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Posted on Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 5:59 a.m.

Thompson Block: Ypsilanti expects to hear new redevelopment plan soon, renovation deadline nearing

By Katrease Stafford

The owner of Thompson Block in Ypsilanti is expected to submit a formal redevelopment plan for the property in coming weeks as he faces a court-ordered Aug. 30 deadline to complete the work.


Thompson Block

Katrease Stafford |

"We've been talking a little bit," said City Planner Teresa Gillotti. "Stewart Beal said he has some plans on the way and I expect a meeting in the next couple of weeks about what he's looking at on the redevelopment side."

A large fire gutted the Thompson Block building on Sept. 23, 2009. Beal, whose company Historic Equities Fund 1 LLC owns the building, and the city ended up in court over a disagreement on how to proceed with the building’s renovation.

Beal previously estimated that a total renovation of the building would cost around $4 million.

Beal presented plans in the past that would have included commercial space on the first floor and entire northern segment of the 148-year-old Depot Town building. The second and third floors were to hold residential lofts.

That plan eventually was changed to making the entire building all-residential with 23 lofts ranging in size from 620 to 1,120 square feet.

Beal declined to comment for this article.

Beal and the city reached a consent agreement in August of 2010, that gave Beal three years to complete the exterior envelope of the building, including a roof, stable walls and all openings sealed with at least temporary doors and windows.

Beal has until the end of August 2013 to complete these renovations.

"The do have a deadline coming up on the envelope," Gillotti said. "The idea is to have a conversation with him before construction season."

The building's total assessed value for 2012 was $152,900. Beal purchased the property, located at 400 N. River, for $346,186 from David Kircher in 2006. Kircher is currently serving a five-year prison sentence for illegally pumping raw sewage into the Huron River from the former Eastern Highlands apartment complex on LeForge Road.

According to Washtenaw County delinquent tax records, Beal is up to date on the property's taxes.

Ypsilanti Mayor Paul Schreiber said he hasn't been in contact with Beal about the property, but he would like to see the building rehabilitated and its "historic character" kept.

"I would like for businesses to be there and for it to add to Depot Town," Schreiber said. "I’m sure Stewart would like to see the same thing, but wishing is one thing and having the investment done is another... I really don’t know what Stewart has planned."

Council Member Brian Robb said his only concern at the moment is to make sure Beal complies with the court ruling.

"One of my things is to make sure we're not surprised when the due date comes around," Robb said. "I want to make sure we're on track to make that envelope... My focus is making sure the court order is complied and we're not back in court."

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



Sat, Feb 2, 2013 : 2:52 a.m.

My Mother, now passed on and spending her days in Highland Cemetery, had once lived in the Thompson building. It would be wonderful to see it renovated back to the original glory. I do not believe that ANY glory can be restored under BEAL. Beal IS the next Kircher. How he is still getting away with sub-par property management I don't know. Whos pocket could he be in? How many properties have to be blighted and underkept before we stop selling that man properties> Especially ones with Hisitoric value? He hasn't commented to the press because you'll find here soon that the project will no go under way as planned. Beal doesn't have the capability to referbish a historic space. It would come back a mangled, dirty version of itself.

Jamie Krake

Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 2:35 p.m.

@SusanRk. Hard to find parking in Ypsi seems like a good problem to me!

Stupid Hick

Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 7:32 p.m.

"Beal purchased the property, located at 400 N. River, for $346,186 from David Kircher in 2006." Would care to report details about the alleged "purchase"? Because I was under the impression that the city condemned the building, Beal was contracted to do repairs, which Kircher did NOT agree to, and the building was eventually awarded to Beal when Kircher wouldn't pay the bill for work he wouldn't agree to. Is this accurate? Does anyone else think it's ironic that after Ypsilanti's prolonged legal battle with Kircher, while the building deteriorated, empty, for more than a decade, it ended up being awarded to Beal, and for years has been kept in even worse shape than it was under Kircher?


Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 6:26 p.m.

It's been so long, fixing it will destroy the historic character of the "structure".


Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 7:53 p.m.

Ross...another good view from the top can be seen on Google Earth.( for some reason its quite blurry , never used to be )


Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 7:18 p.m.

The "structure" is long gone, completely lost in the fire. Only the street-facing brick exterior facade was able to be preserved. It only looks like a building. (go up the hill on cross and look back down into it).

dading dont delete me bro

Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 5:49 p.m.

anyone notice the 'so and so' for public office (judge?) sign on the front of the building now?

dading dont delete me bro

Mon, Feb 4, 2013 : 1:04 a.m.

funny ...the sign is off the building now...?


Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 5:25 p.m.

Please don't give him any more tax exemptions...

Craig Lounsbury

Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 5 p.m.

".... the 148-year-old Depot Town building. " at what point of destruction does a building stop being 148 years old ? There is hardly anything left of the original structure. How many bricks does one need to keep in their original spot to lay claim to that age? If the thing ever gets finished virtually nothing in it will be that old except some brick siding.

Wolf's Bane

Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 8:13 p.m.

Its rebuild. It is less than 5 years old now.


Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 7:47 p.m. had me going there.....until replacing the head twice

Craig Lounsbury

Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 5:13 p.m.

I knew a guy once who had an ax that he claimed was in his family 4 generations. Passed down from father to son for 140 years. He proudly pointed out it wasn't hung above a fire place, it was used by the men in his family to cut trees, cut fire wood, manly ax things. To slam the point home he said just in the 35 years he had it he replaced the handle 4 times and the head twice.


Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 4:39 p.m.

Beal + Dahlman = Epic Fail

Gretchen Ridenour

Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 3:43 p.m.

Please forgive my ignorance because I have limited knowledge about construction and historic preservation. If Mr. Beal meets the August deadline to complete the "envelope" of the building, that will have taken 4 years. How long would it then take to make the building functional with commercial and/or residential use? If he started planning now, would next summer be realistic?


Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 7:16 p.m.

Only if he has millions of dollars in financing immediately available, and architects, designers, contractors and materials all ready to go. So, no way.

Wolf's Bane

Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 3:24 p.m.

Beal wants to ride on the coat-tails of Sidetrack success. Typical. Think for yourself, Beal.


Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 7:15 p.m.

what? is this sarcasm?


Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 2:42 p.m.

Beal will prop up some poles and throw a tarp over it. Envelope complete!


Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 2:17 p.m.

Does anyone know how long that building has been empty ? It's been so long I honestly can't remember


Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 3:58 p.m.

Steven....I remember Fantasy Lighting but that was back in the mid 80's and I don't have a clue of when they left.

Steven Taylor

Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 3:48 p.m.

It was occupied to a point at least on the north end near the ground floor up until a few years ago (don't have the exact dates) But Fantasy Lighting was there, not sure of any other 'occupants'


Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 2:08 p.m.

He only has until August to complete the envelope? That is simply not going to happen, unless he has his contractors and steel lined up and ready to go already. The building only has a propped up facade at this point. No roof, no core, no substance.


Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 2:07 p.m.

Why has it taken Beal nearly 2.5 years to come up with a post-fire renovation plan? That makes me very skeptical that the required work will be completed by the end of August. And that work is just the exterior - "roof, stable walls and all openings sealed with at least temporary doors and windows" - when will this project be completed? Beal has been working on this eyesore for nearly 7 years - that's too long.


Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 2:10 p.m.

Or rather, he has HAD 7 years to work on it, and really only spent a few months getting the facade propped up so that he could remove that ghastly scaffolding. The vast majority of the time post-fire, the building has just sat with nothing being done.


Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 1:13 p.m., check your dates. I believe the fire started in Sept. 2009, not January 2009 as the article states.

Katrease Stafford

Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 1:34 p.m.

Thanks, HB11. It's been corrected.


Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 1:31 p.m.

I'm glad I'm not crazy. It was September.


Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 12:16 p.m.

My guess is that the Thompson building will never be developed and will eventually be razed. The new owner was probably lured by the $1.8M in tax credits offered but has discovered that coming up with the capital to renovate the building is too difficult. It would be a shame to see the building torn down.


Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 2:11 p.m.

It sure would. They just put up the historical marker last fall. There is really no building left to speak of though, just a sad brick facade being held up to save face. The entire core of the building is gone.


Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 12:15 p.m.

What happens when August comes and goes and nothing's been done?


Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 4:27 p.m.

From that photo, it's kinda hard to tell what's what. Are those windows or plywood? You can't see the roof at all. Is the floor structure in? I would not want to install the floors AFTER the windows were in, I guess. Will be nice to see it completed some day..


Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 3:47 p.m.

The only requirement is to have the "envelope" completed by August. I drive by there frequently and it looks like that's pretty much been done.


Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 1:22 p.m.

Once again the city will just roll over an let Beal do what he wants. Just like when he held Cross and River streets hostage with his scaffolding, buttresses, and fences.

Katrease Stafford

Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 12:25 p.m.

From my understanding, the city would then go back to court, since it was a court-ordered renovation.


Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 12:14 p.m.

Those that believe that Mr. Beal will comply - I have a bridge to sell you...


Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 12:25 p.m.

A2comments.....I have a deal for you.Lets take YOUR bridge and " bundle " it with MY snowball farm.( it works for those picker guys )


Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 12:01 p.m.

PARKING. It can be hard to find a parking spot now. It will be unbearable when sidetracks completes its renovation. After this project is completed I will not even bother going down there. Where are all these people going to park??? Fix that and I am in.


Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 3:44 p.m.

No parking? Only if you're extremely lazy. There are a bazzillion (well, maybe a little less) spots a 2- 3 minute walk away.


Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 2:33 p.m.

SusanRk - I agree with you. Parking is an issue especially during prime time of Friday and Saturday nights when I have seen all the spots on the street filled as well as the Aubrees and Sidetracks parking lots AND the poorly lit and poorly marked public parking lot by the Farmers Market (and not to mention a good portion of River St as well). A handy workaround is that Miller Motors has allowed people to park in their lot as well. Other than the 'no pedestrian crossing' from there to Sidetracks (which everyone ignores anyway), it's quite handy so come on down!


Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 2:06 p.m.

I have no idea what you are talking about Susan. There are always dozens if not hundreds of available spaces along river st in Depot town. Yeah, you might have to walk a block or two. Stop complaining about what is clearly a non-issue. But if that's enough to keep you from coming down to depot town, by all means, stay home.

Katrease Stafford

Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 12:11 p.m.

The Ypsilanti Downtown Development Authority conducted a study a few months ago that examined the availability in parking. There are approximately 1,530 public parking spaces within the DDA's three districts, which encompass the downtown area, Depot Town and West Cross Street. Susan, do you think the city should consider creating more parking spaces in that area? Here's a brief story I wrote related to it: