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Posted on Wed, Aug 28, 2013 : 5:55 a.m.

Planning Commission to consider rezoning to allow parking for Thompson Block

By Tom Perkins

The Ypsilanti Planning Commission will consider a request to rezone the Thompson Block and an adjacent property into a planned unit development.

The change will allow developer Stewart Beal to combine the Thompson Block property and the property to the east to create parking for the Thompson Block building project.

City Planner Teresa Gillotti said the Thompson Block is a unique, historic project, so she believes it fits for approval to be rezoned from B3 central business district; R1, single family residential; and Historic District Overlay to a PUD.

The planning commission will vote on recommending approval of the change to City Council Wednesday night after a public hearing at its regular meeting. The City Council will then take up the issue at its next meeting.

Redevelopment of the Thompson Block would provide 10,000 square feet of combined retail and commercial space on the first floor and 16 lofts on the upper floors, and the development would take up .56 acres on a busy Depot Town intersection.


A lot to the east of Thompson Block would serve as its parking lot.

Tom Perkins | For

“We see the project, if it’s able to progress, as incredibly positive for the city and Depot Town as a whole,” Gillotti said.

The Thompson Block runs from 400 through 412 N. River St. Beal owns the two properties directly to the east of the 150-year-old building at 107 and 113 E. Cross St. As part of the proposal in front of the planning commission, 107 E. Cross St. would become part of the Thompson block property.

113 E. Cross Street has a multi-unit house Beal rents out and would likely become part of the project in the future.

He purchased the property at 107 E. Cross St. from a bankruptcy auction of properties formerly owned by David Kircher and demolished a vacant house on it. Kircher was jailed for five years after being caught pumping raw sewage from one of his apartment buildings into the Huron River and was forced to sell his properties to pay off debts.

“The lot will accommodate parking for the Thompson Block, which is a good idea for a building with commercial use and two stories with 16 lofts,” Gillotti said. “They will be doing that on a vacant lot and what was once a problematic Kircher lot. It’s a reactivation of a key corner in Depot Town.”

Beal is in the process of trying to raise $1.74 million by selling 174 shares at $10,000 a piece to partially fund the redevelopment. The rest of the funding for the approximately $4 million renovation will come through a loan, Beal said.

The project's latest timeline has its completion slated for the end of 2014 or early 2015, and Beal has been looking for potential commercial and residential tenants to sign pre-leases for an early 2015 move in.


Ypsi Eastsider

Thu, Aug 29, 2013 : 2:31 p.m.

The City nor planning commission should not even consider a PUD or any other pipe-dream agreement until the applicant has paid and is current on ALL their property taxes in the city.

Gretchen Ridenour

Wed, Aug 28, 2013 : 10:37 p.m.

The fire was 4 yrs ago and the building is nowhere close to being habitable. No rezoning should take place until Mr. Beal raises his $1.74 million and he secures the $4 million loan.

Pete Murdock

Wed, Aug 28, 2013 : 9:04 p.m.

The City had the house torn down on the Kircher property at 113 East Cross prior to Beal purchasing the property.

Scott Straley

Wed, Aug 28, 2013 : 8:36 p.m.

They can turn it into a Family Dollar Store. Evidently, that can revitalize any economy and attract a vibrant retail business core. You can't have enough of them.


Wed, Aug 28, 2013 : 2:52 p.m.

Thank goodness the project is actually thinking about adequate parking, something Ann Arbor needs to think about more.


Wed, Aug 28, 2013 : 2:31 p.m.

Promises, promises

Nicholas Urfe

Wed, Aug 28, 2013 : 2 p.m.

Does this "developer" have an actual plan, or does he make it up as he goes along? Is there anything that prohibits him from just flipping the site to a developer for a quick profit?


Wed, Aug 28, 2013 : 2:43 p.m.

What prohibits him from doing so, is the lack of interest from developers. Not that the site isn't desirable, it just comes with a suitcase full of baggage (historical status, crumbling building facade that for some reason must be preserved... years of issues with city council to sort out, etc).


Wed, Aug 28, 2013 : 1:38 p.m.

I get the frustration with Beal and his never ending delays. But it's not like this is the only vacant eyesore in Ypsi. They are on basically every block of the city. At least there is SOME hope that this could turn into something good.


Wed, Aug 28, 2013 : 2:10 p.m.

And oddly enough, a lot of the eyesores (vacant and not vacant) have Beal's signs on them. Strange.


Wed, Aug 28, 2013 : 12:29 p.m.

Teresa Gillotti thinks this is a..."historic project"...? It's burnt brick walls! From the picture showing the cheap, imitation flying buttresses, maybe Beal can market it as a Gothic cathedral with American Civil War flair.


Wed, Aug 28, 2013 : 12:24 p.m.

"113 E. Cross Street has a multi-unit house Beal rents and would likely become part of the project in the future." Hallelujiah! What an eyesore that is although one of the tenants did provide great Facebook status update one morning last February by taking out his trash sans clothing.

Eduard Copely

Wed, Aug 28, 2013 : 11:35 a.m.

Give Beal a chance, peeps! He may just pull it out of the hat and when he does Depot Town should be renamed Beal Town. Bravo!


Wed, Aug 28, 2013 : 11:22 a.m.

Beal has not followed through on any city deadlines or financial plans and has thumbed his nose at everyone in the city and now, because the project is "historic" everyone is supposed to let him move forward with it? He is supposed to have a roof on the building by August 31 according to his contract/agreement with the city. 3 days to do this and he hasn't done a thing to even start. Let's see some good intentions from the new Mr. Kirtcher in town before he gets anything more in return.


Wed, Aug 28, 2013 : 11:20 a.m.

Re-Zoning this project as a PUD. my sentinets exactly! Has been a pud from day one.


Wed, Aug 28, 2013 : 11:20 a.m.

sentiments ... still early

Elaine F. Owsley

Wed, Aug 28, 2013 : 10:59 a.m.

Frankly, Scarlet, I'm sick of hearing about what might be done with/to the Thompson block.


Wed, Aug 28, 2013 : 10:13 a.m.

I have found that the city of Ypsilanti will change anything they want to help you if they like you. That said if they do not like you they will not help but put up road blocks. Also never take the city word have it writing.


Wed, Aug 28, 2013 : 6:28 p.m.

that's politics, that's business, anywhere you go.


Wed, Aug 28, 2013 : 10:09 a.m.

Sounds good.


Wed, Aug 28, 2013 : 1:07 p.m.

New to town, are you, SusanRk? Unfamiliar with the never-ending promises, failures to meet deadlines, and just good old bull that typifies how Stewart Beal does "business?"


Wed, Aug 28, 2013 : 11:24 a.m.

Always has SOUNDED good.