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Posted on Mon, Sep 5, 2011 : 5:59 a.m.

Judge orders former Kmart in Ypsilanti Township's Gault Village demolished

By Tom Perkins


A former K-Mart in the Gault Village Shopping Center will be demolished.

Tom Perkins | For

A judge has ordered part of the Gault Village Shopping Plaza demolished within 60 days.

The plaza’s owners must tear down an abandoned K-Mart in the plaza located near Interstate-94 and Grove Road or the township is authorized to complete the job per a court order.

Washtenaw County Circuit Court Judge Donald Shelton ordered both parties to establish a timeline for the former Kmart's demolition in March.

The building 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 store has been abandoned for over 20 years.

According to Township Attorney Dennis McLain, the plaza’s owners, Sylvan Lake-based Union Lake Associates, have claimed they don’t have the money to complete the project, which is complicated because the K-Mart is attached to the remainder of the building.

But McLain said Union Lake is earning $50,000 a month off rent from the plaza’s remaining tenants, and he doesn’t believe they can’t afford to perform the project.

“Union Lake continues to cry poverty while they’re making $50,000 a month off rent from the remaining tenants,” McLain said. “They do have mortgages and other expenditures, but they’ll have to figure out some way to work the demolition into the equation.”

Representatives from Union Lake couldn’t be reached by

In the event Union Lake fails to follow the orders, the township can demolish the property and place a lien on it. The township could then go to court to seek financial relief from rent money Union Lake receives from the remaining tenants, McLain said.

A second case involving the remainder of Gault Village is headed toward trial.

In March, Township building inspectors visited the plaza on several occasions during rainy weather and found it to be “raining harder inside ... than outside.”

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, officials said. Building officials also found water leaking into light fixtures that weren’t in use

Shelton ordered the store closed until major repairs were made. Among his concerns in that order were the possibility of the ceiling collapsing, food spoilage, electrical fire hazards and other public health issues.

The store remains closed, and there is an ongoing investigation with the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Department into the possible theft of the store's remaining stock following the closure.

Township Building Inspector Ron Fulton said mold has been uncovered in around five of the plaza’s units, though most are unoccupied.

The building has suffered from years of neglect, has bad roofs and multiple code and maintenance violations that aren’t being addressed, officials said.

“What we’re dealing with at Gault Village is much the same as what we had at Liberty Square - we’re looking at a cessation of maintenance.” Fulton said.

McLain agreed.

“The owners of the mall are simply bleeding it dry and getting as much money as they can from the current rent without putting any significant money into maintenance,” he said.

“The township has to go to court to force them to do that, which is not something the township should have to do, but there is no other choice. We have to maintain property values and protect residents in and near Gault Village.”


Oscar Lavista

Tue, Sep 6, 2011 : 12:04 a.m.

As soon as I saw the headline, I knew it had to be Judge Shelton.


Mon, Sep 5, 2011 : 9:48 p.m.

Glad to see this eyesore finally being demolished. I wonder why the auto companies are allowed to keep all those decayed buildings in Detroit that have become derelict, caving in and rotting hazards. Why no court order to demolish those?


Tue, Sep 6, 2011 : 1:17 a.m.

The owners let them go in tax foreclosure and they become the responsibility of we the people. Nice to see Ypsi township staying ahead of that situation.


Mon, Sep 5, 2011 : 7:02 p.m.

The teaparties/GOBPers tax cuts at work. This place is nothing more than a tax right off for them they are more than likely getting more in tax cuts than in rent.


Mon, Sep 5, 2011 : 9:07 p.m.

For cryin out loud...Tea party,GOP really ? Gault Village ( and the surrounding area ) has been going down hill for 20 years. Did you read the article ? It started when Hydra-matic and all the other auto plants closed but I'm sure you can think of a way to blame the Tea Party and Republicans for that also.


Mon, Sep 5, 2011 : 6:36 p.m.

A friend of mine who works in one of the units said tenants can't even get calls through to the landlord anymore. I wonder if there are laws allowing the township to seize the land, bulldoze all the buildings, and then build something nice for the businesses in there that are doing well. I would hate to lose Dollar General and Aco, but the place is so ugly.


Mon, Sep 5, 2011 : 5:19 p.m.

As in there are probably Politically Correctness Issues Involved.that's why empty buildings exist all over the place. All these closed auto plants that are littering the landscape should be dynamited along political gathering places everywhere. My how times have changed.30-35 years ago K-Mart was on top of the world.Stores were never closed or boarded up.Now they to litter the landscape.


Mon, Sep 5, 2011 : 4:22 p.m.

I love this story , thoughtless landlords that live elsewhere shall no longer leave their garbage to rot in Ypsilanti Township . Thank you Brenda Stumbo, Mike Riznick , Ron Fulton, and Judge Shelton, these people are real leaders . Let's continue the clean up on Michigan Ave !


Mon, Sep 5, 2011 : 2:49 p.m.

Gault Village was doomed the day they closed the Grove Rd. / I-94 interchange.


Tue, Sep 6, 2011 : 1:45 p.m.

I remember vividly going to that K-mart when I was a child with my grandparents. It was actually a nice store back then. As nice as I could remember as a child. I never remembered there being a Grove rd. /1-94 interchange but of course by the time I was old enough to drive I never remembered an interchange there. But for many living in Ypsi it is really an inconvenience not having a way onto I-94 there and a losing proposition for any business there.


Mon, Sep 5, 2011 : 2:59 p.m.

I could not agree more. Again as it was stated along the Michigan corridor, the only good thing to go in there are local businesses. Lets see what grows from those ashes. The strip mall near WR hi school looks great. Keep up the pressure Ypsi Township.


Mon, Sep 5, 2011 : 2:44 p.m.

Way to go Ypsi Township! I have now lived here for 2 years (my wife is from here), and I was astonished by the blight so close to a lake and beautiful parks. I do hope that the owners of the supermarket, may someday be able to return. They were very nice, and I enjoyed the convience of their store. Keep up the good work, and you have my vote. If persistant, I know all of you, will be able to get rid of the blight, and stores, who sell to minors (among other illegal activity). Thank you!

Jim Pryce

Mon, Sep 5, 2011 : 1:43 p.m.

Are you sure it's not a historical building, & just needs a new coat of paint & scaffolding? Good job Ypsi Twp. getting rid of blight. The City of Ypsi needs to take notice.

Craig Lounsbury

Mon, Sep 5, 2011 : 4:53 p.m.

may I suggest a nice "historic terracotta"? Its sort of the cod liver oil of historic preservation.


Mon, Sep 5, 2011 : 1:25 p.m.

Good news. Thank for all the hard work in getting these neglectful business owners to do the right thing.


Mon, Sep 5, 2011 : 1:19 p.m.

I went into the " .99 cent" store,, and they had buckets on the floor, and black yuck dripping from the ceiling.. It had not rained in days.. this was before this past weekends storms. that place needs to go!!.. BUT dont touch my ACO store darn it!!..


Mon, Sep 5, 2011 : 2:51 p.m.

".99 cent store"???


Mon, Sep 5, 2011 : 1:10 p.m.

Good to see the Township and the City aggressively cleaning up eyesores and hazards. I remember when Gault Village was thriving but now have so many more memories of the blight. Tear it down!


Mon, Sep 5, 2011 : 1:02 p.m.

Maybe Ann Arbor can learn something from Ypsi... As in, that they should have told Zingerman's to demolish the building next to them and saved the taxpayers the $1 million brownsfield credit.... As in, they should tell Gerogetown to demolish the "unuseable" buildings instead of trying to get state and city aid to rebuild... As in, they should tell the Washtenaw building owners across from Whole Foods to demolish the buildings that have sat empty for how many years...


Mon, Sep 5, 2011 : 12:59 p.m.

I am waiting to hear from the "free market/ private property" crowd to tell us the courts and government have no business telling them what to do to their property. THIS is exactly why we can not let private property owners to their own druthers.


Mon, Sep 5, 2011 : 4:57 p.m.

johnnya2 This is exactly what I would expect to hear from a renter! Are you an owner? Courts did the right thing in this case. But are over reaching in many areas.


Mon, Sep 5, 2011 : 4:53 p.m.

To a "limited government" supporter, the purpose of government is to accomplish necessary things that won't or can't happen without it. (Notice the word "necessary".) This certainly qualifies. Zoning laws, etc., are good examples. "Historical district" rules that go so far as to dictate the particular historical period of a fence are, perhaps, overreaching.


Mon, Sep 5, 2011 : 1:21 p.m.

There is a big difference between government enforcing health and safety codes in a commercial building and telling a home owner what style front door they can install. I don't think any rational "free market/private property crowd" believes just because you own a piece of property you have the right to build or do anything you want. America was founded on the principle of limited government and private property rights. A concept which has sorely diminished over the last few decades.

no flamers!

Mon, Sep 5, 2011 : 12:42 p.m.

I must say, I'm really impressed with Ypsi Township's dogged persistence in cleaning up blighted areas. Given limited resources, they are making things happen. And I'm also thrilled that a judge made a substantive ruling, rather than avoiding involvement and/or controversy by asking for more briefs/motions/expert reports. This is government working. Keep it up!


Mon, Sep 5, 2011 : 12:40 p.m.

"Raining harder inside than outside", he said. That sounds like he was in many former Ford Motor Company/Visteon plants - Utica and Monroe, especially. And that's barely hyperbole. Ford hates facility maintenance, particularly roofs, so they don't.


Mon, Sep 5, 2011 : 12:24 p.m.

Thankyou Judge Donald Shelton! Its really to bad a Judge has to step in and force someone to do the right thing.


Mon, Sep 5, 2011 : 2:57 p.m.

Isn't he the same one that has told those people to demolish those homes near that school? Great to hear we are finally cleaning up Ypsilanti.

Elaine F. Owsley

Mon, Sep 5, 2011 : 11:43 a.m.

God bless Don Shelton!!! He is the only judge around here who sees that things get done.


Mon, Sep 5, 2011 : 10:29 a.m.

I used to work in the business next to this place. We had constant issues with water leakage and mold. We used to joke about the critters moving into our space. This demolition has been a long time coming.


Mon, Sep 5, 2011 : 2:55 p.m.

Whenever we entered as it was then, Farmer Jacks, our child always complained of a smell that made her feel sick. I only went when it was an emergency. We haven't frequented that area in ages. Although I do like that hardware store. Has what I need at a decent price. Fingers crossed that some of the buildings stay. Otherwise, I do agree that that K Mart building does need to go.