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Posted on Wed, Feb 20, 2013 : 5:58 a.m.

Ypsilanti's Water Street site: Could a hotel be the next development?

By Katrease Stafford


A model for proposed Water Street development Ypsilanti.

Joseph Tobianski |

The long-vacant Water Street property in Ypsilanti could be the site of a hotel and a senior care facility in the near future, a CBRE associate who oversees the marketing of the 38-acre site said Tuesday.

"We are talking to two other users," said CBRE representative Arthur Itkis. "One is hospitality and the other is senior care. These are preliminary discussions."

Itkis said the hotel chain and the other prospective business have not indicated how many acres of the site they would be interested in purchasing or any idea as to what the buildings would look like.

"This prospect has not explained what sort of (business) they want to open," he said. "We're going to follow up to see if they can set up a meeting."

Once those talks progress to the next level, Itkis told city council he will keep them informed.

Itkis declined to share the name of the hotel.

Aside from the two interested parties, Itkis said inquiries about the property have been relatively slow to come in.

"It's been minimal (interest), but that's what's going on in Michigan," Itkis said. "Land hasn't been moving."

The city started acquiring parcels of the Water Street property in 2001 with the expectation that it would quickly attract mixed-use development, but it hasn't been able to find developers for the property.

Eastside Recreation Center update:

Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation Commission representatives said Tuesday they are ready to get the process rolling on the proposed Eastside Recreation Center which would encompass about eight acres of the Water Street property.

Bob Tetens, director of WCPRC, said his goal is to "hit the ground running" in early 2015 for construction of the center. Tetens appeared before council Tuesday to affirm their commitment to the project.

"We're at a point right now where I think we hit a pretty significant milestone in December," Tetens said referring to the initial designs. "Before we start doing all of the environment and engineering work, I wanted to meet with council."

City Council approved a resolution Tuesday affirming its partnership with the WCPRC and the Ann Arbor YMCA to design, build and operate a community recreation center on Water Street.

The project is still in the planning phases, but the YMCA will likely provide the management of the center, has formed a committee and has requested development of a marketing study.

The resolution does not supersede the letter of intent, which was approved Jan. 10, 2012.

The WCPRC's millage is up for renewal in November 2014 and if it's approved, the process will begin to move a bit faster, officials said.

"Hopefully by that date, we'll have all of the planning done and hopefully even a contractor," Tetens said.

Some of the council members expressed their support of the project.

"It's been a little over a year since the letter of intent was approved and I'm even more convinced now that this rec center is the right thing to do," said Mayor Paul Schreiber. "I think it can be a catalyst."

Council Member Daniel Vogt said he "loves the designs" that were presented a few months ago.

Family Dollar update:

City Planner Teresa Gillotti said Tuesday conversations have taken place with Family Dollar regarding possible design changes suggested by city council. While Family Dollar is open to changes, Gillotti warned council that changes could impact and possibly lower the purchase agreement amount.

The property is owned by the city and Core Resources, the company who does the development for Family Dollar, will pay $210,000 to purchase the land. The property was removed from the market for three months, after the development agreement was signed Dec. 10.

"Any improvements, it might affect the price and may decrease their purchase price," she said.

The following changes were requested:

  • Windows along the Michigan Avenue frontage.
  • Addition of street trees along Michigan Avenue and Park Street.
  • Possible relocation of Dumpster enclosure.
  • Consideration of the use of swales for stormwater management.
  • The potential construction of the building to possibly support a second-story addition.

Council prioritized the suggested changes to lower the impact upon the agreement, but reiterated they want the building to be quality. For most of council, windows along the Michigan Avenue frontage are a key part to this project moving forward.

"I would like to see this building be a quality building," Schreiber said. "It needs to be a quality infrastructure and I would definitely negotiate toward quality."

Council Member Brian Robb said windows are a "deal breaker" for him as to whether the project could move forward.

"No windows, no Family Dollar," Robb said.

The city is moving forward to meet the letter of intent timeline to bring revised concept plans and a purchase agreement to council on March 5. At that time, a public hearing will be held and a decision is expected to be made by council.

The 90-day purchase agreement was set to expire March 10.

Dave Heikkinen, owner of Heikk's Decorated Apparel Studio, voiced his opposition to the Family Dollar and said it completely contradicts the vision of the Water Street property.

"I'm really against the Family Dollar," Heikkinen said. "On one corner, we're going to put a beautiful recreation center and on the other corner... we're going to put in the equivalent of a double-wide trailer. Family Dollar is the absolute worst thing you can put in that corner and I hope you can reconsider it."

Former Council Member Mike Bodary attended the meeting to also voice his concern regarding the Family Dollar being on the Water Street property.

"I understand the frustration you all are going through," Bodary said. "In our original vision, we envisioned a continuous line of storefronts similar to what we have on Michigan Avenue. That's beautiful and that's favorable for our town. With this type of construction, we're not going to get that. The Family Dollar is not what I envisioned." County Commissioner Rolland Sizemore said since the county plans to invest at least $10 million into the Water Street property, he thinks the county should be included in the discussions about the other possible developments.

"I think this is a two-edged sword. ... When we're getting ready to design, I think we should be able to look at (other possibilities,) Sizemore said.

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



Mon, Mar 4, 2013 : 7:08 p.m.

The idea of a Hotel in Downtown Ypsi is like puting perfume on a pig....


Sat, Feb 23, 2013 : 5:13 p.m.

Quick comments: #1- I am against the Family Dollar. I believe it goes against the whole point of the area's redevelopment. Don't we want to bring in a higher quality of establishment to help this area? Something that brings it's own high standards to the table. #2- If done correctly, this area could majorly benefit form adding a HOTEL>NOT MOTEL this location is close enough to 94 and the Colleges to get people who need to book rooms. They have to head into Ann Arbor to book those rooms, closet place would be Carpenter road. Otherwise, Guests to our Town would be faced with heading up Michigan Avenue- Towards such establishments as You're Motel, and Harmony house, revolting, decrepit centers of prostitution and crime. Places that shouldn't be allowed to exist, let alone be the only choices for out-of-towners. #3- It's always nice to hear more news about the proposed Rec Center. It's a good plan.


Thu, Feb 21, 2013 : 11:40 p.m.

Hotel huh?good luck with that.

Pamela LaForest Fulcher

Wed, Feb 20, 2013 : 6:59 p.m.

I can't see how a hotel would flourish in this area- hotels already seem to have a hard time filling up. Not many people travel overnight to Ypsi. The Eagle Crest is never very full as it is. I'm just afraid it won't do well and eventually the rates will drop and it will become another 'rent-by-the-hour' type establishments/eyesores- which there are too many in Ypsi already. As for Family Dollar- I am not a fan- cheap products made in another country- and their storefronts look very unappealing. On the other hand- if interest has been very minimal, what choice does anyone have?? I hope whatever ends up being built there is kept up and not left to rot and grow weeds all around like a lot of businesses in Ypsi. No one will spend money at a place that is not invested in and taken care of.


Thu, Feb 21, 2013 : 11:54 a.m.

"I hope whatever ends up being built there is kept up and not left to rot and grow weeds all around like a lot of businesses in Ypsi." Which businesses might those be?


Wed, Feb 20, 2013 : 6:55 p.m.

NO Familie dollar store...We need to up the city no build down , there are enough dollarstore.thift stores etcetc.. ON main street michigan ave. We need a good Hotel with excellent Dinner.and entertaiment. rec. center shoul also include a wellness center. ( nor Seniorcare/sick ) which next to the hotel /Spa....... yes we need a hotel downtown we have over 20 000 student and thre parents/granpaents visit them plus the student need aplace for weding, graduation , etc etc .Also all building to have solarpanel in case of brown out. green up the waterstreet and michigan ave from 275- to 23.


Wed, Feb 20, 2013 : 6:07 p.m.

In my opinion, CBRE who is supposedly marketing the Riverfront sites is not looking out for the best interests of the City and is not presenting the City accurately in it's marketing materials. Council should be looking into this. We deserve and need better businesses in our beautiful, historic downtown than a Dollar Store.

Crusader 53

Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 10:09 a.m.

Here's another quote Mr.Petiprin, "haters got'a hate".

Ben Petiprin

Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 9:24 a.m.

My dear boy. Don't put hater in quotes. I hate you folks worse than al Qaeda. I wasn't responding to the article, but to the broken record response to the dollar store that vaudois and others keep saying. All that the anti dollar store argument boils down to is that the college kids don't want anyone sullying up their playground with poor people stuff.

Crusader 53

Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 12:41 a.m.

Your concerns should be brought to the attention of the city council and YOU be the one to that with a fore mentioned marketing inaccuracies . Mr.Petiprin, one could deduce from your anti-hipster rant that you didn't even read and or comprehend what the article was reporting. So yeah, thumbs down for the seemingly "hater rant".

Ben Petiprin

Thu, Feb 21, 2013 : 3:46 a.m.

Don't just vote me down. Provide a retort. Justify your existence.

Ben Petiprin

Thu, Feb 21, 2013 : 12:38 a.m.

Attention Hipsters: YOUR RENAISSANCE IS FALSE! You are a small, wealthy and sheltered minority that forces it's strange and expensive tastes on everyone else. You rave about the diversity and realness of Ypsilanti, but only patronize a handful of fake business that cater to an implant population (you). And in these places, you only socialize with clones of yourself. You are not the revolution, you are the aristocracy. This makeover business that is continuously harped on will only serve in forcing real Ypsilantians out of the city with higher rents and cost of living. You will destroy the authenticity that brought you here as hipsters always do. Then you'll wonder what happened to the kitschy little theme park you loved so much. You don't know what's best for the city, you only have the half baked, sociology 101 ideal you cooked up with your friends at Beezy's. But that's not for the benefit of the city. It's for you. Let something be created that serves the rest of the people. You'll always have your enclaves in Downtown, Depot Town and the campus. Can we primitive ignorant natives have any piece of our own city for ourselves?


Wed, Feb 20, 2013 : 5:56 p.m.

The Family Dollar store on such a premier piece of land near the river is NOT what Ypsilanti needs. The customers who shop there are looking for cheap, usually Chinese made junk. We need to build on the creative, talented people who are coming to Ypsilanti for it's unique history and vibe. Ypsilanti is a River Town, a University Town, and only 30 minutes from a large international airport. It's time we started acting like it and rejecting these types of low-end, unneeded businesses. I hope council will re-consider the Family Dollar offer.


Wed, Feb 20, 2013 : 6:35 p.m.

While I'm not sure I like the idea of a Family Dollar store nor am I arguing the fact that dollar stores in general sell Chinese junk but they also sell items such as $1 name brand dish soap, toilet paper, milk, greeting cards, etc. Having a choice to shop for those items at an affordable price rather than the overpriced versions found at traditional drug stores or gas stations is a nice option.

Panda Ypsilanti

Wed, Feb 20, 2013 : 4:36 p.m.

'Council Member Brian Robb said windows are a "deal breaker" for him as to whether the project could move forward.' How ignorant can you be about how a store front succeeds? Without windows there is no way to sell an item to passers-by. People are visual. This guy sounds like he has a personal agenda rather than a professional one. Ypsilanti Council does not appear to look out for the good of it's people.

Pamela LaForest Fulcher

Wed, Feb 20, 2013 : 7:02 p.m.

I think you might be reading it wrong: He is saying 'You don't put windows in- then no store goes in'


Wed, Feb 20, 2013 : 5:59 p.m.

Panda...Councilman Robb was attempting to ensure that the Family Dollar building doesn't end up looking like an uninviting brick box. Believe me, Family Dollar did not include very many windows in its proposed design. Perhaps you should become more informed before you sound off.

dading dont delete me bro

Wed, Feb 20, 2013 : 5:22 p.m.

there are some beautiful window store fronts along michigan ave in wayne, inkster and detroit...not.

Panda Ypsilanti

Wed, Feb 20, 2013 : 5 p.m.

"No windows, no Family Dollar," Robb said. Ok It doesn't read like that to me. It reads like he is saying he doesn't want a dollar store and he doesn't want windows

Katrease Stafford

Wed, Feb 20, 2013 : 4:43 p.m.

Council Member Robb is in favor of the business having windows on the Michigan Ave. frontage. He basically said if there are no windows, then he won't support the project moving forward.


Wed, Feb 20, 2013 : 4:13 p.m.

Within walking distance of Deja' vu, sweet.

Rob Pollard

Wed, Feb 20, 2013 : 3:30 p.m.

Boy, I'd like to think there could be a hotel there (e.g., a Comfort Inn? a Days Inn?) but what would be the market? Tourists visiting Ypsi (that seems like a small group)? People visiting EMU (perhaps a slightly bigger group, but still not huge - perhaps could work if prices were significantly less than the EagleCrest, e.g., $99 a night)? People visiting Ann Arbor, e.g., for football games, who can't get hotels on State St/etc (possibly - there certainly seems to be a mini-boom of hotels around Briarwood)? Unless I see a feasibility study, I think it's unrealistic. But if it could work, it would be a great fit, as it would take up, and clean up, a lot of that space.


Wed, Feb 20, 2013 : 6:36 p.m.

I would agree. There are times when my inlaws come into town during the holidays and they are one of only a few rooms booked at Eagle Crest, so they are not always hopping either. I am not sure how viable it is to put one there, but its good to see that they are getting some nibbles on the land. As for a retirement home, if it is a for profit, it would be good for the tax base.


Wed, Feb 20, 2013 : 3 p.m.

It would help to know more about the hotel. A hotel with a bar could be a nice addition, and could certainly get some people moving around down there. "Let head to the bomber to eat away these hangovers"

Katrease Stafford

Wed, Feb 20, 2013 : 3:15 p.m.

Faygo, If the talks continue to develop, I'll be sure to share the information. I'm interested in learning the specifics about this, too!


Wed, Feb 20, 2013 : 2:55 p.m.

I think a Hotel could be a great fit here. With all the festivals going all summer long across the street in Riverside park, Depot town, etc, there could be pretty decent occupancy. I don't really understand this location as a senior center, but there's no real negative there. However the Dollar-garbage store will still be a MAJOR detriment to the area. Still really, REALLY dissapointed that this is going forward. I will NEVER shop there despite living just 3 blocks down River st.


Wed, Feb 20, 2013 : 9:30 p.m.

Hotel great idee with M-12 going east to west and very busy yes, we need a place to sray!


Wed, Feb 20, 2013 : 2:42 p.m.

Sorry, but I won't be making any reservations to stay in a hotel anywhere near downtown Ypsilanti.

Depot Town

Wed, Feb 20, 2013 : 2:39 p.m.

Story about a dollar store in Ann Arbor: They don't seem to hate it. I would have never guessed people from Ann Arbor are less stuck up that people from Ypsilanti.


Wed, Feb 20, 2013 : 6:04 p.m.

It's not about being "stuck up." The Dollar Store in Ann Arbor is NOT being located on a downtown riverfront site, as it is in Ypsilanti. It's about an intelligent use of the property to benefit the community's image and it's citizens. A Dollar Store is full of junk made in China and Ypsilanti doesn't need that type of retail on a prime location. There are better places to locate it...many empty storefronts that could be considered, or better yet, on the Washtenaw corridor.

dave french

Wed, Feb 20, 2013 : 12:45 p.m.

Hotel+senior center+casino=Nirvana


Thu, Feb 21, 2013 : 4:19 a.m.

Ha! great point!


Wed, Feb 20, 2013 : 12:21 p.m.

A hotel ? yea right.I defend Ypsi all the time but at water street ? Unless it's going to be a sleezy flop house like Harmony House up the road it ain't gonna happen/work

Katrease Stafford

Wed, Feb 20, 2013 : 11:54 a.m.

With the news of a hotel and senior care facility possibly being interested in the site, readers do you think this is a good fit for Water Street? Does it fit in with what you envision for the city?


Thu, Feb 21, 2013 : 4:17 a.m.

I hadn't thought of either so far in my imaginings about WS. They're both interesting and have potential. I'm basically agree with AdmiralMoose. If done right these could both be quality improvements. Anything along the lines of Ann Arbor's Embassy would be a huge mistake.


Wed, Feb 20, 2013 : 6:12 p.m.

No, neither of these make sense. We already have a number of Senior Care facilities in downtown Ypsilanti, as well as nearby just outside the City. As far as a hotel, I don't think a downtown hotel is viable...very few cities have downtown hotels anymore. Most are located near freeway entrances or airports. Ypsilanti needs better representation and marketing from CBRE to find more appropriate business development and I think it would be good if someone looked into what CBRE is doing to actually market the City favorably.


Wed, Feb 20, 2013 : 5 p.m.

If my experience trying to find someplace in Ypsi for my wedding guests to stay is any indication, we have a need for another hotel in the area. Even relatively minor events seem to overwhelm what is currently available. Senior care seems like a good addition as well, quality facilities close by would be a plus for multiple generations in this city. Then again I can't think of much I would be against as long as they are paying taxes :-).


Wed, Feb 20, 2013 : 1:46 p.m.

I think they could fit as long as they're quality buildings. Both enterprises generate traffic and could spur further development.


Wed, Feb 20, 2013 : 11:23 a.m.

I had a good laugh at the opposition toward Family Dollar. What would they be happier with, a Neiman Marcus outlet store?

dading dont delete me bro

Wed, Feb 20, 2013 : 11:21 a.m.

um, yeah