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Posted on Fri, Sep 17, 2010 : 1:54 p.m.

Liberty Square owners fail to respond to notice of violations; 63 townhouses on the auction block

By Tom Perkins

Property owners at Liberty Square in Ypsilanti Township have failed to repair or demolish their townhouses as ordered, meaning the case is likely heading to court now.

A second 30-day notice of violation issued to owners in the 151-unit complex off Grove Road will expire on Sept. 20.

The township posted the recent round of violation notices — which were addendums to notices served to the complex homeowners association in June — on Aug. 20. No owners complied with either order, and the township expects to initiate legal action “in a short time period," officials say.

Liberty Square 4.jpg

The owners of Liberty Square townhouses have failed to repair or demolish them, officials say.

Tom Perkins | For

Township attorney Doug Winters declined to comment beyond saying the township is in the process of developing a legal strategy to sue several people who own townhouses.

“It cannot and will not stay in the condition it is in,” Winters said. He added all owners have been made well aware that the buildings need to be brought up to code.

Each building in the complex has 10 to 12 townhouses. The exteriors on all 151 units have been condemned. The extensive list of problems includes rotting soffits, rotting trim, pavement in disrepair, siding falling off the units, collapsing gutters and a collapsing exterior wall where it was hit by a car in one unit.

Because of the complicated ownership situation, the issues surrounding the community have become even more complex.

Grove Park Homes LLC, which is owned by Glenda Ault, owned 81 units until the county treasurer's office foreclosed on 63 of them. Grove Park now has 18 townhouses in its possession. Ault’s husband, Joe Koenig, is an employee of Grove Park Homes and also is the resident agent for the Grove Park Home Improvement Association, which owns 25 units.

Several of the townhouses are owner-occupied, and a small group who rented or left the others vacant, owns the rest.

Koenig has previously said he and his wife don’t have the money to bring the properties up to code. He challenged the legality of the township's violation notices, which address entire buildings, not specific units. He said he can't be held responsible for his neighbors' properties, and that approach violates individual homeowners' constitutional rights.

"That's why we are anxiously awaiting our day in court," Koenig said.

He added he and his attorneys have tried to contact township officials to discuss the issue on numerous occasions but never received a response.

Mike Radzik, director of the township's Office of Community Standards, said he did not want to comment on legal questions or statements made by Koenig. He added he has spoken with Koenig on several occasions in recent months.

The Washtenaw County Treasurer’s Office owns 63 townhouses it took possession of in April, and the township subsequently condemned the interiors of those properties.

County Treasurer Catherine McClary has bundled the 63 units together into one package to list on an online county foreclosure auction, which starts at 10 a.m. Tuesday and closes at 3 p.m. Wednesday.

McClary said the township ultimately wants the properties demolished, so she is tying with the sale an agreement and cash performance bond requiring a potential buyer to demolish them.

“I want to do whatever I can to prevent any further blight or to contribute to blight in that neighborhood. We want the new owner to follow through with demolition,” she said. “We don’t want property to be left in a blighted state once it's sold — that’s the whole idea behind it.”

Not all of the 63 units are connected, but McClary said an independent building inspector she hired found they can still be demolished, even if they are connected to another unit owned by someone else. The challenge and extra cost would be replacing the exterior wall of a neighboring unit, McClary said.

Radzik said he is aware of only six families remaining in Liberty Square.

The bulk of the 63 properties owned by the county were stripped of their appliances, water heaters and any valuable metal. McClary said Koenig admitted he did that in a meeting earlier this year.

The independent inspector estimated demolishing an individual unit at $10,000 to $12,000, and rehabilitation at $72,000.

According to the Ypsilanti Township assessor, the 63 properties have a market value of $822,000. The minimum bid for the properties starts at $299,926. 

McClary said even though the 63 properties are spread throughout the property, she believes there could be an opportunity to buy more properties off other owners who don't have the money fix or demolish their units.

“For the right person, for the buyer, it will be the right deal,” McClary said.

Tom Perkins is a freelance writer for Reach the news desk at or 734-623-2530.



Wed, Sep 29, 2010 : 12:11 p.m.

I see that no one bought the property in the auction. Whats the city going to do with it?


Sat, Sep 18, 2010 : 5:13 p.m.

Ann Who owns the land that the buildings sit on? Typically these condo/townhome associations share the land, at least in the common areas i.e. roads and open spaces, if not all the land. If you buy a building in this complex do you own the land that it's on? And if so what good would it be without owning all the property and the common areas? Seems impossible to develop without all the land.


Sat, Sep 18, 2010 : 10:25 a.m.

AlphaAlpha, I like your idea. A nice park across from the school would be nice in that location. We do have very nice parks around the township so as long as it could be kept up like the others.

no flamers!

Sat, Sep 18, 2010 : 8:03 a.m.

Thanks, Ypsilanti Township leadership--this is progress and I fully support your efforts. As it appears you have concluded, I believe 100% of these units need to be demolished. There is a surplus of housing in the Township as elsewhere in SE MI, so please don't try to re-develop this property--it will just perpetuate the over-supply of housing. Parks are expensive to make and maintain so I suggest the property be left fallow. Whatever you do, please don't create more low income housing at this location--neither the Township nor the City need to be the storage facility for those unwilling or unable to contribute their fair share to the community, and who are grossly disproportionately represented in crime stats.


Sat, Sep 18, 2010 : 5:49 a.m.

heck with auctions BLOW Them Up


Fri, Sep 17, 2010 : 8:48 p.m.

Local population growth will be approximately zero for the foreseeable future; there is a glut of vacant housing units; perhaps a conversion to parkland would be the highest and best use here.


Fri, Sep 17, 2010 : 7:54 p.m.

If I read this correct, the township wants a developer to purchase this property and dictate that they must demolish the buildings and hope that this developer will build something better? How much new development has gone on in the township over the last year? How long has this property been neglected? How long and how much will court cost? How much will it cost to redevelop on top of demolishing? I suspect that there is a reason that this land was originally sighted for this type of property and wonder what other development would go in that very specialized location. Can anyone say Water Street? I hope not. I agree something needs to be done in that area, I just hope there's a better plan than what I got out of this article.


Fri, Sep 17, 2010 : 6:22 p.m.

Also if you look at the map i posted..The unit that was struck by a car is the building that is on the corner of Margery st. and KimberlyCom..the section that is hit is on the back right corner of the building kind of underneath that tree and its clearly visible from the road. every unit that is visible from grove rd is boarded up and graffiti over..Its such an eye sore and has been for years. I am happy its going away. I am sad for the people who are losing their homes but me like most Ypsilanti Citizens are happy its going.


Fri, Sep 17, 2010 : 6:16 p.m.

Here is the a Map of Liberty Square... This place has been scum to the city of Ypsilanti since i was a child. I remember staying at a family members house as a kid and looking out the window at night and seeing a car jacking. You would here gun shots in there all the time... A few weeks ago there was a fire in one of the units and the fire department just let it burn out. I work for a pizza shop down the road from there..we have never and will never deliver there because its full of scum and so many pizza drivers have been robbed there. Its sad.. Years ago if you were white and you drove through there people would harass you and run up to your car. Thats just not me saying that..thats fact from everyone who knows libirty African American im not making any racist type comments...Im saying this as a first hand witness to this. Sure not everyone is bad..but the majority of the place is garbage. here is a map of it,-83.42191&sspn=0.320075,0.8638&ie=UTF8&hq=&hnear=Nancy+St,+Ypsilanti,+Washtenaw,+Michigan+48198&ll=42.214643,-83.547233&spn=0.001299,0.003374&t=h&z=19&iwloc=A

Tom Perkins

Fri, Sep 17, 2010 : 4:32 p.m.

djm, They are technically bidding on the 63 units, but the agreement is a bidder is purchasing then demolishing the units. That's what the cash performance bond is for. What happens to those owner-occupants who still live there will be decided in court.

Tom Perkins

Fri, Sep 17, 2010 : 4:27 p.m.

Ed, I'm having trouble getting a good link to a map, but it's at Grove and Rawsonville Road near the northwest corner. Actually, across the street from Rawsonville Elementary School. The streets in the complex have names such as Nancy, Morris and Kimberly Common.


Fri, Sep 17, 2010 : 3:51 p.m.

Gotta love slum landlords that would take the money in and not care about who they rented to as long as they got their check from whatever agency was paying them, then cry poor when they don't fix the property that has been neglected and/or vandalized...oh boo hoo, cry me a river... On another note, bidders are not buying these condos, correct? They are going to bid for the right to demo and then all they own is the land? What about the owner's who are not under foreclosure, but lumped into the NOV's issued to the complex? Is their portion of the land ownership [if the have any] going to be compensated when they are forced to move?

Macabre Sunset

Fri, Sep 17, 2010 : 3:16 p.m.

It would be interesting to see the case made for purchasing this property at auction. I suppose there's always federal grant money to waste - the feds have never much cared about wise spending. But as I read the story, I expected the minimum bid to be $1 and was surprised at the end.

Ed Kimball

Fri, Sep 17, 2010 : 3:06 p.m.

I would like to see include a map (or at least a link to a map) on any article about real estate so that we could easily determine where it is located. "Off Grove Road" is not very specific.

scooter dog

Fri, Sep 17, 2010 : 2:44 p.m.

So where was the township building inspector all these years when they,the units, were going down the tubes. It sounds like this didn't happen overnight. I thought that ypsi township was broke,so where are they going to get the money to demo the place?,as it sounds like the owners don't have the funds. Most recent foreclosure sale held by the county only garnered 2 buyers. Not many people nowdays that has 300K laying around to spend on a money pit like this place will be.


Fri, Sep 17, 2010 : 1:16 p.m.

'McClary said the township ultimately wants the properties demolished, so she is tying with the sale an agreement and cash performance bond requiring a potential buyer to demolish them.' I seriously think Catherine McClary is an unsung genius. If the idiots running Wayne County had thought of doing this, oh, about 30 years ago Detroit would have a fraction of the blight it has today.