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Posted on Wed, Apr 13, 2011 : 5:56 a.m.

Renovations under way at Ypsilanti's former Cross Street Station with plans for apartments, retail space

By Tom Perkins


The former Cross Street Station at 511 W. Cross Street.

Tom Perkins | For

A local developer is breathing new life into the former Cross Street Station in Ypsilanti.

But when it reopens as early as this August, the once-loved bar and music venue at 511 W. Cross St. won’t be hosting bands and selling booze.

Instead, its new owner, Sam Shihadeh, is planning four apartments and studios for the second story, and a yet-to-be determined business for the ground level of the 5,000-square-foot building.

Shihadeh said people have come forward with a range of proposals for the commercial space, such as a Subway, a small grocery store, a medical marijuana dispensary and other ideas for a new bar.

Of the scenarios offered so far, Shihadeh said, he’s most interested in the small grocery store idea.

But, he added, he’s still open to proposals. Because of neighborhood improvement efforts, however, he’s searching for a tenant that will add to that mission and “contribute to the neighborhood’s ambiance.”

Shihadeh said another bar wouldn't meet those standards, and he pointed out that other such businesses don't have an encouraging record of success in the West Cross district.

“I think the area is going through a little bit of a resurgence. It’s being cleaned up and a bar doesn’t lend itself to that,” he said. “And it also doesn’t seem to be a successful type of business in that area. Of all (the bars) there, none have been a runaway success.”

Shihadeh purchased the building in February 2010 for $25,000. Since then, he said, he and a partner — whom he recently bought out — have completed almost all the work without help.

The roof had collapsed and concerns over the walls in the building, which was built in 1950, required installing trusses. Shihadeh said he wasn’t sure when the commercial space would be ready for occupancy, but he wants to get the apartments ready for student rental in August before school starts.

Reinforcing the wall has caused a problem with an Obsolete Property Reduction Act tax abatement application Shihadeh submitted to the state. The OPRA is a type of historic tax exemption, and starting work on the building — even though it was done for the purpose of reinforcing the structure and at the city's request — might cost Shihadeh the credit, which had not been approved at the time of the work. The city is working to resolve the situation, he said.

Shihadeh grew up in Ann Arbor, lived in the Caribbean for several years, and then moved to Southern California. There he opened 23 Little Caesars franchises with his brothers, among other food and beverage-related business ventures.

He moved back to Michigan to take care of his sick mother and first opened a nine-unit apartment building at Hill and Main streets in Ann Arbor. His second project is the West Cross building renovation, and Shihadeh said the experience has been so positive that he’s not considering redeveloping buildings anywhere else.

City officials here have been easier to work with and displayed more interest in seeing him succeed than in other cities where he’s done business, Shihadeh said.

“At the beginning (the building) was just a hell of a deal,” he said. “Now, to tell you the truth, I’m only looking to invest in Ypsilanti.”

Shihadeh is one of several developers investing in the West Cross district, and the city is about to begin work on a $1 million streetscape project intended to significantly improve the Cross Street Corridor’s image and infrastructure between Eastern Michigan University and the east edge of Depot Town.

The proximity to EMU and the buzz about coming improvements were part of what originally attracted Shihadeh to the neighborhood.

He said he’s encouraged by the progress he sees so far.

“I think a lot of the people in the area, a lot of the business owners, feel more confident than they ever have that they are going to get a good return on their investment and that is something that people are really look forward to,” he said.

Tom Perkins is a freelance reporter for Reach the news desk at or 734-623-2530.



Wed, Apr 13, 2011 : 6:36 p.m.

Above all else, I'm excited that there's someone who sees and buys into the potential of Ypsi. "At the beginning (the building) was just a hell of a deal," he said. "Now, to tell you the truth, I'm only looking to invest in Ypsilanti." A half mile away is the co-op, with pre-made lunch options and soup. Support them. I'm glad he's being patient on a vendor. Excited to see what happens.


Wed, Apr 13, 2011 : 4:07 p.m.

A small grocery store is an excellent (and even necessary) idea as there really isn't one nearby. I'd rather walk down the street for a few groceries than drive or take the bus elsewhere.


Wed, Apr 13, 2011 : 2:35 p.m.

This is very exciting. Like Gramma, I'd like to see a small grocery store in there (provided it really was a grocery and not a party store). It would be really great to be able to walk a couple blocks to pick up last minute grocery items, instead of having to drive to the Whittaker Road Kroger every time. And I like teachwrite's idea of a grocery which offers lunches. That would be super convenient. Mostly though it's just great to know that that eyesore of a building is on its way to a facelift!


Wed, Apr 13, 2011 : 2:01 p.m.

I'd love to see a Chipotle restaurant there...or a small grocer with grab & go lunches. The only place for a quick lunch on that side of campus is Jimmy John's.


Fri, Apr 15, 2011 : 4:43 a.m.

Maybe The Produce Station should expand - it is like a mini Whole Foods for groceries plus a salad bar/ready-to-go sandwiches. Prices are reasonable and dinners are prepackaged too. (I have no affiliation with the company, just a fan and patron.)


Wed, Apr 13, 2011 : 1:50 p.m.

I went online and did a little research on successful city redevelopment. Some of the important factors are: 1. encouraging the arts (positive things to do and creativity) 2. Encouraging pedestrian and bike traffic and slowing down the car traffic. Plazas where people can gather. (Cross St. being a shoot-through, one way "corrider" is not conducive to this. Corriders are quick pass through areas, not destinations.) 3. Green spaces and parks. There is less crime in areas with trees and other pretty vegetation. 4. Signs are small. 5. Drive throughs are prohibited. (Subway is generally a carry-out place. It doesn't encourage people to stay in the neighborhood.) 6. Empower the people in decision making. Forums, surveys, referendums. 7. Employment. Having an Amtrak station here in Ypsi would help to provide this, but not a train station that is set away from the city and requires cars and parking to use it. 8. Public transportation


Wed, Apr 13, 2011 : 2:37 p.m.

For a real world example of a town which put many of these factors into practice see this article: <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> I was a student at Beloit 10 years ago, right about the time they started improvements, and it was much worse off than Ypsi is right now. It's truly amazing how they've turned it around.

Cindy Heflin

Wed, Apr 13, 2011 : 1:13 p.m.

A typographical error has been corrected.


Wed, Apr 13, 2011 : 1:01 p.m.

&quot;Of all those the bars there, none have been a runaway success.&quot; That doesn't sound like a mistake someone would make while speaking...


Wed, Apr 13, 2011 : 12:54 p.m.

A Subway would give stability to the area ... that is needed. I was at first against the Jimmy Johns on Cross - but seems to ne a huge success and its not going anywhere small steps of stability towards larger steps of re-development While a small gocery store seems like a good fit - I would worry it would just be a glorified party store - and there are two on the corner of Cross and Ballard at the moment...


Thu, Apr 14, 2011 : 12:48 a.m.

yeah, just like the jimmy johns 'brings stability'? Gimme a break.


Wed, Apr 13, 2011 : 12:50 p.m.

All large projects must be accomplished through small steps. For the business, I like the idea of a small grocery store. This would make the area more of a community. It would also encourage more pedestrian traffic. Cities that have successfully renovated have provided places where people of all ages can gather, with places to sit and talk and green spaces.

Craig Lounsbury

Wed, Apr 13, 2011 : 12:05 p.m.

Is that where the old Fiddlers Green used to be? If so I fiddled away many a night banging on a dart board over a few brewsky's in my misspent youth.


Wed, Apr 13, 2011 : 11:54 a.m.

Meanwhile. The rest of the town looks like hell. Cross street east of Depot Town, which I may add gets more help from the city than anyplace else in town, Is not a street anymore. It is more like a off road coarse. Maybe instead of kissing up to EMU and doing this area. They might want to fix that brown field that the city spent millions of dollars on consulting firms and removing local businesses. Then maybe they can point to the township and have them clean up ecorse and east Michigan ave.


Thu, Apr 14, 2011 : 1:18 a.m.

Yes Cash I did. And it is. It reminds me of the old east side of Detroit back in the mid 80's when I was a delivery driver.


Wed, Apr 13, 2011 : 2:48 p.m.

oldbueypsi, I think Bones means the stretch of E Michigan and the stretch of Ecorse Road in the township....which I would grant is hideous.


Wed, Apr 13, 2011 : 12:28 p.m.

Why would the Township want to &quot;clean up ecorse and east Michigan ave&quot;? That area is within the City limits. The only way the Township will clean it up is after the Gov's financial manager closes down the bankrupt city and forces consolidation of the city and township.


Wed, Apr 13, 2011 : 12:12 p.m.

According to the earlier article about the Cross St. renovations, the stretch of Cross between River and Prospect will be repaved this summer. Very welcome news.