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Posted on Fri, Mar 18, 2011 : 5:54 a.m.

Judge orders closure of Value Foods in Gault Village in Ypsilanti Township until repairs are made

By Tom Perkins

A judge has declared an Ypsilanti Township Value Foods store a public nuisance and ordered it closed by 5 p.m. today. It must remain unoccupied until major repairs are made to its leaking roof.

The store is located in the Gault Village Shopping Center near Grove Road and Interstate 94. The judge also ordered the plaza's owners, Sylvan Lake-based Union Lake Associate’s LLC to demolish an abandoned Kmart on the property.

Washtenaw County Circuit Court Judge Donald Shelton wrote the order following an emergency show cause hearing on Wednesday afternoon. The hearing was granted after the township filed a verified petition alleging a long list of complaints about the deteriorating conditions at Gault Village.

Chief among those issues were major leaks in the roof at the Value Foods. Township building inspectors and attorneys provided evidence of serious roof leakage, which they said caused it to be “raining harder inside ... than outside” during several early March rainstorms.

In his order, Shelton stated concerns over ceiling collapse, food spoilage, electrical fire hazards and other public health issues.

Gault Village attorneys told Shelton that Value Foods is responsible for its part of the shopping center’s roof per the terms of its lease, but Shelton said that was a matter between the two parties.

“He told them that Union Lake is the owner of the building and they’re the owner of the structure, they have been aware of the issues for a long time, so they were responsible for the repair and maintenance,” Ypsilanti Township Attorney Dennis McLain said.'s phone calls to the Value Foods were not answered on Thursday, and a Union Lake attorney did not return calls.

However, a Value Foods manager told on Monday afternoon that the issues were nothing more than “common leaks” brought on by an old roof, and he said he didn’t believe the township should be intervening.

According to Shelton’s order, the Value Foods cannot reopen until a structural engineer inspects the building to assess its integrity. Once repairs are made, the Washtenaw County Health Department and township building inspectors must also inspect and approve the premises.


The interior of the former Kmart in Gault Village.

Photo courtesy of Ypsilanti Township

Shelton also ordered both parties to establish a timeline for the demolition of the former Kmart, which has a collapsing roof, cracked outer wall and mold infestation, among other issues. Shelton wrote that the township may request the court’s assistance if the parties are unable to reach an agreement.

The township inspected the Kmart with an administrative search warrant Aug.10. Following that inspection, McLain said a Union Lake agent provided a verbal commitment to have the building torn down by the end of the year, but no action was taken.

McLain said the situation is complicated because the unit next door to the Kmart is occupied by Measurement Inc., a company that scores Michigan schools’ standardized tests. Township building inspectors have found a mold infestation in the former Kmart and on the wall between it and Measurement Inc.

McLain said Union Lake needs to put up a new wall between the two units in order to tear down the old Kmart building, but Measurement Inc. had asked Union Lake to delay doing that until July, when there's a break in test scoring.

McLain said he is unsure how Union Lake and the township will reach an agreement on a timeline for demolition, or if Union Lake will tear the building down without a court order.

“Whether or not that will happen is again anyone’s guess,” he said. “We’ve been promised verbally demolition would be undertaken by Union Lake, and it still has not happened. There has been a history of promises made, promises broken by this company.”

The order also gives township building inspectors authority to enter and inspect all stores in Gault Village. McLain said officials have serious concerns about mold infestations and roof leaks from previous visits. He said he is unaware of what the lease agreements mean in terms of who is responsible for each units’ roof, but he contended it doesn’t matter.

“Maintenance of the whole building is the responsibility of Union Lake,” McLain said. “What they do with the individual tenants is of no concern. Union Lake is the longtime owner of that property. ...

“This turned into a very critical situation because of the sheer amount of water pouring into that grocery store.”

Township Building Director Ron Fulton said building inspectors visited the plaza on several occasions during rainy weather in early March and found water “showering” through a hole in the Value Foods' roof.

Township attorneys and Fulton provided photographs showing the extent of the issues as evidence.

Value Foods employees tried cordoning off an area where water was leaking onto the floor and shelves, but water continued to flood outside that area, Fulton said.

Building officials also found water leaking into light fixtures that weren’t in use, and Fulton said a store manager told inspectors that the area couldn’t be kept dry because of the rain’s severity.

Ypsilanti Township video inspectors shot this video showing conditions at Value Foods:

Tom Perkins is a freelance writer for To reach the news desk e-mail or call 734-623-2530. For more Ypsilanti news, visit our Ypsilanti page.



Tue, Apr 5, 2011 : 11:54 p.m.

It's about time...The store smelled awful...I'm glad the Township has stepped in to close down this business, although it is unfortunate some will lose their jobs, at the risk of the health of the public, closing is best....


Sat, Mar 19, 2011 : 2:24 a.m.

Well said brad


Fri, Mar 18, 2011 : 3:35 p.m.

Well said Brad.


Fri, Mar 18, 2011 : 3:10 p.m.

I am slightly appalled that some commenters over the past few days appear to believe that this situation is little more than the Township attempting to shut down thriving businesses. Combine what appears to be an electrical fire waiting to happen (see the video above) with significant mold growth in numerous spots within the building, and you have what appears to my untrained eye to be a pretty significant hazard. As a resident of Ypsilanti Township that lives within spitting distance of the structure in question, I applaud the Township for taking the actions they have taken thus far. I do appreciate the convenience of this shopping center -- I'd describe myself as a regular customer of ACO, and an occasional shopper of both Value Foods and Family Dollar -- though I'd rather do without all if the cost is the neighborhood's health and well being. It is my ultimate hope that once Union Lake gets their act together and repairs and/or demolishes, they recognize this site still does have potential. I know numerous people, myself included, who occasionally shop at Value Foods *in spite of* the general conditions of the store as a show of appreciation for it existing. Many others shop at this plaza because they have no other options within walking or public transit distance. I can only imagine if Union Lake is willing to replace the decay with something they themselves would proudly visit, they will likely see substantial returns on their investments. Remember, the line of thinking should be "build it, and they will come," not "if they come I GUESS we'll build it."


Fri, Mar 18, 2011 : 12:38 p.m.

I will agree with 40. I have never seen a problem there other than the complex has been there for a long time. Outside of that store that leaves only Michigan Ave Kroger and a store on Holmes that always seems dirty. There is no transit to Whittaker. For some reason it seems the Twp. wants to hurt the working citizen's by tearing down there homes, not keeping or creating jobs.


Fri, Mar 18, 2011 : 2:15 p.m.

Brenda Stumbo and crew don't want public transportation because they are afraid of it. The Township officials don't want social services in their community. Those services can only be placed in a location that is served by public transportation. As a result, the township has become anti-development and anti-economic revitalization. The ironic thing is Brenda talks and talks about creating jobs and bringing new development to the Township, but refuses to pay for busing even though it has a known economic impact. If someone had any sense, they'd run for elected office in the Township on that platform.


Fri, Mar 18, 2011 : 2:09 p.m.

I agree. I talked with the library on Whittaker about whether or not there was bus service to that library and they said no because AATA closed it down due to lack of ridership. They said they would love to have a special bus to this area because if you look at it now? It is becoming vibrant and alive. I am wondering if that committee is looking into adding another route to that area. I never liked the food store that was there. Always seemed dirty and unclean. The whole section needs to come down. I do like the hardware store and dollar store. Otherwise, tear the whole thing down and add a park.


Fri, Mar 18, 2011 : 11:45 a.m.

I live in the area and I feel bad for the staff losing a job in all. But the management and owners should be ashamed for allowing this run-down building to even get to this point.