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Posted on Tue, Aug 30, 2011 : 2:29 p.m.

New scaffolding at Ypsilanti's Thompson Block: Temporary until building is painted

By Tom Perkins


Crews worked to seal the Thompson Block on Tuesday.

Scaffolding at the Thompson Block is back up and rumors of the building's impending structural demise are swirling, but developer Stewart Beal says his building is sound and the new scaffolding is only there for cosmetic purposes.

Painters will use the scaffolding as they cover the building by Friday in its new, uniform color.

It's not, Beal said, a sign of structural weakness.

"Hurricane Irene couldn’t blow that thing down," Beal said.

Per a consent judgment that ended months of court ordered facilitation between the city and Beal over the 148-year-old building's fate, Beal is to have the windows sealed and building painted a uniform color by Friday.

Beal underscored that there are no new structural cracks or issues with the Thompson Block.

He said his photos prove it hasn't shifted since the morning of the Sept. 23, 2009, fire that gutted it.

The scaffolding is also out of Rivers and Cross Street, though the intersection was closed Tuesday for road work.

And what color will work crew paint the Thompson Block by the end of the day Friday?


More specifically, "historic terracotta," which Beal said the painter selected.



Thu, Sep 1, 2011 : 6:27 p.m.

I happened to drive by last night. It actually looks better this 'dark terra cotta' color and I realize that's not saying a lot.


Thu, Sep 1, 2011 : 4:38 a.m.

What I saw tonight, being an actual trained contractor, was two guys speaking spanish in an articulating (JLG) lift with no hard hats or fall-protection painting lipstick on a pig. The PPE provided (not) by Mr. Beal proves the concern he has for his building and his men.


Wed, Aug 31, 2011 : 11:42 p.m.

I went past the building a little while ago. Too bad they didn't repaint it blue - it was a much nicer color. It looks really ugly now.


Wed, Aug 31, 2011 : 7:35 p.m.

He's going to paint the windows so that the interior can't be seen. What's the purpose of that other than creation of an opportunity for illegal activity within.

Wolf's Bane

Wed, Aug 31, 2011 : 12:41 p.m.

The challenges remain. While I think this is a bit nutty, I gotta hand it to Beal, he is NOT giving up. Let's just hope they start painting sooner than later. Figure maybe this time next year?


Wed, Aug 31, 2011 : 7:09 a.m.

If Beal renovates the Thompson Block, what are the hipsters going to take pictures of when they stumble out of Woodruffs?

The AV Pro, LLC

Wed, Aug 31, 2011 : 11:32 a.m.

I really, really want to say, "Your Mom" to this.


Wed, Aug 31, 2011 : 12:35 a.m.

We should place bets on what gets completed faster, The Subway on Platt south of Packard, or the Thompson Building. Went to Depot Town tonight, plywood is the window sealer of choice. It looks great with the new paint job.


Thu, Sep 1, 2011 : 11:11 a.m.

Why not add the Stadium Bridge project to this mix for a real trifecta?

Craig Lounsbury

Wed, Aug 31, 2011 : 12:18 p.m.

at least the Subway has windows ;)


Wed, Aug 31, 2011 : 12:01 a.m.

Try to envision what it can become. The facade is a classic for its era. Yes, it's been a long time, but it could end up as a really handsome block.


Wed, Aug 31, 2011 : midnight

You could fill a butcher shop with Beal's baloney


Tue, Aug 30, 2011 : 11:45 p.m.

"Stewart Beal says his building is sound and the new scaffolding is only there for cosmetic purposes." Took me a minute to figure that one out. I thought the goal was to remove the scaffolding.

Concerned Citizen

Tue, Aug 30, 2011 : 11:08 p.m.

It's going to look a whole lot better. Especially when they paint the windows black.

Grand Marquis de Sade

Tue, Aug 30, 2011 : 10:48 p.m.

As somebody who watched the fire debacle unfold before my very eyes... I can say that I'm truly happy that the building is being saved despite the devastation wrought by the inferno. Yes it's ugly... temporarily. I'm sure when the work is complete (which it probably would have been by now were it not for the inaction of the YFD) the Thompson Block will serve as a lovely anchor to the Depot Town district. I guess I'd prefer to have the shell standing in its current state temporarily while work is conducted to having yet another empty lot. It's not hurting anybody (nor is it likely to since the structural shoring work) and it's certainly not depressing anybody's property values (a preposterous and totally unfounded assertion). Why doesn't everybody withhold judgement until it's finished which it obviously will be if Beal is allowed to continue. Why on earth would a property developer spend so much money stabilizing a building if he never planned on returning it to productive use? Mr. Beal is a businessman looking to turn a profit on his investment which will only happen if construction is completed. Otherwise he's simply flushed hundreds of thousands of dollars down the toilet. I'm sure Mr. Beal is shrewd enough not to do that willingly.

Grand Marquis de Sade

Fri, Sep 2, 2011 : 1:36 p.m.

I didn't say I didn't read it. I did. I didn't need to read it to get the story of what happened because I was there and watched the entire debacle unfold. Did you witness this incident, as I did, or are you relying solely on for your "facts"?


Thu, Sep 1, 2011 : 6:30 p.m.

Funny that you never read the original stories on here about this. Next time, I'm sure the YFD will contact you first to share their game plan with you and to get your approval.

Grand Marquis de Sade

Thu, Sep 1, 2011 : 2:32 p.m.

God forbid somebody criticize a city agency. We all know police and fire departments are infallible. Malfeasance implies intent... it's more likely incompetence or faulty equipment but regardless of the reason the result was the same. A small isolated fire in one room turned into a raging inferno that engulfed the entire building while YFD stood idly by. Pittsfield was hooked up and throwing water within a couple of minutes of arriving. YFD stood idly by for 45 minutes. Consider it a "bold claim" if you wish but had you been present during the whole incident, as I was, I'm sure you'd agree with my assessment.


Thu, Sep 1, 2011 : 1:57 p.m.

Pretty bold claim, accusing the YFP of blatant malfeasance.

Grand Marquis de Sade

Wed, Aug 31, 2011 : 11:55 p.m.

I didn't need to read the original story. I was standing across the street while it happened. The YFD didn't do anything but block the street. Pittsfield Twp and Ann Arbor were the agencies that started putting water on the fire. At that point it had been burning for 45 minutes or so while the YFD stood around and watched. It started with a trickle of smoke from one room and turned into a raging inferno during that time.


Wed, Aug 31, 2011 : 9:24 p.m.

How exactly is it the fault of the Ypsilanti Fire Department? If you read the original story, they worked to save the fascade the best they could per Stewart Beal's wishes. That's more than a lot of homeowners get should their house catch on fire.

Grand Marquis de Sade

Wed, Aug 31, 2011 : 3:14 p.m.

Your ire should be directed toward the parties responsible for the dreadful condition of the building (the arsonist and the YFD) rather than Beal who despite the considerable expense and hassle has decided to try to save it. You and the other commenters act as if dealing with a catastrophic fire and the damage it caused is something that Mr. Beal relishes. I'm quite certain that it is not.

no flamers!

Wed, Aug 31, 2011 : 1:20 p.m.

I disagree that the building will or can be a "lovely anchor to the Depot Town district." Even before the fire, it had no architectural value. Even under the best circumstances, the potential of the building is to be just a plan box. Just because the brick that is embedded in the walls is several decades old does not mean it is worth saving--brick is brick is brick. Same essential receipt for 1,000 years. I also disagree that that "It's not hurting anybody" and that "it's certainly not depressing anybody's property values." It has been a 2+ year blight and nuisance both from an aesthetic and traffic standpoint. It diminishes the experience of everyone that goes to Depot Town. Regarding your contention that it must make sense to fix or Beal wouldn't have spent $ to stabilize the building, I don't really know. But I suspect that it is related to the fact that the building qualified for some taxpayer-funded development incentives (meaning we're all paying), and/or that new construction would require setbacks from the road (as opposed to scaffolding in the road!) and parking, which would make the effective size of a replacement building much smaller.


Tue, Aug 30, 2011 : 10:03 p.m.

Getting just a litte bit tired has gone on WAY too long. Get it over with!

Jimmy McNulty

Tue, Aug 30, 2011 : 9:17 p.m.

Perfume on a pig.


Wed, Aug 31, 2011 : 1:35 a.m.

Lipstick on a pig?

Chaz H

Tue, Aug 30, 2011 : 9:07 p.m.

Are they using Thompson's WaterSeal®?


Tue, Aug 30, 2011 : 9:02 p.m.

"Beal is to have the windows sealed and building painted a uniform color by Friday." Maybe I'm missing something, but what good will it do to "seal the windows" (and with what - plywood?) and paint if there is no roof? For what purpose? Does anyone know what Beal plans to do with the building long-term? Is he preserving a facade or what?


Tue, Aug 30, 2011 : 8:25 p.m.

This is an insurance claim in the making, when the building falls down due to structural weakness...

Jimmy McNulty

Tue, Aug 30, 2011 : 9:18 p.m.

I wonder if Beal even has insurance on this property now as there was none on it when it was set afire.


Tue, Aug 30, 2011 : 8:49 p.m.

Just like the last one !!


Tue, Aug 30, 2011 : 8:17 p.m.

RED?! Now it's going to be even MORE of an eye sore. I liked the nice blue that was up there. Blue is historic.


Wed, Aug 31, 2011 : 2:38 a.m.

That was blue? I thought it was green.


Tue, Aug 30, 2011 : 8:14 p.m.

Stewie, I challenge you to make a comment without sticking your foot in your mouth. Once again completing tasks from the consent judgement on the LAST possible day... Precisely As Intended!


Tue, Aug 30, 2011 : 8:07 p.m.

Even the picture of Tom Perkins, the writer of this article, is laughing...

David Paris

Tue, Aug 30, 2011 : 8:06 p.m.

I think that Stewart Beal is a class act, and Ypsilanti would be the Hipsilanti of it's dreams if there were more like him. More power to you, Mr Beal!

David Paris

Tue, Aug 30, 2011 : 8:56 p.m.

"I hope this is sarcastic." Not at all, but I do like key lime pie!


Tue, Aug 30, 2011 : 8:20 p.m.

I hope this is sarcastic.


Tue, Aug 30, 2011 : 8:04 p.m.

Let me see if I've got this. He's going to spend money to paint the outside of a building that has no roof, no windows, no trim where the windows go... Really?


Tue, Aug 30, 2011 : 9:48 p.m.

It's been sitting there, ugly as can be, for years, unpainted. If that weakens the brick....guess what. It will soon crumble.

Craig Lounsbury

Tue, Aug 30, 2011 : 8:47 p.m.

I would suggest it makes no sense because the structure will never be restored. Thats my opinion.


Tue, Aug 30, 2011 : 8:19 p.m.

It was part of the consent judgement and actually makes a lot of sense as Phil K. points out. What doesn't make sense is why everything Stewie Beal does is done the last possible minute to the lowest quality standards acceptable, meanwhile his "building" continues to degrade the property values of an entire neighborhood.

Phil K.

Tue, Aug 30, 2011 : 8:10 p.m.

Painting over brick fascia is recommended if the brick is of poor quality or damaged (by smoke for example). The paint will preserve the brick underneath. Since the goal all along has been to preserve the building's facade, paining the brick before winter sets in makes quite a bit of sense.

Only The Truth

Tue, Aug 30, 2011 : 8 p.m.

What an ugly and embarrassing eyesore to our city. Every time I see this catastrophe all I can do is shake my head and wonder why we have had to put up with this for so long. Incredible.

Craig Lounsbury

Tue, Aug 30, 2011 : 7:44 p.m.

"Hurricane Irene couldn't blow that thing down," Beal said. Of course not you knucklehead it ran up the east coast. However sustained 75-100 mile an hour winds coming down Cross Street from the west would blow it down within an hour if not sooner.


Tue, Aug 30, 2011 : 7:39 p.m.

Always good for a laugh.


Tue, Aug 30, 2011 : 7:34 p.m.

I agree, Hurricane Irene wouldn't have blown it down. Instead, she would have flushed it down to the river with her deluge.

Elaine F. Owsley

Tue, Aug 30, 2011 : 7:17 p.m.

The patience the city of Ypsilanti has shown with this debacle is to be commended - however wrong minded it might be. Where is Hurricane Irene when you need her?

David Briegel

Tue, Aug 30, 2011 : 7:06 p.m.

Deja Vu. Cosmetics? LOL!!


Tue, Aug 30, 2011 : 6:58 p.m.

Ypsi is history they say!