Ypsilanti Township to market last of available commercial land along Huron Street, Whittaker Road corridor
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.
Tom Perkins | For AnnArbor.com
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.