Ypsilanti is taking steps to resolve the proposed Water Street Project because "doing nothing was not an option," according to the city's planning and development director Karen Hart.
The City Council will put aside $250,000 from its general fund next year to make debt payments in 2009 on the $32 million in bonds it took to assemble the 38 acres adjacent to downtown. The city is also considering selling some of its assets or selling off portions of the 38 acres to make the debt payments, the first of which is $854,000.
The city acquired the 42 different parcels to make it into one large property for development. The 38 acres is bordered by East Michigan Avenue to the north, Park Street to the East and the Huron River to the south and west. The land served mostly as an industrial area for decades, although a few of the parcels were old commercial and residential properties.
The city hoped that bundling the properties together would make it easier for a developer to put in new residential housing and commercial space. The taxes from that development would then pay off the debt the city incurred, a common strategy employed by cities across the country. A public trail is planned along the greenway.
However, the developer that had planned to develop it pulled out last year due to the struggling economy. The city risks losing more than $1 million in grants to clean up the 38 acres of brownfield if a new one isn't found soon. The city plans to hire a national real-estate firm to market the property to a broader audience.
Source: Karen Hart, planning and development director for Ypsilanti
Writer: Jon Zemke