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Posted on Mon, Jan 28, 2013 : 5:57 a.m.

A new city hall? Ypsilanti may consider the idea down the road

By Katrease Stafford


Ypsilanti City Hall

Tom Perkins |

The city of Ypsilanti could have a new city hall in its future as it looks for ways to trim expenses, though City Manager Ralph Lange said it's nothing that would take place immediately.

"It would be a very complex deal that I don't want to get everyone up in arms about," Lange said. "How fast it would move, I don't know. It's just an idea that's been mentioned and I would say that when we have the capacity to run it down, we will."

Lange said the idea was mentioned during a goal-setting meeting shortly after the city received a SEMCOG report earlier this month that outlined ways the city could become more efficient.

SEMCOG recommended that the city look at combining departments to cut costs and become more efficient.

"The SEMCOG report had talked about consolidating departments and assets, and lowering overhead costs," Lange said, adding that the report made a passing reference to a new city hall. "They don’t say do it, they say it ought to be looked at and that did come up in the goal setting meeting… We’re looking into it."

During that meeting, Lange said he would consider building a new city hall, possibly between the police and fire departments. Lange believes it could possibly save the city money in the long run to have all of the departments in one location.

When the time comes for the city to decide whether to move forward with the idea, Lange said the main thing that will be looked at is whether the city would receive a return on its investment.

According to assessor records, the city purchased the current city hall at 1 S. Huron in 1982 for $400,000. Officials said that if a new city hall were to be built, the current one would be likely sold.

"It's too early to say because we haven't run all the numbers down, but I think it could save money absolutely," Lange said. "If it could work — and we have a lot of homework to do — it has a lot of potential to be very beneficial."

The idea is one of several SEMCOG suggestions that the city is looking at, Lange said.

"There are a lot of different possibilities of what we might do or consider to be continually efficient and I think its just one of at least 40 or 50 recommendations," Lange said.

Lange said no formal plans or proposals have been made yet.

"Nothing can happen for an extended period of time and I don't know if that's a number one priority," he said.

Ypsilanti Mayor Paul Schreiber declined to comment on the feasibility of a new city hall, but said the city has more pressing issues to handle that have a direct impact on the budget.

"What's on my radar is getting union contracts done and that's certainly something I think all of council is interested in getting done," Schreiber said. "To me, those are what the next steps are. Consolidation of city hall into one building is much further in the future. There are no drawings, no proposals, just thinking way ahead.

Council member Brian Robb said a new city hall isn't something that would make his "top 100 list" of things the city should target.

Council member Pete Murdock said he would not support the idea if it were brought up now.

"How can we build this when we're going through all of these budgetary issues," Murdock said. "I don't think it's something we should be looking at. I'm not really supportive of it right now, who knows five years from now, but right now we have other things to spend our time on."

Katrease Stafford covers Ypsilanti for her at or 734-623-2548 and follow her on twitter.


ypsi 1

Tue, Jan 29, 2013 : 2:11 a.m.

A much more reasonable idea is to ask the County Courts to let Ypsi City Govt, have the upstairs of District 14 Courthouse, next door to YPD, Makes much more sense than a new building.

Steven Taylor

Mon, Jan 28, 2013 : 4:40 p.m.

So a group of 'outsiders' (these folks at SEMCOG) propose to tell cities how to function now too? that's wonderful. NOT. What's wrong with the current building. buying and constructing a new building just so the PD/FD and CH are all on a city parcel on Michigan ave is a WASTE of taxpayer funds for a city that's teetering towards insolvency.

Mulberry Bank

Mon, Jan 28, 2013 : 4:09 p.m.

I am not a Ypsilanti resident so perhaps I do not get an opinion. already have a lovely city hall that fits right in with your nice stretch of Michigan Avenue. I am from New England, we treasure and modernize our old buildings. I would ask, who is getting the $ for the new construction contract??


Mon, Jan 28, 2013 : 3:42 p.m.

Sure go ahead and spend my tax money on a new building. I'd rather see that then watching someone pad their pockets. Truth be told, 1 of 2 things should be at the top of the City Counsel List. Either merge with Ypsilanti Township so that the citizens of the city will be protected better with 4 fully staffed Fire Station instead of just 1 that would have to call in a full box alarm for mutual aid. Second thing I think should be up there is finding a way to get more tax revenue coming in to the city so we can bring back all the public safety people that lost their jobs over a bad decision of the council to buy property and then get stuck paying out the back side for nothing. Why not put it to a vote with the citizens of the city and let them decide if they want the merger to happen. There are too many things clouding the judgement of the city manager and the mayor. Seems like they think they know what is best for us. You have been trying to do it your way for quite a few years and look where we are now. I just think the city manager and the mayor are afraid that if the merger did happen and it improved the service we get now, they would look like fools and run with their tail between their legs. If you can't handle the tax money for the whole city, maybe it's time someone called Gov. Snyder and get an idea from him since he is a business man and knows what he is doing. I'm joking of course about the Snyder thing.. OOOO I wonder if the city would and an FOIA request if they got one or if the city manage would say, just throw it away and forget about it. Find our tax money ladies and gentlemen or step down and let someone that knows what they are doing get in there.

ypsi 1

Tue, Jan 29, 2013 : 2:14 a.m.

Y-Twp. does NOT want to absorb the City or their debt. Are you kidding? Merging a few services is a good idea though.


Tue, Jan 29, 2013 : 12:36 a.m.

The majority of residents in the Township would have to approve a merger. What does the city have to offer? Higher taxes, empty storefronts, unfunded firefighting responsibilities on Eastern campus, unfunded pensions, huge debt on empty brownfields, a bus system that exceeds budget constraints, and a group of taxpayers who continue to vote for more services despite low revenues. No thank you.

Ben Petiprin

Mon, Jan 28, 2013 : 2:31 p.m.

There is no logic to this. "Lange believes it could possibly save the city money in the long run to have all of the departments in one location." But city hall is really only a few blocks away. Is the one or two hundred feet separating these buildings costing the city so much? Would the marginal logistical savings make up for the construction costs of what will be an undoubtedly gawdy and unnecessary building? And the statement of selling the old city hall is just wishful thinking. One commenter made note of this already, but this is identical to the thinking that led to the water street debt. Learn to leave well enough alone, especially when you're broke.


Mon, Jan 28, 2013 : 8:56 p.m.

It would seem to me that modernizing the building, either through funds from the state or federal government (they love to pay for this kind of stuff) would be the way to go. Move to solar power, possibly working with local businesses to share some of it, and cut down your costs. There are ways to cut your costs that don't require having to build an entirely new building. And I doubt anyone if going to buy it without some help on the taxes, so thats less money that will be made off of selling it.

Katrease Stafford

Mon, Jan 28, 2013 : 8:46 p.m.

One city official told me there was an energy audit done in 2007 on the current city hall that said the city pays about $32,000 in utility/energy related costs. Honeywell, the company that completed the audit, said the city could save that amount if it moved. However, I don't know how that would stack up against the cost of constructing a new building or what the possible long term savings would be. If this idea ever progresses, it would be interesting to see the savings in relation to the costs.


Mon, Jan 28, 2013 : 4:59 p.m.

I think the current city hall is much larger than it needs to be, so that is where the savings would come from. I agree with all your other points though.


Mon, Jan 28, 2013 : 2:05 p.m.

""It would be a very complex deal that I don't want to get everyone up in arms about," Well thank you for sparing us from the complicated adult problems. We will just go back to eating cereal and watching cartoons on our snow day. Does anyone else find him condescending? Sure, there are times where he needs to keep things close to his vest, but this new air of secrecy and "i will tell you when i want to" is getting old.

dading dont delete me bro

Mon, Jan 28, 2013 : 1:52 p.m.

maybe they can build next to family dollar on the water street property?


Mon, Jan 28, 2013 : 1:41 p.m.

I wonder what they will do for art at the new building? I'm sure that is an important consideration. Perhaps an I beam stuffed into the ground with sparkles and water?

Jonathan Blutarsky

Mon, Jan 28, 2013 : 6:08 p.m.

Wrong side of Carpenter for that malarkey!


Mon, Jan 28, 2013 : 12:35 p.m.

The $400,000 building currently is worth $10 million at least according to Ypsilanti's Water Street method of calculation.

Jonathan Blutarsky

Mon, Jan 28, 2013 : 6:55 p.m.

Considering other recent sales in the area $400k seems rather optimistic. Office space isn't exactly a hot commodity anywhere in the eastern half of Wastenaw county let alone Ypsilanti.

Basic Bob

Mon, Jan 28, 2013 : 11:14 a.m.

A merger with the township should be on the top of the list.

ypsi 1

Tue, Jan 29, 2013 : 2:06 a.m.

Not even a reasonable idea. No way would either be able to work this out Too late, too late.