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Posted on Tue, May 4, 2010 : 5:43 a.m.

Ceremony kicks off building demolition for Ypsilanti's Water Street Redevelopment Project

By Erica Hobbs


Ypsilanti Mayor Paul Schreiber takes a turn smashing a concrete wall during the ceremony to kick off the Water Street demolition in Ypsilanti.

Angela J. Cesere |

About 40 people came out to Ypsilanti’s Water Street Monday afternoon for a short ceremony to say farewell to the area’s stretch of dilapidated buildings.

As part of its Water Street Redevelopment Project, the city received $850,000 in grant money to demolish the buildings in the hopes of making the land more appealing to developers.

“The plan was supposed to spur development downtown, which has sprung up development on its own,” Mayor Paul Schreiber said. “We hope (development) will move its way east to Water Street. This demolition is the next step.”

Schreiber and Project Manager John D’Addona briefly spoke to the crowd at the parking lot on the corner of Park Street and Michigan Avenue before moving to one of the old factories nearby. Starting with Schreiber, participants took turns knocking down a concrete wall with a sledgehammer to start the demolition.

D’Addona said the demolition will start soon, and the buildings should be gone by the end of July. He said Water Street’s location near both the downtown and river are some of its best features, which he hopes will be more visible after the cleanup.

“I think the developers will start seeing those attributes,” he said. “This is a great project. There are very few communities that have this kind of property in the core of downtown that they can really start over on.”

The city assembled the 38-acre property about seven years ago with a plan to create a mixed-use residential project. But it hasn't had much luck in finding developers for the property. 

Council recently rejected a proposal to build a Burger King on the property, saying a fast food restaurant didn't fulfill the vision they had for the area.

Funding for the demolition came from three Environmental Protection Agency Brownfield Cleanup grants totaling $600,000. Another $250,000 came from the Washtenaw County Neighborhood Stabilization Program.

While many in the crowd, largely made up of city officials, were happy with the project, some locals who came out were upset with the ceremony.

Kurt Anschuetz and his mother, Janice Anschuetz, live nearby and said they were disappointed.

“It’s been a horrible project from the start,” Kurt Anschuetz said. “You don’t celebrate a grant used to demolish businesses that shouldn’t have been closed in the first place.”

Erica Hobbs is a reporter for Reach her at 734-623-2537 or via e-mail at



Wed, May 5, 2010 : 9:20 a.m.

@alterego, thanks for clarifying. I ma glad to see this portion of MI Ave finally getting some attention. It is a wasteland.

Grand Marquis de Sade

Tue, May 4, 2010 : 6:16 p.m.

Mr Anschuetz is exactly right. It's absolutely unconscionable that the City is "celebrating" the receipt of tax dollars to demolish buildings that until the City with all its development expertise got involved contained tax paying businesses! IT'S INSANE!

old east sider

Tue, May 4, 2010 : 2:23 p.m.

I remember when there were tax paying viable stores and businesses on this site including a Chinese restaurant that was good & about 40 years in business. Even the flea market attracted business from out of town and paid taxes. The site of this was once a beautiful city park which the city decided needed to become a department store. These were all taxpayers. Most did not want to move or sell their property. Now, as a taxpayer my hard earned money is going for this big mistake and will for many, many, many years. What a foolish endeavor. We can't afford this type of problem in Ypsilanti. The $850,000. grant to demolish these buildings does not even cover removing the parking lot at Michigan and Park which was once park land to the river. As the song goes "When will they ever learn?"


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 1:58 p.m.

@ Ed thanks I forgot about the breif stint of the Riverside.My point was is that even when Ypsi was still very much alive there was a X rated theater there


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 12:46 p.m.

The Dreamland Theater held a music festival over the weekend and even put on a show from the roof of the Deja Vu. Not everyone in Ypsilanti are judgemental prudes.


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 12:31 p.m.

BTW don't tell me about SID's small barber shop on ther corner I used to get my hair cut there


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 12:29 p.m.

Ok folks first I'm not defending the club or even saying it has any merit.But does anyone know what was there before it was a strip club? Appearlenty not,so I'll tell you, it was a X rated theater that spot has been an "adult" spot for at least 40 yrs


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 12:06 p.m.

Why can't Ypsilanti find its niche as a town for the families of strippers?

laurie in ypsi

Tue, May 4, 2010 : 11:40 a.m.

Yes...that strip club needs to go or be charged a tax surcharge to make up for the money lost by other businesses not wanting to be associated with it. Ypsilanti needs to decide what they want and what kind of town they want to be...thugs and strippers or business owners and families. Its their choice but you cant have both.


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 10:36 a.m.

@jns131 the strip club is nowhere near the site.In fact if anyone was going to water street It would be difficult to even drive by the club by accident


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 9:29 a.m.

amazon warrior? The reason Old Navy backed out was not because of blight, but because they would not shut down that strip joint by the AATA buses. They said they respected family values and felt Ypsi did not respect family by having a strip joint there. I guess they did not want children exposed to such trash. I could not agree more. Even my daughter asks why women would. Nuff said.


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 9:25 a.m.

My question is this. When at that corner of KFC and DQ, are they going to connect a street to the other side where the old Ford Plant use to be? That would a great way to open up downtown to old town and the highway. If they had train tracks there, then the ground is viable for car travel. So glad to see those old dilapidated buildings go away. It has been a long time in coming.


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 8:45 a.m.

The western portion of this property is part of the flood plain for the Huron River. For those who planned to develop condos along the river, they forgot two items: (1) flood plain insurance, and (2) kayaks for the living rooms of each unit. For those who would replace the thirty plus acres with parkland, I would comment only that you are either filthy rich, or you do not own real estate in the City of Ypsilanti. With virtually no taxable base, Ypsilanti (city) is suffering from municipal anorexia - it is starving itself to death. Ypsilanti needs a financial institution with large funding capabilities and a commitment for redevelopment of a city. Check out the Bank of America TV ads re: New Bedord, Mass. If the $1.5 trillion commitment is true, and the redevelopment shown really happened because of BOA's involvement, its worth investigating. What percentage of the total land area (approx. 4 square miles) of the City remains on the tax rolls? Ypsilanti needs an aggressive approach to generate an immediate increase in its taxable real property base. The days of wait and see what may happen have long passed. (Emeril Legasse is not going to build a restaurant on East Michigan Ave. because Burger King has been turned down!)


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 8:07 a.m.

A word is missing from the third paragraph from the bottom...."locals who came out were upset with [the] ceremony. At least the area will be cleaned up after all these years, but the way the City Council is being so nit-picky and hard-headed, I don't expect to see any of this property developed in my life time. If they honestly think some big name store is going to build on the property, they all have very short memories and are living in la-la land. They blew it several years ago when Old Navy was considering opening a store in downtown Ypsi, but they decided against it because the area looked so bad. This entire "Water Street Project" is not only a joke, but a perfect example of fraud, waste and abuse of taxpayer money.


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 7:58 a.m.

Here's a link to the site location: google maps streetview. Everything on the righthand side of Michigan Avenue, heading east from downtown Ypsi, from the Huron River to Park Street. krc - yes, one of the buildings was once a flea market.


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 7:57 a.m.

@krc - you are correct. There was an ancient grocery store that had most recently been used as a flea market some time ago. But even that had gone under. There was a rusty old scrap metal yard. The Chinese restaurant had decent food, but in a tiny, rundown building. Other business buildings were marginal, at best. A few houses near the river were somewhat neglected and may or may not have been able to be renovated - no buildings of any significance. Further from the river, near the flea market, were a few tiny homes. This is an area that would certainly benefit from greater population density or being vacated and turned into a park. ONE CONCERN: Be sure to factor in the 100-year flood when designing homes in this area.


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 7:43 a.m.

It may be helpful to some if added a map


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 7:32 a.m.

I can't place this spot. Is in the dilapidated, mostly abandoned group of buildings that once housed a flea market and the unemployment office?


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 5:46 a.m.

It will be great to see the property cleared. I'm still curious to find out if a local company got the bid for demolition.