and don’t understand the business realities of small independent food businesses. Mark Hodesh at DTHG in Ann Arbor understood that he would need to build the shared kitchen to get his food cart thing going. I’d strongly suggest Mr Beal talk to Mark about that business model, before he starts talking to prospective tenants– especially if he plus to attract a group of them.

  5. YY
    Posted September 29, 2014 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

    I want Beal to be successful. What I’ve seen from him, though, doesn’t engender much confidence.

  6. Lynne
    Posted September 29, 2014 at 7:10 pm | Permalink

    This would be the best I could hope for in terms of use for that space, however I am skeptical that they’ll be able to get the necessary investors.

  7. c.
    Posted September 29, 2014 at 11:55 pm | Permalink

    Ypsi Terrarium = tourism

  8. Posted September 30, 2014 at 2:07 am | Permalink

    I had such high hopes for City Farm.

  9. stupid hick
    Posted September 30, 2014 at 7:02 am | Permalink

    I’m skeptical of Beal’s ability but maybe the owners have a better record and resources to compensate? Hope so.

  10. Bee
    Posted September 30, 2014 at 7:46 am | Permalink

    From bee mayhew 2009 [via markmaynard.com] :

    from a strictly practical stance, there’s potential downtown for more everyday stuff. I’d like to be able to get more than gifts & beer downtown; a bookstore with art supplies & other practical sundry, a couple more clothing stores, shoes… My fantasy is that the building on Washington across from the Beer Cooler could be a kind of edgy shopping collective- bookstore/records/clothing/crafts/fabric a la the Kerrytown Shops but with a distinctive Ypsi vibe. Within walking distance of the bus station, several great restaurants/cafes, the Library… yeah… I’d never leave Ypsi.

    I’m more interested these days in the potential of intent. I like the underdog, salty, working class Midwestern ethics that resonate here, and the commercial potential is huge but I don’t think in any conventional, big box sort of way.

  11. Meta
    Posted October 3, 2014 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

    Photos taken inside the building show how bad the damage is.

    http://www.mlive.com/news/ann-arbor/index.ssf/2014/10/a_look_inside_the_former_smith.html

  12. Posted November 8, 2014 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

    Mark, with construction commencing yesterday I thought I would share with you my new blog post about our vision for the Washington Market + Shops http://www.stewartbeal.com/blog.html?BlogId=57ba451e-0648-4e3c-895c-009c7b8d5b2c

  13. kjc
    Posted November 8, 2014 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

    Mixed feelings about that post. Sounds ambitious and if all turns out as you claim, amazing. Makes it even harder to look at that roofless mess down the street for another winter, spring, summer. Always amazed at how long nothing can happen. So congrats to downtown and to Ypsi in general if your vision pans out. Forgive me if I can’t yet believe a word of it.

  14. Posted November 8, 2014 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

    Kjc: Thanks for checking out the post. It sounds like you might not be aware of the literally 100s of other projects our group of companies have completed in Metro Detroit/Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti in the past 10 years. Have you been to the West Michigan Luxury Lofts? That is a good one to check out. Also check our my project http://www.brodericktower.com. So yes, Thompson Block has taken a taken longer than you might wish because of that projects unique challenges but any suggestion that our group doesn’t get things done isn’t really legitimate.

  15. Glen S.
    Posted November 8, 2014 at 6:22 pm | Permalink

    One might think that someone who’s been able to to complete “literally 100s of other projects … in Metro Detroit/Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti in the past 10 years” might be able to make substantially more progress on the Thompson Block (or at least put a roof on, as he previously agreed).

  16. Posted November 9, 2014 at 8:30 pm | Permalink

    City Farm.

  17. Posted November 10, 2014 at 9:01 am | Permalink

    Oddly, I just received this message from Stewart Beal through Facebook:

    “Peter I have seen you have made 2 odd comments about CityFARM on markmaynard.com. What are your feelings/thoughts behind those comments? What does commenting just “City farm” mean to you?”

  18. anon
    Posted November 10, 2014 at 9:06 am | Permalink

    the paranoid slumlord is his own public relations firm. god help ypsilanti.

  19. Posted November 10, 2014 at 9:21 am | Permalink

    Peter,

    You didn’t answer the question. What is the purpose of you writing the words “City FARM” in a comment section on a blog about the building formerly known as the Smith Furniture building?

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