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Posted on Mon, Feb 7, 2011 : 2:09 p.m.

Demolition, new Happy's Pizza planned for blighted ex-Dairy Mart on Washtenaw in Ypsilanti Township

By Tom Perkins


The long-vacant building at the corner of Washtenaw Avenue and Golfside Road could soon be demolished.

Tom Perkins | For

A long-vacant former Dairy Mart that has greeted residents entering Ypsilanti Township at the corner of Washtenaw Avenue and Golfside Road with blight since 2004 soon may be demolished.

The owner of the boarded-up building at the intersection’s southeast corner is close to closing on a deal with the owners of a nearby Happy’s Pizza, Ypsilanti Township officials say. If the deal goes through, the building could be demolished by early March and a new Happy’s Pizza built by summer.

“This is going to be a dramatic improvement to that intersection,” Ypsilanti Township Attorney Dennis McClain said.

“The southeast corner has been a horrible introduction into Ypsilanti Township along Washtenaw Avenue, so we’re looking forward to having this new facility up and running.”

The building  has been problematic from a code enforcement and security perspective since it closed, said Mike Radzik, director of the township’s office of community standards. The township has had to work with the property's owner, Edward Zeer, to address numerous blight-related issues and deal with vandals regularly breaking into the building.

Zeer proposed several plans to rehabilitate the property throughout the last several years. In 2004, he filed an application with the township to renovate the building and expand the retail space, township planner Joe Lawson said.

During that process, representatives from a company looking to build a CVS approached Zeer, but that deal would have included part of the adjacent Ypsi-Arbor Bowl’s property. Because Ypsi-Arbor Bowl representatives failed to show up to the closing on their portion of the sale, the deal fell through.

Lawson said Zeer then moved forward with his own plans to renovate and expand the building, and received site plan approval in 2006 from the planning commission. After a year of inaction, the site plan approval expired. In 2008, Zeer re-applied with the same site plans, which were re-approved.

Again, Zeer took no action and the building further deteriorated. After he failed to reply to a notice of violation requiring the building be brought up to code or demolished, the township filed a motion in Washtenaw County Circuit Court in August to have the building declared a public nuisance, Radzik said.

“The longer it sat, the worse it became, and it really got to be an eyesore,” Radzik said. “We called Zeer in to meet with our development team, attorneys, elected officials, and when push had come to shove we had to ask ‘What are you going to do, because it can’t sit there?’

"We set deadliness, he asked for extensions and this went on for an extended period of months, so we filed suit.”

However, before the case proceeded, representatives from Ypsilanti-Washtenaw Holdings LLC, which owns a Happy’s Pizza on Washtenaw Avenue in between Golfside and Hewitt Road, approached MBZ LLC, Zeer’s company that owns the intersection property.

After Zeer received site plan approval for a third time, the two parties entered into a purchase agreement, McClain said.

The Michigan Department of Transportation required changes to the curb cuts along Washtenaw Avenue and still has to approve those plans because the road is a trunk line. Currently there are two entrances to the property. A representative from Happy's Pizza corporate office said MDOT is asking that left turns be prohibited out of a cut close to Golfside. The property would also share a driveway slightly to the east with Ypsi-Arbor Bowl.

A Happy's Pizza representative said all parties are hopeful to receive MDOT's approval and close on the deal soon. The representative and owner of the current Happy's Pizza on Washtenaw declined to comment further.

McClain said if if the two parties do close on a deal, a consent judgment will be entered in circuit court. The current Happy’s Pizza on Washtenaw Avenue is then expected to move to the new location sometime in early summer.

“Unless something unforeseen happens the consent judgment will be entered, the Ypsilanti-Washtenaw LLC people are then to submit for a demo permit within 30 days and they can start construction of a new building,” McClain said.


Wolf's Bane

Thu, Feb 24, 2011 : 5:49 p.m.

I rather like the ruin. Sad to see it go.


Wed, Feb 9, 2011 : 12:05 a.m.

Happy's probably wont sell much pizza in that area because there are way better pizza places just up the street...their pizza seems to be lacking something...seems very similar to little caesars...but i hear the ribs and fish are good


Thu, Feb 10, 2011 : 8:57 p.m.

Happy's is already on Washtenaw, down from Norton's. Happy's moves to the corner leaving there bulding vaccant to be broken into and other sutff.. "pointless" Inless delivery drivers are having problems making runs.


Tue, Feb 8, 2011 : 4:44 p.m.

This particular building has been an eyesore in this area WAY TOO LONG. I do not understand why property owners are allowed to drag out this process for years. Also, many other business located within 100 yards of this eyesore are also eyesores. The painting, the lawn maintenace, the lack of pride and basic upkeep is rampant in this area. Also signs that flash with burnt out lightbulbs (for years) etc, etc, etc. It is not an expensive propisation to clean and paint. These are lazy business owners who do not deserve to be or stay in business.


Tue, Feb 8, 2011 : 1:03 p.m.

Glad to see something positive happening at that intersection. I do hope Happy's knows there's a Domino's and a Cottage Inn just up the street. And ditto Gen Pop, would be great to see something happen with the former Farmer Jack's.


Tue, Feb 8, 2011 : 11:46 a.m.

Thank you Ypsilanti Township officials for truly caring about your job and your community! It is a very large area when one thinks about it , I really never thought of this as YT. Make sure the assessor gets out there right away !


Tue, Feb 8, 2011 : 10:56 a.m.

I've been wanting to knock that building down myself. What an eyesore and a blight on the area. It was a good building and served its purpose. But should have been removed long ago. As for the old Farmer Jacks? I really think another Krogers should go there or a Wal Mart. Something besides a building with nothing to do. I would love to see an IKEA there too.

Monica R-W

Tue, Feb 8, 2011 : 6:29 a.m.

I am glad that Ypsilanti Township kept the pressure on the owner of this building to do the right thing and develop it, or tear the building down. It is an eyesore coming into the Township. Also, moving Happy's Pizza into the location would provide needed jobs to the area. They have great service at their store on Michigan Avenue near Ecorse Rd! Love their Oreo Chessecake, by the way!

Craig Lounsbury

Tue, Feb 8, 2011 : 12:27 p.m.

The way I read the story there already is a Happy's across the street and a couple blocks down that is moving to the new location. So I'm not sure about how many new jobs are going to be created.

Gen Pop

Tue, Feb 8, 2011 : 12:50 a.m.

Anybody got any ideas for that HUGE vacant Farmer Jacks right across the street?

Wolf's Bane

Thu, Feb 24, 2011 : 5:50 p.m.

A crematorium?

that's a tuffy

Mon, Feb 7, 2011 : 11:22 p.m.

A dramatic improvement would be to clean up the auto repair facility across the street. It is a major eyesore.


Tue, Feb 8, 2011 : 3:20 a.m.

What's wrong with them? Besides being cheaper than the competition. There are a lot of cars there, but it's better than looking at an empty parking lot like farmer jack right next to it.


Mon, Feb 7, 2011 : 10:59 p.m.

I'm happy to see some new buildings going up during these hard times.

Elaine F. Owsley

Mon, Feb 7, 2011 : 10:06 p.m.

Just looking at the building it's a safe bet it started out as a gas station.

dading dont delete me bro

Mon, Feb 7, 2011 : 8:47 p.m.

i'm all for knocking blighted buildings down. yt is on a terror to get these things razed, bravo! (not to mention dilapidated mobile home communities) however, does happy pizza have to build? there aren't enough vacant strip mall square footages elsewhere along washtenaw? just sayin'


Tue, Feb 8, 2011 : 1:34 a.m.

Ypsilanti township needs to work on getting good paying job's and retaining those job's. A pizza place won't pay there worker's enough to pay taxes, house, etc. I know I worked as a driver during a layoff just made my car note. And as far as your comment on the mobile homes i had a co-worker that lived there and was proud of his home. I also worked with a man that lived in liberty square in 1966. Said it was great. I wish I had the money YT is paying there law firm.

Christopher LeClair

Mon, Feb 7, 2011 : 8:31 p.m.

It's wonderful to see progress in regards to blighted buildings. This is a great location and it will be one less eye sore for the city. There is only one direction in which Ann Arbor is moving...Forward!

Christopher LeClair

Mon, Feb 7, 2011 : 8:42 p.m.

We are all one big happy family, right?

Christopher LeClair

Mon, Feb 7, 2011 : 8:41 p.m.

Well, how about the Ann Arbor area. I'll include Ypsi Township in that

UM Rocks

Mon, Feb 7, 2011 : 8:40 p.m.

Sorry, it's Ypsi Township, not A2.


Mon, Feb 7, 2011 : 8:14 p.m.

It would be nice to have some business there, but how many more pizza places do we need? Pizza is already sold everywhere, even at supermarkets.


Mon, Feb 7, 2011 : 7:55 p.m.

This is great news. that corner has been an eyesore for years. I remember when this was a Stop and Rob back in the day, does anyone know if it was another business before that?

Atticus F.

Tue, Feb 8, 2011 : 9:05 p.m.

treetown, That place was called 'Stop n Go' as far back as 1981... I remember my mom taking me there for ice cream when I crashed my bike while trying to ride without training wheels for the first time. I cant remember much farther back then that. At some point during the late 80s/ early 90s, it became a Dairy Mart.

Craig Lounsbury

Mon, Feb 7, 2011 : 7:54 p.m.

If Happy's is happy then old Craig is happy. But if its an existing Happy's moving to a new location that isn't really a new Happy's is it? And does it not leave their existing location empty? Also I think its a bit of an exaggeration to say " "This is going to be a dramatic improvement to that intersection,"