Ypsilanti Township seeking bank lawsuit settlement funds for Liberty Square demolition
Ypsilanti Township is seeking a piece of a $97 million settlement banks agreed to pay the state of Michigan for the banks' role in the foreclosure crisis. The settlement came after a national class action lawsuit filed by Michigan, 48 other states and the federal government.
The money would be put toward the estimated $750,000 demolition of the Liberty Square townhome complex, and possibly toward other large demolition projects in the township.
About $10 million of those funds was set aside for the city of Detroit, leaving $15 million for the rest of the state. The cost of demolishing the 17-building, 151-unit Ypsilanti Township complex is not known, but is estimated at around $750,000.
The township and its lobbyist, Kirk Profit, are meeting with state legislators charged with distributing the money to make Ypsilanti Township's case for the funds.
During an update on Liberty Square given to the Ypsilanti Township Board of Trustees at its July 23 meeting, Mike Radzik, director of the office of community standards, said the township should know within weeks whether or not it will receive assistance.
He said the he felt officials laid out a strong case for why the project is important and how Ypsilanti Township would effectively use the funds.
“We are aggressively and actively engaged with decision-makers in an effort to request funding for this demolition project and other projects,” Radzik said.
Last August, Washtenaw County Circuit Court Judge Donald Shelton ordered the complex demolished within 60 days. There was an appeal to the ruling by several of the vacated complex’s former owners, but no stay was filed on the order.
Township officials say that means they are under order from the court to move forward with the project. In June, the township received an environmental report that showed little asbestos contamination. Four companies have bids on the project.
Radzik said the township will wait to award the bids until after it learns whether or not it will receive the funds. But he said the court’s order to demolish the complex helps the case.
He also said officials have laid out the township’s blight abatement strategies and policies to lawmakers and demonstrated that it is aggressively trying to reduce blight. Officials stressed that the township would use the money. Detroit recently left $20 million for demolition projects on the table.
“There are communities in need and we can't afford to do that anymore,” Radzik said.
“I think we built a pretty good case and showed that we are ahead of curve,” he added. “We showed that we have a well-oiled machine in place and we would be able to demonstrate after the fact how well we used (the funds.)"