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Posted on Fri, Nov 5, 2010 : 6 a.m.

Local woman wins auction for troubled Liberty Square townhomes in Ypsilanti Township

By Tom Perkins

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Ypsilanti Township has condemned the LIberty Square complex, saying the units have not been properly maintained.

A Van Buren Township property investor has won a public auction for 63 units in Ypsilanti’s Township’s troubled Liberty Square townhomes.

Angela Lee, owner of Zion Properties, paid $15,200 for the 63 units, which are spread throughout the complex in Ypsilanti Township.

As of Monday, Lee had yet to pay the Washtenaw County Treasurer’s Office for the properties. The Treasurer’s Office put the townhouses on the block after foreclosing on them for non-payment of taxes in April.

Lee will also be required to pay a cash performance bond. If she chooses to demolish the properties, she would pay $126,000. But that figure is significantly higher if she decides to rehabilitate the properties, as she has indicated she intends to do.

Washtenaw County Treasurer Catherine McClary said bringing the condemned interiors and exteriors up to code is estimated to cost between $65,000 and $72,000 per unit. Renovating all 63 units, therefore, would cost more than $4 million. McClary said she didn’t think the performance bond would be quite that high, but it would be enough to ensure that the units were actually brought up to code.

Mike Radzik, director of the Ypsilanti Township office of community standards, said if Lee follows through with purchasing the properties, it won't change the township’s legal strategy. The township is getting ready to file a lawsuit against all the properties’ owners, and Radzik said it just means Lee would be named a defendant instead of McClary.

Township officials have made clear they want every unit in the complex brought up to code, and will not issue permits to make improvements on just some.

Lee, who grew up in the area and attended Rawsonville Elementary School across the street from Liberty Square, said she is familiar with the complex’s troubled past. Still, she doesn’t want to see the properties demolished and hopes to fix them up to attract homeowners instead of renters.

Lee said she is not concerned about paying a performance bond and could “go in and make it look like the Taj Mahal” if needed. She said her lawyers are going to meet with the township’s attorneys to discuss the situation, and she hopes she can work with the township to avoid demolishing the properties.

The key is attracting people who want to own their home instead of having landlords renting apartments, Lee said.

“It could be a nice neighborhood if it was fixed up and cared for,” she said. “We could probably sell each unit very cheaply if each person was willing to go in and do their own work to fix the places.”

Lee said she wants to see if the current homeowners association could be dissolved and a new one formed. Lee owns several properties in the area, including Harriet Dairy in Ypsilanti.

Grove Park Homes LLC previously owned the properties Lee bid on. Glenda Ault owns Grove Park, and her husband, Joe Koenig, is an employee. Koenig is also the resident agent for the Grove Park Home Improvement Association, the homeowners association, which owns 25 units. Grove Park owns 18 units, and others are owned by various landlords.

About five owner-occupants remain in the properties.

The township is seeking to have the development declared a public nuisance and officials have said they will file a lawsuit soon. All the exteriors of the buildings have been condemned

Among an extensive list of problems in violation notices recently distributed were rotting exterior wood, soffits and fascias. The notices also request repairs be made to sidewalks, porches, roofs and gutters.

The notices gave until Sept. 20 to bring the buildings up to code. Some residents have made improvements to their exteriors, but most units remained untouched.

Radzik said even if the 63 units Lee has bought are fixed up, they are still surrounded by mold-infested units.

“It’s extremely problematic to issue a certificate of occupancy into one unit that’s in the middle of a bunch of condemned units, and the (homeowners) association is not keeping up the exterior,” Radzik said.

Tom Perkins is a freelance reporter for For more Ypsilanti stories, visit our Ypsilanti page.



Sun, Nov 14, 2010 : 1:51 p.m.

The Township has a duty to work with any owners as much as possible in order to improve this property. Refusing to issue permits for individual units may be fine, but refusing to issue permits for the separate buildings would be a disservice to the entire community. I tip my hat to the buyers and I hope they are successful in their endeavor. Many of the individual units could clearly be brought up to code for well under $50,000. The worst units could run 50% above that or so. You could gut an rebuild the interiors entirely for less than $50,000. The Township owes it to the community to work with the property owners and to allow a reasonable schedule for rehabilitation of the properties. Those that don't have a plan for repair should be slated for demolition within a reasonable time. This property represents an excellent investment potential for buyers who have the time and money to rehab the units. I tip my hat to those that will work to improve this property. I hope the Township is equally willing to work hard on this issue.


Fri, Nov 12, 2010 : 5:17 p.m.

Squaters have moved in and its a nigtmare. I mean 3rd word country. My kids go to Rawsonville and so did my husband, This place was never nice and now its a nightmare. Hopefully she will not pay her auction fee and the demolition can take place. Ypsi is a pit and I cant belive I let my husband talk me into buying a house here.


Sun, Nov 7, 2010 : 7:55 a.m.

And to back up my comment on Liberty Square...look at this post from that was listed today...this is right in front of Liberty Square


Sat, Nov 6, 2010 : 5:59 p.m.

They need to tear those down, acquire the property where that bank sits on Rawsonville and then reroute Grove so that it lines up with the 94 Service Drive. That would make that whole area a little bit easier to deal with when driving through.


Sat, Nov 6, 2010 : 8:14 a.m.

Outlaw? I agree. I remember helping out at that school there and they had to keep all the doors locked because of the problems that area posed. I think tearing them all down and a nice park would be a great addition to the area. There is no nice park anywhere. But here is something I don't get. Didn't the people who bought the buildings get a refund if they tear down the buildings? I thought there was a bond issue and they would be given money to help tear down. I'd buy 63 units if they give me money to tear it all down. Then donate to the park system and get a nice tax write off. Just a thought. Taj Mahal? Uh huh. Can't wait.


Fri, Nov 5, 2010 : 5:26 p.m.

Liberty Square needs to be demolished not fixed up. Everyone who lives in Ypsilanti knows this place and knows its history. This place is such an eye sore for Ypsi. This place use to be worse years ago but still its so bad that the local pizza shop i work at wont deliver pizzas there, not even in the daylight and that is for alot of other pizza shops. No matter how much work you put into Liberty Square this place is not going to be a nice place to live by any means. You can try to make it the Taj Mahal bu anyone from Ypsi knows thats not going to happen. Alot of Ypsi crime rate has came from Liberty Square over the years. I spent a part of my youth living there for a few days out the week. I seen so many car jackings and heared so many shootings. No racism intended, as i am half white and half black, but everyone knew that if you were white and you were walking through there or driving through there then you will be messed with (as ive witnessed this dozens of times when i was younger ) ya i know not everyone is bad but this is how it was in liberty square over the years. Still to this day cops are in and out of there all the time. I do want all the teantes to find homes before they tear Liberty Square down but I as a citizen do want it torn down. The last article on this story everyone was asking for a map or an exact location of Liberty Square so i will provide a link.


Fri, Nov 5, 2010 : 3:51 p.m.

TEAR IT DOWN! Look at the police records of that area. People are shooting at other people there. The city of taylor had a similiar problem years ago. The city bought the property and demolished it. It ended the blight, and ironically; their crime problem in that area ended. I have to drive by those shacks everyday. Ms Lee says, that she wants to give ownership to people. How about filling all the foreclosed homes in the area first?


Fri, Nov 5, 2010 : 9:51 a.m.

I'm taking bets on this. Anyone who states that they will look like that Taj Mahal is blowing smoke....


Fri, Nov 5, 2010 : 8:31 a.m.

The $15,000 bid will continue the failed vision of previous get rich quick investors. Expect it to slow the timeline for demolition. Too bad.


Fri, Nov 5, 2010 : 8:24 a.m.

I too wish her luck. But these units have been going downhill for a long time and no one kept it up. I wonder which 63 she bought. It'll be a nice change to the area instead of blight. Especially with a school right there.

Tony Livingston

Fri, Nov 5, 2010 : 7:29 a.m.

Hopefully the township managers will work WITH her to get these places repaired and occupied. If this were in Ann Arbor, the officials would smell blood and move in to ding her for every tax and fee imaginable, siphoning money away from repairs. Let's be reasonable and support someone who is improving the area and getting these places back up and running.