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Posted on Sat, Jan 26, 2013 : 5:58 a.m.

Abandoned Liberty Square complex sits as Ypsilanti Township waits on demolition funds

By Tom Perkins


A vandal smashed a shed in the abandoned Liberty Square complex on Saturday, Jan. 19.

Tom Perkins | For

Ypsilanti Township is waiting to hear from the state on whether it qualifies for grant dollars that would be used to demolish the abandoned Liberty Square townhouse complex.

In the meantime, the complex, on Grove Road just west of Rawsonville Road, continues to be a magnet for vandals and scrap metal thieves.

In December, the township applied for $635,000 out of a $97 million settlement banks agreed to pay the state of Michigan for the banks' role in the foreclosure crisis.

That money is earmarked for foreclosure prevention and blight elimination. The settlement came after a national class action lawsuit filed by Michigan, 48 other states and the federal government.

The 151-unit and 17-building Liberty Square complex has sat abandoned since late 2011. It was largely vacant during a two-year process to clear the blighted property of its remaining tenants and for the township to convince a court to order it vacated and demolished.

A Washtenaw County Circuit Court judge ordered it demolished within 60 days last August. There was an appeal to the ruling by several of the vacated complex’s former owners, but no stay was filed on the order. Around nine units were occupied at the time.


Liberty Square sits abandoned as Ypsilanti Township looks for money to fund its demolition.

Tom Perkins | For

Township officials say the lack of a stay means they are under order from the court to move forward with the project. In June, the township received an environmental report that showed some asbestos contamination, and that cleanup work has been completed.

Of the settlement pot, $25 million is set aside for the state's most urgent blight elimination projects. The city of Detroit received about $10 million of those funds, while municipalities statewide could apply for part of the remaining $15 million.

The grant applications are scored on four factors, and Mike Radzik, the township's director of the office of community standards, said he believes the township and Liberty Square is positioned well to qualify for the funding.

The state is trying to distribute the money evenly among different geographic regions, and Washtenaw County opted not to apply for funds because it didn’t want to decrease the chance of Ypsilanti Township receiving funding for the project.

Several county departments, the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Department and Van Buren Community Schools also sent letters of support for the project. Rawsonville Elementary School sits directly across the street from the complex.

“I think it’s going to score highly. It’s the most deserving project in Washtenaw County, so we’re hoping to receive all or at least partial funding,” Radzik said.

The $635,000 includes the direct cost of demolition but does not include over $170,000 the township has spent on legal fees, board-up fees, an asbestos survey and asbestos abatement. Radzik said he believes omitting the administrative costs will also better position to receive the funds.

If the township doesn’t receive the money, it will either look for other grants or pull the funds from the general fund, Radzik said.

While the township waits, it continues to pay contractors to reseal the properties as scrap thieves break in. Since Christmas, around 30 units have been broken into, and it costs around $100 to have each unit resealed.

Tom Perkins is a freelance reporter for



Tue, Jan 29, 2013 : 4:24 a.m.

All these people asking questions like: "Why aren't the owners paying for the upkeep or demolition of the property?" and other related questions need to go back and read all the previous articles about this place from the last couple of years. This has all been considered by the township and covered in numerous articles and in the end the best option is to just get rid of it and unfortunately it falls on the township because the owners would never actually have the money to get it done anyway and really they were unsure as to who actually was in control of the property.


Sun, Jan 27, 2013 : 6:06 a.m.

$170,000 Twp attorney fees to get a Court Order to have them torn down. $635,000 for the actual cost of demolition. That's about the right aty-cost to-demolition cost for Ypsi Twp; its been going that way for years . . .


Sun, Jan 27, 2013 : 4:03 p.m.

I will know at our next watch meeting whether or not and when this will go down. I do know they are planning on selling it to anyone who wants to building a strip mall on this site. I can see a nice Target or lots of nice stores going in here since they are off the highway.


Sun, Jan 27, 2013 : 3:57 a.m.

No one lives there anymore.. they all have moved out


Sun, Jan 27, 2013 : 12:12 a.m.

Why are owners of these complexes allowed to walk away from their blight? Go after them and make them pay to tear it down. It should be illegal to walk away from any property as an owner. Why should taxpayers foot the bill for tearing down this blight?

Basic Bob

Sun, Jan 27, 2013 : 3:34 a.m.

"Taxpayers" regularly walk away from blight. The prison Plymouth Township and the prison in Northville Township, both unusable and abandoned. So do industrial users such as the Willow Run plant and the steel mills downriver. Same with abandoned gas stations, restaurants, strip malls, abandoned warehouses and single family homes in Detroit. These need to be cleaned up, but I don't know how we get there. Obviously there is not a mechanism to make property owners do anything with their obsolete property.

Tom Perkins

Sat, Jan 26, 2013 : 6:20 p.m.

@Ben Petiprin and others asking about rehabbing the property. Township officials have found that there are so many physical issues that renovating the property would be cost prohibitive. In September 2010 an independent inspector estimated demolishing an individual unit at $10,000 to $12,000, and rehabilitation at $72,000. Many of the 151 units were also auctioned in a Washtenaw County foreclosure auction, but no one purchased them.

Tom Perkins

Sat, Jan 26, 2013 : 6:12 p.m.

The $635,000 the township is seeking does not include the $170,000 it has spent on legal costs and maintaining the property. An earlier version of the story stated that it did include those costs.


Sat, Jan 26, 2013 : 9:42 p.m.

What legal cost ? maintaince cost? What does the lanlord pay for? How about the $ 420 000 Waterbill, who payed that?

Ben Petiprin

Sat, Jan 26, 2013 : 5:45 p.m.

Doesn't seem in any worse shape than what Perry apartments (now Hamilton Crossing) were a year or two ago. The only difference seems to be that the township is way more enthusiastic than the city about tearing things down. Get somebody to fix them up then rent them out again.


Sat, Jan 26, 2013 : 9:39 p.m.

Hamilton Crossing $ 16 Million from Washington....To bad the put the patio on the North side and faceing the Street .instead making a Courtyard where the children could play and th egrown-ups bar-be cue.. NOw with the patio faceing the STREET ,kids will run into the Street,,


Sat, Jan 26, 2013 : 4:17 p.m.

As the township leaders anxiously await the day that they can tear this complex down, have the ever told anybody what they plan to do with the property? Do any friends of the twp board have plans to redevelop the property? The free market would have had that place rehabbed by now, if only it had been allowed.

no flamers!

Sat, Jan 26, 2013 : 6:38 p.m.

Not true--there was a public auction, with plenty of public notification well in advance, and no one bid on the this property. The free market isn't stupid. The demo costs, when considering regulatory and safety issues like asbestos, make this project a loser.


Sat, Jan 26, 2013 : 3:53 p.m.

"Honest officer, I have no idea how all of the buildings in the complex started on fire at the same time".


Sun, Jan 27, 2013 : 4 p.m.

And that my dear is how to raze an eye sore.


Sat, Jan 26, 2013 : 3:43 p.m.

The place could be a nice little fixer upper. A little elbow grease, paint......or not.

Jay Thomas

Sat, Jan 26, 2013 : 9:37 p.m.


Dog Guy

Sat, Jan 26, 2013 : 3:38 p.m.

Dry rot, greedy brokers and bankers, confiscatory property taxes, vandals, legislative favoritism, and scrap metal thieves are relentlessly destroying even the dream of home ownership. We don't have to live in a "complex" to discover that we share the same sinking boat.

Silly Sally

Sun, Jan 27, 2013 : 2:04 p.m.

Why not place the blame where it mostly belongs? Animals as tenants? What is wrong with them? Being poor is no excuse. You do not see this sort of thing in Germany, why here?


Sun, Jan 27, 2013 : 12:13 a.m.

tdw: then it should have been torn down long ago at the owner's expense.


Sat, Jan 26, 2013 : 6:44 p.m.

Dog Guy....Liberty Square has been a crime ridden pit for over 20 years its kinda hard to blame greed for that


Sat, Jan 26, 2013 : 2:25 p.m.

Actually this came up on our last watch meeting. The fire department said it was a hazard for them to even try to use this as a training tool because it is in such a state that even if they burned it? It could end up becoming a real life search and rescue for their own. Yes, this area is in really bad shape. Even if there is a fire in one of the still occupied homes? The fire fighters know this could be the end for one of their own. So, as for a burning? I say on your own to burn it to the ground. Otherwise, stay away. This is a death trap.


Sun, Jan 27, 2013 : 4:01 p.m.

zan? Use your imagination. As for the rest? I guess you are all still in 3rd grade English.


Sat, Jan 26, 2013 : 9:35 p.m.

IS that what the Owners are waiting FOR?


Sat, Jan 26, 2013 : 6:42 p.m.

jns131....Your comment is kinda hard to follow.I think for some reason you were hitting the ? key instead of the . key.I have no clue what your third to last sentence means though

Honest Abe

Sat, Jan 26, 2013 : 3:26 p.m.

jns131, Proper grammar and punctuation would have made it much easier for all us to know what you wrote and meant.


Sat, Jan 26, 2013 : 3:16 p.m.

"I say on your own to burn it to the ground. "......what does that mean?


Sat, Jan 26, 2013 : 11:30 a.m.

Good opportunity for local Fire Departments to practice fire fighting techniques .


Sat, Jan 26, 2013 : 12:23 p.m.

Good idea.Strip them of all the copper ( if it hasn't been stolen already ) and burn'em.Van Buren twp is just down the road they could get in on it also