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Posted on Wed, Dec 19, 2012 : 5:57 a.m.

Ypsilanti orders owner of ex-Smith Furniture Company building to make repairs

By Katrease Stafford


The owner of the former Smith Furniture building must repair the roof or face additional recourse from the city.

Tom Perkins | For

The owner of the former Smith Furniture Company building has been ordered to repair the roof and remove a severe mold infestation or face additional recourse from the city.

Owner James Pate has not responded to city notices or citations, according to city staff. Now, Pate has 30 days to obtain a permit to repair the roof and the work must be completed within 90 days of the permit issuance.

Five council members voted in favor of the resolution, with Brian Robb and Susan Moeller voting against the order.

Pate also is required to remediate the severe mold issue in the 15,000-square-foot building at 15 S. Washington within 30 days of the roof being repaired.

Fire Chief Jon Ichesco said the roof has visible holes, allowing daylight to come through.

"There is still mold on the site, with some growth on the windows," Ichesco said.

Ichesco told council that if the area were to have a bad winter, the weight of the snow would push the roof closer to collapse.

Robb inquired about what it would take for the city to be able to name a receiver, in the event the owner continues to not respond to requests for improvement. Several council members asked if there would be any way to speed up the process for the city to become a receiver of the property.

"This is a significant building of significant value," Robb said.

Pate purchased the building in 1992 for $300,000 from Sharlene Corp. The building is assessed at $355,800, according to city records.

City Planner Teresa Gillotti said the expected cost of renovating the building will range between $60,000 and $80,000.

If Pate did not fix the building, then the next step would be for the city to do the repairs.

"If we were to fix the building, it would put a lien on the building," Gillotti said. "If we perceived more of a receivership role, that would be something that needed more of a follow up role from city council."

City Manager Ralph Lange also said the building remains valuable to the city.

"This is an important step to prevent it from happening, but can't just go on someone's property," Lange said. "...It's very difficult to work around an owner that's non-responsive."

Moeller said she's concerned because the building has been sitting vacant and unused for so long. The building housed the Smith Furniture Company when it opened in 1965 but has been vacant since around 1995.

"I don't think the owner wants to fix it," Moeller said.

City Attorney John Barr said if he were to get property testimony stating that the building is a danger, the city can file petition with the local circuit court seeking receivership.

"You can always go to the city manager and say he's (Pate) not doing anything and go to court," Barr said.

Three houses slated for demolition

Council voted unanimously to approve the demolition of three houses that have issues ranging from mold infestations to being abandoned for close to 17 years.

The home at 818 Monroe St. has been abandoned since the mid-1990’s. Building inspectors discovered the home has a leaking and deteriorating roof which has let moisture inside. The leaking has led to significant mold growth, causing drywall deterioration and a compromised structure interior.

The home is owned by brothers David and James Ragg who let the home fall to disrepair in the mid-1990’s before abandoning it altogether.


875 Jefferson St.

Tom Perkins | For

910 Monroe St. is owned by the Saint James Church of God-Christ, which occupies the lot to the west. The church previously expressed to Icheso they wanted the home demolished to make way for a parking lot.

Pastor James Hendricks spoke before council and said the church has acquired a contractor who will do the demolition within the next two weeks.

Building department manager Frank Daniels confirmed that Hendricks has $10,000 in escrow funds to pay for the demolition.

Home demolitions on average cost about $10,000.

A house located at 875 Jefferson St. has had several problems over the year after being set on fire twice within the past four years. City staff have not been able to get in touch with the owner, Patricia Ware.

All three homeowners have 60 days to complete the demolition and if the order is not complied with, the city has the right to demolish the structure and apply any escrow funds toward the expenses. The cost of the demolition must be reimbursed to the city by the owner.

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


Ypsi Eastsider

Thu, Dec 20, 2012 : 3:45 a.m.

Oh No , the City as a receiver? Look how well that worked out for the Thompson Block. If history is repeating itself. the City Attorney will screw up the paper work and lose numerous rounds in court, a receiver will be appointed, the city will lose more rounds in court, a second receiver will be appointed and then the building will burn to the ground.


Thu, Dec 20, 2012 : 3:42 a.m.

What's the problem? The bldg is 49 years old, unoccupied for decades. Full of mold. Roof rotting. Go to Circuit Court and get an Order to tear the sucker down! Ypsi City. Geeze!!!

Katrease Stafford

Wed, Dec 19, 2012 : 2:17 p.m.

If the owner does not comply within the time allotted, the city discussed taking additional measures-- including possible court action.


Wed, Dec 19, 2012 : 1:10 p.m.

it's his building.he either repairs it or demolishes it.


Wed, Dec 19, 2012 : 12:03 p.m.

Why renovate the ex-Smith building? There hasn't been any activity in it for almost 2 decades. Who determined it's value?

Katrease Stafford

Wed, Dec 19, 2012 : 2:19 p.m.

Missmisery, The city said they have no plans to demolish the building because the hope is once its renovated, another viable business may open there. I believe the city assessor determined the $355,800 value. The market value is nearly double that.

Jim Pryce

Wed, Dec 19, 2012 : 11:54 a.m.

Just put a coat of paint on it like the eyesore in Depot town.