Five thoughts after watching Ypsilanti officials testify in International Village ethics probe

Last night, there was a special hearing at Ypsi City Hall, during which our Mayor, Mayor Pro-Tem, Police Chief, and Economic Development Director were all questioned under oath about their recent trip to China, and what, if anything, they knew about the funding of the trip, which, contrary to what they’d told the public, really wasn’t provided by an undergraduate Chinese student group at Wayne State University. Following, after brief a bit of background, are the five things I’ve continued to think about after watching them provide testimony.

The Background…

At some point this past fall, Troy-based, Chinese-American developer Amy Xue Foster, after making a formal bid to purchase approximately 37 acres of Ypsilanti’s Water Street property, offered to take a local delegation to China, ostensibly to discuss Chinese architecture, help sell the idea of an Ypsilanti development to Chinese investors, and meet the other members of the development team who would be helping to bring her vision for a 1,600 unit “International Village” to reality. This offer, according to a May 24 email by City Attorney John Barr, as reported by the Detroit Metro Times, would have been both unethical and illegal under City statue. “Members of City Council have traveled overseas in the past, but only at their own cost,” Barr’s email stated. “If a city employee or mayor or council member wanted to go to China, it would be OK if they paid for it themselves, but if the developer paid, it would be unethical and illegal under the City code.” Council Member Dan Vogt, according to the Metro Times, then wrote in response, “I agree it would not be ethical if they or someone on their behalf paid. I also am not clear why it would be useful.”

Fortunately for the developer, and the four individuals who would be taking the trip to China, though, an alternate source of funding emerged. On September 11, Ypsilanti Economic Development Director Beth Ernat sent an email to members of City Council, alerting them to the fact that the Wayne State University Chinese Student and Scholar Association (CSSA) had come forward with the funds necessary to send the entire Ypsilanti delegation to China. This, as you might imagine, raised quite a few questions, as it didn’t seem to make much sense that a student group would have that kind of money, or, more to the point, an interest in the redevelopment of an Ypsilanti brownfield, but the tickets were purchased and Mayor Amanda Edmonds, Mayor Pro Tem Nicole Brown, Police Chief Tony DeGiusti, and Economic Development Director Beth Ernat left for Beijing ten days later. [They left on September 21, and return on October 2.]

Then, while in China, the Metro Times published a story in which a representative of the Wayne State University Chinese Student and Scholar Association, through a WSU press officer, confirmed that the money used to fund the trip wasn’t actually theirs, as had been reported, but had been given to them by a representative of Amy Xue Foster’s development company. In response, members of the Ypsilanti delegation in China, communicating through City Manager Darwin McClary, who had not gone on the trip, said that the funds, while they might have passed through the hands of the developer, in fact originated with the Chinese consulate in Chicago. This, according to Edmonds last night, was something that she had actually been made aware of prior to having left for the trip, but, for various reasons, hadn’t shared with either the other members of City Council or the John Barr, the city’s attorney. [More on this in a while.]

But that wasn’t the end of the story. In a follow-up article, the Metro Times reported that, according to a representative of the Chinese consulate in Chicago, they were not involved in the funding of the trip, and never sent money, either through Xue Foster’s company, or directly, to the student group at Wayne State. This, as you can imagine, left many of us thinking that the developer, in all likelihood, had sought to fund the trip herself, in violation of the City ethics rules that had been explained to her, first obscuring her role in funding the trip by funneling the money through the student group, and, then, when discovered, claiming that the money had actually been from the consulate. And, this, for what it’s worth, appears, at least based on what has been said over the past week in various forums, to be the unanimous opinion of those on Council who did not go on the trip.

And that brings us to last night’s meeting, during which the our members of City Council that weren’t invited on the ten-day China trip, attempted to find out what members of the delegation might have known, and when they knew it.

Following are my major takeaways. They are admittedly incomplete. Hopefully, however, you’ll find some value in them… if not as convincing arguments, at least as invitations to dialogue on what is an admittedly complex issue.

1. There is no way we can move forward with International Village…

I’m sure some will disagree, but, having now sat though over 15 hours of meetings on International Village, I don’t see how it can possibly go forward, at least with this developer. As I outlined before, I had serious reservations about the International Village project before the delegation even left the country, but, now that it’s evident that a good number of our City Council members feel convinced that the developer deliberately lied to us, I don’t see how anyone could vote to go forward with the deal.

On October 3, as you may recall, Councilwoman Lois Richardson was already saying that “any trust or faith” she had in the developer had already been “shattered,” and this was before we even knew that, in all likelihood, the money hadn’t come from the consulate, but from the developer herself. [Richardson said the use of the Wayne State Student group to launder the money proved to her that Amy Xue Foster was “not going to be honest with us.” And, she went on to say that, in her opinion, this wasn’t the kind of group she thought the City should be doing business with.] And, yesterday, it sounded like both Ernat and Edmonds were coming to that same conclusion. Ernat, when asked what she thought of the prospect of going forward with the project, given what we’ve learned, said “(It) makes me very concerned.” And Edmonds, when asked essentially the same question, acknowledged that she “would have very real concerns about working with anyone who misled us” in such a way.

I’d be curious to know what others thought, but I did get the sense, however, that Edmonds wasn’t shutting the door completely, saying that there were still “unanswered questions,” and implying that we still didn’t know enough to walk away from the deal. Furthermore… and maybe I was just reading too much into it… Edmonds noted at some point that she wasn’t quite certain what Xue Foster may have said to her during a phone conversation about the funding of the trip on September 19, as the Chinese developer was speaking in “broken English.” While I think it’s unlikely at this point, this did make me wonder if, perhaps, we could see the developer attempt to excuse her actions as having been the result of a simple misunderstanding due to the fact that English is her second language.

As for my initial concerns about the project, which I alluded to above… I was troubled by the fact that the developer didn’t seem to have any relevant experience, as well as the appearance that the development was being pursued more as a means to take in Chinese capital, by way of the EB-5 visa program, than to satisfy any critical market need in Ypsilanti. [While I think there’s a great deal of potential for development on Water Street, I haven’t seen any evidence that our city of 21,000 people needs 1,600 more housing units… especially ones renting at a rate beginning at $1,200 per month for 800 square foot apartments. It seemed to me, as I’ve expressed in earlier posts, that the developer was more interested in having a big project, which would allow her to take in $500,000 each from several hundred Chinese investors, who in turn would each get a United States green card, than she was in creating something that would be sustainable over the long term.]

2. Our elected officials need to be more transparent…

Regardless what you might think our City officials may have known about the funding of the trip before leaving the country, I suspect that most would agree that this whole thing has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that we have a transparency problem at City Hall. Not only don’t we, the citizens of Ypsilanti, know what’s going on, but, according to members of Council, even some of them don’t know. Councilwoman Richardson expressed a few times last night that she didn’t even know we had a delegation going to China until late in the summer, when Ernat, during a town hall meeting, mentioned it in passing. And, Edmonds, when later asked by Richardson how the members of the delegation were chosen, was unable to provide an explanation, saying that she thought word had gone out to see which members of Council might have been interested. Whether true or not, it’s easy to see how people in the community might have the impression that Edmonds planned the trip in private, choosing those closest to her to accompany her. Again, I’m not saying that’s definitively what happened, but, given the exchanges last night, and the long history of dysfunction on Council, one can certainly understand how the citizens of Ypsilanti might be left with that impression.

And, for what it’s worth, it certainly didn’t help matters much that certain members of Council actively worked not only to push through the purchase agreement before the trip, but quash discussion, repeatedly attempting to kill the idea of a public hearing… This, I think it goes without saying, does not instill a sense in the electorate that they’re being heard and taken seriously.

3. I’m still not clear on the timeline…

The timeline of events is still confusing to me. And, if I had the time, I’d try to plot it all out here, using the documents that have been made public thus far, as well as the statements that have been made by members of Council… As I don’t have the time right now, though, I just want to note three things that have come to light over the last week, all of which would figure prominently on this timeline.

First, while I don’t believe Edmonds acknowledged it in her October 6 statement, it would appear that she knew on September 19, two days before leaving the country, that the money for the trip didn’t actually originate from the student group at Wayne State, as we’d all been led to believe. According to her testimony under oath last night, Edmonds said that she called Xue Foster prior to the special September 19 City Council meeting at the Freighthouse, and asked her directly where the money for the trip had come from. Xue Foster, she said, told her that the money had actually come from the Chinese consulate, and was just channeled through the Wayne State group. When Councilman Murdock asked Edmonds why she hadn’t brought this to the attention of Council, Edmonds said that she was just focused on getting through the meeting, which went until 1:30 AM that night, getting some sleep, and “getting out of town.” [The delegation left for China two days later.]

Second, there was apparently a LinkedIn exchange between Edmonds and a representative of the Chinese student group at Wayne State in which she asks where the money funding the trip had come from, and he responds by naming Xue Foster’s development group. Edmonds says that she didn’t open and read his response until returning back to Michigan, and I have no reason not to believe her, but the fact that she was inquiring about the source of the money suggests to me that she at least had a feeling that the money wasn’t really coming from an undergraduate student organization that just wanted to help Ypsilanti out. Furthermore, this is just one more piece of evidence suggesting that the money did not come from the Chinese consulate, but from Xue Foster’s company. [Hopefully the firm we hire to conduct the official investigation will be able to trace the funds back, starting with the cashiers check that was sent to the travel agency to purchase the tickets.] …Here, for those of you who haven’t seen it yet, is the exchange between Edmonds and the student representative of the WSU club.

Third, there was quite a bit of discussion last night about when the tickets for the trip were actually purchased. According to some of the materials made public thus far, it looks as though they may have been purchased on September 5, as there appears to be a reservation number referenced in an email on that date. And, if true, this would appear to run contrary to Ernat’s September 11 email noted at the beginning of this post, which alerted Council to the fact that the Wayne State University Chinese Student and Scholar Association (CSSA) had just come forward with the funds necessary to send the entire Ypsilanti delegation to China.

4. The City needs to do a better job of vetting those we do business with…

While being a first-time developer shouldn’t necessarily keep anyone with a good idea from being heard, it’s still somewhat perplexing to me that we let this go as far as we did, given the fact that Xue Foster not only hadn’t ever done anything even remotely similar in the past, but didn’t even really have an office to speak of… just an address at what’s been described to me as an “LLC farm” in Troy. While she certainly had money at her disposal, and she was able to assemble a fairly credible team of hired guns to take on the various tasks that needed to be addressed, I would have thought that Council would have done a better job of vetting. When, as someone pointed out last night, Herman & Kittle proposed building a single apartment building on the Water Street site, members of Council drove to Indiana to look at units that the company operated there. In this case, though, there was nothing to look at, as the development group hadn’t actually done anything before. So, instead, a group of people representing the City traveled to China to apparently look at buildings that “inspired” Xue Foster. That alone, I would think, would have raised a few red flags.

5. How about cider and donuts on Water Street…

I don’t know if anyone cares what I think, but here’s what I’d suggest we do next… If I were in a position of power at City Hall, I’d immediately rescind the purchase agreement with International Village LLC, pending the results of the investigation. Then, before the weather turns cold, I’d try to attempt a hard reset by inviting everyone in the community out to Water Street for cider and donuts. And, once people were there, I’d apologize profusely, vow to be more transparent, and officially initiate the process of drafting a Community Benefits Statement, outlining what we, as members of this community, would expect from a developer looking to put something on Water Street. And, as an act off good faith, I’d announce a special commission, which would include both young renters, as well as older homeowners, to help draft the statement… I think, really, that’s the only way forward at this point… Like someone said at the meeting on the 19th, there are going to be other developers in the future. Ypsi is too close to Ann Arbor, Ann Arbor is growing too fast, and we have too interesting of a community. We need to be ready for this eventuality. And we can’t afford to be caught off guard again. Everyone needs to feel as though they are part of this decision. Water Street is, after all, a community owned asset, and, while we can’t possibly make everyone happy, I can’t help but think that we can do better than we did this time out. So that’s what I’d recommend… I don’t necessarily want anyone to lose their job over this. I just want a recognition of the fact that we handled this poorly, and a promise to move forward more thoughtfully in the future… Like I said before, I don’t think this plan looked good in the first place, so I don’t really think we lost out here. In fact, I think we likely dodged a bullet. So now let’s take what we’ve learned and move on.

And, here, thanks to Cami and Scott Fussey, is video of the entire hearing, in three parts.

[If you feel like you still want more, check out these previous posts on the International Village development; My thoughts on International Village, With the Mayor and Mayor Pro-Tem having left the room, Ypsi City Council votes unanimously to pursue a formal investigation into their recent trip to China, Who really paid for Ypsilanti city officials to visit China?]

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  1. Posted October 11, 2017 at 11:17 pm | Permalink

    Great blog, Mark. Thanks for helping us save our city from International Vilian. The wildlife at water street temporarily thanks you! NOW WHAT CAN WE DO TO SAVE THEIR HABITAT? Whether we want to acknowledge it or not, Mother Earth has reclaimed that site and it is an extraordinary habitat for very diverse wildlife.

    Spotted there recently: hawk, falcon, eagle, cormorant, Belted Kingfisher, heron, deer, fox, monarch, an incredible amount of bees and other pollinators, black squirrels, and much more.


    it would be great to put just a combo Aldi/Arbor Farms Market that does Double Up Food Bucks in the front and leave the rest WILD. We can remediate the pollution 1/2 acre at a time as we can afford it so as to not disturb wildlife. We owe around 9 million left on it and will have it paid off by 2031.


  2. Iron Lung
    Posted October 12, 2017 at 3:39 am | Permalink

    The suggestions for Water Street are wildlife sanctuary and graveyard.

    I don’t live in Ypsi, but I’m always struck by how disinterested it is in increasing its tax base.

  3. ypsidoodledandy
    Posted October 12, 2017 at 5:23 am | Permalink

    You are being very kind to the officials who went to China, but I’m not sure this whole episode will be–or should be–so quickly forgiven–it has substantial and ongoing consequences.

    We are apparently hiring an independent investigator to ascertain the facts of what transpired, re: the trip. That will cost how much? $6,000? $10,000?

    Given the murkiness of who said what to who and who read what when, it seems possible if not plausible actual wrongdoing will be found. One interesting question will be when any necessary travel visas/passports etc. were applied for and by whom. And I do look forward to finding out how the Police Chief in particular came to go on the trip–how was his presence relevant?!

    I have not read a satisfying explanation for why the trip was taken to begin with–what they hoped to accomplish. Nor has there been much information after the fact about what they accomplished–what investors did they meet with, etc.

    It comes across as having been little more than a paid holiday–maybe the city employees who went should be asked to use vacation time instead of being paid salary for that time (the salaries paid being another not inconsequential cost of this trip).

    Then there is the cost of the trip itself, which one item I read thought perhaps the city itself will end up having to repay ($16,000? $20,000? More?)

    All of this is real money in Ypsilanti, especially when you consider the gratuitous cuts the Council made to things like rec centers not many months ago.

    The project itself always seemed suspect, as you note, not just because of the developer but also because of the nonspecifity of where the funding was coming from–40% EB-5 visas (from people already commited?) and the rest from “other”. Even the EB-5 job creation required was not clear, how that would be accomplished. It speaks to desperation that it got as far as it did.

    The difficulty with just “moving on” is these are the same people, elected and appointed, who will deal with future develeopment options in the city, so it seems important to know with certainty what happened–was it avarice or incompetance? (why does it seem that is what we are always left to chose from?). The ‘broken english” excuse–really?!

    That’s not to say EB-5 funding could not be used in Ypsilanti–maybe for your Water Street project! Though they are apparently losing luster in China, they appear to be open to anyone in the world.

    Btw, it should not surprise anyone that serious wealth was created overseas when we moved much of our manufacturing, especially electronics, to those countries–innovation typically happens in the supply chain, wherever that chain is located.

  4. NormlCouple
    Posted October 12, 2017 at 5:31 am | Permalink

    It’s very noble and responsible to come sister saving the area for a preserve. Themporblem
    Is that a preserve doesn’t pay any bills, and unfortunately the area is a toilet for money that Ypsilanti can’t afford to flush anymore.

  5. Hyborian Warlord
    Posted October 12, 2017 at 6:54 am | Permalink

    Nice job on this issue, MM. I scold this blog often but not on International Village.

  6. Sad
    Posted October 12, 2017 at 6:55 am | Permalink

    Thanks again for another well thought out piece on a difficult subject.

    I’ll miss the memes.

    I also liked imagining International Village in some sort of dystopian future. But oh well.

    Onward and upward.

  7. JM
    Posted October 12, 2017 at 7:13 am | Permalink

    As an initial supporter of IV, given the events post-9/19, I think it should be stopped as well. Not even for the possible lying or lack of experience from the developer, but from the clear reality that our tiny city is in WAY over its head.

    Edmonds and Ernat saw the 9-figure deal couldn’t stop drooling long enough to think this through seriously. They ran with it and forced it through as quickly as possible without fully informing the rest of the council or doing basic vetting.

    It gives me great pause and concern for any future development proposes. This has shown Ypsilanti, at this time, is far from capable of handling such complex measures.

    I know there’s a lot of anti-Ann Arbor phobia out there, but why can’t our council work with the city of Ann Arbor, well versed in larger developments, next time? Or some other Metro Detroit community?

    The millage gives the city the time and money to just sit on the property until the proper structure is in place to assess proposals AND find the right community fit. It needs to be mixed use and include unsubsidized housing.

  8. Steve Bean
    Posted October 12, 2017 at 7:45 am | Permalink

    I don’t think “there are going to be other developers in the future”, at least not in the sense that you and others mean by that. The circumstances and options will be quite different next time around. I’d put the odds of some federal program being the prime mover as very high. Timing-wise I’d put it at 5-10 years at best. The current window of opportunity is likely to close well before the next proposal is even halfway assembled. If selling the property is an option at this point (I really don’t know the details regarding this property very well), I’d suggest doing so at whatever discount it takes to do so by March 2018. The inevitable downturn in the real estate/housing market might not be evident by then, though a stock market crash (if it’s ‘front loaded’) would probably negatively impact prospects of a sale.

  9. Jcp2
    Posted October 12, 2017 at 8:47 am | Permalink

    Maybe serious potential developers have decided that rather than working through a set of complex and ever changing conditions on the Water Street site with inexperienced civic officials, it might be better just to wait until the city goes into receivership, and get it at a discount with fewer preconditions. The property will still be there.

  10. Anne
    Posted October 12, 2017 at 9:31 am | Permalink

    If we’re looking at the big picture environmentally wise, what Water Street needs is high density development and not some massive park. John Hiejfte got a lot of flack for his push for density in AA, but as an environmentalist he knew the impact of sprawl was a far greater threat. Yes we need to better integrate green space and protect the riparian corridors, but we want people living in downtown areas and not pushed to the outside of the City into the green spaces there. The increases in required infrastructure, resources, car traffic (driving further to do the same tasks) created by sprawl is massive. If we really want to reduce our carbon foot print we need to live in smaller, more dense and more centrally located areas which means turning areas like Water Street that are central to our downtown into mixed use, mixed income, multi-family opportunities. The environment will thank you.

  11. Jules
    Posted October 12, 2017 at 9:48 am | Permalink

    Excellent post, Mark. I’m feeling the same way about it all except you’re far more accepting of Amanda’s feeble excuses than I’m inclined to be. Her behavior in this debacle has been a huge letdown. You’re conclusion is the kicker, though. Having dodged a bullet, Ypsi should be ready when the next suitor comes calling.

  12. Gillian
    Posted October 12, 2017 at 9:53 am | Permalink

    I, too, am very disappointed both that the developer seems to have intentionally misled the city, and that city officials did not do their due diligence about the source of the funds despite many “red flags” that should have been noticed by several people.

    Whether or not this particular project is going forward with this particular developer, I disagree that we need to go back to the drawing board about what we want to see on the site–that piece has been clear from the beginning. It’s in the master plan. The award-winning master plan that included a robust public process and dozens of meetings with hundreds of stakeholders across all segments of the community.

    Water Street should be a mixed-use development with high density housing, first floor retail along Michigan Avenue, a 100-foot trail along the river connecting to the Border to Border Trail, and a grid street structure echoing that of the surrounding downtown. Yes, this would help our tax base but it is also the best thing we can do for the PEOPLE of Ypsilanti.

    People in southeast Michigan spend as much money on transportation as they do on housing. Building more housing in cornfields in Canton is only going to make that problem worse, not to mention destroying more habitat. Adding high density housing in the middle of an already-dense, walkable, transit accessible city is the best thing you can do for affordability and the environment.

  13. Steven Pickard
    Posted October 12, 2017 at 10:09 am | Permalink

    That International Village will never get built. It seemed like a Disneyworld Pie in the Sky concept when they proposed it, and sounds even more so now. Not sure what the con is yet… but there is one. It will happen about as surely a Thompson Block Zingermans, or a Ypsi County Rec Center.

  14. Citywatch
    Posted October 12, 2017 at 10:14 am | Permalink

    Thank you Mark for your reporting. I was initially a supporter of this project as well as the much needed boost to our tax base. Now I think we need to end any relationship with this developer. The reasons are too many to list here. Those city officials who participated in this trip need further questioning to ascertain exactly what each of them THOUGHT their purpose was in going, and when and if they actually knew where the money was coming from. Once these questions are answered, appropriate and legal action should be taken if it is indicated. Right now the shadow of wrongdoing and distrust falls not only on the developer, but on the city officials who went and why. If the mayor went the mayor protem should stay. That is the purpose of a mayor pro-ten. Why was it necessary for the police chief to go? Even if everything was above board, only Edmonds and Ernat needed to make the trip. We have cameras and voice recorders and we can send documents by email after all.

  15. Dan
    Posted October 12, 2017 at 10:33 am | Permalink

    @steven pickard,

    the con is that the developer was just trying to get a few hundred million dollars from wealthy chinese families looking to buy citizenship in the US. It’s easy fund raising of an enormous amount of cash.

    They could have just built the place, cut as many corners as possible, lie about remediation efforts, etc. And it would have ended up a dump or unsafe or whatever, and the “investors” wouldnt have cared. They are not really investing in a housing community in a poor city. They are purchasing green cards.

  16. BobbyJohn
    Posted October 12, 2017 at 10:34 am | Permalink

    Mark, first time I’ve seen your blog and very happy to see an Ypsilantian doing such a good job of researching and investigating city politics.
    One thing you didn’t mention was how difficult it is to get Chinese EB-5 investors to actually commit and invest. I have been involved with a local company who has for years worked to get EB-5 funding. We have people actually in China for years, and still find it very difficult (i.e. impossible) to make it work.
    Beyond the possible chicanery, I find the mayor and her group, especially the city development director, incredibly naive, if they felt a trip/vacation to look at architecture and see the sights would really make getting EB-5 a reality.
    Very disappointed in the business acumen of Edmonds, Ernat and Brown. (Don’t expect business savviness from the police chief)
    On top of that, I don’t know what help a junket to China would have been to deciding on International Village, however, seems like it was a fantastic paid vacation.
    Mark, keep on top of the situation. I believe there is more here than meets the eye. Perhaps it is just naive city officials, but hard to believe all four of them are so unaware.

  17. anonymous
    Posted October 12, 2017 at 10:35 am | Permalink

    It has come up that the developer offered to take two people over and Amanda requested that four go over instead. Amanda said during the meeting that she wasn’t aware of how it came to be that four people were sent. If I were a betting man, I’d say that Amanda relishes the idea of being an international mayor, couldn’t say no to the trip and chose to take her besties along for the ride . The only good news in all of this is that it marks the end of her political career.

  18. Anne
    Posted October 12, 2017 at 10:42 am | Permalink

    My assumption with the Police Chief going, was to be able to assure potential investors that they met with and the rest of the development team in China that the community and their investment would be safe. U.S. cities have a bad reputation when it comes to safety with foreigners and I know its something the Chinese business community has to confront when marketing areas like Detroit with potential investors. The Detroit Chinese business community as well as other Detroit community leaders have done a lot of marketing in the last few years to make Detroit sound less scary and more inviting in China. But Ypsilanti wouldn’t necessarily be well known to many of them. And honestly safety is not a concern that a conversation on the phone would help alleviate.

    I also assume that from the development teams standpoint, this whole trip was less about the City being able to do it’s due diligence or even “winging and dining them” (a phrase I’ve seen thrown about in this trip discussion a lot) and was more about securing investment from potential EB5 investors. With the level of investment that they were looking for, they had to get City officials there to reassure potential investors. There are a lot of development folks out there chasing around EB5 investment and very little of it has come to Michigan, largely because it doesn’t have the reputation or familiarity abroad as other regions in the US.

  19. Jean Henry
    Posted October 12, 2017 at 10:50 am | Permalink

    Pete– “The suggestions for Water Street are wildlife sanctuary and graveyard.
    I don’t live in Ypsi, but I’m always struck by how disinterested it is in increasing its tax base.”

    –These socialists and marxists are suspicious of any means of raising city revenue as ‘capitalist’ which is funny as hell. They think that if you just leave water street alone it will remediate itself and somehow housing will magically become more affordable without adding to supply or even having revenue to maintain existing supported housing. DAY activists will realize they are truly libertarians in 1…2…3…

  20. Posted October 12, 2017 at 11:05 am | Permalink

    The primary source of this mess is cultural – the Chinese have specific ways of doing business, and specific cultural biases and expectations that, if not understood, lead right into this sort of ethical morass. They do not understand the ethical expectations of American public officials, and based on the lovely examples parades constantly in the big media, don’t believe that we Americans do anything more than pay lip service to public ethics anyway.

    The secondary source of this mess is a remarkable blindness on the part of Beth Ernat in particular. She is the experienced development professional in this group of four, and she really ought to have known better than to have ever accepted a seat on those flights. She alsoi should have been the voice of warning to the other three, and to the City Manager, that this deal is deep in the territory of “too good to be true.”

  21. Jean Henry
    Posted October 12, 2017 at 11:13 am | Permalink

    Re Gillian’s point: Where were DAY activists during the master plan process? This all reeks so much of Ann Arbor. The city spends years gathering public input and developing a plan, and then right before a project is green-lighted, the citizens freak out, start accusing the govt of a lack of transparency, say they weren’t adequately informed, etc.

    In this case, the citizen criticism produced serious flaws in the project, namely the developer. And a mayor who appears to have been a bit to eager to solve a giant problem for Ypsi and her administration. But that does not mean that DAY were reasonable in their accusations or expectations of what can and should happen on Water St and how that will affect housing affordability/access and environmental concerns in the future.

    Mark– I’m telling you from experience, you can not rely on diplomatic ‘community conversation’ to come up with a viable plan to address affordability and Ypsi’s future. You need to put hard numbers behind it. They will call you a greedy capitalist. They will say your mind has been colonized. They will make memes about you. But someone needs to burst through the economic magical thinking that progressive cities are inclined to. You have a forum. Nothing is likely to have greater impact on actually producing positive outcomes than focusing on numbers, regulations, and possible community benefits. It’s boring and wont be inspiring. Unless you actually care about results v taking stands on principle.

    My understanding is that some DAY people are digging deep into TIFS etc now to understand how to pose an alternative. That’s great. I sincerely hope when this issue comes around again, DAY activists will be more engaged in what working within the system requires. Water Street is a unique opportunity for any developer now. Sure, the American Center for Mobility provides that opportunity, because… numbers.

    Do you guys want jobs or not? Do you want city revenue or not? Do you want city services to help the marginalized? Do you want to be able to afford to build affordable housing? A rec center? Restore the parks and protect wildlife? Pretending govt is unnecessary to those tasks is akin to libertarianism. It sure aint marxism or socialism. What the activists say they want and don’t want makes no basic economic sense. And their unrealistic expectations and economic magical thinking are as dangerous to the future of Ypsi as an overly eager mayor.

  22. M
    Posted October 12, 2017 at 11:17 am | Permalink

    While we’re adding things to the official record, I’d like add that that former City Manager Ralph Lange attended the meeting as well, speaking positively about both Beth and Tony during public comment, and offering to pay for their tickets to China out of his own pocket if that would help.

  23. Jean Henry
    Posted October 12, 2017 at 11:20 am | Permalink

    Community Benefits Agreements are legal in MI. This source seems helpful:

  24. Why Not
    Posted October 12, 2017 at 11:42 am | Permalink

    City Council should subpoena Xue Foster.

  25. Tommy
    Posted October 12, 2017 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

    … there are going to be other developers in the future. Ypsi is too close to Ann Arbor, Ann Arbor is growing too fast, and we have too interesting of a community …

    Ann Arbor growth spilling over into Ypsi? When, exactly is that gonna happen?

    I’m 55, I’ll likely be dead before Water Street’s toxic waste is cleaned up and it becomes anything other than an albatross around the neck of the city.

    Sorry to be so negative, but I’ve lived in the area since 1981 and have seen all other communities in the county grow while Ypsi has stagnated. Merging the schools with Willow Run didn’t help.

  26. Jcp2
    Posted October 12, 2017 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

    Vermont EB-5 project failed, not because of shenanigans by the foreign investors, but by the American developers.

  27. Krystal Elliott
    Posted October 12, 2017 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

    gosh this is still just so heartbreaking. i do believe that council has the best intentions overall when it comes to finding a use for this space but it seems to have a habit of rushing head-first into sketchy projects that ultimately cost precious time and money when they don’t pan out, and make the city look like it doesn’t know how to govern itself. these things are not going to entice the developer that we want.

    it’s unfortunate that the taxpayers will continue to bear this burden but i agree that this project should be nixed while we wait for the right development to come along. at least for now the debt is taken care of…

    i do agree with you that ypsi will have its moment… i’m on the tail-end of the ypsilanti homebuying process and honestly it was kind of rough, and highly competitive which despite being incredibly frustrating for me (haha) gives me hope for the future and that this land will look more and more interesting to developers overtime.

  28. Anne
    Posted October 12, 2017 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

    BobbyJohn – While a trip to China wasn’t sufficient, it was definitely necessary for the developer to gain EB5 investment. And that onerous is on the developer not the City, but without their participation it wouldn’t be at all possible. I was surprised by the proposed EB5 investment levels after making some attempts several years back with other economic development projects. Was wondering if the process had gotten any better in Michigan. It sounds like it hasn’t. A lot of folks aren’t that informed about the EB5 realities. On paper it often sounds like a much easier process.

    I agree with Designated Republican that there were/are a lot of cultural misunderstandings and at one point I was going to suggest to Mark that he have a discussion/interview with Linda Lim at Ross to help shed some light on the motivations of EB5 investors in China and some of the cultural stumblings that were bound to happen, but this was already looking pretty dead at that point. If things do move forward, I would strongly encourage it as I found her Asian Business Culture class pretty eye opening and she is very candid in her discussions on these matters.

  29. Anne
    Posted October 12, 2017 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

    Does anyone know if the City or IV did a market study for Water Street that is accessible?

  30. Jean Henry
    Posted October 12, 2017 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

    Re this idea that Water Street could be restored to parkland and the fallacy that that is what’s good for either the environment or affordability:

    I find it interesting that so many opposed to this development seem to imagine that the land was not previously developed, that the earth was not turned, Native grave sites were not destroyed and toxic chemicals were not leeched; that it is somehow pristine– requiring no remediation or substantial investment.

    The issue of Native gravesites matters to me (albeit less so I’m sure than Native people themselves). But using the presence of Native remains as a reason to stop any development and necessary environmental remediation etc seems like an abuse of a critical concern for another political agenda. It’s like any remains have already been disturbed in the 100+ years of previous use of the site. I would hope that any Community Benefits Plan would include some plan to respond to such concerns. No matter what project unfolds– even just return to parkland– excavation will happen. There are Native experts in repatriation and sensitive handling a historic Native sites. There is no doubt in my mind that this scenario has happened before and best practices exist.

  31. Jcp2
    Posted October 12, 2017 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

    But Jean, I worked hard to buy my modest detached single family house with a modest fenced yard and modest detached garage for my modest sedan, in a neighborhood of similarly modest hard working Americans. Why should I have to share space with people who live in (shudder) apartments. Either they are rich gentrifying couples who will make the cost of my preferred services go up, or poor uneducated families with a billion kids that will make my property values go down. I worked hard, dammit. /s

  32. Jean Henry
    Posted October 12, 2017 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

    Self-segregation is the American dream, JCP. /s

  33. Jean Henry
    Posted October 12, 2017 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

    Anne– the developer did a market survey. It was supposed to be part of their presentation 9/19. I wasn’t there and don’t know if it happened. I also doubt that the market they were looking at– international students– is what would be applicable to another project.

  34. Posted October 12, 2017 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

    This is a good read and summary of the events to date.

    As it currently stands, the International Village project needs to be shelved as everything surrounding this project has caused deep divisions it may take years to overcome.

    The Officials involved in this: The Mayor, City Mgr., Economic Dev. Dir. and Mayor Pro-Tem has other questions to answer. What did they know when is the question remaining for these individuals?

    The Police Chief based on his answers seemed to only know what was forwarded about the trip and not how the trip was structured financially.

  35. blueeyedpupil
    Posted October 12, 2017 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

    I dont necessarily agree with you on some of the facts. First those shouting from the rooftops that the city was not transparent is bull. The city is not responsible for citizens who were not engaged earlier. THe only way city government and decisions on development are influenced is by citizens choosing to be engaged regularly. That engagement needs to be constant and not just on one issue. We need engagement from residents who care about more than one issue. Or how can they claim to care about the health of our city.

    Yes staying engaged in the citys business and its leaders is often time consumining and yes often long and boring. But even reading the council packet each meeting will provide tons of information of what is going on and you can contact your council people. I mean what do they expect a skywriter who will tell them whats happening. And i know everyone has limited time but thats what it takes to stay engaged and weigh in on the city issues. City government is a tedious business. But those who want to be engaged are. Those who dont arent. And to blame the city for residents lack of engagement earlier is innacurate.

    We need residents who care about the entire city of ypsilanti not just one issue. Where were all these folks when the council held budget meetings to haggle over a thousand or two bucks that were not available for some service needed in the city. They sure were not at the meeting. Where are they when this one issue is resolved? I can only guess.

    I watched the hand wringing for affordable housing a few weeks ago and then sat at the planning meeting a day or so later when an affordable senior complex was on the table. Almopst none of the ones who claimed to care so much about affordability were there.
    And in the end it did not pass. It was a mixed bag and I am not sure what i thought would be best but understood why they plan commiss decided what they did.

    Yes i think the International Village would be good for our city. We need the tax base, we need jobs, we need more downtown life and students would sure provide that. The fact is rent is already escalating without the iv clearly the problem is already here and we need to find solutions that dont deny us development that is seriously needed.

    Those are my thoughts.

  36. Posted October 12, 2017 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

    Timing. And the lack of it is the issue at hand. The vote on accepting the IV Development agreement should have been delayed until the trip was completed. There should have been at least two public meetings on the IV during the mid-summer months and not days before the agreement was voted upon.

    Facts. Governor Snyder upon his many visits to China had pledged Michigan would accept upwards of 50,000 EB-5 visas for Chinese Immigrants gaining employment in the State. Michigan on any given day has 50,000 Michiganders out of work and seeking employment. The IV project was based on providing EB-5 immigrants jobs and housing as if there is total employment and affordable housing all over Washtenaw County. It is not.

    Transparency. Questions surrounding the trip are valid as statements on when the funding source was actually learned is confusing at best and some form of a cover-up at worst. The rush to approve the IV Development agreement did not help with the Transparency issue.

    Going Forward. The IV should not go forward as the Timing, Facts, and Transparency has tainted this project.

  37. Donald Harrison
    Posted October 12, 2017 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for tackling this, Mark. It does seem this project’s become toxic for our community in too many ways and hard to imagine it could still make sense to move forward. Cider and donuts at Water Street. And maybe some constructive dialogue about ways we can work together across ideals, numbers and aisles.

  38. Iron Lung
    Posted October 12, 2017 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

    “Michigan on any given day has 50,000 Michiganders out of work and seeking employment.”

    So anybody can just do any job at all? This makes no sense. The 50,000 job seekers are likely uneducated people whose skill set is limited or in backwater areas where unemployment is higher than normal, not college educated people from China who go cities, as these people likely will be.

    This logic makes no sense at all.

  39. Iron Lung
    Posted October 12, 2017 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

    Face it, the people opposing the program are doing so because they are racist. There’s no way around it.

    If you brought over 50,000 Europeans, no one would bat an eye.

  40. Posted October 12, 2017 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

    Gillian and Jean,

    I am under no illusion that everyone will be happy. I also don’t want to reinvent the wheel relative to the master plan. I just have to think that, by increasing transparency and crafting a community benefits agreement, we’ll be better suited to address opportunities in the future.


  41. Iron Lung
    Posted October 12, 2017 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

    You guys hated Family Dollar because it caters to poor people, then you opposed section 8 housing because, again, poor people, now you oppose the International Village, because yellow people.

    Face it, Ypsi is like Ann Arbor but worse.

  42. wobblie
    Posted October 12, 2017 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

    I think you are right Iron Lung. In addition those who generally want the IV to go forward, despite the issues raised, versus those who want to scuttle it seems to be generally based on length of time living in the city. Many of us who have lived here over 25 or 30 years have no illusions about the prospects of the property being redeveloped. The Chinese need to recirculate their US dollars. We have a brown field we want to redevelop. Instead of working to make this happen, we’re going to shoot this down over $16000 worth of graft.

  43. Tommy
    Posted October 12, 2017 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

    Wobblie – I think your statement above is pretty accurate. I have lived in the area for 36 years, split equally between the city, the township, and Saline. You have a toxic dump that someone wants to develop, on a piece of land that would be bankrupting the city if not for the taxpayer currently footing the bill. Nobody is chomping at the bit too make develop this piece of land. This is not about affordable housing, this is not about what Ypsilanti should or should not be. This is about polishing a turd. Time to break out the Shinola.

  44. Quercus Acutissima
    Posted October 12, 2017 at 7:18 pm | Permalink

    The Mayor was duped and looks inept as was the police chief. But Ernat deservedly is being thrown under the bus. You don’t make a move like that in government without due diligence and prior approval from superiors. The bell cannot be unrung. And the chips will fall where they may. This was not an easy mistake to make if you truly follow policy and procedures.

  45. Hyborian Warlord
    Posted October 12, 2017 at 7:41 pm | Permalink

    Pete, you race-baiting scumbag. You never heard of the brain drain? Where thousands of qualified workers from Michigan go elsewhere to find jobs? Yeah, that is a real thing. Michigan is already #1 in educated immigrants too.
    Between 2013 and 2015, 108,944 people with college degrees moved to Michigan from another state. A slightly larger number of people, 135,443, with college degrees moved out of Michigan to another state in the U.S.

    The entire Great Lakes region lost more college-educated residents to other U.S. states than it gained. But in Michigan, an additional 46,203 college-educated people moved to the state from outside the U.S. That put Michigan in the No. 1 spot for college-educated migrants in the region. What’s unknown is how many residents of states in the Great Lakes region moved abroad.

  46. Hyborian Warlord
    Posted October 12, 2017 at 9:29 pm | Permalink

    I don’t hear a whole lot of people complaining about immigrants in Washtenaw County, educated or not. I’m certainly not. Pretty sure there are thriving Asian communities in A2 and I don’t think anyone is up in arms about it. Are they?

    I was surprised they were still considering building homes on Water Street considering it’s so polluted you aren’t even supposed to walk through there now. What like Asian people are used to that or something so they can live there? You’re fucking racist, dude! Look at you.

  47. Posted October 12, 2017 at 9:38 pm | Permalink

    Returning Comment. “Michigan on any given day has 50,000 Michiganders out of work and seeking employment.”

    Answer. Yes.

    Data. Michigan has over 9.9 million individuals living in the state as of July 2016 with upwards of 22..8% of state residents being under the age of 18 or 2.2 million, leaving 7.7 million over the age of 18.

    Estimate. 5.3 million residents are able-bodied and can work if employment is available. Another 1.4 million possess some type of barrier to employment or are retired from the workforce.

    Data. In Washtenaw County 344K in total population, 48K are under age 18 or over 66 years old.

    Estimate. Up to 296K probable workers are available in Washtenaw County, minus any individuals who are not able-bodied or retired from the workforce.

    Reviewing the numbers above could it be on any given day 50,000 residents in Washtenaw County seeking employment? Probably, yes.

    To say so is not racist Iron Lung. It is factual and the data proves it.

    The Timing and Transparency Issues along with Facts raised above are reasons the IV Development is not a viable project for Ypsilanti at this time.

  48. Posted October 12, 2017 at 11:00 pm | Permalink

    Our City Manager still thinks that the Chinese Students and Scholars Association paid for the trip. He must have been asleep for the last couple weeks?

  49. Jean Henry
    Posted October 12, 2017 at 11:03 pm | Permalink

    Anonymous: ‘The IV project was based on providing EB-5 immigrants jobs and housing” Nope.
    The EB-5 visas go to investors in the project and can be used, with all conditions satisfied, anywhere in the US. It’s safe to assume that these wealthy Chinese investors would not want to settle in Ypsilanti. The intended renters in the project were mostly international students. Beyond that your comment constitutes the exact xenophobia that everyone in Ypsi is far too quick to deny. Especially since most seem terribly concerned about other forms of bias. I heard lots of unfortunate comments and jokes about the intended residents. It was ugly. And it was denied. It’s a really shitty thing to do to try to close the gate on people deemed ‘outsiders’ for whatever reason. It’s also stupid economically. The economy is not a fixed pie that just gets divied up. It’s a system that can either be generative or regressive. Welcoming in more people, so long as adequate housing and jobs are created, is a really good way to stimulate the economy and improve the lives of everyone in a city. My very homogenous hometown received a large influx of SouthEast Asian refugees in the 70’s. People had the fears you express, but the presence, energy and hard work of those new Americans greatly improved the city and the lives of all its citizenry, even in a deep recession. There is room for everyone if you make it.

    Mark–What’s the story with resisting section 8 housing in Ypsi? Why would anyone do that?

    The dollar store thing was stupid. And biased against the poor. Pete’s right there.

  50. Posted October 12, 2017 at 11:06 pm | Permalink

    Also, if our City Manager is one of the people being questioned about the notorious China Trip, WHY IS HE INVOLVED IN CHOOSING THE OUTSIDE INVESTIGATOR? This is highly unethical!!

  51. Brett Cosner
    Posted October 12, 2017 at 11:56 pm | Permalink

    Ypsilanti deserves Water Street. All this squabbling will definitely kill any investment. I agree that it should just be a 50 million dollar wildlife sanctuary. See now that’s why we can’t have nice things.

  52. Jean Henry
    Posted October 13, 2017 at 7:13 am | Permalink

    “The greatest threat to liberal democracies does not come from immigrants and refugees but from the backlash against them by those on the inside who are exploiting fear of outsiders to chip away at the values and institutions that make our societies liberal.”

    Xenophobia is ugly. Protectionism is stupid and does not work. I’m sure the people of Ypsi will virulently disassociate with White nationalism (march against it, protest) and yet they continue to spout protectionist ideas and use xenophobia to harness energy to their movements. Bernie did the same. It’s the same bullshit. And I will be called crazy for suggesting any inclination to bias on the left (because they are the left) in 1…2…3… Also as I white lady I cant suggest that some people of color hold bias against other people of color (which can be manipulated politically), because that really fucking obvious reality does not fit into their ideological paradigm of righteousness.

  53. Iron Lung
    Posted October 13, 2017 at 7:27 am | Permalink

    “You never heard of the brain drain? Where thousands of qualified workers from Michigan go elsewhere to find jobs? ”

    Yes, so it would be nice to have educated Chinese people come and fill the gaps, so I don’t know what your point is.

    People leave Michigan because they don’t like living there. If I were young, I’d leave, too.

    As for “race baiting,” in fact, Michigan is one of the most racist places I’ve ever lived and whiteys in Ann Arbor/Ypsi are among some of the worst offenders. So again, I have no idea what you’re talking about here.

    I think you need meds. Or maybe an education. Either way, you have a problem, but I’m glad you’re here because there is less of EOS’ grandstanding bullshit to wade through.

  54. Hyborian Warlord
    Posted October 13, 2017 at 7:32 am | Permalink

    Whiteys? That’s not fuckin’ racist??? Fuck you, Pete. No wonder you feel like such a piece of shit with that horrible attitude.

  55. Hyborian Warlord
    Posted October 13, 2017 at 7:44 am | Permalink

    And very fucking obviously the vast majority leave for better jobs. You got it backwards, dumbass.

  56. Hyborian Warlord
    Posted October 13, 2017 at 7:57 am | Permalink

    “I think you need meds. Or maybe an education. Either way, you have a problem, but I’m g
    glad you’re here because there is less of EOS’ grandstanding bullshit to wade through.”

    Oh, yeah – I’m toootally taking some “meds” prescribed by Dr. POS… Shoot me up with some thimerasol, doc – please!!!

  57. Iron Lung
    Posted October 13, 2017 at 9:16 am | Permalink

    Who is this idiot?

  58. Posted October 13, 2017 at 9:20 am | Permalink

    Returning Comment: “The IV project was based on providing EB-5 immigrants jobs and housing as if there is total employment and affordable housing…..”

    Facts (Again). According to Governor Rick Snyder’s April 9, 2014, Press Release from “The Office of Governor”, the EB-5 Program in Michigan is based on….

    “Snyder said the Michigan EB-5 Regional Center will act as a vehicle to connect eligible foreign investors with potential development projects across the state, which in return could lead to permanent residency for them and their families. Investors will come from a variety of sources, including individuals and contacts made through Michigan’s colleges and universities hoping to retain and attract current and former students.

    Immigration Policy Center data indicates that Michigan’s immigrants are six times more likely to start a high-tech firm than U.S. born residents. In that same study, it said Michigan’s foreign-born were more than three times as likely to start a new business between 1996 and 2007 as the native-born population.

    This EB – or employment based – 5th preference visa program allows investors and their families to obtain permanent residency by investing in an enterprise that creates at least 10 direct or indirect jobs in Michigan.

    Investments can range from $500,000 to $1 million, depending on whether the qualifying project is in a distressed area considered a targeted employment zone (TEA) or not. A TEA is considered anywhere employment is at or above 150% of the national unemployment rate. There are currently 433 eligible areas in Michigan.”,4668,7-277-61409_67367-325824–,00.html

    Jean Henry. Reading Is Fundamental.

  59. Hyborian Warlord
    Posted October 13, 2017 at 10:08 am | Permalink

    People like you are the idiots, Pete. You are the racist. You mocked white people’s color as a form of shit talk. That’s disgusting whether you are saying Whitey or Blacky or Browny or Reddy or Yellowy. It’s even more disgusting from someone who is calling a whole lot of other people racist.

  60. Jcp2
    Posted October 13, 2017 at 10:31 am | Permalink

    HW, why are you still here? You just said people leave Michigan for better jobs. How good can your job be if you are so brilliant that you can’t express your views with your coworkers? You live in a community that is too idiotic to appreciate your keen political mind. You post on a blog where the blogger doesn’t want to meet you, the commenters too stupid to appreciate you, and scum like me and Peter smear your anonymous online persona. What are you trying to prove, and to whom? And no, I’m not going to fight you in front of Deja Vu.

  61. Hyborian Warlord
    Posted October 13, 2017 at 10:44 am | Permalink

    I enjoy proving you wrong, that’s all. I like telling truth and this is the perfect platform since there are so many backwards opinions. I prove it anytime I want, then you have to stfu. It happens all the time. Everything you said is true except that I have the luxury of picking and choosing who I do business with. I can’t think of anyone I have ever worked with who is so consistently hypocritical and wrong as a whole bunch of people here.

  62. Frosted Flakes
    Posted October 13, 2017 at 10:48 am | Permalink


    “How good can your job be if you are so brilliant that you can’t express your views with your coworkers?”

    I have read this line ten times and I can’t figure out what you are asking? Rephrase?

  63. Hyborian Warlord
    Posted October 13, 2017 at 10:49 am | Permalink

    A few people a long time ago were pretty shitty but they were literal low-intelligence idiots. People who think, who have enough brains to put a coherent thought into words should know better than to epitomize exactly what they are supposed to be against.

  64. Hyborian Warlord
    Posted October 13, 2017 at 10:55 am | Permalink

    “How good can your job be if you are so brilliant that you can’t express your views with your coworkers?”
    I have read this line ten times and I can’t figure out what you are asking? Rephrase?”

    I don’t there is any phrasing that makes that line of reasoning less insipid, Flakes. If people just stopped saying stupid shit the slaughter will stop, hahaha! I love talking issues out with people who can actually debate with reason. Around here it’s just cheap shots and quips. “Why are you still here?” Someone call a whambulance!

  65. Hyborian Warlord
    Posted October 13, 2017 at 10:57 am | Permalink

    I don’t *think* there is any phrasing…

  66. Anon
    Posted October 13, 2017 at 11:02 am | Permalink

    Jean Henry, stop smearing people. It looks like you have some kind of personal beef with DAY that you have chosen to work out in this comment section. Check yourself.

    As an Ann Arborite, you should go work on your city’s own issues. It’s very weird that you’ve taken it upon yourself to engage in this behavior against DAY, which is led by POC that are not wealthy Ypsi residents, while saying this “reeks of Ann Arbor”. You don’t seem to have a good grasp on what is happening and may be projecting and microagressing.

  67. M
    Posted October 13, 2017 at 11:03 am | Permalink

    While I think it’s likely a waste of time to engage with Larson when he’s in troll mode, I do think it’s worth stating that there are legitimate reasons, not related to race, to be against this development. And I would like to think that, had it been a Swedish developer that had lied to our City Council, defied the directives of our CIty Attorney, and refused to engage with community members, our response would have been the same. It’s easy to make accusations of racism, but none of the criticism I’ve heard thus far about the International Village project has revolved around the fact that their target demographic was to be foreign-born students. In fact, EMU has #YouAreWelcomeHere banners all over right right now, focusing on international student attraction and retention, and I’ve yet to hear one negative comment. Does racism exist everywhere in America? Absolutely. Does it exist in Ypsilanti? Undoubtedly. Is that the reason a majority of people have an issue with this development? Absolutely not.

  68. Lynne
    Posted October 13, 2017 at 11:07 am | Permalink

    I hate to say it but Jean and Peter are right. Ypsilanti has race issues just like every place else. I am not entirely sure what to do about it.

    With that said, I won’t say that *every* person who opposes IV is doing so because of racism. I think some of them have their hearts in the right place but simply do not understand how a dense development like that can actually lower rents in other parts of town due to increasing the supply of housing. I want to explain it to them but haven’t quite figure out how to do it without my usual snarky tone but since this is actually an issue that I feel is important, I have been working on trying to figure out a way to explain the concept in a better way.

    They keep talking about putting Tiny Houses on water street or at the Boys and Girls Club and while I LOVE me some Tiny Houses, I just don’t think something like that would provide the density that we need (although it might be more dense than what is currently being proposed for Boys and Girls Club).

    My feeling now is that it is very unlikely that this IV development is going to happen. I just hope that we end up getting some other offer soon but am not too optimistic about it.

  69. Mark Hergott
    Posted October 13, 2017 at 11:08 am | Permalink

    It is astounding. The MEDC has the local development financing act fund for just this sort of trip. Beth Ernat says that she was concerned about using public funds for a China trip.

    Public funds are spent going on trips to China all the time. A 300 million dollar development is at question. It is almost certain that the funding would have been granted. Perhaps later than the middle of September, but the trip would have happened.

    When I heard Beth delineate a clear and reasonable alternative to a student group whose funding was unknown… I put my palm on my face.

    This mess should have never happened. At all.

  70. Jcp2
    Posted October 13, 2017 at 11:31 am | Permalink

    HW, you’re fixated here ever since you talked yourself into supporting Castro and other dictators. That was the turning point. It’s okay. You’re winning so much here. I’m happy to provide a source of self esteem boost as free therapy. You should let it out of your system here as Mark is providing a safe space for you to do that. For that, I commend him. I’m pretty sure most people wouldn’t be as generous.

  71. Hyborian Warlord
    Posted October 13, 2017 at 11:37 am | Permalink

    Castro? Dictators? What???

  72. EOS
    Posted October 13, 2017 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

    IV could be very dense housing. An apartment designed for two could end up housing significantly more students. They increase the need for city services without contributing to the tax base. Letting a developer use the TIFF funds to clean up the brownfield eliminates the possibility of an increased tax base as well. So the city gets an increased demand for services while delaying increased revenue for a long duration. Rather than helping the city with its budget, it will drain the remaining funds in a short time. Expect an income tax soon which will also not be contributed to by foreign national students. The IV puts a structure up on the brownfields and speeds the city into receivership.

  73. Jcp2
    Posted October 13, 2017 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

    Once the City goes into receivership, the local services will be dissolved and combined with Township services. The city structure will exist as a shell entity to continue to be responsible for past City obligations, including paying off liabilities and collecting taxes; however, as these taxes will be earmarked first for debt obligations, none will be available for contributing to Township provided services. I’m not sure that’s the ending the Township wants.

  74. Jcp2
    Posted October 13, 2017 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

    The University of Michigan continues to grow and finds difficulties in attracting qualified workers because of the high cost of an expected standard of living in Ann Arbor for these workers. Michigan Medicine feels pressure to increase its physical referral footprint as regional hospitals consolidate into larger narrow networks. The Regents purchase Water Street at a substantial discount and build a mixed use medical-residential development, taking Water Street off the tax rolls indefinitely.

  75. Jcp2
    Posted October 13, 2017 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

    Service demands from Michigan Medicine East require the Township to increase spending in the former City. Because the development boom from this complex is disproportionately north of I-94, the remainder of the Township does not benefit much. Real estate values south of I-94 stagnate even more, and soon the Township considers an income tax to pay for services across the area, as, seeing successful growth in the former City, the University annexes more and more former tax paying property next to Water Street, just before their values increase.

  76. Lynne
    Posted October 13, 2017 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

    Well! Aren’t you guys just full of sunshine and roses?

  77. Posted October 13, 2017 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

    What does the Township have to do with IV? Nothing at all.

  78. XXXX
    Posted October 13, 2017 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

    I don’t care if Jean Henry is from Ann Arbor, she is right on everything she said.
    Please move to Ypsii and join us.

  79. EOS
    Posted October 13, 2017 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

    Jcp2 is right. The township will encompass the city after it fails.

  80. Jean Henry
    Posted October 13, 2017 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

    Anonymous– “which in return could lead to permanent residency for them and their families.” That’s residency in the entire US. They aren’t all moving to Michigan. The 50,000 Eb-5 visas are about raising revenue for projects here. The investors can live wherever they want in the US

    reading IS fundamental. So is discernment. There is no such thing as a Michigan visa.

  81. Jean Henry
    Posted October 13, 2017 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

    M– I never said everyone opposed to IV was racist. That’s an absurd expansion upon saying that some of the tone of the rhetoric was xenophobic and worth examining. Denying it is simply wrong, especially given the accusations of racism from DAY members. Racism is a cultural problem that is everywhere and must be examined, especially when it is a subtext of people’s political rhetoric. That’s all I’m saying.
    Anon– I have been critical of some people on all sides of this issue, and congratulatory of others. The affordability problem in ypsi is a bi-product of the affordability problem in Ann Arbor. It’s a regional issue. And I work on it actively in A2. I don;t work on it in Ypsi. But I witnessed the evolution of A2’s problem, stemming largely not from ‘greedy developers’ but from local well-meaning people resisting necessary growth to meet demand. The parallels to what is happening now in Ypsi are apparent. I would like Ypsi to avoid A2’s fate. That’s why I voice my perspective. Some find it useful.

    I have had productive conversations with DAY members about all of these issues. I have helped provide them with resources. I’m interested in everybody learning. I appreciate that they are centering affordability. That is not something Ann Arbor did. The resistance here to section 8 housing sounds a lot like A2 in the 90’s. Hopefully DAY will prevent that from taking a larger foothold. At some point we need to get to a regional discussion about our areas of agreement about where we want to get to, and what we care about. Because I think there most people align. How to get there is another issue. I think, once IV is settled, we may get there. This particular battle was disheartening. Hopefully the next one will be a bit wiser.

  82. Jean Henry
    Posted October 13, 2017 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

    JCP2– you have mixed up your trolls.
    The receivership scenario is scary a/f.
    Is it really a possibility. How much of one? Anyone know?

  83. Jcp2
    Posted October 13, 2017 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

    The Township and City are not islands unto themselves. If a city disincorporates, then it reverts back to the township.

    There are a couple of cities in Michigan that are considering just that.

    The State has already set the precedence of dissolving school districts functionally while retaining the taxation entity to pay off liabilities. Whose to say that won’t be extended to cities?

    Even if a city exists in name, public safety services can still be contracted out for decreased cost and effectiveness, and that will have a secondary effect on the surrounding area.

  84. M
    Posted October 13, 2017 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

    Jean, I was addressing Iron Lung Larson, not you.

    He had said the following.

    You guys hated Family Dollar because it caters to poor people, then you opposed section 8 housing because, again, poor people, now you oppose the International Village, because yellow people. Face it, Ypsi is like Ann Arbor but worse.

  85. Jean Henry
    Posted October 13, 2017 at 7:08 pm | Permalink

    Yeah, he tends to hyperbole…
    grain o’salt for the old salt.

  86. Hyborian Warlord
    Posted October 13, 2017 at 7:22 pm | Permalink

    You are the troll, Jean. Remember you had to shut your ass up yet again just yesterday? A real person would be like “Oh, yeah – I guess I did say that shit. Fair play…”

  87. Jean Henry
    Posted October 13, 2017 at 11:59 pm | Permalink

    HW- I have no ideawhat you are talking about. You keep imagining you are winning battles that aren’t happening. You are boxing with yourself. I don’t even read your posts unless you name drop me. (even then they dont make sense). Boring.

  88. Iron Lung
    Posted October 14, 2017 at 12:23 am | Permalink


    The UM can’t find workers because it pays so poorly.

    That being said, I wish they would hire me to do something.

  89. Iron Lung
    Posted October 14, 2017 at 12:27 am | Permalink


    I think that the nature of public criticism would be different if it were Swedish whiteys coming in to create a Euro-village in the style of a quaint dorf on Malmo.

    You are right, the legalities would likely be the same.

    I find the idea that as a pasty, white Nordic dude, that I am racist against whiteys, to be extremely entertaining.

  90. Jean Henry
    Posted October 14, 2017 at 1:53 am | Permalink

    What if they were going to make a co-housing eco-village? Everyone would be eating that up and not asking any questions about the developer, who would be assumed, hailing from one of Scandinavia’s ‘model’ social democratic countries, to be perfect.

  91. Hyborian Warlord
    Posted October 14, 2017 at 8:28 am | Permalink

    Jean Henry: “HW– Who said it’s sexist not to vote for HRC? Acknowledging sexism in the campaign is not the same as saying all people who didn’t vote for her are sexist. I have made clear here that I think sexism and racism heavily influence voters. I have also made clear that I don;t think all Trump voters are sexist or racist.I don;t see those statements as contradictory.”

    Me: “You did:”

    Jean Henry “But right now, I don’t think they politically deserve to be catered to. And I know them well enough to know most of them will never ever ever vote for HRC anyway. Just like Bernie or Busters– It’s asking to much of them to admit their criticism is largely based on misinformation, lies and sexism.”

    “They will still hate her, like they hated Obama, because they are bigots. Because sexism is a factor. And denying it is like a full time job for parts of our majority culture.”

    You dumb bitch!

  92. Iron Lung
    Posted October 14, 2017 at 8:52 am | Permalink

    “You dumb bitch”

    Wow. No wonder you don’t want anyone to know who you are.

  93. Hyborian Warlord
    Posted October 14, 2017 at 9:03 am | Permalink

    That’s not why, dumbass. It’s the lynch mob mentality of anti-intellectual leftist scumbags who think it is good to label fine people bigots, racists, sexists, etc.

  94. Anonymous
    Posted October 14, 2017 at 9:07 am | Permalink

    I’ve got a question for you, Mark. What does it take to get someone banned here?

    Asking for a friend.

  95. Hyborian Warlord
    Posted October 14, 2017 at 9:11 am | Permalink

    Ironically needs me. When I stopped posting for several months traffic was waaay down.

  96. Lynne
    Posted October 14, 2017 at 9:23 am | Permalink

    I am 100% sure that anyone who calls someone a “dumb bitch” in an argument is so sexist that they automatically have lost any previous arguments they have ever made on the subject.


  97. Hyborian Warlord
    Posted October 14, 2017 at 9:33 am | Permalink

    But you call people dickhead, Lynne. It’s total hypocrisy. You are clinging to an extremely weak argument to try to shut me down. A superfluous jab disproves facts how?

  98. Hyborian Warlord
    Posted October 14, 2017 at 9:34 am | Permalink

    So you lost ever argument you had with Frosted Flakes when you called him that the other day, right?

  99. Posted October 14, 2017 at 9:35 am | Permalink

    I’m hesitant to block anyone. I’ve now had this site for about 15 years, and I’ve never had to do it. And I’m proud of that fact. I think it speaks well for what we’ve built here. The community here, at least thus far, has been able to pretty well police itself. Jerks, more often than not, when they discover that they can’t just bully their way to victory, tend to pack up and move on. I suppose, though, I could draft some guidelines, outlining what we expect in the way of courteous, respectful discourse…. I’m open to your thoughts on the matter.

  100. Hyborian Warlord
    Posted October 14, 2017 at 9:35 am | Permalink

    *every* argument

  101. Hyborian Warlord
    Posted October 14, 2017 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    You know for a fact I was extremely nice to everyone when I started. Go look at my posts. Look at the shitty behavior of people like Lynne and Jean Henry and a crapload of other people including yourself. I want to discuss things kindly. After a while though it was like fuck it, I’m going to fire back.

  102. Jean Henry
    Posted October 14, 2017 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    “She made me do it.”

  103. Jean Henry
    Posted October 14, 2017 at 9:50 am | Permalink

    Not all traffic is good traffic HW. Plus, in case you haven’t noticed, a few important matters have come up recently that warranted attention. None of them were you.
    I believe I speak for everyone regularly here, except maybe EOS, when I say, you won;t be missed. Not at all.

  104. Hyborian Warlord
    Posted October 14, 2017 at 9:51 am | Permalink

    So I made you do it then? Do what, anyway?

  105. Hyborian Warlord
    Posted October 14, 2017 at 9:53 am | Permalink

    I made a deal with MM that if he wanted me to leave all he had to do is say the word. That’s still true.

  106. Jean Henry
    Posted October 14, 2017 at 9:55 am | Permalink

    Mark– Guidelines are fine, but how do you enforce them? Block people? Warn them? Maybe just delete the offending posts. I really don’t like the idea of censoring. Maybe we should just all agree not to respond to HW anymore or read her posts.
    I said it before and I think it’s apt: HW is like a fly buzzing in your face– harmless but hard to resist the impulse to swat away.

  107. Jean Henry
    Posted October 14, 2017 at 9:56 am | Permalink

    HW– you are always making deals with yourself. And winning battles with yourself. And generally talking to yourself. You need help. Seriously.

  108. Hyborian Warlord
    Posted October 14, 2017 at 10:01 am | Permalink

    “Not all traffic is good traffic HW. Plus, in case you haven’t noticed, a few important matters have come up recently that warranted attention. None of them were you.
    I believe I speak for everyone regularly here, except maybe EOS, when I say, you won;t be missed. Not at all.”

    In case you didn’t know there is a whole world of people out there and some of them have computers and can read this shit! Maybe I like showing the world Ypsi isn’t just some SJW fantasy world where everyone just knooows that all these ideas are absolutely true and aaanyone who has an argument against it must be some kind of bigot.

  109. Iron Lung
    Posted October 14, 2017 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    So now, we are to understand that people only visit Mark’s site to read comments by some poor guy in Ypsilanti who calls women “dumb bitch?”

    I find that scenario unlikely.

  110. EOS
    Posted October 14, 2017 at 10:15 am | Permalink

    “You know for a fact I was extremely nice to everyone when I started. Go look at my posts. Look at the shitty behavior of people like Lynne and Jean Henry and a crapload of other people including yourself. I want to discuss things kindly. After a while though it was like fuck it, I’m going to fire back.”

    Please try to listen to what he has written and practice a little empathy. I would miss HW if he left. I miss his early posts. I understand his frustration with many on this blog. I’ve reached a high level of frustration many times myself. I am not a troll though many times I have been described as such. I bring a different perspective and for that reason have drawn numerous ad hominem attacks. I wish more would respond with arguments of how my perspective is wrong rather than name calling or threats “to cut me with a knife”. Maybe its a sign of the times and can explain why government no longer functions. It is my hope that some day soon we can disagree without being disagreeable. This blog is an opportunity for real dialogue. The echo chamber many desire would only make the online community worse. Diversity of shared viewpoints is an important aspect of community. Can we try to be more civil?

  111. Hyborian Warlord
    Posted October 14, 2017 at 10:29 am | Permalink

    Only Jean Henry, Pete! Hahaha – and mayor Cruz. Look at you though. Whitey? Wtf, dude.

  112. Hyborian Warlord
    Posted October 14, 2017 at 10:38 am | Permalink

    “Please try to listen to what he has written and practice a little empathy. I would miss HW if he left. I miss his early posts. I understand his frustration with many on this blog. I’ve reached a high level of frustration many times myself. I am not a troll though many times I have been described as such. I bring a different perspective and for that reason have drawn numerous ad hominem attacks. I wish more would respond with arguments of how my perspective is wrong rather than name calling or threats “to cut me with a knife”. Maybe its a sign of the times and can explain why government no longer functions. It is my hope that some day soon we can disagree without being disagreeable. This blog is an opportunity for real dialogue. The echo chamber many desire would only make the online community worse. Diversity of shared viewpoints is an important aspect of community. Can we try to be more civil?”

    Thanks, EOS. I came here and practiced extreme restraint under heavy ad hominem attack on purpose because I wanted to debate strictly with facts and reason. I like proving things that way. That’s what a debate is. Ad hominems are an opinion not a fact. Like” Oh, he’s a fascist. Don’t listen to him”. Well why am I a fascist and why is that person not since they support this, this and that? You know? You use reason to hash it out.

  113. Iron Lung
    Posted October 14, 2017 at 10:39 am | Permalink

    Not being an oppressed group of people and being a whitey myself, I see nothing wrong with the word “whitey.” Calling any woman a “dumb bitch,” however, is unacceptable, no matter who it refers to.

    Please do not address me by name. I don’t know you, and truly don’t want to. If I ever have, I’m sorry. I hope our paths never cross again.

  114. Hyborian Warlord
    Posted October 14, 2017 at 10:47 am | Permalink

    Oh, stfu. And ‘Fuck Pete Larsen’!

  115. Hyborian Warlord
    Posted October 14, 2017 at 11:00 am | Permalink

    Reasoned answer: so how is it okay for a female to say dickhead but not okay to say bitch? Don’t lower the bar for people like you and then expect other people to still use the high bar.

  116. Iron Lung
    Posted October 14, 2017 at 11:05 am | Permalink

    I think that’s something most of us learn in grade school.

  117. Hyborian Warlord
    Posted October 14, 2017 at 11:10 am | Permalink

    Or they want to “kick men in the (metaphorical?) nuts to take away any power derived from maleness.” This is mental illness. We all need to be a lot more powerful than we think we are to make this world a lot better than it currently is. Men and women, children, everyone needs to be rising up to make it better right now. We need to be way more informed so we can find answers through reason. We are human beings, people! Don’t waste your mind with this sexist anti-sexist shit.

  118. Iron Lung
    Posted October 14, 2017 at 11:16 am | Permalink

    I pray that you aren’t who I think you are which makes the “dumb bitch” comment all that more unacceptable given this person’s history with women. If so, well, it was good knowing you and I hope that you get the help you need.

    If not, well, I still hope you get some help.

  119. Hyborian Warlord
    Posted October 14, 2017 at 11:21 am | Permalink

    Who do you think I am?

  120. Sad
    Posted October 14, 2017 at 11:22 am | Permalink

    Slim Shady?

  121. Iron Lung
    Posted October 14, 2017 at 11:28 am | Permalink

    I won’t say it publicly, because I respect peoples’ anonymity. I would prefer people not use my name so I won’t use others’ names.

  122. Sad
    Posted October 14, 2017 at 11:30 am | Permalink


  123. Hyborian Warlord
    Posted October 14, 2017 at 11:38 am | Permalink

    Oh!!! Anger! Anger is my middle name!

  124. Hyborian Warlord
    Posted October 14, 2017 at 11:42 am | Permalink

    Or like…

  125. Sad
    Posted October 14, 2017 at 11:50 am | Permalink


  126. Hyborian Warlord
    Posted October 14, 2017 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

    I’m the Slayer of Unreason. To my enemies I am the Beast In The Night.

    See that flaming sign
    And if you read the lines
    You know, you know it’s for real
    Now your time has come
    You should be on the run
    Beware, cause it’s gonna kill.

    There’s nowhere to run to
    And there’s nowhere you can hide
    If the devil wants you
    Don’t you look into his eyes
    Cause no one can fight, the beast in the night

    There’s no return from hell
    And if you hear the bell
    You know, you know it’s for real
    It’s not your fantasy, no it’s reality
    Beware, cause it’s gonna kill

    There’s nowhere to run to
    And there’s nowhere you can hide
    When the devil wants you
    Don’t you look into his eyes
    Cause no one can fight, the beast in the night

    Watch that flaming sign
    And if you read the lines
    You know, you know it’s for real
    It’s not your fantasy, no it’s reality
    Beware, it follows you still

    There’s nowhere to run to
    And there’s nowhere you can hide
    When the devil wants you
    Don’t you look into his eyes
    Cause no one can fight, the beast in the night
    The beast in the night

  127. Sad
    Posted October 14, 2017 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

    Anton Lavey?

  128. Pete Murdock on Facebook
    Posted October 14, 2017 at 3:58 pm | Permalink


    Beth Ernat – Ypsilanti’s Economic Development Director – will be giving a presentation at the City Council meeting on Tuesday, October 17 on her recent trip to China with International Village developers and Mayor Amanda Edmonds, Mayor Pro-Tem Nikki Brown and Police Chief Tony DeGiusti. No other information is available at this time.

  129. Heard from a Friend
    Posted October 14, 2017 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

    According to at least one person I’ve spoken with, before leaving town, Mayor Edmonds, when asked why she was going on the trip, said that she was going in order “to save Ypsilanti”.

  130. Karen T.
    Posted October 14, 2017 at 7:37 pm | Permalink

    I think that’s called savior complex.

  131. Bob
    Posted October 15, 2017 at 11:11 am | Permalink

    I’m a casual observer of Ypsi doings these days. What is the general feeling about Mayor Edmonds? I’m honestly curious. My only contact with her was a few years ago, just prior to her election. There was a meeting at the coffee shop downtown to generate interest in utilizing unrented properties for short-term popup businesses. I went with a friend to explore the idea of doing something. I recall there were some interesting proposals and ideas flowing, some by Stewart Beal even, who seemed to be vaguely offering some good deal. My memory is that the entire thing was pretty much hijacked by Edmonds who felt her voice should be the loudest and most important one in the room. Again, she was only running for mayor at that point. As I said, it was my only contact with her. It helped to put me off the proposal which was actually pretty vague to begin with. I don’t remember hearing anymore about it. Maybe her heart really is in the right place. That statement about “saving Ypsilanti” sorta fits my impression of her. It’s a weird, self important thing to say but maybe it’s sincere.

  132. Oliva
    Posted October 16, 2017 at 7:49 am | Permalink

    Ought to see if she did say that–doubt she did. It’s truly creepy and bad for life, the stoking of resentment and division that’s been happening here. Dismal way to go after power, but it seems like that’s what’s happening–and after all, it works, even if it leaves us all much worse off. It’s worth looking more closely at where the sowing of discord is really coming from and why. Here’s hoping intelligence, goodwill, and spirit of community can get a firm footing again.

  133. Amber Fellows from Facebook
    Posted October 16, 2017 at 8:46 am | Permalink

    Do any digging on the developer and you’ll find she has no experience unless you count flipping her own home in Troy, valued at $120k, as well as having a handful of failed LLC’s valued no higher than her home. It’s all seemingly a front for the investment scheme—the “developer” was served a $30k judgement for something fraudulent at her last LLC, if I remember correctly she may have defaulted on that judgement. This is all google-able. The city of Ypsi failed to vet this developer and instead naively believe in the promise of $300 million.

  134. Jean Henry
    Posted October 16, 2017 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

    I think a lot of people on either side of this debate feel they are ‘saving Ypsilanti.’ This imperative may even have been used to justify some less than ethical or at least prudent behavior on both sides.

    What Amber has put forward, if true, is alarming. And it seems to corroborate by the warnings given re lack of experience in the WUOM stateside interview with the man who has put together the only actually successfully completed EB-5 deal in MI.

    I would like to hear more from the people at the city who have been working on this deal for a while about what vetting process took place. This is not to shame or embarrass them, but to establish better practices going forward if necessary.

  135. kjc
    Posted October 16, 2017 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

    meh. let’s just pretend the whole thing never happened.

    Amanda Edmonds “All, I have not logged back onto fb — for the sake of my own mental health– since I posted this so am just seeing this discussion. I may not log back in for a bit again. I look forward to the chance to share all about the trip and what we learned– it was a tremendous amount and I wrote up many pages of my own notes while there. The insight we gained from meeting with investors, architects, developers, seeing projects by the developer of the site plan, seeing historic and rehabbed commercial districts that are traditional there and would translate well in terms of scale to Ypsi, and just getting to dive into the culture to understand the economic, cultural, educational, and other motivations for this investment was something I could not have gotten any other way. I learned both where I think the win-wins of this project are should it continue to move forward, and what things I think we need to protect against or be cautious of in a development agreement. I do look forward to having the chance to share this in written and other forms if this project keeps moving forward.”

  136. Another Mark
    Posted October 16, 2017 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

    Hi Mark,
    While I think the idea of a community benefit agreement probably comes from a good place, I really hesitate on using that in Ypsi. A quick link:

    Its probably a mistake in general to compare anything going on in the Bay Area to Ypsi or Ann Arbor, so the article might not be the best fit. However, anything beyond “We agree for you to be qualified” is just added requirement onto our existing master plan, in a process driven by political reaction rather than the long term health of the community. If we want to change the master plan, thats fine, but that takes time.

    Any extractions through a CBA that we get from the developer are just going to be deducted from what they were willing to pay for the land. It also makes people less willing to deal with Ypsi, and given perceptions of how difficult we are to work with and how poorly our leadership coordinates internally and with staff, its a bad look for us.

    Lastly, these CBA’s end up becoming a political tool to fund pet projects of various council members. In Ann Arbor, there’s a whole host of donations you have to make if you want to make it through the development process. Frankly, its dirty, and makes it difficult to develop affordable housing.

  137. Jean Henry
    Posted October 16, 2017 at 9:07 pm | Permalink

    I’m confused (as usual). If the developer had zero previous experience (per Amber), what development was Amanda et al visiting (per Amanda). I thought the point was to visit the developers previous projects.

  138. Ypsilanti
    Posted October 17, 2017 at 8:31 am | Permalink

    What Amber said is absolutely true and easy to verify. Additionally, Haimei Xue (Amy Foster) has a business address in a rent-a-desk center in Troy. All those facts should have been shared with council by the mayor and city’s development officer in order to gain perspective.

    That said, a developer has a role of assembling a team of investors, architects, financial and legal advisers to bring a development to fruition. This is similar to the role a movie producer has in putting together a qualified group of investors, director, writer, etc. to develop a quality movie (the producer doesn’t need to possess all those qualities her/him self). Ms. Foster may have been successful in assembling such a team for IV, but so far we haven’t seen evidence of that.

    The city team visiting China should have had its own finance and legal experts along to sort through the details of what’s being proposed, rather than just observing and hearing of completed developments that have been done by others as a show-and-tell exercise. It will be interesting to hear the reports by our visitors.

  139. Anon
    Posted October 17, 2017 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

    Visiting the developer’s prior projects was never stated as a reason for the China trip. You can see this on in the email dump from city council, and I believe Pete Murdock posted about that somewhere just prior to the trip.

  140. Posted October 22, 2017 at 1:42 am | Permalink

    Hi Mark! When are you going to do an update on this story? Like, why didn’t City Council ever hire an outside attorney and what’s up with this new resolution they just passed today? Also, why does City Council keep going into private session cuz they are bing sued (unrelated to IV, but shouldn’t the citizens know whats up?).

    YOUR COVERAGE OF THIS HAS BEEN MONUMENTAL IN HELPING GET THE INFO OUT. thanks for not being too scared to speak up. it means the world to the Belted!

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