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Posted on Thu, Nov 1, 2012 : 5:57 a.m.

Ecorse Road: Main 'artery' of Ypsilanti area sees start of economic revival

By Katrease Stafford


Clyde and Vicki Montgomery own Rapture Enterprise, LLC and New Executive Mortgage company at 141 Ecorse in Ypsilanti.

Courtney Sacco I

After years of little development along the Ecorse Road corridor that runs through Ypsilanti and Ypsilanti Township, new businesses opening may signal the beginning of an economic revitalization in the area.

Over the past several months, Swisher Realtor Dave Hamilton said he has seen once-vacant buildings go back into use, with at least five inhabiting new businesses.

“Whenever you take vacant buildings and put them back into use, it reflects on the area as being prosperous,” Hamilton said. “It breeds good will and it’s the same thing for the city and township.”

Hamilton said the first sign of the revival was when the closed Acme Glass site at 93-95 Ecorse Road, near Emerick Street, went back into use.

“Acme Glass had been there forever,” Hamilton said. “It was a longtime business. That was the place to get your windows fixed and next to it was a drive-thru car wash.”

Hamilton said Acme Glass fell on hard times and the buildings were acquired by the Bank of Ann Arbor.

Hamilton said the Bank of Ann Arbor removed the underground gas tanks to clean the site and sold off the old car wash to the present automotive garage, Quality Automotive Repair, at 95 Ecorse Road.


Although a number of buildings are still vacant, officials have noticed some new businesses open along the Ecorse Road corridor.

Courtney Sacco I

“I sold the car wash off to an automotive guy and that building got back to a functional use through the sale of the property,” Hamilton said.

Hamilton sold the other two buildings, 93-94 Ecorse Road to Mike Eller, co-owner of Populist Cleaning Company.

Eller uses half of the back building for his cleaning business and rents the other half to the company Unity Vibration Living Kombucha Tea, LLC.

“He bought that building and spent some money,” Hamilton said. “Both owners have put new parking lots in and new siding and parking lots. It looks really nice and these buildings give new life to the area.”

Ypsilanti Township Planning Director Joe Lawson said although Ecorse Road has been "hit or miss" over the years, any new investment in the corridor is a plus.

"Between Ecorse and East Michigan Avenue, we’ve been trying to focus our attention to further incubate those startup businesses," Lawson said.

At its peak, Lawson said nearly 14,000 people came through the corridor each day because of the area auto plants and suppliers. As those closed, so did local businesses because the traffic decreased as well.

"We no longer have that so we have to re-invent it," he said. "The corridor has become a commercial corridor to service residents that live there."

Further down the corridor at 141 Ecorse Road is Rapture Enterprise, a non-emergency medical transport business, and New Executive Mortgage. Both are owned by Clyde and Vicki Montgomery and opened Aug. 31 at the 1,900-square-foot location.

"It’s a house that’s been there since the 50s," Hamilton said. "It was a real estate office."

The Montgomerys aren't first-time Ecorse Road business owners. They previously owned a building at 326 Ecorse.

"We had an office there four years ago that burned down and since then we’ve been trying to get back," Clyde said. "Our business is very successful."

According to the township city assessor site, the Montgomerys purchased the property for $30,000 at the beginning of August.

Clyde said he and his wife wanted to get back on Ecorse because it's one of the main "arteries" coming into the Ypsilanti area.

"It is probably the growing area in the city right now," Clyde said. "People like myself and my wife believe in Ypsilanti and there’s a diversity of businesses on Ecorse. I feel like with the plants closing down, a lot of people struck out and started their own business."

The transportation business has 14 employees, while the mortgage business has three. Clyde said on average, he services between 90 to 100 clients a day at his transportation business that takes people to and from doctor appointments.

Clyde said he has also noticed the "revival" along the corridor.

"What I’m noticing is a lot of new businesses are opening on Ecorse and a lot of old businesses are starting to do cosmetic changes to keep up, which is enhancing everything," he said.

Yet another sign of the revival is the recent opening of the Phlebotomy Career Training, run by Nancy Kimmel, at 1145 Ecorse Road.

"I like the location," Kimmel said. "It's a small, local community that’s easily accessible by all the surrounding communities. Technically it's pretty centrally located and the property cost was in our price range as well."

Although not familiar with the area, Kimmel said she realized the corridor must have been rebounding when she was looking for a location.

"When we were scoping out the area, we didn’t find many spaces available for lease and everything was pretty well-taken which was a good sign for us that businesses were opening," Kimmel said. "The fact that there was a new infusion of businesses and of well-known names gave us a good feeling to settle in the Ypsilanti location."

Ypsilanti City Council Member Ricky Jefferson represents Ward 1, which encompasses the Ypsilanti portion of Ecorse Road.

Jefferson said any sort of return of businesses to the area is a positive thing for both the township and city.

"A lot of the businesses used to get traffic from plant workers," he said. "That is definitely a plus for the city and the township, whether it's a small increase or not, we're happy about it."

Jefferson said the types of businesses returning the area are indicative of the housing market returning, as well as the economy.

"Most of all, it gives us hope," he said.

Mayor Paul Schreiber said the return of business is good for the tax base as well as attracting people to other local businesses.

"Maybe they'll go get a bite to eat downtown and go past Model Cave or The Rocket," he said. "Any action there is going to help the surrounding communities."

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



Wed, Nov 14, 2012 : 7:08 p.m.

Its sad how many of the Ann Arbor readers take the time out of their day to get on the computer and talk down Ypsi residents and their city. If you don't like Ypsi, then stay west of Carpenter. I for one am glad to see Ypsi on the rise. Just like the any city built on factories, Ypsi has been hit hard economically. Revitalization has/will be a slow process, but its going to take time for Ypsi to repaint the image of a small factory-based city. I applaud the business owners who still see the promise in Ypsi, especially the Willow Run area. As for safety, crime and the economy go hand in hand. The more jobs provided, the less burglary. The higher the moral in the city, the less people think about harming others. If the University of Michigan wasn't keeping Ann Arbor alive, you'd be in the exact same position.


Fri, Nov 2, 2012 : 9:50 a.m.

Am I the only one who finds it ironic that Ecorse Rd. is referred to as a main artery of Ypsi? I always thought that was Mich. Ave. Ecorse is a shorter street that is hard to acess except from Mich ave or Harris... Hardly a main artery!


Sun, Nov 4, 2012 : 5:18 p.m.

I am not sure why my post was deleted. There are two main entry ways into this side of Ypsilanti. There are good mom and pop shops to eat at and another way to get downtown. Yes, Ecosre is faster but which ever you choose, both have been cleaned up for a nicer appeal.


Fri, Nov 2, 2012 : 1:30 p.m.

You obviously don't know how to navigate the Willow Run roadways further east down Ecorse. If you know your way around that area you can get just about anywhere.

Karen Lovejoy Roe

Thu, Nov 1, 2012 : 10:13 p.m.

It is very exciting to see new businesses opening in Ypsilanti Township and through out Washtenaw County. We have all been through some pretty tough economic times and to see a continuous stream of new businesses opening is indeed a blessing and hopefully the beginning of a long, continuous, propsperous recovery for our entire region. The neighborhoods along Ecorse Rd. and this includes West Willow are predominantly home to many great and valuable people. They care about their neighborhoods and the community they live in and are hard working residents that clearly do not deserve the negative remarks that are shared here. We welcome all new businesses and are grateful for the long standing ones that are at the core of Ypsilanti Township. Keep them coming because the Ecorse Road corridor is a great place to do business with low taxes, great customers, good roads and perfect location with easy access from all parts of Washtenaw and Wayne counties!


Thu, Nov 1, 2012 : 9:57 p.m.

It's wonderful to hear of businesses coming to Ecorse road, for far too long blighted and abandoned buildings have made the area seem like a corpse of what was an area filled by plant workers and their families. There are many buildings still standing empty however such as the newly vaccant Taco Bell Spot and the areas around the Pea Pod Restaurant. More Business could bring a dying area back to it's feet. The Township should start paying more attention to this area, a lot of good could be done by correcting blight issues. The recent losses of both George School ( Forest School) and East Middle have made the immediate area a ghost of it's former self.


Fri, Nov 2, 2012 : 1:25 p.m.

Didn't know that Taco Bell closed? That sucks!


Thu, Nov 1, 2012 : 7:45 p.m.

Are we including prostitution in our "increased business" observation?


Fri, Nov 2, 2012 : 5:19 p.m.

Believe it or not we are removing buildings that can cause this blight. There have been sting operations and believe it or not? The Johns are the ones getting arrested as well. Us Ypsi residents are done being treated like Detroit.


Thu, Nov 1, 2012 : 6:11 p.m.

To the nay sayers here, this is not a high crime area. The strip mall that burnt down is where the Montgomery's had their previous business and obviously thought the area was good enough to return to. And... so what about their name? They have the right to name their business what ever they want. This is America which was built on religious freedom among other things. As for the Howitzer protecting the nighborhood, REALLY(?), that's a VFW post and they brought that gun from their previous site that burnt down. Don't you think it's kind of unethical to try and make something out of nothing? I'm sure we can find retired large guns at points around any city including Ann Arbor. And the comment on West Willow was ridiculous. Yes it's not too far from this area but it's not the drudge of society that most Ann Arborites want to make it. I've heard that east of Carpenter Rd. is a ghetto/build a wall crap all my life. Ann Arbor has plenty of it's own problem areas. Get over yourselves. You're not the diamond you think you are. I for one am glad to see growth come to the Ecorse Rd. area and hope to see more of it.


Fri, Nov 2, 2012 : 4:08 p.m.

Thank you Angry Moderate for validating my comment that there is more crime on campus. I gave you the vote up.

Angry Moderate

Thu, Nov 1, 2012 : 8:19 p.m.

treetown cartel - what is the population of Ann Arbor and the population of West Willow? Of course the one that is many times larger has a higher number of incidents.


Thu, Nov 1, 2012 : 7:09 p.m.

Just so you know the Howitzer is at the American Legion.The one on Huron st burned down and moved to Ecorse rd.In front of the VFW there is a Abrams tank


Thu, Nov 1, 2012 : 6:46 p.m.

Actually, I see more things posted about assualts and what not around campus in Ann Arbor than I do the West Willow

Angry Moderate

Thu, Nov 1, 2012 : 6:25 p.m.

There is nowhere in Ann Arbor that is nearly as bad as West Willow. Crime statistics don't lie, sorry.


Thu, Nov 1, 2012 : 4:50 p.m.

Turn off Mich Ave onto Ecorse Road and you will be welcomed by a howitzer on your right at corner of Towner. What other neighborhood can claim it is being protected by a howitzer?


Thu, Nov 1, 2012 : 7:05 p.m.

Murf...just so you know that's the C.Robert Alvin VFW


Thu, Nov 1, 2012 : 6:52 p.m.

Murf...He's talking about the American Legion not the VFW


Thu, Nov 1, 2012 : 5:32 p.m.

I think you might have your intersections confused or maybe I don't know my artillery but I think you are referring to Commander Bob which is located just west of the Michigan Ave/Congress split.

Katrease Stafford

Thu, Nov 1, 2012 : 4:47 p.m.

This corridor has indeed experienced struggles over the years as a result of situations such as the closure of nearby auto plants. Crime is one of the greatest concerns of many who live in the area, so it is encouraging to see police making efforts such as the public surveillance program and CAT team Despite the negative, what I hope this article summarizes is that there has been some new activity, which hopefully can help the corridor make some progress. The case of Unity Vibration is a good example of this as they took advantage of the area to grow their business. Wednesday, I spoke with Rachel Kanaan, who is co-owner of Unity and she told me her business is thriving in the area.


Fri, Nov 2, 2012 : 2:33 p.m.

Need to come to one of our watch meetings. We have really cracked down on crime and speeders in our area. We have taken back the area and fought crime. Yes, drug usage is up, but we as neighbors are on top of it to make sure the police know what we see. We love our CAT and try to support WCSD. Our area is finally getting bumps.


Thu, Nov 1, 2012 : 2:54 p.m.

And let's not forget the diamonds in the rough that is Pea Pod and a classic old-school vacuum repair business next to it. Both are great local businesses who still manage to stay alive thanks to the non-naysayers in the crowd of which there seems to be plenty, myself included.


Thu, Nov 1, 2012 : 2:17 p.m.

There was a strip mall just down the road from there that got torn out. I hate to say it, this does not revitalize the area. We need better stores and good strip malls to really revitalize this area. Otherwise, I think we are doing just fine. Now, can we tear down that old Big Boy restaurant.


Fri, Nov 2, 2012 : 2:31 p.m.

Yes. After 20 years here we still have one or two mom and pop shops. A good anchor would really attract business. What I am not sure because there is one mini strip at Ecorse and Ford. Would probably need a good strong restaurant chain to bring in the people and the business.

Katrease Stafford

Thu, Nov 1, 2012 : 4:50 p.m.

Interesting point, Jns131. What type of stores do you think would work in the area? I see you mentioned the area needs a strip mall to help revitalize the area. Do you think Ecorse needs a good "anchor" tenant?

Rose Garden

Thu, Nov 1, 2012 : 1:25 p.m.

Be more optimistic. A lot of people believe in Ypsilanti. The article is about the corridor slowly improving. It hasn't yet become pristine. Give it time and try to do something to help it along.


Thu, Nov 1, 2012 : 2:01 p.m.

But it's isn't slow isn't improving at all......that's a mischaracterization of that area... These people have a vested interest in trying to improve property value in the area....which is why their assessment of the surrounding neighborhoods contrasts so starkly with the people who LIVE and WORK in that area.


Thu, Nov 1, 2012 : 1:12 p.m.

I took my parents for a drive a few weeks ago and went down Ecorse I didn't see much improvement.( BTW I went down it cause he has Alzehimers ( ? ) and wanted to go there down there ).The city of Ypsi is not helping anything.Remember the Ford plant on spring street that was going to provide 500 jobs ? the guy who bought decided not to move in cause the city reniged ( ? ) on the tax abatements .Sorry about all the spelling erroes , can't find my spell check. glimmer..We all know you think that anything east of Carptender is ghetto


Thu, Nov 1, 2012 : 3:05 p.m.

Billy....That same area east of Golfside even to Ellsworth and to Clark is the same way ( although I will admit there are some crummy apartments ) is the same way.


Thu, Nov 1, 2012 : 2:21 p.m.

Well to be fair, that area where Carpenter Elementary School is....the area east of Carpenter between Packard and Washtenaw but before Golfside isn't that bad. Lower property values (which means lower taxes too) but those are actually low crime neighborhoods.


Thu, Nov 1, 2012 : 12:33 p.m.

I live in this area and I say for sure that this area is not getting any better. Our subdivision had two drug busts and a home invasion last last month. Time to get out!


Thu, Nov 1, 2012 : 12:11 p.m.

I steer clear of this area and always will.


Thu, Nov 1, 2012 : 11:52 a.m.

O HAI!!! I used to manage that pizza joint that was in the car family that lived just off of harris rd. over the bridge too...that area isn't nice and never has been..... The entire area all along Ecorse has been bad for a VERY long time....LONG LONG before ACME glass closed. These people must not be locals..... You guys DO realize that area by the carwash is almost a stones throw from West Willow...right?


Thu, Nov 1, 2012 : 11:41 a.m.

Rapture Enterprises? Really? Does anyone need more evidence that religion is a business? Pathetic.


Wed, Nov 14, 2012 : 6:43 p.m.

I guess the fact that it says "ministries" right under the name would be a pretty good hint. Stop hating, it's not a good look.