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Posted on Sun, Apr 28, 2013 : 5:58 a.m.

Ypsilanti to decide on delayed $1.2M Family Dollar purchase agreement in May

By Katrease Stafford

Ypsilanti will decide in May whether to move forward with the proposed $1.2 million Family Dollar development on Water Street. However, the purchase agreement may include several changes that Family Dollar's developer, Core Resources, will have to consider.


The City Council will vote on its purchase agreement with Family Dollar in May.

Courtesy City of Ypsilanti

The council voted to delay the decision at its March 19 meeting after several concerns were raised.

Council was slated to consider the agreement at its Tuesday meeting, but the discussion and vote was delayed until the first meeting in May.

City Planner Teresa Gillotti said the delay was needed to give council time to consider new proposed changes to the site plan.

Potential changes to the site plan include:

  • A 10-foot sidewalk required on Michigan Avenue and Park Street. The current requirement is closer to five feet.
  • Parsons to be stubbed to allow for curb cut. No curb cut will be on Park Street.
  • Changes to parking configuration that may include it being moved to the back of the property.
  • Street trees along all street frontages.
  • Built zero to five feet from sidewalk.

As part of the Shape Ypsilanti master plan process, the entire 38-acre Water Street property was looked at for ways to possibly connect it better with the rest of the city and lure more potential developers.

Part of that discussion was the mention of extending River Street through the entire Water Street property to Factory Street to connect the property to the southern portion of Ypsilanti.

Gillotti said if this were done, the changes mentioned above would be needed.

Mayor Pro Tem Lois Richardson said she doesn't understand why all of the changes are needed and that up until this point, the majority of council supported the project.

"Several of us were ready," Richardson said. "... Now you're giving us something that we have to back and look at and work on... We agreed on what we wanted and it was just a matter of attorneys putting it in writing and now we have to go back and rehash everything. I'm not happy with it."

Ypsilanti received a letter of intent from Core Resources, Inc. last November to purchase 1.25 acres of the 38-acre site. The property is owned by the city and Core, on behalf of its client Family Dollar Stores of Michigan, is expected to pay $210,000 to purchase the land.

However, Gillotti noted that the potential site plan changes could affect the land purchase price.

"They (Core Resources) have been pretty accommodating for the most part," Gillotti said.

Yet, Gillotti said she wasn't sure if Core Resources would be open to putting parking in the back of the property.

Richardson and Council Member Ricky Jefferson said they weren't in favor of moving parking to the back of the property, citing safety reasons.

"I don't like that, the parking should stay where it's at," Richardson said. "I would say no to that."

Mayor Paul Schreiber said he was in favor of all of the potential changes outlined by Gillotti.

"I went to a number of sessions for the master plan and learned a lot about walkable communities and how it's designed," Schreiber said. "What i hear from a lot of people is that they would like to have a walkable community."

Carter Good, an Ypsilanti resident, urged council to make sure the Family Dollar development isn't rushed and has all of the city's desired elements. Good referred to comments made by master plan consultant Ian Lockwood, who said the city shouldn't compromise its values by having a "beggars mentality" in order to secure development on the property.

"A valuable Water Street and the commuter train that's coming, will all contribute to the value of the city," Good said. "I think we should value what we have in our city and not be beggars."

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



Mon, Apr 29, 2013 : 3:45 a.m.

Dickering over a dollar...the Ypsi way....


Mon, Apr 29, 2013 : 12:57 a.m.

Family Dollar is just a bad idea for the Water Street property. Let's finally listen to the consultants and the many city members that participated in the Shape Ypsi process and do the right things on Water Street. That plan they came up with is exciting and represents a bright future for Ypsilanti. Sure there are challenges ahead but at least we now have a plan that makes good sense. Tell Family Dollar to go build on the corner of Ellsworth and West Michigan where they already plan to and to just leave the Downtown alone. We don't want them and we don't need them. To give into them is to give up.


Mon, Apr 29, 2013 : 12:35 a.m.

I still like my idea of an indoor water park, a hotel on the river, 2 or 3 restaurants, a strip mall for gift shops and a walkway underneath the bridge to connect Water Street with Riverside park. Have festivals year round. Let me hit the Power Ball and that's what I would do. Not a dollar store.


Mon, Apr 29, 2013 : 11:42 p.m.

Why vote me down for my idea for how this land should be used? Those who voted me down let me hear your ideas. I have lived in Ypsi for most my life and I want tourists to come to ypsi.


Sun, Apr 28, 2013 : 9:04 p.m.

Family Dollar on a riverfront parcel? Time to stick a fork in It.


Sun, Apr 28, 2013 : 4:08 p.m.

Peter and other: Let's get out of the past and see what can be done in the present that might help us with planning for the future. I on't mind a Dollar Store in the present design, but putting parking on the Michigan Avenue street frontage is a waste of that part of the property, especially if there are no interior roads. Michigan Avenue frontage is all we have to sell right now. If the Non-Profit and no tax Washtenaw County Recreation Center goes on Michigan Avenue and takes the huge amount of space they are talking about occupying off the tax roles, we need all the Michigan Avenue frontage we can get for tax paying businesses. With that in mind, I think the Family Dollar parking should be well lighted and go behind the store.


Sun, Apr 28, 2013 : 3:50 p.m.

Farmer's Folly - the gift that keeps on giving.


Sun, Apr 28, 2013 : 3:27 p.m.

Any belief that the Water Street parcel is going to develop into anything resembling a so-called "high-end residential and commercial mix" is a complete pipedream – it always was and always will be. The area enveloping this parcel attracts a very limited market and, like it or not, Family Dollar happens to fit the bill. The taxpayers should be told the truth, however, about the Water Street debt and should accurately report on it. That is, even if the entire parcel fully develops, the taxpayers are going to paying the lion's share of the principal and interest until the debt is finally retired – several decades from now.


Sun, Apr 28, 2013 : 3:03 p.m.

I'm not quite sure I understand how they want the parking to work. If the target demographic for Family Dollar is single mothers in their 20's and 30's, it seems illogical to have the parking area out of the plain sight of the road. If the parking lot is hidden from Michigan Avenue traffic by being located behind the store, it would be decidedly more secluded. That kind of seclusion seems really unsafe, and I don't know if the three employees on duty inside the store would make any single mother feel safe enough to park in a place where she could very easily be mugged, or worse.


Sun, Apr 28, 2013 : 9:02 p.m.

The point of the project is to make the area as walkable as possible. If you're walking down Michigan Ave, how would you like to walk through a sea of parking to get to the front of the store? The store should be at the roadway, just like the rest of downtown Ypsilanti. Having parking in the back, as long as it is well-lit, is not going to be a problem. Having the nice, wide sidewalks in the front of the store with the storefront near the sidewalk will give that area significantly more character and will help with property values.

Dirty Mouth

Sun, Apr 28, 2013 : 1:51 p.m.

As part of gentrification, the Family Dollar route is the logical next step. However, its location and scale make it a very risky investment for Ypsilanti. The only other option is to table the topic and hope for something better to come along, like, another strip club.


Mon, Apr 29, 2013 : 9:08 p.m.

Family Dollar stores are trashy attract the wrong type of people to the area. I know the city wants investors to the location, but I think they need to not be so desperate.


Sun, Apr 28, 2013 : 12:49 p.m.

Glad to hear our city council is finally listening to reason. Now to get rid of Deju Vu and bring in family type stores. Maybe we can use that plot of land to be another Arborland?

Dirty Mouth

Sun, Apr 28, 2013 : 10:54 p.m.

That won't happen because Ypsilanti doesn't have a middle class big enough to sustain anything close to that size.

Nicholas Urfe

Sun, Apr 28, 2013 : 12:38 p.m.

@SRL: "He was very blunt that it would be better not to have Family Dollar at all if it was done poorly. I agree with his comment and Ian Lockwood's." Strongly agree. A "dollar store" can set the tone and character for the area. You risk a tone of "cheap imported goods" permeating everything. And that does not aspire to anything but cheapness. It is also a cookie-cutter chain, same as all the rest.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Sun, Apr 28, 2013 : 11:08 a.m.

"Master plan consultant Ian Lockwood said the city shouldn't compromise its values by having a "beggars mentality" in order to secure development on the property." In an effort to help Ypsilanti, a couple of weeks ago I was able to bring the world's foremost "New Urbanist" urban planner, Andres Duany, who was in Grand Rapids on other business, to meet with Ian Lockwood, members of his team, the city manager, Ralph Lange and City Planner Teresa Gillotti. He graciously sat and after being briefed on a wide variety of options that are on the table, including the Family Dollar project, discussed the pros and cons of various ideas for two hours and I was amazed and excited about the possibilities for the future of Ypsilanti that these highly skilled planners were discussing. Mr. Duany is engaged in projects all over the world and very focused on what is practical and doable considering the current and likely future economic environment of the area to be developed and knows what the firms currently actively engaged in real estate development will or will not be willing to do. With the expansion of EMU's student body to record levels, the upswing in the county in jobs and population, and the shortage of housing in the county, in my opinion it is possible in the not too distant future that Water Street could begin to be developed and Mr. Duany agreed with that assessment. One of the things that stuck out very clearly in the conversation was Mr. Duany's comment that if done wrong, the Family Dollar project could permanently screw up the entire site and the city's $15 million investment would be permanently blown. He was very blunt that it would be better not to have Family Dollar at all if it was done poorly. I agree with his comment and Ian Lockwood's.


Mon, Apr 29, 2013 : 2:07 a.m.

Mr Ranzini - Thank you for arranging this meeting. Regardless of the outcome and how various people might feel (one way or the other), I appreciate you taking the time and effort to make this happen.