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Posted on Tue, May 7, 2013 : 5:27 p.m.

Beer will keep flowing at The Arena after city removes its block to liquor license renewal

By Amy Biolchini

Editor's note: This story was revised Wednesday to include a statement from Kristen Larcom, senior assistant city attorney.


The Arena Tuesday afternoon at 4th Avenue and Washington Street in Ann Arbor. The Ann Arbor City Council removed its objection to the establishment's liquor license renewal Monday.

Amy Biolchini |

The libations won't stop for downtown Ann Arbor sports bar The Arena after the city removed its objection Monday to the establishment’s liquor license renewal.

The Ann Arbor City Council voted unanimously Monday night to remove the objection and to recommend that the Michigan Liquor Control Commission approve The Arena’s application for renewal.

The action comes after the bar paid its outstanding debt to the city by April 30 following threats by the city to hold its liquor license in escrow for a year.

The city claimed The Arena failed to pay about $7,000 in 2011 personal property taxes as well as about $1,660 in a 2011 default judgment to the 15th Judicial District Court.

In March, the council had filed a recommendation to object to the renewal of The Arena’s liquor license and to file a formal objection on the matter to the MLCC.

Mike Flore, owner of The Arena, said Tuesday that he understood the city's emphasis on collecting its tax dollars.

"The personal property tax was an oversight on my part," Flore said.

The default judgement was a result of a six-year-old invoice that Flore said the city had given him for 26 hours of overtime that two officers spent outside of an outdoor party The Arena held in 2007.

When Flore approached then-Ann Arbor Police Chief Barnett Jones, he told Flore that the invoice was a suggestion and that payment was not required, Flore said.

With that advice, Flore said he didn't pay the invoice.

Three years later, Flore said he got a bill from the city again for the officers' overtime -- and called the city attorney's office to clarify the situation.

"I’m the only outside venue that has been charged for police to show up at your outside venue and babysit," Flore said, explaining his argument to the city attorney's office.

Flore said the city attorney's office told him that they would not be pursuing payment of the invoice. With that knowledge, Flore said he didn't go to the hearing on the issue because it was his understanding that it had been dropped.

Kristin Larcom, senior assistant city attorney, acknowledged that Flore did contact the city attorney's office regarding the invoice.

“I did not tell him that we would not be pursuing payment of the invoice,” Larcom said. “I told him we were filing a lawsuit.”

Larcom said city served Flore with the lawsuit and he did not show up for the court date.

Because he did not appear, Flore was charged with the $1,660 default judgement -- which he said he begrudgingly paid because he wanted to keep his liquor license.

The vote to remove the objection to The Arena's liquor license renewal is the last item of council business pertaining to liquor licenses in Ann Arbor establishments this year, said Council Member Jane Lumm, who sits on the Council Liquor License Review Committee.

Amy Biolchini covers Washtenaw County, health and environmental issues for Reach her at (734) 623-2552, or on Twitter.



Wed, May 8, 2013 : 7:57 p.m.

I tend to believe Kristin Larcom, senior assistant city attorney.


Mon, May 13, 2013 : 4:54 p.m.

exactly because city attorneys never do anything drinking and driving for instance...

Nicholas Urfe

Wed, May 8, 2013 : 2:07 p.m.

If you have a hearing scheduled before the court. You must *go*. Unless you have something in writing that says otherwise. So I don't buy that excuse. And I expect the cops to charge overtime to for-profit businesses that have insufficient security and potentially drunk patrons.


Wed, May 8, 2013 : 1:03 p.m.

Did the police charge Tios for their Cinco party the other day? Actually there were two stories leading up to that and only silence since. Was it that bad?


Wed, May 8, 2013 : 3:05 p.m.



Wed, May 8, 2013 : 3:05 p.m.

Not sure why you think closing a road for a "block party" is a new or illegal thing. Things like this have gone on for yours and when you pull the permits there is nothing wrong with it. They even do it in Boulder Colorado!


Wed, May 8, 2013 : 2:43 p.m.

Tios and ABC are A2 govt Golden Children.

Steve Hendel

Wed, May 8, 2013 : 1:38 p.m.

Yes, a good question. Also, how about Arbor Brewing Company, when THEY take over the street?


Wed, May 8, 2013 : 2:37 a.m.

Boy, that's quite a bit of city action for that small amount of money. What did we threaten Avalon/3 Oaks with if they didn't demolish or sell their properties? You know, the properties they paid over a million for and then just sat on? You know, the Avalon that gets hundredsd and hundreds of thousands of dollars of city money from the DDA and other sources? You know, those properties that we're using tax money to demolish for them, even though they're still in business and are still getting hundreds of thousands of dollars in (tax money) affordable housing grants? Did we threaten to put their grants in escrow for a year? Or ANYTHING?

r treat

Wed, May 8, 2013 : 1:55 a.m.

According to the Ann Arbor tax assessor website this guy hasn't paid any taxes since 2004 and owes tens of thousands of dollars. Is that correct Amy?


Wed, May 8, 2013 : 2:14 a.m.

If you fall a year behind on your property taxes with the city they are sent to the county for collection. They still appear to be unpaid on the city site because the city was never paid (the county was). There is a disclaimer stating this on the city page. Further, if property taxes are three years delinquent the county will foreclose.

Bill Wilson

Tue, May 7, 2013 : 11:40 p.m.

Wow, They withheld the license based on delinquent individual taxes and a "suggestion" that he make a payment to the AAPD? That's extortion, by the sounds of it. This ought to be looked into by the Attorney General.

An Arborigine

Tue, May 7, 2013 : 10:08 p.m.

Nice to see Barnett Jones left a lasting legacy after his service in AA and before taking simultaneous full-time positions in Detroit and Flint. What a worker!