Ypsilanti Downtown Development Authority approves new director
The Ypsilanti Downtown Development Authority has selected a new director.
At a meeting Thursday, the DDA Board unanimously approved offering the position to Tim Colbeck, the current director of the Highland DDA, with a salary of $55,280 plus benefits.
Ypsilanti Mayor and DDA board member Paul Schreiber said he looks forward to working closely with the new director and believes Colbeck "will bring a wealth of experience and energy to the Ypsilanti Downtown Development Authority."
Colbeck is a 1991 Eastern Michigan University graduate who also received his master’s degree in urban planning from Wayne State University. He said his affinity for Ypsilanti partly influenced his decision to seek the position, along with the appeal of working in a diverse, university town.
“It’s a bigger palette in Ypsilanti,” Colbeck said. “There’s a little more going on, and, for me, the opportunity to do a little more. I’ll have some physical accomplishments to point to.”
Colbeck said his first priority is “to learn the lay of the land” and meet with as many community stakeholders as possible before tackling the authority’s most urgent needs.
Among the DDA’s top priorities are budget issues - how to continue providing services, deal with debt service payments and offer other regular programs with a reduced revenue stream, Colbeck said.
No specific plans could be offered until he sat down and looked at the books, but Colbeck said the Ypsilanti DDA is not unique in its position.
“I know what I’m getting into, and it’s something that faces every DDA,” he said.
Prior to serving as the director of Highland’s DDA, Colbeck spent three years as the community development manager for the University Cultural Center Association in Detroit’s Midtown. He explained the UCCA is a nonprofit similar to a neighborhood association, but that such entities in Detroit handle responsibilities typically reserved for municipalities, such as short and long-term planning.
Colbeck said the nonprofit also worked in infrastructure improvements, creating partnerships with developers, park renovations, neighborhood cleanups and business retention. Colbeck added that the UCCA operated in a socioeconomically diverse area, which provided valuable experience for his new post in Ypsilanti.
“You learn how to work with a lot of different people and I think that’s something that will benefit me coming into Ypsilanti,” he said.
"His work in Detroit provides valuable experience in an urban setting," Schreiber said. "His experience as an executive director in Highland gives him the leadership to move Ypsilanti forward."
The position also provided Colbeck the opportunity to partner with Wayne State in community improvement projects. He said he would like to see the DDA further develop a partnership with EMU as a significant portion of its students lives near campus and uses Ypsilanti’s downtown districts.
The director’s position became available after former director Brian Vosburg resigned last May. The DDA has since seen two interim directors and was prepared to offer the position to City Planner Teresa Gillotti before she took her current position in February.
Board members were split in their decision between Gillotti and Colbeck originally, so all board members were happy with Colbeck, board member Jim Karnopp said.
Colbeck and the DDA will next have to finalize his contract.