Demolition of Liberty Square townhome complex to begin within 3 weeks
Tom Perkins | For AnnArbor.com
The end of the abandoned, decaying Liberty Square townhome complex is near.
Ypsilanti Township has received a $654,000 grant for the demolition of Liberty Square and awarded the contract to a demolition firm.
Demolition is expected to begin June 1.
The Ypsilanti Township Board of Trustees approved receiving the grant money and the demolition contract at its Monday, May 13 meeting.
“I know residents and business owners and the school across the street have been waiting years for this to happen,” Township Supervisor Brenda Stumbo said.
The contract was awarded to Bay City-based Dore and Associates, which Mike Radzik, director of the office of community standards, said provided the lowest bid and was the most qualified company.
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 it of its remaining tenants and for the township to convince a court to order it vacated and demolished.
It remains a drain on township and police resources. Radzik said 15 boarded up units were broken into last week and the township has to pay $100 to re-secure each.
The grant funds were part of a $97 million settlement banks agreed to pay the state of Michigan for the banks' role in the foreclosure crisis.
That money was 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.
Tom Perkins | AnnArbor.com
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 news 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.
The $654,000 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.
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.
The township’s efforts to get the property brought up to code or, when complex leadership failed to do that, demolished, began in early 2008 when notices of violation for upkeep issues were posted on 68 units.
Tom Perkins | For AnnArbor.com
Last month, the Michigan State Court of Appeals upheld a Washtenaw County Circuit order for the complex to be demolished.
Among the issues cited during the court case:
- None of the units were weather tight.
- The majority of roofs needed to be replaced.
- Fascia throughout the complex had decayed.
- There was extensive damage from vandalism.
- More than 50 percent of the windows were broken.
- Vermin, rodents and birds had infiltrated many vacant units.
- Improper crawl space construction with lack of ventilation had caused wood rot at the thresholds.
- Foundations at the front and rear entrances of the units appeared to be water damaged and failing.
- There was extensive water damage in the interior of many units.
- Most units were stripped by previous owners and vandals.
- Wood in the buildings was rotting and “like butter”, according to an independent architect.
The approval of the contract with Dore is contingent on ensuring that the company plans to install adequate fencing around the project. Trustee Stan Eldridge said he wanted to ensure Dore is securing the site to keep anyone from getting in during the demolition process.
“I want to make sure it’s secure and little kids don’t get in there and be where they shouldn’t be,” he said.
Tom Perkins is a freelance reporter. Contact the AnnArbor.com news desk at firstname.lastname@example.org.