OK, Ypsilanti, let’s talk about gentrification

In a text I received today, someone I know referred to Depot Town as “little Ann Arbor.” My sense, given the ensuing exchange, is that he didn’t intend it to be a compliment. He asked me if, since I took a stand way back when about the Quizno’s that had opened in Depot Town, I’d be taking a similar stand against Babo, the Ann Arbor “way of life” company that just announced they’d be opening a location on Cross Street, down the block from Aubree’s, and across the street from where that Quizno’s opened and then quickly closed… I’m still thinking about how I should respond.

For what it’s worth, I completely understand the concern. Ypsilanti is changing. And, to be honest, it kind of sucks in a lot of ways. Things that I loved dearly back in the early ’90s, like sitting next to stove at the old Frieghthouse cafe, drinking at the Elbow Room, and seeing bands at the Green Room are gone. And there seems to be a lot of outside money rushing in all of a sudden, speeding this transformation. Not only did we just have this announcement about Babo coming to town, but, in the last few months, we’ve also heard that a chef from Ann Arbor would be opening a place on Michigan Avenue, and a corporation owning several restaurants in Ann Arbor would be developing the Thompson block. It just feels as though we’ve reached some kind of tipping point, where, all of a sudden, due to rising rents in Ann Arbor, and changing perceptions about how terrifying of a place Ypsilanti is, people from Ann Arbor have decided it makes financial sense to be here. And it’s rubbing a lot of people the wrong way. It feels, at least for me, as though we no longer have control over our own destiny.

Personally, I’m torn. I’ve seen the city’s balance sheet, and I know, if we want to keep providing services, and fend off an emergency manager, we’re going to need to increase revenues. And people here need jobs. A lot of us, myself included, live in Ypsilanti, but work in Ann Arbor. And I think I speak for a lot of us when I say that we’d like to be able to have more opportunities here, closer to home. At the same time, though, we don’t want change. And for good reason. We’re here because we love this city, and its people, and we don’t want those things to change. We don’t want our neighbors to be priced out of their apartments, and for the slick and shallow veneer of Ann Arbor (no offense) to extend its reach into our community.

This is something that I’ve wanted to talk about for a long time, but I just haven’t been able to find the words. I honestly think about every day… How do cities grow without sacrificing what they are, and what they value?

I don’t have the time to go too deep on this tonight, but here, for what they’re worth, are two related thoughts.

First. Local ownership matters. It’s why, a few years ago, I started looking for a building that I could afford to buy downtown. People who live in this community, and care about this community, are more likely to do right by it. Sure, local ownership alone won’t necessarily stop bad things from happening, but, chances are, a local owner is going to care more than, let’s say, a Northville-based ophthalmologist who seems only to care about the bottom line. It’s something I remember discussing here in the past with Curtis Sullivan, the owner of Vault of Midnight, one of the few things, in my opinion, that still makes Ann Arbor interesting, in spite of all the Starbucks and 7 Elevens. Sullivan, as I recall, told us that his store wouldn’t be where it is today if the owners of his building hadn’t been local people who actually cared more about what would be good for the community than what would pay the most per square foot. And, for that reason, I’m constantly encouraging local people who I know and respect to purchase buildings, because, with ownership, you at lest have some control. And, with this same thing in mind, I’ve started thinking about ways to pool local money to invest in property. I haven’t made much progress yet, but it’s something that I’d like to pursue, assuming my business partner and I are able to get this old building of ours on Pearl Street rehabbed and occupied before the bank takes it away from us. [More on this later, I promise.]

Second. I’ve been thinking about ways to encourage people, especially property owners from outside of Ypsi, to better know the city, invest in its people, and act in such a way as to protect what’s unique about this community. While I’m still not sure what it would look like, I keep coming back to that pledge not to raise taxes, which, for decades, Grover Norquist has so successfully been able to get Republican members of Congress to sign. And I kind of think there should be something similar at the local level. Not about taxes, but about community engagement. Again, I’m not sure what such a document would say, but I’d like to think that it would, at the very least, encourage property owners to consider renting to locally owned businesses as opposed to chains, and ask business owners to involve themselves in our schools by offering internships, support our local non-profits, etc. Who knows, maybe it’s just a card that says, “I promise not to be a dick and jack up prices so high that the people who live here now can no longer live here.” The thing is, I’d like to find ways to encourage people to be more accountable to those of together comprise this community.

Like it or not, the tide is changing. Fortunately, though, the window is still open, and we’ve got an opportunity to guide the growth that’s coming our way before Ypsilanti becomes a bedroom community for Ann Arbor, and our downtown becomes as soulless as Plymouth’s.

For what it’s worth, there seem to be models that work. There are people who have done this well… When I first met Bee, the owner of Beezy’s Cafe, who I think is generally regarded as an asset to our community, she was working for Zingerman’s in Ann Arbor. She wasn’t born here in Ypsi. She hadn’t lived here for decades. But she moved here and built something great. The thing is, she did so in a way that didn’t alienate people. She got to know the city. She moved here. She sought people out to talk. She didn’t just launch with a press release full of cringeworthy buzzwords. And I think that’s the distinction. People, at least from what I can tell, aren’t pissed that outsiders are coming in and opening places. They’re pissed at the way they’re doing it.

As for Babo’s, I don’t expect I’ll be fighting it. I’ll save my vitriol for the chains, like Family Dollar. I will, however, keep thinking of ways to increase local ownership and accountability. And, for what it’s worth, I think we need to have more open conversations about these issues. If we don’t do it now, we likely won’t have another chance.

Here’s for those of you who might have missed it, is a clip from the the article by Tom Perkins about the Babo opening that was just posted by the Metro Times, which kind of goes deeper into the local debate over Babo.

…On one hand, its supporters point out the obvious benefits: Babo sells high quality products, fills a vacant space, creates jobs, pays taxes, sources from local producers, and offers variety. Sure, the price point is high, but everyone loves Go! Ice Cream, and those aren’t cheap cones.

And supporters also point out that Babo isn’t the first Ann Arbor-based business to cross US 23. Ypsilanti is an independent town that is fiercely protective of its identity and is often suspicious of Ann Arborites. A2Vintage, photographers/marketers Chin Azzaro, and Thompson Block developers A2Mission (Blue Tractor, Jolly Pumpkin, and Grizzly Peak) are among Ann Arbor expats or residents doing business in Ypsi who aren’t viewed as gentrifiers. But Babo doesn’t seem to be getting the same welcome.

As one resident put it on Facebook, the brand holds “a culture that is very much not Ypsi-like” and “embraces some of the worst traits of A2.” That seems to sum up the opposition’s assessment. The source of that feeling could start with the price point, as there’s some skepticism over whether expensive cold pressed juice drinks and $125 juice cleanses are going to fly in Depot Town. And there’s concern over what that means for future developments.

There’s also some question about Babo’s status as a true “mom-and-pop” venture. The store is Babo location number three, and is a part of the Savco Hospitality Restaurant Group, a company founded by Ann Arbor restaurateur Sava Lelcaj that’s composed of five food businesses.

Beyond that, the sentiment could partly be attributed to Babo’s/Savco’s somewhat over-the-top marketing campaign, which presents Babo as a soulful “way of life company” designed to “fuel and enrich our guests’ lives with honest and delicious foods.” Its customers are “beloved”; its an “inspirational” brand; and its locations are each “journey of food exploration” that improves the Ann Arbor dining landscape.

In other words, you’re a much better person, and the world is a better place, if you spend money here. Some people are skeptical of that sort of pitch, and the same goes for slick marketing campaigns that seek to convince customers of a business’s soul. For evidence, see the Shinola debate that still simmers in Detroit…

[Babo’s response, in which they say they “simply love the community and want to be a part of it” can be found the chains.]

The bottom line, at least for me, is that if cities aren’t growing, they’re dying. And, if Ypsilanti wants to avoid the fate of other Michigan cities that have gone into receivership, we need to fill our storefronts, encourage people to invest, and attract new people. The question is, how to do it in such a way that those who call Ypsilanti home aren’t either further marginalized or forced out altogether. We need to identify models that work, and we need to implement systems now to ensure that these well known problems associated with economic development are mitigated. I’m sure there are other ways to go about it, but, as I said, I think accountability and local ownership are the key. And that’s where I think I’ll focus my time.

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  1. Anonymous
    Posted March 2, 2017 at 12:48 am | Permalink

    Other brands could pull it off. Zingerman’s and Babo, though, would always have a tough time here. It’s not that they’re outsiders as much as it is a perception of class bias, IMHO.

  2. Kat
    Posted March 2, 2017 at 1:01 am | Permalink

    Be careful what you write about Babo. This was left on FB by a friend.

    “I wrote an unfavorable review of her restaurant on Yelp. She sent me a private message threatening to sue me, called me names, suggested that I was fat, ugly, and unable to find a man, and told me she’d figure out where I worked and have me fired.

    She freaked me out so much that I reported her to Yelp. She came after me again via private message with more horrible crap and I ultimately deleted my Yelp account.

    I’m a huge supporter of women, woman-owned businesses, and locally owned businesses. She’s horrible and I’d never give her another dime of my money.

    Go to beezy’s and shop at the co-op.”

  3. Donald Harrison
    Posted March 2, 2017 at 1:28 am | Permalink

    Thanks for throwing this out there, Mark. The conversations are already happening elsewhere online and around town. And like so many things, it’s not so cut and dry. There are nuances and context to take into consideration. I have a lot of respect for what both Sava and Risa have built, as successful business women who started from scratch in Ann Arbor. I can also understand the sense of concern about the character of development in our depot/downtown areas. So are yoga and fine foods not things that should be in Ypsilanti? Is it the branding? The class perception like anonymous stated? The pace of everything changing so quickly? A combination?

    As someone who moved here last year from Ann Arbor, I imagine there could be fingers wagging at me for adding to the gentrification effect. Although I’m invested here and have been getting involved in various ways, I know there’s more I can do to be part of keeping “Ypsi real”. So, for those who don’t dig these new businesses, there’s deciding with your dollars and avoiding them. But I think it’s also important to see how invested business owners become. Do they get involved, especially in areas that need support, like our schools? Do they make an effort to spend time understanding Ypsi’s culture and personality, not just seeing this as the next profit making pit stop? And maybe there are some ways we haven’t tried yet, like you’re suggesting Mark, that we can set a different course for where this gentrification story seems to go.

  4. Murf
    Posted March 2, 2017 at 7:20 am | Permalink

    ” The thing is, she did so in a way that didn’t alienate people.” That was probably true initially but I don’t think that’s as true nowadays, especially when her daughter goes off about white people who own Jamaican food trucks on a city’s group Facebook page.

  5. jcp2
    Posted March 2, 2017 at 7:39 am | Permalink

    Before pointing fingers at “outsiders” coming in and not “respecting our way of life,” maybe you should point fingers at the landlords and property owners who rent or sell to these outsiders. It take two to tango, but it’s always the “outsider” that takes the heat. Maybe #MAGA and #MYGA aren’t so far apart after all.

  6. Joe M.
    Posted March 2, 2017 at 8:37 am | Permalink

    Rent creep is already churning in Ypsilanti. 1 bedrooms that were maybe $500-600 in 2015 are now $600-700. I even saw some listings at $800+.

    I’ll be honest. I work in Ann Arbor and the main reasons I live in Ypsilanti is (a) it’s close and (b) it’s cheap. It just so happens to have some really cool events like First Fridays and places like Red Rock, Beezy’s, Corner, and Cultivate as well.

    I’d rather save the $300-500/month on rent for a 1BR in Ypsi than something marginally nicer in Ann Arbor. And let’s be honest – they’re not much nicer. Most landlords/property management companies just charge that rate because it’s the market rate. They don’t invest in and upgrade the units/properties.

  7. JC
    Posted March 2, 2017 at 8:50 am | Permalink


    conflating anti-gentrification critique with trump’s racist hashtag is ignorant.

    we’re against gentrification and we’re against trumpian expulsionality at one and the same time—

    in fact, gentrification is a symptom of racialized capitalism. racialized capitalism is the foundation of trump’s whole game. it’s also what has whitewashed much (all?) of downtown ann arbor.

  8. Arty
    Posted March 2, 2017 at 8:54 am | Permalink

    The genie is out of the bottle. The landlords and the real estate people like Tyler Weston who brokered the Babo deal love it. They all win as property values rise. People live money more than they care about community. For years our problem was real estate speculation. People like Pate and Dahlman bought buildings and held onto them as they fell apart just waiting for the market to heat up. Now the problem is peopke cashing in.

  9. kjc
    Posted March 2, 2017 at 9:04 am | Permalink

    yep. my friend rented a run-down studio apt in Depot Town for 540 (can’t believe some of the things that can pass inspection— a huge gap between the window sill and wall, so that you could see straight down into the wall). when she moved out recently, a local-landlord-not-to-be-named was raising the rent again without doing a thing to it.

    no thoughts on babo and littlebuddha yet. i don’t enough about them. i never went to the Babo on Washington near where I work in A2. i’m still in that place where I’m glad to see businesses opening in Depot Town.

  10. anonymous
    Posted March 2, 2017 at 9:27 am | Permalink

    Jcp2: “maybe you should point fingers at the landlords and property owners who rent or sell to these outsiders”

    FWIW, I think that’s what Mark was getting at when he brought up the discussion with the owner of Vault of Midnight. That landlord could have cashed in, but they did the right thing.

  11. Frosted Flakes
    Posted March 2, 2017 at 9:31 am | Permalink

    I for one, admire all the courageous white men, who own nice-big houses in Ypsilanti, who are willing to risk it all by taking a firm (and public) moral stand on soulless toasted sandwiches, inauthentic vegetable drinks, and fraudulent fried chicken.

    Not supporting a business by merely not frequenting it is for the powerless and cowardly.

  12. Lee Markham
    Posted March 2, 2017 at 10:09 am | Permalink

    When I was going to Eastern (1969-71), Depot Town consisted of a bunch of boarded up buildings, and Don’s Alibi Bar, with drunks stumbling out of the door. That was it. What they’ve done with it since is awesome. I wish we had something like that in Monroe. Maybe we could call it “Little Depot Town.”

  13. kjc
    Posted March 2, 2017 at 10:10 am | Permalink

    ““I wrote an unfavorable review of her restaurant on Yelp. She sent me a private message threatening to sue me, called me names, suggested that I was fat, ugly, and unable to find a man, and told me she’d figure out where I worked and have me fired.”

    that is totally fucked up.

  14. Rat
    Posted March 2, 2017 at 10:17 am | Permalink

    Tyler Weston had this to say on Facebook.

    Dear Friends,

    To my Ypsi friends especially, please help me to welcome our new neighbors when they come to town weather they are businesses, people, or groups.

    Because we do not have a local newspaper or any advocates in the media field we get “ass-clowns” like Tom Perkins that write thoughtless articles based on “what he read on Facebook” please do not give this guy any credibility.

    He and his like have no accountability to their words and do not care one bit about our community or it’s future, they just really get paid for click bait.

    Sorry to use the word ass-clown but it was the best description I could come up with.

    If you care about gentrification in a real way then invest your money in business you would like to see here and don’t in the ones you would like to see leave.

    Thank you for listening to my words, I appreciate you and don’t expect you to always agree with me, but I do expect us to talk about it : D

    Ypsi Neighbor,

  15. Stokely Carbuncle
    Posted March 2, 2017 at 10:20 am | Permalink

    I heard Piero’s building is going to become a day spa

  16. Ian Fulcher
    Posted March 2, 2017 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    Yeah, local female business owner turns out to be successful, gets demonized. Bet owners of the Rocket and World of Rocks won’t mind folks with those deep Babo’s pockets stopping in their shops before/after they buy their pricey chicken. Everyone needs to step off. Fight a better fight.

  17. AME
    Posted March 2, 2017 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    This is going to sound like an off-the-cuff comment and not related to the gentrification discussion but……has any in Ypsilanti ever spent $125 on a juice cleanse?

  18. Tyler Weston
    Posted March 2, 2017 at 10:45 am | Permalink

    Hi, Its me Tyler Weston. Two things: I didn’t broker this deal, and the article that was written was crap.

    And three, I will let my daily actions speak for me as to what I value and who I value if you know me and know what those actions are you will see my intent.

    Gentrification? Lets talk about it, but lets not let people who have no idea what they are talking about tell the story for us or communicate on our behalf irresponsibly.

    In closing, Ypsilanti, I love you and I love all the people, opinions and history you have created I will celebrate who you are on a daily basis, and every time I see that gleaming water tower on the hill I will know that I am home :D

  19. Chrissy Danguilan
    Posted March 2, 2017 at 11:07 am | Permalink

    You just can’t kill the beast.

  20. Steve
    Posted March 2, 2017 at 11:13 am | Permalink

    Has a salad bar been accomplished in Ypsi city limits with this? It’s always been a weird dearth of salad bars here. I started to think there was an ordinance.

  21. free jeans
    Posted March 2, 2017 at 11:23 am | Permalink

    At least Sava isn’t a white male trying to fry chicken.

  22. Anne Evans
    Posted March 2, 2017 at 11:23 am | Permalink

    Well written Mark. The problem with “gentrification” is not the development of middle-income or even upper middle-income establishments, housing, recreation. The problem with gentrification is pushing out lower-income and those on the precipice. If Ypsilanti wants to survive it needs the revenue stream middle income folks and successful businesses bring with them. But if it wants to also stay the Ypsilanti we all love….it won’t push out “others.” Stay vigilant on housing opportunities for those with limited resources and don’t buy that crap about “affordable housing” (which is not really affordable, but rather a percentage of the unaffordable). Call out merchants who are not inclusive in hiring or price points. Encourage resident ownership. Celebrate our diversity. Look for workable solutions…but don’t throw the baby (tax dollars) out with the bathwater (babo).

  23. murph
    Posted March 2, 2017 at 11:32 am | Permalink

    Are we talking “gentrification” as in “the stuff I used to like closed, and stuff I don’t like opened”, or as in “my community has undergone a wide-scale transformation where people with more money and choices have actively displaced people with less money and fewer choices”?

    If the former, meh. If we call any single business’ opening “gentrification” — most especially when they’re opening in a vacant space that used to house an IT company — it’s hard for that word to mean anything. To babo: welcome to town, and good luck. I admittedly don’t even know what a juice cleanse is, let alone why I would pay triple digits for it, but not every business in town has to (or should even try to) cater to me.

    If it’s the latter meaning, widespread change that not only excludes but actively displaces community members, then yeah, that’s something we should address before it’s too late — and I’m glad people care enough about it to be watching for signs and symptoms of it.

    As symptoms go, the housing market worries me more:

    * Last year, according to board of realtors’ stats, home sale prices in Ypsi (school district) jumped 13.3% over the previous year’s, over twice as fast a climb as Ann Arbor or the county as a whole, and second only to Manchester’s 17%.

    * A quick skim of this year’s property assessments from the city’s website shows even faster climbs in some neighborhoods — 10-20% in Normal Park, looking like 30% in the Historic East Side

    * One datapoint on hearsay is poor data, but: I’m told a home in Normal Park recently got multiple offers for over $200k — and $50-60k over the zillow estimate or city’s assessor’s evaluation — in a single weekend on the strength of a facebook post? Certainly not a sign that the market is cooling

    * I don’t have any comparable data on rental prices available, but would be interested in hearing them.

    Like it or not, we’re part of a larger community that includes Ann Arbor, one of the fastest growing municipalities in the state, and we are going to see people looking at Ypsi as another option for places to live within that larger system. (Especially as our school system makes more positive strides.)

    Short of outright intimidation, Ypsi doesn’t really have mechanisms for preventing people from moving here — and, as you say, we need people & investment to support public services and benefits within our community. (Fun fact: due to the arcana of Michigan’s tax system, those folks moving in, driving up home prices, and paying full Prop A “pop-up” taxes actually drive down the millage rate for everybody else — having some housing go up in value fast and turn over ownership can actually make it *more* affordable for other, longstanding homeowners.)

    So I agree with you that “up” is a better direction than “down” for a community — and that those are the choices. I also agree that “up” should include policies and collective actions that specifically seek to include everyone in the benefit of up. Enough pontificating from me for now, though.

  24. Stokely Carbuncle
    Posted March 2, 2017 at 11:36 am | Permalink

    As YT-lanti progresses toward hypesilanti, the hipsters will in turn colonize Inksterlanti

  25. Jean Henry
    Posted March 2, 2017 at 11:38 am | Permalink

    If a business doesn’t actually suit the residents or character of a city, it won’t survive there absent a tourist economy. It may be that babo and Tiny Buddha suit the residents of Depot town. Mark, I think if you want to support long standing businesses that reflect what you see as the true character of Ypsilanti, you should start writing about them. And not just the bars. The reality is that whether you’re seen as a force of gentrification or not, independent local business is a tough haul. No one’s getting rich doing it. There are easier ways to make money. This is not pure greed in action. It’s just people trying to find a place to open up shop. (And yes rents in A2 do not support small. independent business anymore) Talking about what businesses you don’t like in Ypsi is a lot less effective than talking about the ones you do.

    In the end, Ypsi really really needs the tax revenue. So you should be grateful, that businesses are arriving in town that will pay or support property taxes. They pay for all the services (like code inspections and freight house community centers) that you say you want. What kind of businesses succeed is determined by the market. Maybe Ypsi needs to look itself in the eye more closely.

    I’ve said it a 100x. Ypsi is Ann Arbor 30 years ago. We too displaced long time residents of color. We had cool independent businesses that served white liberals. We ignored the barbershops, the service clubs, the wig shops, the hobby stores, the hardware stores or the sex shops. We joked about running the sex shops out of town, until we did. All from good intentions. We didn’t celebrate those places as part of who we were.

    We liked the new businesses run by white people who demonstrated social conscience. And despite everyone’s demonstrations of social conscience, we still displaced the existing character of the city and replaced it with a super self-congratulatory and much more white liberal one. Waterhill in A2, an historically Black neighborhood, now full of mostly white and wealthy people who feel really great about living there and their community– is the ultimate example of what gentrification really looks like. It’s the people migrating in, not the businesses, that create it. Water hill’s community events, their snow buddy are all proudly anti-capitalist, communal, anti-corporate. And increasingly homogenized. The local school became open and alternative 30 years ago, displacing the neighborhood students to other schools and attracting the new residents. The diversity at the school is horrible but they sure try to practice it…in a vacuum. They do not see themselves as gentrifiers. There’s an amazing degree of self-deception.

    I recognize a gentrifier when I see a white creative liberal person congratulating themselves on creating community. And yes, I was one of them.

    A friend stood on a corner in Waterhill, while a long time local political activist pointed to two homes side by side, currently still occupied by Black families, and said “I’d really like to see a little cafe and market here… to serve the neighborhood.” I have to own my piece of responsibility for that fantasy in our Ann Arbor neighborhoods. And my intentions were all very good and communal. And I sacrificed my financial stability to try to make it happen. And I never got rich off the business.

    The people who profited were those who owned homes. Any financial stability I have is the result of owning a home in a gentrifying neighborhood.

    So lets not attack the business owners for being greedy. They reflect who you are. Or they won’t survive. If they are assholes call them out. But businesses moving to Ypsi is a reflection of people moving to Ypsi. They are displaced to Ypsi just like the new residents were. And they are forces for displacement in Ypsi, just as the residents are.

    Eventually, cool liberal cities full of independent thinkers and independent businesses become places where money and investment at a larger scale gravitates. And then those independent citizens and businesses who first displaced (with good intentions) become the ones displaced. And then they belly ache about capitalism some more, not seeing that they were the first wave force of it. Not seeing that they benefited tremendously from it. Not seeing that they were greedy too.

    Mark’s answer of locals buying property is a good one short term, but that too happened in A2 in the 70’s when ‘Briarwood was killing downtown”. But managing an historic building is time consuming and expensive (those codes are expensive), so eventually the owners sell or turn the properties over to property managers who get market rents and benefit from tenant turn over. There’s no question buying in Ypsi is a good investment. for the buyer. I’m not so sure it will reap rewards for the city long term.

    And no I don’t have an answer, except to embrace and celebrate and support the diversity you have now. Ypsilanti citizens aren’t protecting local businesses by attacking new ones. If they don’t fit, they wont work. They are protecting themselves from accountability. Being a white knight with good intentions does not prevent one from being part of the problem. I wish I thought Ypsi was different than A2 but it’s all so familiar. I’d rather not live in a liberal city again, honestly. It’s too heartbreaking. I hope I’m wrong…

  26. Rick. Talbot
    Posted March 2, 2017 at 11:51 am | Permalink

    Apple Annie’s Vintage and Jim MacDonald’s Antiques have been open in Depot Town for almost 40 years. There have been many others that have come and gone during that time as the area has thrived for periods, and has had many vacant storefronts for others. The area always needs new energy and ideas to thrive. I don’t know much about Babo, but if they’re willing to invest their time and money to take a gamble with us, I’m all for it. Maize is a good example. They have been a wondeful addition and have brought many new people to the area. There has to be more reasons for folks to come down and browse.Unfortunately it is hard to keep everything quaint, and pay the bills at the same time.

  27. Andrew Clock
    Posted March 2, 2017 at 11:55 am | Permalink

    Ypsilanti: where we are friendly to & proud of women & immigrants .

    Unless they open the type of market everyone said they’d like to have in our (newsflash) already gentrified shopping district BUT BRING IT FROM ANN ARBOR!!!!

    Meanwhile, you’re paying the bills at the vacant Freighthouse while cutting off the Senior Center & Community Pool.

    Ypsilanti. Do as we say, not as we do.

  28. facebook stalker
    Posted March 2, 2017 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

    Ebru Uras Herzog, who posted a link to this article on facebook, included the following preface-

    Mark Maynard wrote a really compelling and thought provoking article on Ypsilanti that sums up a lot of the conflicting feelings I have about my hometown, Ann Arbor.

    I hold no illusions as to whether or not Ann Arbor has gentrified. It has. I am someone currently priced out of my own community (thanks booming real estate market!) and have very limited professional opportunities here with my particular skillset. Kind of sucks for me, but I still recognize the privilege I have compared to many others in my community.

    And the Ann Arbor I grew up with, with many funky locally owned small shops and downtown department stores is no longer and will never come back. In its place we have a shiny downtown with some lovely boutiques and some good restaurants and bars that has become a local destination. It is overall cleaner and safer and probably has a stronger economy, but it is also arguably more sterile and more expensive than what I grew up with in the 80s and 90s. This change has pluses and minuses. I can’t imagine it can be undone, nor would I necessarily want it to be.

    But what really spoke to me about Mark’s article is that urban development is not an inevitable march towards gentrification but consists of choices that we as a community make. I think there are a lot of great thing about Ann Arbor that make it special and unique community to live in. I just hope that we as a community are able to balance the benefits of growth with the very real need to make this community open and accessible to all of its members and preserve the positive elements of our past.

    And if you’ve read this far – then should you know of any great affordable houses coming on the market or jobs for someone with lots of international policy experience and language skills – feel free to drop me a line anytime

  29. P Anne Palmer
    Posted March 2, 2017 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

    “Gentrification” has reared it’s ugly head in our beloved Ypsilanti and I am sure that you knew this was coming. Your blog was a good read Mark, and of course you are right about change, it is inevitable if we are to grow and survive into a more prosperous future, change is good. I also agree that local ownership is critical. I respect & know Sava, Risa & Frank Fejeran; they are local young people with skills, energy, ideas & money to invest in Ypsilanti; what’s not to like? I hope the new additions will make Ypsi more Ypsi…

  30. Janette Rook
    Posted March 2, 2017 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

    I am actually concerned about gentrification. However I don’t think vilifying a new biz is going to do anything about the actual problem, per se. I’d like to sit down as a group and work on strategy instead

  31. Anonymous Slur Slinger
    Posted March 2, 2017 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

    The “chef from Ann Arbor would be opening a place on Michigan Avenue” lives in Ypsi and sends his kid to school in Ypsi schools.
    The commenter who calls him a “white male trying to fry chicken” might do well to talk to Frank, who is half Asian.
    But why let some communication get in the way when you’re slinging slurs anonymously on the internet.

  32. free jeans
    Posted March 2, 2017 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

    I’m afraid you took my comment the wrong way, A.S.S. I was referring to an online attack against Frank calling his place a “gentrified chicken” shop and saying that as a white male he shouldn’t be appropriating “black foods”. I thought the attack was undeserved and I was making a joke, say that at least Sava hadn’t committed the ultimate sin of frying chicken while white.

  33. Jean Henry
    Posted March 2, 2017 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

    At a certain point the slurs directed at business owners by business owners appear defensive. They relentless othering that generates from Ypsilanti is tribalism at it’s most basic, with predictable results.

    I agree that it would be much more productive to have a community conversation with al stakeholders present about how to improve Ypsi’s condition without sacrificing it’s soul. It seems to me that this should really be a visioning session, but one that embraces economic realities, funding streams, where they come from, etc etc. My experience has been that people of all stripes want businesses and governments that serve their needs but not necessarily others. (And yes, liberals practice this too in their communities. They are often liberal more in theory than in practice at the local level. ) So it’s critical that all communities be present and be heard. And that the whole thing get very real about economic challenges. I suspect that the gatekeepers at the doors to Ypsi do not actually reflect the perspective of the most marginalized there. And the only way to find that out is to get out of the white liberal feedback loop and find out.

  34. Billy
    Posted March 2, 2017 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

    As a person who has eaten more than his fair share of KFC Nashville Hot Chicken….I can’t wait for Ma Lou’s to open…bring on the chicken…

  35. Kristen Cuhran
    Posted March 2, 2017 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

    Thank you Mark for this post. The conversations on Facebook about this topic had me getting sick to my stomach. These comments and questions feel more understanding of the complex webs we weave, the intersection of so many different factors. I just wanted to chime in and say Thank you. It is refreshing to see actual dialog and critical thinking and not just name calling, bashing, and quick conclusions. To me the most important thing is to truly think on all this and decide what your own actions should be (& community actions, if needed). Jean and Murph, I appreciated your reflections.

  36. Teacher Patti
    Posted March 2, 2017 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

    I want to focus on what you said about the owners of the buildings. We had a Salon at my tiny condo last year (cuz Salons are bitchin’ and Gertrude Stein’s ghost smiled upon us all) to talk about affordable housing. The one thing that I really took away from it (other than Stein’s blessing) was that the owners/landlords really need to be local. If I’m a rich dude (hahahahaha) who stays in California or Florida, I don’t give a shit if a 7 Eleven or a local business goes in so long as they pay the bills. I mean, maybe I care, but I doubt it. If I don’t live here, how invested am I? If I actually live here and know business owners, does that make a difference? I think/hope it does.

  37. Posted March 2, 2017 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

    Go to hell, Mark Maynard, especially for the neutral tone used in the above piece of writing/shit writing.

    And read From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation (by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor) while you’re on your way (to hell).

    Don’t believe in hell, or, gentrification? MarkMaynard.com readers and sympathizers? Well, go to sleep. And stay sleep.

  38. Andrew
    Posted March 2, 2017 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

    I went to Maiz the other day. Booming business. Had to wait. Seriously? I don’t eat local to wait in line… Finally, we are seated. Start a conversation with a really nice couple next to us. Where you from? “Ann Arbor.” Ahhh… They are coming! Still, it’s all good. Lived here for 20 years, and Ypsi only gets better.

  39. Huron
    Posted March 2, 2017 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

    I ask this in all seriousness, D’Real. What is your take on babo, and what would you have liked to have heard Mark say about their plans to open here?

  40. Jcp2
    Posted March 2, 2017 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

    You got 20,000 people in the city. Only 40% of them are between the ages of 24 and 65, with a quarry of those below the poverty level. By my calculations, that gives a potential local market of 6000 people. That’s a pretty small draw for any business, so of course any new retail business would be smart to cater to wealthier clientele willing to travel into the city to spend money. Gritty Ypsi had a generous benefactor called Ford which turned into Visteon which turned into an empty lot. That’s gone and the new benefactors will be bougie retail spenders from AA until Ypsi gets nice enough to attract another large corporation (maybe tech-ish).

  41. kjc
    Posted March 2, 2017 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

    oh do tell us how to be “nice enough”.

  42. JIm
    Posted March 2, 2017 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

    I own a small business in Ann Arbor but don’t live there. I remember when I went through the initial process of talking to the Ann Arbor News and The Observer, I was purposely evasive when they asked me where I was from. I knew Ann Arborites generally hated people from Saline (which I was) and looked down on people from Milan (where I now live). The backlash about Babo and the chicken place were just the kind of internet ugliness I wanted to avoid at the time. Even though I was born in Washtenaw County and have lived here for most of my life, the communities I currently participate in: Milan / Ypsi / Ann Arbor, all consider me an outsider. I love this.

  43. Demetrius
    Posted March 2, 2017 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

    Am I dreaming, or do I remember correctly that it was not that many years ago there was a similar discussion/debate about a certain would-be entrepreneur with “ties” to Zingerman’s who was planning to open a cafe on N. Washington Street?

  44. Frosted Flakes
    Posted March 2, 2017 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

    I think you are dreaming, Demetrius. Mark apologized for the blog practically turning into an infomercial for Beezy’s at one point

    I am assuming D’Real is being sarcastic….Who knows?

    Fruitjuice people. Fruitjuice and poultry!

  45. Bob Bobson
    Posted March 2, 2017 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

    Please go back to writing about Trump. I started to have a little respect for you and now you make me want to vomit.

  46. Demetrius
    Posted March 2, 2017 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

    @ FF

    I didn’t mean Mark per se, but some commenters at the time who seemed convinced that this development was going to spell the end of “real” Ypsi.

    Flash forward a decade, and today Bee (and Beezy’s) are practically the epitome of Ypsi Real.

    Babo isn’t Starbucks or 7-11. If some local entrepreneurs have enough confidence in our community to invest their money and time , let’s’ welcome them in and help them be successful.

  47. Heather Steenrod
    Posted March 2, 2017 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

    Kristen took all my words. Thanks, Mark. We need to have more discussions like this and do something productive with all this passion and ideas. Btw, Sava’s food is lovely. As is her juice. Can’t speak for the cleanse.

  48. Jean Henry
    Posted March 2, 2017 at 7:08 pm | Permalink

    I wonder if the real answer to the problems inherent to gentrification (and let’s face it, there are real problems with it) could be addressed more pro-actively than gatekeeping independent women-owned businesses at the door to the city. The opportunity Ypsi has over Ann Arbor in combatting the worst impacts of gentrification is in its strong century-old African-American community–30% of the population and holding steady, while Ann Arbor has 8% and dropping by about 13% a decade. I would suggest that rather than fighting the economic system, the community try to work within it to bolster Black ownership of businesses (and buildings). The number one issue is access to capital. There are means to business support systems, but access to capital is a sticking point. I would love to see some sort of fund established to offer grants for Black business start ups, coupled with business development support. The mechanisms to achieve this are still restricted but actually easier in MI than most states. And you have the know how within the city. And I think many wealthy (and otherwise) liberals would put their money behind such ventures, if the mechanism could be arranged.

    When I hear this discussion of gentrification caged within anti-capitalist rhetoric, I think of Harriet Street. The historic Black business district that was demolished to make room for a government public housing development. There are lots of ways things can go wrong within a systemically racist culture. Sometimes government programs limit the capacity and self-agency of communities of color too. We seem to further marginalize the marginalized in America no matter our political stripe or the mechanism. It would require great intention and a substantial redirection of the funding stream to do otherwise. Would I prefer reparations? Yep. But in the meantime, can we figure out a way to address gentrification without demonizing small business owners, like they are the whole of the problem, rather than just working in the existing systems as best they can.

    Speaking of which, when we suggest that cheap food to serve the existing population is the answer, we are ignoring that cheap food comes at substantial societal and environmental cost too. There is no silver bullet answer. Any solution requires compromise. Nothing teaches one this better than running a small business. I will never be someone who thinks barring the point of entry to a community is ever the solution. But we could maybe make room for more people to move into home and business ownership.

    And, yes, I too wonder what D’Real thinks of this idea. But I suspect he took his flame thrower and went home again. Paquetta, who also commented here, should have owned her own business a long time ago. I would love to work to set her up with a little catering business in Ypsi (should have happened years ago…). She still lives in Ann Arbor, while she can, but has demonstrated throughout her decades in this community, that it’s possible to bridge the Ypsi-Ann Arbor divide (and the North and South sides of Ypsi divide) with grace, love, humor, and in service to all.

  49. Lynne
    Posted March 2, 2017 at 8:31 pm | Permalink

    I think it is important to preserve Ypsi’s diversity for sure. Ownership of homes and businesses can help shield individuals from gentrification. But communities? I am not too sure. Still, there are things we can do I am sure.

    FWIW, I have lived in Ypsilanti for 20 years but I was a gentrifier when I moved in. My neighborhood on the East Side was much more blue collar before I arrived.

    At any rate, I probably wont shop at Babo but not out of protest. It just doesnt interest me.

  50. rosexo
    Posted March 2, 2017 at 8:54 pm | Permalink

    Do any of you know anything about what Savco was built upon? Do you know anything about its founder? She was a child refugee, whose parents escaped communist Albania (yeah, she’s not white, even though her skin color appears so). She was of low socioeconomic status her entire life growing up, and worked her way to where she is now, when most women of Albanian culture were lucky to be permitted to go to college at her age, if not already married, by the time she opened her first cafe. Sava’s passion and creativity breathe life into her businesses. She doesn’t need another babo on the corner of a town outside of Ann Arbor, she doesn’t need another babo at all, but she is investing in the Ypsi community, and frankly, if y’all did better research, you’d know the deep familial sentiment tied to the babo brand. “babo” means “papa” or “dad” in Albanian, which she opened shortly after her father passed. Babo is not there to take away from you or your community, but to join the community and bridge a gap. Why build walls? Have a heart.

  51. Dan Gillotte
    Posted March 2, 2017 at 9:41 pm | Permalink

    Hey Mark- good piece. A friend of mine Leslie Watson is a board member of a minneapolis co-op development group that may be a good way for you to build on your dream of more local ownership in Ypsi. http://www.neic.coop/our-story/

  52. Jean Henry
    Posted March 2, 2017 at 9:50 pm | Permalink

    Lynne– Why is you can see how community builds around businesses and home ownership among the whit liberal community but can;t imagine it happening similarly within the Black community, which is arguably stronger and more long standing, and I hope a lot less bitchy to one another. So much for the loving community of Ypsi progressives. All I hear from members privately is nastiness and resentment of one another. It’s quite disillusioning. (resisting the urge to reference the Sanders campaign here… oops.)

  53. Misterk
    Posted March 2, 2017 at 9:52 pm | Permalink

    “Fortunately, though, the window is still open, and we’ve got an opportunity to guide the growth that’s coming our way before Ypsilanti becomes a bedroom community for Ann Arbor, and our downtown becomes as soulless as Plymouth’s.” Why do you have to tear down your neighbor M.M? Two totally different cities, very different histories, very different sizes. Don’t mistake righteous indignation for nostalgia for the days when “we were poor and we liked it!” You have some good policy ideas. Stick with those

  54. Quinn
    Posted March 3, 2017 at 7:05 am | Permalink

    Anybody who I personally know who has commented “give Sava a chance, why all the fuss” makes more than the median income of Ypsilanti. Most of the shit-starters on FB who brought these concerns to light are below the median income. In short: y’all don’t care because gentrification doesn’t negatively impact you. I.e. check your privilege. A bunch of us who DO give a shit are in the business of housing the homeless and people living in poverty.

  55. Hypocrite
    Posted March 3, 2017 at 7:16 am | Permalink

    Replace ‘Ypsilanti’ with any rustbelt town, and replace Ann Arborites with immigrants, and you have the conservative world-view that got Trump elected.

  56. Facts?
    Posted March 3, 2017 at 7:23 am | Permalink

    GET OUT !

  57. Jean Henry
    Posted March 3, 2017 at 7:43 am | Permalink

    Quinn– Paquetta and Kristen both commented with something less than a flame thrower. Maybe don’t be so certain of the dividing lines in politics. At any rate, it’s safe to say the Mark Maynard’s blog is not a place where one is likely to hear the voices of the truly marginalized, just those who deem to speak for them.

  58. Frosted Flakes
    Posted March 3, 2017 at 8:12 am | Permalink


    I have the opposite impression. That is, I have noticed there are quite a few relatively well off Ypsilanti progressives that have carved out a nice little social/ political niche for themselves and they are more than happy to keep Ypsilanti in a perpetual state of poverty in their attempts to keep Ypsi and/or remake Ypsi in a way that fits their very specific personal needs.

    Their hashtags,slogans, and accusations do, at first glance,give the impression that they hold the moral high ground. I will give you that….

  59. Jeff Hayner
    Posted March 3, 2017 at 9:00 am | Permalink

    A lesson from the long-lost Ann Arbor:
    1) DO NOT let the DDA drive your downtown, they are only in it for the money. Unelected taxing authorities, especially those wielding Tax Increment Financing schemes should be avoided like the plague. Anyone who profits on changes in property values has interests contrary to building community and genuine community values. They want change, turnover and reassessment. This include local governments. Lived here for 30 years? Get out, so your taxable value is reset. That’s what drives gentrification.

    2) The only thing that sucks the soul out of a town faster than REAL ESTATE agents is real estate agents colluding with elected officials, or worse yet, real estate agents that are elected officials. The only people that praise Former Mayor Heiftje are those that profited from his crony, phony continuous growth/density mantra, see above.

    Ypsilanti has a ways to go before you can play the gentrification card. I have long been an advocate for Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti working harder together to grow our little binary star outside of Detroit. Success in this transcends property value or “walkability” or availability of quality vegetable juice as defining positive growth. Know when to say “that’s enough people please, go someplace else ” a thing A2 should have done about 10 years ago. Many of us have long been saying just that, what you see spilling over to Ypsi is the result of Ann Arbor’s excesses. Despite signs to the contrary Ann Arbor is reaching it’s limits, hopefully it will be over soon and everyone who comes after looking for cool affordable neighborhoods and cultural opportunities will flow to Ypsi instead. Then it can quiet down around here. Downtown Ann Arbor could use fewer people and Downtown Ypsi could use more it seems.

    P.S. join me in discouraging the AAPS from continuing to poach Ypsi-area students via Schools of Choice/open-enrollment. I think it’s just terrible that AAPS has turned it’s back on Ypsi Schools instead of finding ways of working together.

  60. Jeff Hayner
    Posted March 3, 2017 at 9:19 am | Permalink

    Hmm…quick comment on the “Savco brand” creation myth I see on here, it’s really none of my business, nor do I care how people get their start, but word is babo left Sava a nice chunk of change, which went a long way towards getting her “lifestyle brand” up and running. ICYMI Sava sits on the board of the Ann Arbor DDA, which has long since outlived it’s usefulness, but which has no doubt given her access to all sorts of pro-development people & schemes & money, so head’s up!

  61. Jean Henry
    Posted March 3, 2017 at 9:34 am | Permalink

    Jeff– I’m all with you, except on the idea of limiting growth. I lived in communities in California that did that, and have spenty of time in communities on the East coast thhat did the same, under the kind of housing demand A2 faces, and the result is astronomically unaffordable housing, some of the most expensive and homogenous places to live in the country. By contrast Ann Arbor is a bastion of diversity and independent culture. The problem in A2 is that we didn’t build fast enough. And we should absolutely have committed more revenue to affordable housing and workforce housing all along.
    It;s a subject we avoid accountability for instead of blaming developers.
    The library lot discussion goes on largely without mention (except from me) of the $5 million its sale to the developer would provide for affordable housing development. With matching HUD funds that could be a $10 million plus development. Current city funds for affordable housing $200,000. But the people in A2 want more green space, bikable lanes, etc etc and they don’t seem to care if those spaces will only serve the increasingly prosperous population

  62. Jean Henry
    Posted March 3, 2017 at 9:36 am | Permalink

    ugh. I shouldn’t write posts while on a conference call…
    **”It’s a subject we avoid accountability for; instead we blame developers.”**

  63. Andrew M.
    Posted March 3, 2017 at 11:42 am | Permalink

    I’m torn on this. I get the gentrification concerns…and like the “Pledge to not be a dick” request. However…. Babe is a chain, but it’s a MI chain. I’d rather have that than yet another Starbucks, or another McDonalds. Your point on Beezy’s is good- that place fit or grew to fit the community. Breezy could easily have been one of the many “cool place that closed” that we have seen disappear in 1-2 years.

    I take gentrification seriously. Being of Greek decent, I love Detroit’s Greek Town (not the casino). Greek Town has been shrinking and there’s not much left. It’s generally thought of as a pure old school cultural staple of Detroit. Doing research…. I found the Greeks moved in the late 19th century, and prior to that, the area was GERMAN town. Changed happened over time, it became a Greek business district. Changed happened over time. To people like me, that was a good change. To fans of German cooking and culture….not so much.
    (and no i don’t want to see Ypsi change into Ann Arbor’s culture, but I wouldn’t mind seeing some of their money, matches school quality, etc)

    I read about San Fran, and shake my head at the mega jacked up rents. It’s always been a pricey city….but Google comes and now it’s super duper pricey? Then on the other hand I think if Google had decided “Detroit” over San Fransisco…. with so many abandoned properties…. could things have changed for the better? Or would that have been the result of fucking over many lower income life long residents in the D?

    *Disclaimer, I do not care about “juice cleaning” but I wish any new business good luck. Still better than Starbucks.

  64. Quinn
    Posted March 3, 2017 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

    Jean, I wasn’t tone policing anyone. Just stating that the people who begun this recent argument about babo in Ypsi ( The discussions are on Facebook and Instagram) are actually worried about being priced out of their community because they make less money than people who can afford to patronize babo. Many of our citizens who work in the service industry in downtown Ypsi and A2 are marginalized and on public assistance. I know marginalized people who read this blog, but may not be a regular commenters. There is a ton of civic engagement being done by low income residents. My point is this isn’t theoretical for some people. We are a working class community with huge disparity between neighborhoods and egregious racial redlining. Some local business owners are aware of that and have paid their dues by giving back to low income residents and creating space for people of color. I want small businesses to value class consciousness and the history of the community where they are setting up shop. But I will go out on a limb and say that Sava probably won’t go that route or consult with those who do.

  65. Lynne
    Posted March 3, 2017 at 9:33 pm | Permalink

    Jean, Re, “Why is you can see how community builds around businesses and home ownership among the whit liberal community but can;t imagine it happening similarly within the Black community, which is arguably stronger and more long standing, and I hope a lot less bitchy to one another. “

    I have seen communities with a lot of black and/or minority ownership change even with high rates of business and home ownership. This is currently happening in SW Detroit. As the market drives prices up, the home ownership and business ownership do allow people to stay and not get priced out but as real estate prices rise, they being to face greater opportunity costs and often end up selling and moving to someplace cheaper. i.e. selling their house and taking the equity to buy a cheaper house with a mortgage someplace else.

    It isn’t that I think those things are bad ideas, and certainly I support programs which encourage and support minority ownership of both houses and businesses. I just think that other things would be needed too. e.g. keeping housing affordable as demand for housing rises. This can mean public housing but it also could mean different zoning to allow for increased density. A difficult sell to be sure.

  66. Jean Henry
    Posted March 4, 2017 at 1:55 am | Permalink

    Quinn– my direct point was that some of the commenters here who did not support gate keeping are also directly engaged in those struggles. You parsed a line based on assumptions. And I think we’ve seen enough of ideology based good guy/bad guy, ill founded assumptions from ypsi’s white knights now. I get the urge to resist gentrification; I simply think it could be better directed. And I think people who believe that only those who share their ideology are the people impacted by such things or who care about such things is just conceit. And its own form of over-talking. It sure isn’t listening. Ypsi has turned nasty. Anf the nastiest are the first wave gentrifyers, eager to close the door behind them. And that does nothing to solve the problem. It just appears to gratify those doing the othering– as othering will do.

  67. Quinn
    Posted March 4, 2017 at 10:10 am | Permalink

    Jean, I know many of us are fighting for similar causes. I’ve worked with a few of the above commenters. But I want to acknowledge the contribution of people who agitate and use less polite tactics to bring attention to gentrification.

  68. jcp2
    Posted March 4, 2017 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

    Why should small businesses have to be the ones to value class consciousness and the history of the community where they are setting up shop? By definition, they have the least amount of capital and the most at risk. What about non-small businesses? Landlords? Property owners? What about the potential customers themselves? Maybe there’s more community leverage to entice a small business to change practices, but the impact of having a large business change practices can be far greater on an absolute scale.

  69. Jean Henry
    Posted March 4, 2017 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    What jcp2 said.
    Owning a small business is a really great way to stay working class forever but manage to be held responsible for a multitude of economic realities beyond ones control. Sava appears to be an alternative to that standard, but she also clearly had capitalization well beyond the norm from the outset.

    Quinn– I appreciate what you are saying and I’m all for agitation well placed, but small independent woman owned businesses are not the right target. No matter how bourgeois their target clientele, if they employ locals and purchase locally and donate locally and pay taxes locally, they are serving the local economy and everyone in it. You could think of it as a more Robin Hood enterprise than King John. All local businesses make compromises. Is it ok to serve a wealthy clientele if the resulting increased revenue allows the business to pay a higher wage or provide health insurance? In their own way all small businesses need to balance out their options and choose their priorities within the existing economic landscape. These are not easy choices.
    It’s very tempting to attack the symptom rather than the disease.
    Thanks for the civil dialogue though. Much appreciated. For real.

  70. C.E.B.
    Posted March 5, 2017 at 11:24 pm | Permalink

    I myself, fear exactly this Mark. I have lived in Ypsilanti for 10 years but had been coming here to hang out for over 20years (thats a lot of my life) Oh the Green room, Elbow room even the Wooden Nickel back in the day, TC’s I miss you!
    I’m struggling against time to do exactly what you talk about. I want so bad to own a building and a business downtown. Something I just realized could actually be possible less than a year ago. I’m scared that with all of the recent A2 biz investments I couldn’t ever possibly afford a building in the time it will take me. I’m nervous that once their being here, it will jack up property values on buildings making the possible impossible for me. I’m worried I’m running out of time and it’s so frustrating. I am saving everything I can muster for a down payment but it’s a 2 year savings plan as I only have myself and what I make to save. The reason it’s important for me to buy the building for my business is primarily rent control, community involvement and investment for the future.
    I have a solid business idea that would compliment our community and it’s uniqueness, it would be a nice addition to our downtown businesses. I have a great (but needs more work) business plan., Have been having meetings with people to help guide me. Am very business minded, creative and in a good position. When I have the down payment to apply for a loan. I feel I have a strong foundation to actually get it. I try and find my patience, as I must while doing all that I can to obtain my goal.
    I also am involved in the betterment of the schools and our supporting the local heritage. I have volunteered in some way or another pretty much the whole time I’ve lived here. I have started to be even more aggressive with this as I worry about the state of affairs in our nation as well. Local is home, hands on and do-able for me. It’s where I want to be, it’s our people, who are my people, all people together.
    So hopefully this girl won’t get squeezed out of opportunity before she gets a chance to make her move. Hopefully my patience and hard work won’t come to late. Hopefully our community will always have an the edge I love. Hopefully these businesses will do more than necessary for Ypsilanti and our people.

  71. C.E.B.
    Posted March 6, 2017 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

    Oh and hopefully Tiny buddha will do a “screaming heavy metal yoga” class. I saw this somewhere and really wanted it to happen in Ypsi. :) Hell Yeah!

  72. Anonymous
    Posted March 7, 2017 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

    Biggest issue I have with this is that I’ve had personal interactions with both Risa and Sava, and they are rude and condescending. They don’t embody the “Ypsi Vibe”, so to speak. I’ve seen Sava fly off the cuff, make wild accusations and be VERY mean to employees and contract workers alike. Risa isn’t crazy like Sava, but she is rude and cares more about being right than doing what’s right, for her business and clients.

    I’m excited to see more things come to Ypsi, I just wish they were being run by different women.

  73. Donny
    Posted May 10, 2017 at 10:53 pm | Permalink

    Reddit is having fun. https://www.reddit.com/r/AnnArbor/comments/6a5uvp/old_ypsilanti_pushes_back_against_ann_arbor/

  74. site admin
    Posted June 13, 2017 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

    Well, that didn’t take long. Babo is closed.

  75. site admin
    Posted June 13, 2017 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

    No more juice cleanses, Ypsilanti.

  76. Frosted Flakes
    Posted June 13, 2017 at 8:34 pm | Permalink


    Ypsilanti fruit juice idea needed to squeeze out.

    I am drinking craft beer now to celebrate.

    In its right place
    In its right place
    In its right place
    right place
    There are two colors in my head

3 Trackbacks

  1. […] « OK, Ypsilanti, let’s talk about gentrification […]

  2. […] Ypsilanti pushes back against the new,” which kind of picks up where we left off in our most recent conversation on the subject. If you haven’t read it yet, here’s how it […]

  3. By Attempting to save tadpoles on Memorial Day on May 27, 2019 at 9:23 pm

    […] chasing kids. And, before anyone suggests that what I saw was just the most recent manifestation of gentrification, I should add that it was probably also the most diverse group I’ve ever seen in the park. […]

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