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Posted on Thu, Oct 1, 2009 : 6:11 p.m.

Arson has not been ruled out in Thompson Block blaze, Ypsilanti fire officials say

By Lee Higgins

Authorities continue to investigate the cause of a fast-moving fire Sept. 23 that gutted the Thompson Block in Ypsilanti's Depot Town.

"We have not ruled out arson," Ypsilanti City Fire Inspector John Roe said this afternoon.

Roe and a Michigan State Police fire investigator walked inside the walls Monday, but are waiting for engineers to give approval to start sifting through debris.

It could take weeks to determine the cause of the fire at the historic 30,000 square-foot building, officials said.

Nothing has been taken from the scene to be analyzed, Roe said.

The fire broke out at about 1:40 a.m. at the Thompson Block at northeast corner of Cross and River streets, across from the Sidetrack Bar and Grill in Depot Town.

Ypsilanti fire officials said the building, which was being remodeled for lofts and retail space, was significantly damaged. Part of the building's roof collapsed, officials said.

Stewart Beal, who owns the building, has vowed to forge ahead with Depot Town restoration if possible.



Fri, Oct 2, 2009 : 9:12 a.m.

I wouldn't count on it. It is sad, examine what has happened..... "Are the Historic Tax Credits Worth the Effort? Not all historic property redevelopment projects are natural candidates for tax credit utilization. If for whatever reason the developer cannot or will not endure the designation and certification process, or the project does not fit the tax credit criteria, or if the developer cannot structure the deal to bring in the tax credits investor, then the project will not work as a tax credit venture." Realistically, how many investors do you think have recently been brought in? Loans are tight latley. "Revocation of a buildings status as a certified historic structure can occur when a building loses its historic integrity and/or character. This could happen, for example, if the building owner materially alters the buildings faade or a new building addition overshadows the historic structure or if the building is destroyed and can not be rebuilt." If it cannot be rebuilt (which I doubt it can) and it can be no longer considered historic. It paves the way to build something remotely profitable. Hopefully there was no intent.

Laura Bien

Fri, Oct 2, 2009 : 8:10 a.m.

I hope the remaining facade can be strengthened and the property re-developed. Newspaper stories in the Courier say the fire investigators will continue to work for the next week or so, determining the cause of fire.


Fri, Oct 2, 2009 : 7:51 a.m.

"The Company plans to achieve its objective of higher than average rates of return through a combination of; increases in property value, rental income, the use of historic and/or other tax credits, including strategies to "sell" credits to third parties, and other tax, property management, and marketing strategies that enhance long term investor income and property value." The property value has now decreased. There is and will be no rental income anytime soon. And selling credits to a "third party"???? Transferring or Allocating the Credits. Historic Tax Credits cannot be sold without selling the corresponding interest in the real estate. Only owners of the real property can be allocated tax credits. But in practice the use of the Historic Tax Credits are often allocated differently to one or more members of the ownership entity (such as an LLC), so long as the percentage allocation of the tax credits matches the members interests in profits for tax purposes. This was all planned pre-economy collapse. I hope there is a plan B. Selling mortages to third partys didn't work out too well.


Fri, Oct 2, 2009 : 4:39 a.m.

stonecutter1: "I'm not saying it was arson....". The fire may have been the unintended result of a squatter or trespasser.... and arson is not solely initiated by owners.... The possibilities of who and why are myriad.... Any former geese assassination conspiracy theorists posting here?


Thu, Oct 1, 2009 : 7:58 p.m.

I'm not saying it was arson, but it is strange how all suspect fires start in the middle of the night. At very least a possibility.


Thu, Oct 1, 2009 : 7:11 p.m.

Mr. Beal is just one of a number of owners. A group of investors called the "Historic Equities Fund" owns the building. It would be nice if the news wasn't simplified. Dig deeper.