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Posted on Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 6:01 a.m.

Ypsilanti Township to market last of available commercial land along Huron Street, Whittaker Road corridor

By Tom Perkins

Ypsilanti Township is preparing to market one of the last available commercial swaths along its busiest corridor.

The township in 1995 purchased the 163-acre Seaver Farm property on the west side of Huron Drive just south of where it turns into Whittaker Road. Around a third of the property was immediately purchased, but the remainder has sat undeveloped after the real estate market tanked several years later.

With a strengthening economy, only two other properties available in the area that are zoned for commercial development and new construction projects under way in the corridor, township officials believe it is once again time to try to sell the land.

“We think it’s a good time to at least put the property out there to see if someone is interested,” said township planning coordinator Joe Lawson.


Ypsilanti Township will market property it owns on Huron Street adjacent to the post office.

Tom Perkins | For

Lawson estimated the township would need to receive around $140,000 per acre to break even.

Ypsilanti Township floated an $8 million bond to purchase the property and build out infrastructure in 2005. At the time, officials saw the move as an investment opportunity.

Much like how the Water Street purchase that remains undeveloped and has strained the city of Ypsilanti's budget, the township was forced to sit on the land when the real estate market crashed several years later. But it had already sold one-third of the land to automotive supplier Bosal.

The township pays an interest rate of less than 1 percent, so officials say waiting until the market improved to try to sell and develop the land didn’t cause problems for taxpayers.

Bosal paid approximately $249,000 in taxes in 2012, which covers the township’s debt service. Approximately $2.5 million of the bond has been repaid.

“Not selling it was better than selling it in an upside-down market, but now it may be worth taking another look,” Lawson said.

The property is zoned “town center1,” which Lawson said would make it a good site for restaurants, small retailers, mixed or automotive use.

Lawson said Huron Street sees a traffic count of between 27,000 and 30,000 cars daily, and added that a family restaurant, of which the area has only a few, would be a perfect fit.

“We’re not looking to break the bank and get rich form the sale of the property, but we want to cover what we owe and get some good development to improve the corridor,” he said.

Around 30 of the remaining acres on the west side of the property are wetlands and probably not suitable for development at the moment, Lawson said, but the easternmost 30 acres that abut Huron Street are prime for development. The site is bordered by Leo's Coney Island and a Mobil station to the north and a post office to the south.

Lawson said Bosal, which makes parts for several auto companies, is operating at capacity and is considering expansion, though there are no concrete plans.

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Fri, Jan 18, 2013 : 5:03 p.m.

A bus-stop would look wonderful on this spot...and it would be the area's first!


Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 9:35 p.m.

I would love to see a Trader Joe's in one of the strip malls on the Whitaker/Huron St corridor. It would be a great anchor that would attract shoppers from outside the area to come to the community. Also, AATA needs to run the bus line into the area. I could go on and on about that. There are way too many people walking the roads at all hours of the day and night. Both a good anchor and bus service would boost the ability for business to do well in the area.


Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 7:38 p.m.

Vacant buildings in the Kroger complex and vacant building space in James L Hart plaza. Not just vacant, but never operated in. Some of the building space in the James L Hart plaza doesn't even have floors. There are weeds growing inside the buildings! And somehow a stand alone building will remedy this? The car dealerships aren't the only things that left that area. Take a drive down there and the majority of the industrial buildings are up for lease. My recommendation would be to sit on the property a little longer. Focus on what can be done to draw more business into the already abundant available space. It won't be easy given stores in the Carpenter/Ellsworth area to the west and then to the east at Michigan/Beck/Belleville area. (Let's be honest, there's only a handful of places to draw someone to downtown Ypsi and Depot Town). If it's cash that's needed, look into conservation easements on the wetlands with the potential to bank credits. Then turn the wetlands into a feature for good urban planning in the area.

Frank Lee

Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 8:41 p.m.

The point being made of a standalone building is that many franchises require it with some even going as far as to provide the blueprint. That being said, it would take vacant land and new construction to accomplish opening many franchise businesses. There is no argument that there is a ton of plaza spaces available. While drawing customers from other areas is a bonus, I would focus more on customers that use the Whittaker road corridor daily and are closer to that business area than any other. I would love to get the number of people who live in the area south of Ford Lake, yet inside of Bemis, Hitchingham, and Bunton roads. It's almost all newer construction with subdivisions designed to maximize occupancy.

Julie Baker

Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 4:35 p.m.

I'd love to see a more vibrant Whittaker Road corridor, but is it viable? The Primo Coffee shop that just closed always seemed pretty empty, and I do wonder about how some of the other small businesses there are doing. What kind of retailers would be a good fit?


Fri, Jan 18, 2013 : 2:36 a.m.

A "Get Curious with Safety Girl" 2nd store?

Julie Baker

Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 8:23 p.m.

Great point, YpsiGirl. I always see pedestrians walking along the median on the 94 overpass, or bicyclists riding in the road because there's no sidewalk or bike lanes in that stretch. (I believe it's still Huron Street at that point.) Helping to connect the road to downtown and Depot Town seems like a great idea.


Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 8:11 p.m.

One way to spur consumer interest for any development in Ypsilanti Township is to provide bus transportation services in that area. I believe the Township lost its' previous public transportation out this way, after a Federal Grant ran out. If a potential consumer doesn't have a car, motorcycle or ride a bike there's no way to visit this area. Maybe the Township should look into expanding public transit options on the Southeastern end of the community, before marketing public land-space.


Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 6:45 p.m.

Not a Meijer instead of Kroger, but in addition to Kroger would be nice to bring their prices on some items back to reality. But seriously, Meijer is literally 2 exits down on Belleville road.

Frank Lee

Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 5:45 p.m.

I've given away enough business information for one day : ) If I open a business in that area, I will tell you all about it. It is a very busy corridor with a ton of potential. I am curious to see if anyone mentions the ideas I have in mind.

dading dont delete me bro

Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 5:06 p.m.

dairy queen in a stand alone building


Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 4:23 p.m.

Remember don't bother investing if you are interested in a drive-thru business. As the city fumbled and probably bankrupted the last guy that was investing in the area about a week before the shovels hit the dirt.

dading dont delete me bro

Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 5:06 p.m.

city? township

Use Logic

Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 2:22 p.m.

Who owns the open pieces of land across the street, by the old State Police post? Those have sat undeveloped for the almost 6 years I've lived in the Township. One has a sign - Future Home of Huron Animal Hospital - that, again, has been there at least 6 years.

Rob MI

Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 7:49 p.m.

The "Future Home of Huron Animal Hospital" sign has been there since at least 1997 (when I moved into the area). Who can take the origins of the sign back even farther than that?


Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 5:57 p.m.

@Frank Keep in mind that those property records are frequently out of date.

Frank Lee

Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 2:36 p.m.

All the property info one could ever ask for can be found at the following links: Washtenaw County Property/Parcel Lookup BS&A Internet Services


Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 1:45 p.m.

Leave it vacant and undeveloped.

dading dont delete me bro

Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 11:44 a.m.

"The property is zoned "town center1," which Lawson said would make it a good site for restaurants, small retailers, mixed or automotive use. Lawson said Huron Street sees a traffic count of between 27,000 and 30,000 cars daily, and added that a family restaurant, of which the area has only a few, would be a perfect fit." how many restaurants and coffee shops have gone belly up in that immediate area recently? oh yeah, dont forget the chevy and pontiac dealers that have left.


Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 6:53 p.m.

I would gladly support a good restaurant there. We frequently went to Stony Creek Coney Island before it closed, and, as I said...I don't think it closed due to lack of customers. I was sad to see Primo close, although due to my own budget cuts, I seldom went there. I assume this was the case with many. And with Starbucks in Kroger, there wasn't enough "coffee money" to support 2 businesses. However, all my friends in the area would love to see a good restaurant come in...even a chain (similar to Applebee's, etc) would be welcome. While I'm sure a fast food restaurant would do well too, I think a BBQ place (Famous Dave's?) or steak house would be fabulous!

Frank Lee

Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 5:36 p.m.

And now djacks24's comment has reappeared…crazy. To address it in its entirety, the only thing next to the old Primo Coffee is Whittaker Road Dental which recently expanded into a neighboring space. The old Stoney Creek Coney Island on the opposite corner of Primo is now a Sushi restaurant. I also agree, another fast food business would do well.

Frank Lee

Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 5:22 p.m.

I'm not sure why one of the comments was deleted, but it seemed legit to me. The comment was regarding the vacant standalone building in front of Kroger. Glo is responding to the deleted comment and makes some valid points. I would also like to add that the standalone building in front of Kroger is a nightmare. All the parking for it is always filled up by Kroger customers. I think Kroger even tried to purchase it and tear it down for additional parking or to build a gas station. I'm not sure what happened to the deal but now the Kroger gas station will be further down the road off James L Hart Parkway. I looked into that building once and they wanted an insane amount of money for it. No restaurant that has ever occupied that building served alcohol or has been a great idea for the area market. I'm not saying a business can't survive without serving alcohol, I'm just saying the choices are very limited for dinner and drinks in the immediate area.


Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 5:01 p.m.

The previous restaurants in the freestanding building in front of Kroger went out of business because they were TERRIBLE. Baker's Square served cold, bland food poorly, Ram's Horn...the best compliment I heard about them was that their food tasted like it was frozen and reheated on the grill, and we already had 2 established coneys in the area. The coney on the corner, from what I understand, did not go out because of lack of business. I agree, we could use a good, family restaurant there.


Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 4:41 p.m.

"The statement "A family restaurant, of which the area has only a few, would be a perfect fit." is accurate. Those few restaurants that offer dinner and drinks are Aubrees, La Fuente, and Buffalo Wild Wings. They are always packed and the area is in need of more. I welcome the opportunity." What about the many restaurants that have came and went in the standalone building in front of Kroger? Also, there was a restaurant right next to Primo that closed and hasn't reopened as anything else. The only "restaurant" that stands a chance is maybe a burger king or taco bell.

Frank Lee

Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 4:17 p.m.

You mention all the available strip mall spaces and businesses that have gone belly up in them. That is a large part of the problem. Many mainstream restaurants require a standalone structure to be part of their franchise. Most of the time that standalone structure is designed by the franchises so existing standalone buildings aren't a practical option. There was recently an article about The Primo Coffee Shop closing in an area strip mall which you also make mention of. That article stated "to rent a 1,400-square-foot space within Paint Creek Crossing, prices begin at $2,275 per month. Grenadier leases between 1,400 and 6,800-square-foot spaces." So, $2,275 per month for the smallest space they lease. This is not conducive for any business that plans to stay permanently. The statement "A family restaurant, of which the area has only a few, would be a perfect fit." is accurate. Those few restaurants that offer dinner and drinks are Aubrees, La Fuente, and Buffalo Wild Wings. They are always packed and the area is in need of more. I welcome the opportunity.

dading dont delete me bro

Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 11:46 a.m.

not to mention all the vacant strip mall spots....yeah, good time to sell.