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Posted on Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 5:58 a.m.

Demolition of abandoned Liberty Square complex to be paid for by banks behind foreclosure crisis

By Tom Perkins


A vandal smashes a shed in Liberty Square in January.

Tom Perkins | For

Ypsilanti Township will receive $653,000 in grant funding to complete the demolition process of the Liberty Square townhome complex.

The township applied for $653,000 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, and came after a national class action lawsuit was filed by Michigan, 48 other states and the federal government.

Township officials are hopeful the site will be cleared by the end of May, but the project is not a small one. Liberty Square is a 151-unit, 17-building complex that sits on 25 acres. The land is on the north side of South Grove Road and a quarter-mile west of Rawsonville Road.

The township already has paid for minor asbestos cleanup and has secured the buildings since they were abanadoned in 2011, though continue to be a regular target for scrap metal thieves and vandals. Around 30 units were broken into in January, and it costs about $100 to have each resealed.

The $653,000 includes the direct cost of demolition, but does not include the more than $170,000 the township has spent on legal fees, board-up fees, an asbestos survey and asbestos abatement.

“Demolition would be the conclusion of a very long process, and I can only imagine what it means to the business owners and residents who live in close proximity, who have to stare at it everyday,” said Mike Radzik, director of the office of community standards. “It’s the worst continuing eyesore in the township in recent memory.”

Selecting projects and distributing money was done through a partnership among the Michigan State Department of Human Services, Michigan Land Bank and Michigan State Housing Development Authority.

The awards ranged from a $10,000 sum given to the Houghton County Land Bank to as high as approximately $3.7 million that was given to the Genesee County Land Bank. All geographic regions of the state were represented.

According to a press release from the DHS, the state allocated $25 million of the $97 million settlement toward a Blight Elimination Program “to help communities demolish vacant and abandoned properties with the goal of promoting public safety, stabilizing property values and enhancing current and future development opportunities.”

Detroit was awarded $10 million of those funds, while 90 other municipalities and agencies applied for the remaining money.

Radzik said he was overjoyed to know funding is on its way, especially because the land sits near the busy South Grove and Rawsonville Road intersection, just south of Interstate 94. The location makes it attractive to potential developers.

“Returning it to active use would be huge,” Radzik said.

One last legal obstacle remains, however. The Michigan Court of Appeals will soon issue a ruling on an appeal by Liberty Square homeowners who contend they shouldn’t be forced out of their homes because their neighbors’ units are deteriorating.

No stay was placed on a Washtenaw County Circuit judge’s order to demolish the property, so the township is moving forward with the project. Around nine of the 151 units were occupied at the time of the order.



Tue, Apr 2, 2013 : 12:37 p.m.

I think living conditions are probably better in Afghan.Make it disappear.


Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 10:48 p.m.

This is Ypsilanti Georgetown mess. At least we can see an end to it. As for Ann Arbors mess? Seems to be growing in like dust bunnies.

no flamers!

Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 12:27 p.m.

Hurray! Great work by Township officials, from start to finish on this one. I drive by this 3rd World dump twice a day and cannot wait to see it gone. Hurray!


Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 12:38 a.m.

Thank you for the info on recycling the building materials!! Probably not much of value left in any of the units. Just too bad about the bricks going to a landfill.


Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 11 p.m.

It wouldn't be a blighted property if somebody just fixed them up and got them back on the housing market and back to paying property taxes. I'm still waiting for the township to explain why they don't want to fix up the properties. 2/3 of a million dollars could go a long way towards attaining that goal. I think the township wants to build a walmart there.


Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 4:47 a.m.

Maybe a Costco's would build there. Who knows maybe a Lowe's or Home Depot. Either way, as long as what's sitting there now is gone, it will be an improvement for the Township overall.

Joslyn at the U

Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 11:05 p.m.

Hahahahahahahaha you're probably right


Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 9:35 p.m.

I hope that last legal obstacle that was so briefly mentioned sinks your whole operation. It's one thing to tear down properties that have been long vacant but it's quite another to force people out of their homes. I'm sure that they have all sorts legal gray areas and loopholes to vindicate this type of behavior but can anyone justify it in terms of general decency? And to Mr. Radzik: as much as your name and that of the Office of Community Standards is glorified in this paper I hope you never lose sight of what you really are. You are a shill and a servant of land developers. One who coerces the vulnerable out of their property for a quick buck.


Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 9:58 p.m.

Radzik and his Orwellian agency invite criticism with their actions. And it is my right as an American to give critiques of elected officials. And you are correct in saying that there is no single objective morality. There are a lot of things that people rightfully differ on, but unless you adopt the philosophy of a sociopath there should be a meeting of minds on a few things. It is was not right, for instance, for the 9 people who kept up their homes and paid their rent to be thrown out because of the condition of the complex as a whole.

no flamers!

Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 12:38 p.m.

MurrayJane: 1) you lost all credibility with your unnecessary personal attack on a community official. 2) the law evicts property owners who fail to pay taxes as these Liberty Square residents; 3) your attempt to turn this into a morality play fails because we live in a system of laws and are not controlled by any one person's morality code.


Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 5:40 a.m.

@ypsigirl: And may someone tear your house down when they are sick of looking at you.


Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 4:46 a.m.

The Moral of this story is as a homeowner in Ypsilanti Township, I'm sick and beyond tired looking at the remains of Liberty Square and can't wait for the remaining structures to be thrown down once and for all. End of story! Supporting the Township on this one as anyone who owns a home in this Township knows its' high time for this eye-sore property to go once and for all.


Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 2:26 a.m.

What kind of non-issue is that? Let me work backward from your non-sequitor and try to guess your point. Are you saying that the people who were forced from the homes they maintained and paid into are better off? The people who get thrown out don't brush themselves and say, "well that didn't work out I guess I'll just go buy a mansion to avoid this type of thing in the future." The alternative is usually worse. The only thing that matters to the Office of Community Standards is that they've been brushed out of sight. And I'm not from Liberty Square but I have seen a bunch of houses in the neighborhood evacuated and torn down for trivial reasons. But you're avoiding a real discussion on the matter. I challenge you, justify this on moral terms. Not on the destruction of the empty parts, but on just taking someone's property because it's nearby. How long until some bigwig has a plan to develop your land and they try to take what's yours. It's bad precedent to allow this to go on unchallenged.

Slim Jim

Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 11:25 p.m.

So where did you move after you we're removed kicking and screaming from Liberty Square?

Joslyn at the U

Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 6:24 p.m.

heres a thought..........why dont the powers that be just fix up the p[laces and put homeless people in them?????????????????? No that would make to much sense bad

no flamers!

Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 12:34 p.m.

Joslyn: I gave you a thumbs down for writing what I considered to be non-sense. The reasons your post is nonsense IMHO are as follows: 1) these places cannot be fixed up because the homelss and vagrants and vandals have destroyed them and it would take more to re-build them than they are worth; 2) homeless people can't pay rent and so there is no way for the units to be maintained by the renters; 3) taxpayers have a limited capacity for subsidizing the housing of tax takers and fixing up badly damaged units and then putting several hundred homeless people on one block is beyond the limits of tax payers; 4) housing several hundred homeless people in a community of single family homes is unfair to the existing residents because it is 99% likely that the homeless will create a negative climate leading to drugs, crime and prostitution. And on and on.

Slim Jim

Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 11:21 p.m.

You do realize, I hope, that this complex is in Ypsi Twp and not the City of Ann Arbor? Why would Ann Arbor want to invest any money there?


Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 11:12 p.m.

Somebody did buy the complex with the intent of renabbing it but the township BLOCKED it. And they still haven't told us what they want to do with . Are theyhe property.are

Joslyn at the U

Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 7:40 p.m.

ha somebody gave me a thumbs down for donating homes????????? wow unreal lol

Joslyn at the U

Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 7:25 p.m.

and what i do is no ones business but what happens with tax payers dollars is

Joslyn at the U

Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 7:22 p.m.

no i donate them


Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 7:10 p.m.

Joslyn, it's great to hear that you buy and rehab homes for the homeless. Do they pay you rent, or do you just give them the houses free and clear?

Joslyn at the U

Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 6:52 p.m.

youre a day late and a dollar short ............i do by forclosed homes and rehab them. Heres a better question ..........why doesnt the altruistic city goverment of ann arbor do it instead of paying 1.2 million for that pretty little water fountain they have in front of that 55 million dollar new city hall that they didnt need? :p

Cory C

Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 6:37 p.m.

Well why don't you take up a fund, buy the properties, and fix them up yourself? Don't blame the "powers that be" until you try doing something about it. And then in 6 months when they're trashed again (because lets face reality, if someone is homeless just giving them a place to live wont supply the cleaning supplies, vacuum cleaners, trash removal and whatnot, nor will it supply the power and water to run the homes) you can come back and do it all again. Lead on.

Tom Perkins

Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 2:55 p.m.

@dexterreader Below is a response from Mike Radzik, director of the township's office of community standards. "When contractors bid on demolition jobs they take into consideration items of recycle value and build that factor into the bid in order to be competitive. The township also has a long standing arrangement with Habitat for Humanity to recover and recycle material of value from township demolition projects. We are very much aware and sensitive to this issue."


Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 11:08 p.m.

Habitat MIGHT take some cabinets. The door hardware is probably too cheap to be worth salvaging. The demo contractor only wants to save things they can sell for quick cash such as copper. Some sinks and faucets may have value to habitat but not to the contractor. It would cost more in labor to salvage anything than they could sell it for.


Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 2:23 p.m.

"The township applied for $653,000 out of a $97 million settlement banks agreed to pay the State of Michigan for the banks' role in the foreclosure crisis." This sentence is both vague and potentially misleading. According to the Attorney General's office, the settlement had to do with "allegations of faulty foreclosure processes and poor servicing of mortgages that harmed Michigan homeowners".,1607,7-164-34391-282192--,00.html If I remember correctly, the most notorious of those faulty processes was the so-called "robo-signing" of affidavits required for foreclosure, a clear violation of Michigan law. The "mortgage foreclosure crisis" was a much broader phenomenon that arose when home values dropped, adjustable interest rates on mortgages rose, homeowners stopped paying on mortgage debts that exceeded the value of their homes, and the banks foreclosed on large numbers of MIchigan properties. As long as banks followed Michigan banking and foreclosure laws, they are not liable for their "role in the foreclosure crisis",

no flamers!

Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 12:29 p.m.

Good clarification to the original story. Thanks.


Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 2:54 p.m.

ThinkingOne: Of course, you're right, conceivably the banks could have violated federal laws that regulate the issuing or refinancing of mortgages. However, foreclosure processes are a matter of state, not federal, law, and the "poor servicing" of mortgages involved a failure to notify homeowners of the transfer of the mortgages among lenders. There's no allegations in this case that the banks issued the mortgages illegally.


Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 2:32 p.m.

The key sentence is tacked onto the end of your post. "As long as banks followed Michigan banking and foreclosure laws, they are not liable..." There are also federal laws, rules and regulations regarding the mortgage industry and the qualification process. If the mortgages were issued or refinanced improperly then that is also a major contributor.


Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 1:53 p.m.

"Abandoned". I agree, but I seem to remember reading on this site that the township forced those that are left out. So yes it's abandoned, but I am sure you will have a tough time convincing those that were forced out that it was abandoned. And yes, I am sure they and everyone else are better off because the place has been a dump since I can remember.


Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 1:37 p.m.

They keep nothing. Costs too much. New bricks cost 25 cents each. There is no way to demolish a brick wall without breaking a lot of bricks. The only way I can think of would be to hire someone to dismantle these walls one brick at a time. If you paid them $8 an hour (minimum wage) they would have to pry lose, remove mortar, stack, and package slightly more than one brick every two minutes. This does not seem feasible. I wish they would do a "scrappers' day" before demolition. Let anyone who wants to, remove anything they want. People would swarm the place removing the copper pipe, doors, sinks, bathroom fixtures, etc.

Dirty Mouth

Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 1:27 p.m.

This could be A2 in a few years.


Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 12:29 p.m.

I am just curious .... not knowing anything about demolition projects on this scale. Do they keep and recycle the bricks or any other usable materials?


Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 11:03 p.m.

I work in the development industry. They won't recycle anything except for copper pipes and the guts from the HVAC units. The brick will be dumped in a landfill along with the wood and everything else.

Ryan J. Stanton

Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 4:52 p.m.

If there's value, everything from doorknobs to kitchen cabinets can get salvaged during the course of demolition projects like this, though I have no specific knowledge of the plans for recycling the bricks. Just to give you an idea, here's a story I wrote in 2011 on efforts by Ypsilanti-based Materials Unlimited to salvage items from a row of houses demolished in Ann Arbor.


Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 12:02 p.m.

This mess has been just down the street from me for years. Really glad to see they might finally start demolition. I can't believe 9 units are still occupied in that place.

Elaine F. Owsley

Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 11:46 a.m.

As they say ""seein' is believin'".