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Posted on Tue, Apr 6, 2010 : 9:52 p.m.

Ypsilanti City Council members have mixed reactions to Burger King proposal

By Tom Perkins

Some Ypsilanti City Council members say a proposed Burger King doesn't fit the vision of the city's Water Street property. But others argue the city needs visible progress - and any revenue possible - that could result from the deal.

Bravokilo, which owns the Burger King in Ypsilanti Township on Michigan Avenue east of Ecorse Road, presented the council with the proposal at its March 16 meeting. Council members discussed it at a work session tonight and will vote at the April 20 meeting following a public hearing.

Several council members said they were opposed to a low-density “cookie cutter” Burger King that didn’t fit with the development. They suggested higher density, multilevel developments yielding a higher tax return.

Others, including Mayor Pro Tem Trudy Swanson-Winston, said the city needs the revenue, even if it is just a small amount.

“How much longer must we wait?” she said. “We are starting with something and it beats nothing.”

City Planner Teresa Gillotti estimated the Burger King’s taxable value at $450,000 based on similar establishments in the area, which would equate to roughly $29,750 in tax revenue.

City budget documents show Ypsilanti faces $31 million in debt from the Water Street development and must make a $476,00 payment out of its general fund on May 1.

Council Member Mike Bodary said the Burger King would only occupy one out of 38 acres in the development's northwest corner, minimizing its impact on the aesthetics of Water Street.

He added that the city needs the $400,000 from the sale of the property for water and sewer infrastructure.

“It's not my ideal but I'm inclined to support the offer ... It goes along way towards that first step - that first perception - that we’re moving along with this project,” he said.

Mayor Paul Schreiber acknowledged the city's financial concerns, but said he would like to see a higher density development. He added the city needs to address zoning issues to make clear to developers and staff what is desired.

“I can see it from both sides,” he said. “We need some revenue, but I think the fact that we could put something in Water Street that’s going to complement downtown is the overriding concern I have.”

Council Member Bill Nickels concurred.

“Rejecting it - I don’t think it’s a negative, “ he said. “I think what it does in the end is set a standard.”

Council Member Pete Murdock said the Burger King provides no "wow value” to attract further development. He added the tax revenue wasn't close to what the city needs to generate.

“I think we still have some time,” he said. “We’re running out of time, but we still have some time to look at things. At the end of this year we’ll have that site clear and much more ready for development than it is now.”

Revenue from the property wouldn't be available for bond repayment because the DDA and Tax Increment Financing Plan requires another $2 million in taxable value in its district before tax capture begins.

But Gilotti said the revenue would be available for the Washtenaw County Brownfield district for repayment on expenses such as infrastructure and clean up.

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



Wed, Apr 7, 2010 : 8:40 p.m.

Josh B, Ypsi Township voted down a police millage, not the City of Ypsilanti. We were offered a city income tax, which we voted down.


Wed, Apr 7, 2010 : 7:32 p.m.

I am so ready to pack up, leave Chicago and move to Ypsilanti with my 70k a year telecommuter income and buy local mentality UNTIL I see stories like this. You're not going to attract new people with any generic chains, particularly fast food. I've been house shopping. Was just there last weekend. Blown away by Corner Brewery and a number of other businesses but it's not enough if a new Bk is considered progress. They'll make about 29k off me personally the first year I live there with property taxes, sales tax, income tax. Say no this city council! Say NO!! What happened to the cool city initiative? What happened to the concern about all the college grads flooding out of the state? Now we're trying to return. Keep Ypsi weird, local, eccentric, cozy by any means necessary!

Tom Perkins

Wed, Apr 7, 2010 : 4:02 p.m.

Carl, Bravokilo owns the Burger King near Michigan Avenue and Ecorse Road. They would shut that one down and open the new one in the Water Street development.

Josh Budde

Wed, Apr 7, 2010 : 2:50 p.m.

Ypsilanti cut police and fire because people wouldn't approve a millage. Welcome to reality-if you don't want to pay for services they're going to get cut. I would actually rather see my taxes go up then have a bunch of fast food joints and other junk down the hill from my house. Call my crazy.

Carl Duncan

Wed, Apr 7, 2010 : 1:22 p.m.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but that'll be two Burger Kings within half a mile of each other. Wendys is better than Micky D's and Burger King put together.


Wed, Apr 7, 2010 : 11:23 a.m.

The City has been soliciting offers for potential businesses for two years now and not ONE (save Burger King) has made a purchase offer. People keep saying "Let's make Water Street great," etc. Well how do you propose that? The city will have to start paying $1.2M annually next year for the debt on Water Street. The City has already eliminated fire and police officers to combat the first year debt. What happens when that $1.2M debt rolls over to year two and there's STILL no income coming in from H20 Street? Condos and real estate are NOT what Ypsi needs. Take a stroll around town and look at the number of foreclosed houses sitting empty now. I say that whatever LEGAL operation can bring money into Ypsi should be welcomed with open arms. For crying out loud, there's a weed store located a "stoner's" throw from the police station, but there's uproar and outcry over a Burger King?


Wed, Apr 7, 2010 : 9:55 a.m.

Forget that Burger King, there's one down the block. I wants me some Popeye. I wants ME some Popeye. Lord, c'mon down!

Josh Budde

Wed, Apr 7, 2010 : 9:46 a.m.

I have recently purchased a home within strolling distance of the water street project. I was unable to make it to the public hearing earlier this week to hear what everyone had to say on the matter. However I would be very disappointed if the city let them build a Burger King in the northwest corner of the river st project. Its way too close to downtown Ypsilanti-do you really think the first thing you want to see when cresting the bridge on washtenaw is a poorly maintained burger king? And based on my own experiences and the comments of others we can almost be assured that it will be poorly run and maintained. I don't want to see the mess that is along Michigan Ave extend into Ypsilanti proper. I think that the city's current plan of demolishing the current buildings on site will make it more attractive to prospective builders-right now its a haven for the homeless and looks downright scary. Its hard to imagine anything attractive being envisioned while its covered in old warehouses and falling down sheds. In its current state, even with the awful buildings on site, that entire strip is being used by locals. People may not realize it (before I moved in and started walking through it every day I just assumed it was completely abandoned) but every time I walk through that area I see residents fishing in the river, or like myself strolling along the river. Its surprisingly peaceful and can be quite beautiful (if you can block out the buildings). I would hate to see it be spoiled in a mad dash for a few dollars.

dading dont delete me bro

Wed, Apr 7, 2010 : 9:14 a.m.

will bk have it their way or your way?


Wed, Apr 7, 2010 : 8:53 a.m.

Whoever was responsible for purchasing all that land with tax payers IOU's should be in jail! I can not believe what has become of the City of Ypsilanti, anyone that would invest there has to get an examination. As for the Burger King deal Implode it and build again on the same site, why would they want to pay more taxes and move to the city?

local boy

Wed, Apr 7, 2010 : 8:38 a.m.

Mayor, hold on to your principles. Ypsilanti has an opportunity for something unique. Don't go for the short term. If you look around the city you can see poor decissions everywhere. Create your own little Depot Town on that site. Build it and people will come. Have some class. Remember we are a "cool" city. Burger King isn't cool!

Concerned Citizen

Wed, Apr 7, 2010 : 7:44 a.m.

"At the end of this year well have that site clear and much more ready for development than it is now." What is the hold up on this? I thought I read a year ago about there being funds allocated to raise the buildings. How about having it clear before festival season begins so that any potential developers may come to Ypsi see an open field next to the river instead of a bunch of dilapidated buildings?

dading dont delete me bro

Wed, Apr 7, 2010 : 5:52 a.m.

it's been like this for how long? if the city sells to bk, is this how the new vision is going to go? the bk this guy owns is a dump. if he can't keep that one nice, how's he going to build a new one and keep that one up? i suggest he puts his $$ into renovating the one he's got. don't give up city council, keep your vision. to sell to bk gives me the impression that you're punting on the project.

Sandy Castle

Wed, Apr 7, 2010 : 5:52 a.m.

I live 1/2 mile from where that Burger King is located now and the only "WOW" factor they would provide is the response to the terrible service and nasty food that THAT particular franchisee serves. I drive all the way to Ann Arbor when I want Burger King because I worry about getting sick from the food there. They might have a nicer building at that location, but nothing else would change. City Council, hold out for more! That location has the potential to add so much to the city. Otherwise, you'll end up looking like Ypsilanti Twp. on Ecorse Rd. out by where I live. Is that what you want? No zoning and trashy looking businesses built haphazardly with no cohesive plan for the area. Add lack of ordinance enforcement (since they only enforce complaints received) and you have a really cheap, trashy area that does not attract people nor promote commerce.


Tue, Apr 6, 2010 : 9:32 p.m.

Jobs better than Burger King would be nice for such development. We (southern Michigan) could use some high tech/high skill good paying jobs.