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Posted on Tue, Jul 23, 2013 : 5:58 a.m.

Developer Stewart Beal asks for extension on 3-year Thompson Block timeline

By Tom Perkins


The Thompson Block's envelope won't be completed by Sept. 1.

Tom Perkins | For

A new website dedicated to an Ypsilanti landmark has popped up. features a clock counting down to the deadline for the completion of the Thompson Block building’s envelope.

Per an agreement forged after four months of legal wrangling in 2010, the Thompson Block is to have its outer envelope, including all outer walls and the roof, completed by Sept. 1.

As the clock points out, the deadline is fewer than 40 days away.

On July 16, Stewart Beal, the head of the Thompson Block LLC investment group that owns the 150-year-old former civil war barracks, sent a letter to the city informing it that the deadline would not be met.

Beal declined to provide the letter to and the City Council is discussing the case in closed session.

While the details of the plan aren’t publicly available, Beal recently told the Ypsilanti Downtown Development Authority the building would be finished by the end of 2014 or beginning of 2015.

Beal also recently announced leases and letters of intent for 16 luxury lofts and about 14,000 square feet of commercial space will be accepted over the next three months. On Friday, Beal posted on his Facebook page that he pitched the Thompson Block as an investment opportunity to 150 members of Michigan Real Estate Investors group and is organizing tours of the property with them over the next week.

But with the project deadline likely pushed back until late next year at the earliest, some in the city are wondering why Beal, who owns a construction company, was unable to complete the envelope of a building within a timeline that he developed.

Beal explained that the formation of a new ownership group and new plans for the luxury lofts and retail space were only recently announced and completion of the envelope by the deadline is no longer possible.

When pressed to explain why the envelope wasn’t completed over the past three years, his response was simple.

“(The plans) just don’t fit in with the timeline anymore,” he said.

The city and Beal engaged in a bitter fight in 2010 that involved litigation and ultimately arbitration to come to the agreement.

So what do those city council members who were part of that battle think of the project remaining unfinished?

Council Member Pete Murdock said it’s obvious Beal and Thompson Block LLC don’t have the funds to complete the project and he is no longer sure the project is even realistic.

“This was his schedule, his timeline, it came from him, and obviously he’s not going to meet it, so the question is ‘Where to go from here?’” Murdock said. “What is he offering? If he wants an extension to move on it’s all good, but where’s the beef? Is there anything realistically that’s going to happen either way?”

Mayor Paul Schreiber, who was more supportive of Beal than Murdock in the 2010 battle over the building, said the City Council has discussed Beal’s letter in closed session and is weighing its options.

“It’s a historic building and it adds a lot of value to Depot Town, so I’d like to see it redeveloped, as do other council members, so we need to see what our options are and how we can work with Stewart to make this happen,” he said.

Council Member Brian Robb expressed some frustration.

“Everyone wants to see the Thompson Block completed. The frustrating thing about it all is we are following the timeline that Mr. Beal proposed three years ago,” Robb said. “How can we take seriously any new proposals he gives us considering the lack of progress the past three years?

“He could have waited until September to approach us about the agreement. That he's doing it in July has to be worth something, right?”

In regards to the countdown clock, Beal said he hadn’t heard about it until informed him.

"I have not had a chance to review the website in detail and I don't know who owns it, but it is always great to see Ypsilanti's residents' passion for the Thompson Block. This passion is what makes Ypsilanti a great place to live, work and play," Beal said.

According to records, the website is registered to jailed landlord David Kircher, who Beal bought the building from in 2006.

Tom Perkins is a freelance reporter. Contact the news desk at


Ypsi Eastsider

Tue, Aug 6, 2013 : 4:48 a.m.

TP, according to the City of Ypsi website, there are about $36,000 owed in back taxes on the property.

The Picker

Fri, Jul 26, 2013 : 12:16 p.m.

Are the Taxes current ?

sun runner

Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 12:02 p.m.

File this under "Least Surprising News of the Year." Sheesh.

Michael Bodary

Tue, Jul 23, 2013 : 11:47 p.m.

City government fought this 3 years ago and lost in court. Beal's attorney (his mother: read pro-bono) fought it out and got the judge to knuckle under (read I don't have time for this on my docket so settle this). The city does not have the funds for this protracted court battle. AA.Com would not tell the whole story before and probably won't now. Sorry for those who actually think someone has the power to foreclose. Ha. Maybe this time the court will realize that Beal has no intention of putting his development funds into this LLC. He makes too much on apartments and offices. As long as the the funds they were given to start this sham are not called in by the State he'll continue to stall.

joe golder

Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 1:55 a.m.

So is beal waiting for someone with an idea and money to come along and buy the commercial property for a profit?

Ren Farley

Tue, Jul 23, 2013 : 7:16 p.m.

Wouldn't this property be an appropriate place for a multi-deck parking structure since it is so close to what will be the Ypsilanti rail station on the new Ann Arbor to Detroit commuter line?


Tue, Jul 23, 2013 : 8:25 p.m.

good idea, if we ever get our commuter rail stop and the ypsilanti station is reactivated, it would be a great place for a small parking deck, maybe with some ground floor retail up front. i think any realistic plan for the site will involve demolition of the existing structure and building from scratch. it's probably cheaper to build something new but still tasteful and in the spirit of the block, then it would be to restore the hulk to habitable condition as it stands now.

Ypsi Eastsider

Tue, Jul 23, 2013 : 6:30 p.m.

If the building comes down, it will never be a park, it will be is a parking lot.

1982 Brew Crew

Tue, Jul 23, 2013 : 6:14 p.m.


Jack Gladney

Tue, Jul 23, 2013 : 5:53 p.m.

Time for Basketball Barry to issue one of his patented extra-constitutional limited collateral damage drone strikes on this site. It would be easy enough to add to Operation Action Plan for Detroit. Stewart, please step away from the building.


Tue, Jul 23, 2013 : 4:32 p.m.

you can hardly call the thompson block a complete building any more. more like four crumbling brick walls propped up around a pile of garbage. obviously stewart beal does not have cash on hand to perform a restoration of the building at his own expense, and there's no way anybody is going to finance same. it's just too far gone. this isn't like the broderick tower, stuart, it's more like the packard plant. i've seen buildings in way better structural condition razed in a heartbeat. i hate to see a historic structure lost but i think the book was closed on this one as soon as it was torched. the city has been fooling around with stewart for almost (over?) half a decade now and the property basically isn't any further along than it started. time for the city to put their foot down and get him to demolish this unsafe structure. they should also track down the owner of that dilapidated furniture store on the corner of washington and ferris and pursue same. i know the city is a bit strapped for cash and they can't afford to spend a lot of time and money on litigation but any well run municipality ensures these sorts of things get cleaned up, eventually.


Tue, Jul 23, 2013 : 8:16 p.m.

i guess you don't read the news or you are one of many who have just written detroit off, but dan gilbert has invested tens, maybe hundreds of millions of dollars in buying up abandoned detroit high-rises in the city core and filling them up with workers, both those associated with his own companies as well as those of completely unaffiliated business through his savvy marketing of the space. he's doing a one man urban renaissance down there and it's extraordinary to see how much more vibrant downtown and midtown detroit are now... more so than in decades. a lot of outlying neighborhoods are still in [very] bad shape but midtown and downtown are booming for the first time in years. gotta start somewhere! we need guys like him in ypsilanti, folks who can both dream big but also actually execute when it comes time.


Tue, Jul 23, 2013 : 7:50 p.m.

What miracles, sttc? Detroit is a pit of despair.


Tue, Jul 23, 2013 : 4:40 p.m.

or, does anyone know dan gilbert? but a bug in HIS ear and watch it get done! that guy is working miracles in detroit.


Tue, Jul 23, 2013 : 4:24 p.m.

Knock down the building except for the back wall. Let that wall cover with ivy then put a flowered greenspace with benches on the rest of the property and put up a nice historic marker with a picture of what the building looked like in the Civil War. Or put a band shell there for public performances by our lovely Ypsilanti Symphony our band and other local artists. At this point, Beal should DONATE the property to the city for all the trouble he has caused. He owns a construction company for heavens sake! Enough is enough.


Tue, Jul 23, 2013 : 4:17 p.m.

How's the cities water street project moving along? LOL!

Jay Thomas

Tue, Jul 23, 2013 : 4:14 p.m.

Everyone here predicted this. No great surprise. The city of Ypsilanti has weak leadership. Foreclose already.

The Picker

Fri, Jul 26, 2013 : 12:11 p.m.

Michael ! You guys govern the Blight Court !!!! Maybe weak is the proper word for your leadership !!!!!!!!!!

Jay Thomas

Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 7 p.m.

Oh yes you can. It's a heap of rubble. A danger to the community. Those walls may fall over at any time.

Michael Bodary

Tue, Jul 23, 2013 : 11:50 p.m.

Can't. City does not own it. Check the law.

Stupid Hick

Tue, Jul 23, 2013 : 4:05 p.m.

"According to records, the website is registered to jailed landlord David Kircher, who Beal bought the building from in 2006." "Bought" may be a technically correct term of art, but I was under the impression that Beal had a lien on the building, and he acquired the Thompson Block after the previous owner, David Kircher, refused to pay for court-ordered repair work, that he did not consent to, initiated by the City of Ypsi. Is this something that an investigative journalist would care to comment on? Google: thompson block beal kircher

Chase Ingersoll

Tue, Jul 23, 2013 : 2:39 p.m.

I'd like to know if anyone making comments here has ever been involved in the restoration of a commercial property with an historic designation. Its complicated and painstaking as the developer is caught between what the multitude of governing bodies want and what the market will afford them to do. The #1 priority here is to prevent bodily injury to any persons, #2 - prevent further damage to the property; #3 manage the budget constraints so that you don't go bankrupt over the project and fail at #1 and #2. I hear lots of complaining, but don't hear anyone stepping up to take on this project or one like it.

Stupid Hick

Tue, Jul 23, 2013 : 3:58 p.m.

For those of you who are too young to remember how Beal came to own the Thompson Block, google: thompson block beal kircher It's truly ironic.

Stupid Hick

Tue, Jul 23, 2013 : 3:53 p.m.

Chase, the Thompson Block has been a public nuisance for DECADES. The Beal chapter of the saga is particularly ironic because, in essence, litigation by the City of Ypsi got the building taken away from Kircher and put Beal in control. And Beal has turned out to be no better than Kircher. Is anyone here old enough to remember how Beal acquired the building? It was seized because Kircher refused to pay for court-ordered repair work, against Kircher's consent, that Beal's company was contracted to do. Oh, the irony.


Tue, Jul 23, 2013 : 2:44 p.m.

...and we assume that Beal understood all this when he AGREED to the terms. Either way he is incompetent.


Tue, Jul 23, 2013 : 2:34 p.m.

"A new website dedicated to an Ypsilanti landmark has popped up. features a clock counting down to the deadline for the completion of the Thompson Block building's envelope. " Wins the prize for worst website ever.


Tue, Jul 23, 2013 : 2:03 p.m.

Did a city council member really say "where's the beef?" Not impressive. I think three years is out of line but on the other hand is there anyone else who is willing to take on the property and build on it?


Tue, Jul 23, 2013 : 1:55 p.m.

You know, it's just conceivable that this is a large-scale performance art piece entitled something like "Nature vs Governance" or "American Decay II". Put some spotlights on the ivy-surrounded windows, pay some models dressed in white to dance and play lutes, and you've got a real crowd-pleaser. Or maybe the developer takes one photo a day and will create a time-lapse photo exhibit? That would be worth all the fuss, maybe.

David Cahill

Tue, Jul 23, 2013 : 1:55 p.m.

Waiting for this project is like waiting for Godot. I hope has made a FOIA request for Beal's letter.

Rob Pollard

Tue, Jul 23, 2013 : 1:52 p.m.

Kudos to Tim for that picture - it shows what kind of a "building" Beal has maintained right on the edge of Depot Town: an Ivy-colored tower of bricks that isn't falling over only b/c it is propped up. The mayor and the council have to show spine - if Beal can't meet his own timeline (which was a generous extension in the first place), why believe he would meet any other extension? Time to get their head out of the clouds. If it's not done by September 1, reinstate the lawsuit. Beal has been given more than enough chances.


Tue, Jul 23, 2013 : 1:46 p.m.

Precisely as intended.


Tue, Jul 23, 2013 : 1:25 p.m.

"Oh my gosh I'm so surprised," said no one ever.

Dog Guy

Tue, Jul 23, 2013 : 1:12 p.m.

With an ivy cover it suggests scenic ruins built for atmosphere on English country estates. A wonderful news photo!

Depot Town

Tue, Jul 23, 2013 : 1:08 p.m.

Maybe Beal would consider renting a portion of the building to Kircher so he can sell his t-shirts. It would be a win-win for everyone.


Tue, Jul 23, 2013 : 1:04 p.m.

But with the project deadline likely pushed back until late next year at the earliest, some in the city are wondering why Beal, who owns a construction company, was unable to complete the envelope of a building within a timeline that he developed. Simple answer... Incompetent!


Tue, Jul 23, 2013 : 12:58 p.m.

"(The plans) just don't fit in with the timeline anymore," They should put that on in the "Blow-off Hall of Fame".


Tue, Jul 23, 2013 : 1:54 p.m.

I'd buy that shirt.

Craig Lounsbury

Tue, Jul 23, 2013 : 1:27 p.m.

That would make a great t-shirt slogan


Tue, Jul 23, 2013 : 12:50 p.m.

Give that tool the Matty Moroun treatment and chuck him into jail until he starts making progress.


Tue, Jul 23, 2013 : 12:45 p.m.

Needs to be torn down and made into a simple park for families till something is decided. Families come down to Depot town for dinner and sometimes need to wait, have a place where families could hang out before or after dinner in this location. Clearly, the city could also put in more parking, but possibly not needed. Do something with it, anything at this point would be better than what is going on now. 3 year agreement and nothing has been done, enough already!

Elaine F. Owsley

Tue, Jul 23, 2013 : 1:08 p.m.

How about a park with a simple brass tablet that show what the old building looked like and what it was used for. How many years would it take Beale to produce that?

Craig Lounsbury

Tue, Jul 23, 2013 : 1:02 p.m.

I have nothing against parks but there is already Riverside and Frog Island in Depot town.

Elaine F. Owsley

Tue, Jul 23, 2013 : 12:12 p.m.

Good grief!!! How much rope does the city of Ypsilanti intend to give this guy? It should probably have been torn down right at the beginning. My bet is that it will be in the end.


Tue, Jul 23, 2013 : 12:22 p.m.

But wouldn't it be better if it wasn't, and we got the magical and wonderful building Beal promised? His task was not easy, I can understand giving him some extensions to get his act together.... but, he didn't.


Tue, Jul 23, 2013 : 12:07 p.m.

Is Ypsilanti benefiting from the "ruin" porn industry for this and the Dahlman's train depot across the street?


Tue, Jul 23, 2013 : 11:50 a.m.

In other news: Water is wet.

Hugh Giariola

Tue, Jul 23, 2013 : 11:49 a.m.

More smoke and mirrors from this guy.

sandy schopbach

Tue, Jul 23, 2013 : 11:20 a.m.

This property in Ypsi and the Georgetown property in Ann Arbor: two examples of projects that do not have the funding to continue. Yet both keep getting extensions. When will the city council of both realize that that is the case? I'm perplexed.


Tue, Jul 23, 2013 : 12:21 p.m.

What do you think the fate of this property would be if the city took it away? that a new developer would magically step up and get started right away? it would continue to languish. When you have someone making promises, it's worth waiting to see if they are serious.... but, I feel you. (as Beal is clearly not).

Hugh Giariola

Tue, Jul 23, 2013 : 11:53 a.m.

At least the Georgetown Mall property is actively being demolished.


Tue, Jul 23, 2013 : 11:20 a.m.

He doesn't keep his word. Period. No more time. Fine / foreclose / punish.

Craig Lounsbury

Tue, Jul 23, 2013 : 11:20 a.m.

"It's a historic building and it adds a lot of value to Depot Town, so I'd like to see it redeveloped" No it WAS an historic building that was destroyed by fire. No sane person can call whats left a historic building.

1982 Brew Crew

Tue, Jul 23, 2013 : 6:21 p.m.

What he said.


Tue, Jul 23, 2013 : 12:19 p.m.

Exactly! Why does this debate still revolve around the fantasy that there is a building to renovate? There is only a crumbling brick facade. What is needed here is a completely new building built behind the brick facade... but no one seems to be pumping millions into downtown Ypsi, so we wait.

Craig Lounsbury

Tue, Jul 23, 2013 : 11:23 a.m.

Now I have an historic ax brought over on the Mayflower by my great- great-great-great grandpappy. Its still used to this day. The head has only been replaced 6 times and its on its 12th handle.


Tue, Jul 23, 2013 : 10:46 a.m.

Man, this guy has gotten chance after chance after chance. Why does the city still even talk to this guy? Please tell me none of the money he gets is from DDA or tax abatements or any other form of public money. And he bought it from the landlord that's in jail for raw sewage dumping and has had thousands of code violations and multiple lawsuites. What a dandy bunch.

Stupid Hick

Tue, Jul 23, 2013 : 3:37 p.m.

"bought it" is an interesting way to characterize the way that Beal came to own the property. Was it not awarded to him, in lieu of payment for the court-ordered repair work that he did, that Kircher did not consent to, and refused to pay for?


Tue, Jul 23, 2013 : 10:23 a.m.

Keep tuned....................