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Posted on Wed, Apr 21, 2010 : noon

Ypsilanti City Council rejects Burger King proposal

By Tom Perkins

The first development in the Ypsilanti Water Street Project will not be a Burger King.

The City Council unanimously rejected a proposal from Indiana-based Bravokilo, which owns the Burger King on Michigan Avenue near Ecorse Road, to build a new restaurant on one acre of the 38-acre site.

The parcel at Michigan Avenue and Park Street would have been purchased for $400,000 and generated an estimated $29,500 in tax revenue annually.

Revenue from the property wouldn't be available for bond repayment because the DDA and Tax Increment Financing Plan require another $2 million in taxable value in its district before tax capture begins. The city faces $31 million in debt and $476,000 will be drawn from its coffers on May 1 to begin paying the debt service.

Payments will continue through 2031.

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Mayor Paul Schrieber

Throughout the last three meetings at which the proposal has been discussed, several council members voiced concern that the proposal was too far off from their original vision of Water Street. They say it would not yield the type of tax dollars they are seeking, which could be generated from multi-story, mixed-use buildings.

Mayor Paul Schreiber said he didn’t believe it set the right tone and was a poor overall first project.

“Originally, when Water Street was envisioned, it would be helping downtown,” he said. “Now it’s the other way around - downtown is helping Water Street.”

Schreiber said the city needs to adopt zoning changes that will provide developers and city employees with a clearer picture of what the city envisions on the site. The Planning Commission made zoning recommendations last year, but the council never adopted them.

“The majority of council has said ‘We would like to entertain all offers,’” he said. “They entertained this offer and denied it unanimously, so I think we should give developers some direction, and if they have a different idea then they can approach us and we can discuss it.”


Don Burnett

Sun, Apr 25, 2010 : 9:10 a.m.

All I can say is yet another failed opportunity for Ypsilanti.. For many years "Ypsi" has struggled due to lack of corporate sponsorship. Properties that could be something more but aren't.. The town is 21 million in debt so why not put the town further in debt by hiring development plans that will never happen or see reality? The proposal wasn't supported because it won't generate the tax revenue they "need".. Well my question to you folks is what will?? You have to build corporate sponsorship one anchor at a time. Someone commented that it's not Ann Arbor thats right.. There isn't a prostitute working the corner on Michigan Ave near the current BK location with easy access to the motor motels next door and police which don't seem to be patrolling and protecting the nearby neighborhoods properly (see the crime section here for details of the young street crime scene info a few weeks ago at the current bk location)... If I were burger king would I want to move? I sure would completely out of ypsi... But they are a good company who has supported this community as an anchor business and gives back to groups like veterans and students (scholarships ) why would the town want to support a business that has located here for many years? Especially on land that will stay dormant for the next few years because the town can't get corporate anchors because of short sited policy as it further slides into debt? No one may want to locate near the strip club. I think some tax revenue to build on is better than none.. This is classic Ypsilanti politics holding back the city from progress..


Sat, Apr 24, 2010 : 12:25 p.m.

Way to go city council! I couldn't be happier!


Fri, Apr 23, 2010 : 1:34 p.m.

I think that we're missing the point. If we don't want single story, single use development on Water Street then we need to ZONE IT THAT WAY! Instead of leading on developers, letting them pour thousands of dollars and untold man hours into a proposal only to be told, yea, we were only kidding, we were never going to let you do that is as stupid as it is risky. How many times will City Council have to do this before word gets out that the City of Ypsilanti is unfriendly to developers? I would imagine not too many. There is a committee in place to tackle these kinds of issues. As far the public knows, it hasn't met in over a year, if ever. Councilmen Robb, Murdock, and Bodery sit on that committee and claim to have a plan of action, yet here we are. They claim we have to leave zoning open so that we can consider every proposal, but then proposals that don't fit the vision are rejected. Where is the logic in that? Please gentlemen, if you want to take the lead on Water Street, do it, don't just talk about it! Do I think the BK was a good idea? No, not really. The tax numbers didn't add up, and the percentage of Water Street property used on the project would have been higher than the percentage of taxes captured. Would infrastructure costs out weighed profit? It looks that way, though I'm not sure we took into consideration that such infrastructure improvements would have made adjoining Water Street parcels much more viable for sale. In short, the handling of this proposal was a fiasco. It was clear weeks ago that Council was going to reject it. It was being said by council members in public and on the web. So why was it ever allowed to get this far? Either we have a vision or we don't. If we do, zone it now and we avoid this in the future. If we don't, then why did we reject Burger King? FYI: rumor is next up is a student housing project, much like Peninsular Place. Anyone who has driven through Ypsi's student areas and seen all the for rent signs knows that the idea of another student housing project is the last thing our city needs on Water Street. How much do you want to bet it gets much better and more serious treatment then BK?


Thu, Apr 22, 2010 : 12:45 p.m.

EG the site is on Michigan ave and river st nowhere near the strip club. Does anyone even know where anything is in Ypsi?


Thu, Apr 22, 2010 : 12:33 p.m.

@EG I find it funny that you say that other businesses do not want to invest next to a strip club, when N Washington st, where the Vu is, has less (and maybe none, I'll count next time I dr down washington) vacant business fronts than downtown proper (michigan ave). This includes a "radio station" that is directly tied to one of the city council members which is directly adjacent to the Vu. Any input on this??? Just curious. Also I agree that the water st project is NOT downtown and thus should not be treated as such.


Thu, Apr 22, 2010 : 9:43 a.m.

Morning Girl must live in Ann Arbor. Zoning only protects those fearful of change. Ypsilanti has been in dire need of revenue for years. There will never be a return on the City's investment in the project if nothing can be approved. The dreams that Ypsi can be Royal Oak are laughable. get real and get some income.


Thu, Apr 22, 2010 : 8:38 a.m.

Zoning protects everyone. Cash and Peter, you are correct.


Thu, Apr 22, 2010 : 7:25 a.m.

Why do people keep refering to that spot as "downtown" its not downtown never has been.Downtown is about 1/4 mi to the is down at the bottom of the hill

Do not taunt Happy Fun Ball

Thu, Apr 22, 2010 : 7:04 a.m.

Perhaps Ypsi could spend a few $100,000's on a consultant to help plan out a strategic vision for Ypsilanti so that my great-great-great-great-great grand children can one day enjoy the 'park' at Water Street. Research Youngstown OH if you think "it's coming back". That large city is in free fall and has been for decades and there is no turning the corner anytime soon - just like Ypsilanti. The vision is wrong. Ypsi needs to go back by about 4-5 'planning' steps. Zoning kills cities. Zoning kills jobs. Zoning kills your kids future.


Wed, Apr 21, 2010 : 7:19 p.m.

So... Did any of you folks consider the up front cost to the city of putting in utilities and all of the other necessary expenditures as the developer? I highly doubt that 400k would have covered all that - and until 1.6m more in property was sold there wouldn't have been any tax revenue either. Taking this deal wouldn't have just been dropping 400k in the coffers, it probably would have taken out a lot more.


Wed, Apr 21, 2010 : 7:02 p.m.

Hooray for city council. Good job. We do not need a burger joint on that property. Hold out for something that is viable and brings folks downtown. It will happen.


Wed, Apr 21, 2010 : 5:52 p.m.

Darnit, at least if BK was built there, maybe some of the 5 police officers and 6 firefighters that are slated to get pink slipped on 7/1 could have gotten jobs there to feed their families. By the way they are getting layed off as a direct result of the FAILED water street project. The type of developement that the city wants is a pipe dream in this economy. Im my god the "project" has been going on for almost 10 years (way before the economy crashed) and they were not even able to secure a developer during the good times! Get something, anything in there and you will see others come too. @ EG if Ypsilanti were to get rid of the Vu as you suggest, you would be getting ride of one of if not the biggest tax payer in the city currently, but then again that would be on par for Ypsi. The 400k and 30k a year in taxes could have saved a couple cops and/or FF'ers out of that group. In my honest opinion of this situation the city has no RIGHT to turn down anyone that wants to pay to build down there. For Shame.........


Wed, Apr 21, 2010 : 5:22 p.m.

I think they have a very good reason. This is not what the City had in mind for that site. Putting up the wrong thing is not better than putting up nothing.


Wed, Apr 21, 2010 : 4:25 p.m.

@MorningGirl Ypsi has a piece of land that is being wasted Ypsi like A2 is just stoping development for no good reason

No Answers Just Opinions

Wed, Apr 21, 2010 : 3:54 p.m.

Johnny nailed it. The vision for the project is a pipe dream that will never happen. What the city would like to see will cost millions and no developer in their right mind would take the chance on that area. There are hundreds of other more appealing places for devolpment in the western metro Detroit area. Ypsilanti is the armpit of Washtenaw county and they better take what they can get.


Wed, Apr 21, 2010 : 2:48 p.m.

"Appearently [sic] Ypsi thinks its [sic] A2." Care to elaborate? Wise decision, City Council.


Wed, Apr 21, 2010 : 1:29 p.m.

Shouldnt this be called the Underwater Street Project orIn the Water over Your Head Project?


Wed, Apr 21, 2010 : 1:21 p.m.

As TDW stated, Ypsi thinks it is Ann Arbor. No need to mimic all the insanity - instead be your own municipality. have the courage to approve a revenue generating project!


Wed, Apr 21, 2010 : 1:18 p.m.

The city council got sold on a bunch of pretty pictures for Water Street and didn't think it through the first time. Now the whole city is paying the price.


Wed, Apr 21, 2010 : 1:09 p.m.

I better NEVER hear the City Of Ypsilanti EVER complain of money issues AGAIN!! EVER!! It is complete pipe dreams to truly believe that this water street project will ever take off. Nobody wants to build there or sink their money into that area. The dreams of "Depot Town the Sequel" will NOT happen. I love ypsilanti, I am a 32 year resident, but we have to be realistic. In order for the Water Street Project to happen, it will take MILLIONS and MILLIONS of dollars that builders, banks, investors to even think about touching. That area is not appealing and their is too much "street trash" and other things that contribute to that. It will require a huge group of people and future business owners who want to build, invest and operate simultaneously to even come close. Nobody will do it individually because they will be unsure of who will build next to them and if they can co-exist on the same block NOT to mention will any new business harm existing businesses in downtown. It is a mess and will continue to be. These ridiculous ideas of waterfalls and such are far fetched! Heck....the city cannot even get a grip on the Thompson Building Project with Beal, let alone this fairy tale dream of the so called "Water Street Project"


Wed, Apr 21, 2010 : 12:51 p.m.

@MikeAA that area is on Michigan Ave.Washtenaw stops at Huron nowhere near the site


Wed, Apr 21, 2010 : 12:39 p.m.

Even though Ypsi is need of tax revenue from the Water Street project, a Burger King is not the right start. I applaud the decision to deny it. Ypsi wants to expand their downtown with asthetically appealing buildings and local business ventures, not another fast food joint! If they would've allowed it then BK would've left an empty eyesore further on down Michigan Ave. Let BK rebuild on the spot they already have. The gain in tax revenue would've been negligible if they allowed BK to build a new site.


Wed, Apr 21, 2010 : 12:35 p.m.

Quite honestly, there probably is enough fast food on Washtenaw Ave go go around. I support this.


Wed, Apr 21, 2010 : 12:30 p.m.

Ypsilanti can now turn away money????? You must be kidding. Has anyone driven down Michigan Ave. It looks like a war zone. BK would have been a 100% improvement. God I hate to pay taxes to this city...

Macabre Sunset

Wed, Apr 21, 2010 : 12:24 p.m.

Back in the days when Ann Arbor actually enjoyed having a business climate downtown, McDonald's wanted a property on Maynard. The result was an interesting building that fit the area perfectly - no massive arches or obnoxious signs. I wonder if Burger King was rejected because it refused to follow guidelines, or because the mayor has personal biases.

Forest City

Wed, Apr 21, 2010 : 12:12 p.m.

$400,000 > $0 Yes, Burger King doesn't fit with the original vision, but neither does a vision that includes unicorns and rainbows made of candy. And both visions are just as likely to be realized.


Wed, Apr 21, 2010 : 12:02 p.m.

Appearently Ypsi thinks its A2


Wed, Apr 21, 2010 : 11:42 a.m.

and putting the bk down there just makes the old bldg look stupid setting there doesnt it?


Wed, Apr 21, 2010 : 11:41 a.m.

This is probably one of the best decisions related to Waters Street to come out of the Ypsilanti City Council in a long, long, time. Instead of taking a piecemeal approach to the development,the Council should take a more comprehensive approach as to what businesses and establishments are located in that area. Kudos to the Council.