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Posted on Wed, Dec 14, 2011 : 1:06 p.m.

Part of Ann Arbor area wedding hall must be demolished, township orders

By Nathan Bomey

(See previous story: Wedding plans disrupted after code violations yield 'potential for catastrophe' in Barnstormer's banquet hall)

Green Oak Township plans to demolish parts of a wedding hall that were built without permits or were deemed to be dangerous, unless the owner secures enough financing to perform the job himself, according to a report by the Livingston Daily Press & Argus.

Barnstormer Entertainment Complex won a 60-day extension to find financing after the owner, Rob Cortis, said Italian restaurant chain Andiamo had expressed interest in opening a location on the building's first floor, the Press & Argus reported.


Inspectors said this spring that the Barnstormer Entertainment Complex in Green Oak Township should not be allowed to reopen its banquet rooms until "dangerous" conditions are fixed.

Nathan Bomey |

The news comes after the popular wedding venue in Whitmore Lake came under scrutiny in the spring when the township reduced Barnstormer's capacity.

Weeks later, several couples told that they had not been informed of the capacity reduction until shortly before their ceremonies were scheduled to occur. Others said they could not secure refunds after Barnstormer failed to meet its obligations.

Inspectors hired by the township delivered a 74-page report detailing numerous code violations and accusing Barnstormer of repeatedly flouting permitting requirements and various state regulations.

The banquet facilities at the 25,000-square-foot building on Nine Mile Road are dangerous and cannot be occupied until extensive renovations are completed, the inspectors said.

The closure of Barnstormer’s banquet hall reduced the business’ indoor capacity from 2,000 to 180. The wedding destination was holding 12 wedding-related events a month at the time.

Contact's Nathan Bomey at (734) 623-2587 or You can also follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's newsletters.



Thu, Dec 15, 2011 : 2 p.m.

I personally have worked with Mr. Cortis and if he takes care of this building as he handles his business matters then I am not surprised it needs to be demolished. The safety of his patrons should be his first priority. I also wouldn't be surprised if the township ends up footing the bill for the demolition given the fact that he couldn't pay me by check or cash, but rather a Tradefirst card that could only be used to eat out at restaurants, not to pay my bills. Bottom line: Cortis isn't a very professional businessman in my experience and I don't expect that this will be handled in professional manner. I would bet that in the end he will just close Barnstormers and let it become and even worse eyesore than it is now.

Lets Get Real

Thu, Dec 15, 2011 : 3:22 a.m.

The truth is the township had a change in heart and in leadership. Give some people a little power and it leads them to believe they can play big government God. Formerly approved and grandfathered agreements reversed, this small business owner is now in danger of collapsing under the weight of regulation. Demolition? Really? Are there no repairs or renovation that can solve the problem? Seems a bit rash that a structure that has stood for so many years and operated without threat to life or limb is suddenly an unacceptable risk. Is nothing negotiable? i.e., is a tent a structure? If I erect one in my back yard for an event, will it meet all of the code criteria? Does it seem strange to anyone else that the current stairways have successfully and safely handled the occupancy in the past? And who rates the occupancy at 2000 anyway? The township? Now it is suddenly changed to 1/10 of the previous amount? With small businesses struggling, & unemployment near 10%, does it seem odd to be closing viable businesses: (1.) where people find a product or service they need, want and can afford to buy, (2.) where an employer creates jobs in the local economy & pays taxes to the local, state, & federal coffers, (3) where goods & services are purchased by the business from other local vendors, & (4) where money earned in wages is put back into the community through the personal purchases goods and services by the employees who earn that money? Which is better? To collaborate, for the greater good, or to win this battle and lose the war? I, for one, hope Andiamo does step in. Perhpas then the wannabe big deal leaders in the little tiny township will learn what it is like to be the little fish in the big sea. A business like Andiamo has certainly seen small time operations like this in the past, and certainly knows how to make a case the township can accept. Good Luck Mr. Cortis.


Thu, Dec 15, 2011 : 1:53 p.m.

I attended an event at Barnstormers a few years ago and it appeared to be very haphazardly put together. I remember being surprised that it was up to building codes but assumed it was. I recognize that building codes can be a bit nutty sometimes but the bulk of them make good sense. I'm all for a small business providing a service to the community and doing well for themselves but they need to put the money into permits and doing structural work properly. Based on my visit I would not feel safe putting 2000 people in the venue at once. Many, many people would be unnecessarily hurt if there were a fire. Just because the structure hasn't failed in the past doesn't mean that it won't.


Thu, Dec 15, 2011 : 3:34 a.m.

I vote yes, we do need building codes.


Wed, Dec 14, 2011 : 9:30 p.m.

Hey Brad. It's 12 miles from downtown AA (less than a 15 minute drive). I'd say that counts as being in the AA "area". Cetainly not something to get yourself all workd up about. Take a pill.


Thu, Dec 15, 2011 : 5:26 a.m.

Yah Mon, not A2.


Thu, Dec 15, 2011 : 2:12 a.m.

Whitmore Lake isn't Ann Arbor, twelve miles out or not. Chelsea, Saline, Plymouth-they are never in the "Ann Arbor area." The newspaper-or whatever this is-should be better stewards and not be lazy in their descriptions or reporting.


Wed, Dec 14, 2011 : 8:31 p.m.

Just another case of a business deciding it can do whatever it wants while it laughs at the township.


Thu, Dec 15, 2011 : 2:12 p.m.

Looks like the township is getting the last laugh..........


Wed, Dec 14, 2011 : 8:11 p.m.

Sadly when my employer was looking for a newer facility to purchase, Barnstormers run down look negated that area and there are a lot of buildings behind Barnstormers for sale or lease. They are not being good stewards to that entire industrialized neighborhood.


Wed, Dec 14, 2011 : 7:59 p.m.

Does the area to be demolished mean the tent structure that was added a few years back or some other part of the building?

Ron Granger

Wed, Dec 14, 2011 : 7:09 p.m.

History has tragically shown that fire and building codes are critically important in cases where large numbers of sometimes drunken people will be celebrating.


Wed, Dec 14, 2011 : 6:53 p.m.

It isn't "Ann Arbor area", it's called Whitmore Lake or something like that. It's in Green Oak Twp. It isn't even in Washtenaw county. It doesn't seem like a place that we'd like to adopt, so please stop associating it with Ann Arbor.


Thu, Dec 15, 2011 : 2:18 a.m.

The newspaper-or whatever this is-should be better stewards and not be lazy in their descriptions or reporting. Whitmore Lake isn't A2.


Wed, Dec 14, 2011 : 6:19 p.m.

Loosely following this for a while and I think it's gotten way out of hand, and it's too bad a good resolution couldn't and can't be agreed upon. Seems petty and childish to me as well.


Thu, Dec 15, 2011 : 2:12 p.m.

Don't mess with the government. there are rules and regulations you don't know about and they can pull them out and shut you down. Looks like some emplyees wil be collecting unemployment for Christmas this year and the cost of weddings just went up substantially...........