Despite the cloudy morass that Metro Detroit is mired in, Ypsilanti officials are preparing to take another shot at moving the Water Street development forward by releasing a new request for proposals within the next few weeks.
City officials have been pitching the 38 acres of land near downtown to developers across the U.S. and have received some "interesting nibbles," according to Karen Hart, the planning and development director for Ypsilanti.
"Hopefully, we will get some new things going in there soon," Hart says.
The city is under a bit of pressure to do something with it soon. It took out $32 million in bonds to assemble the large chunk of acreage bordered by East Michigan Avenue to the north, Park Street to the East and the Huron River to the south and west. It served mostly as an industrial area for decades, although a few of the 42 parcels were old commercial and residential properties.
The city had Joseph Freed & Associates lined up to turn it into an urban, pedestrian friendly development until late last year when the developer pulled out of the agreement. That left the city on the hook for bond payments and no plans to build new tax generating buildings there.
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 municipalities across the nation.
City officials are speaking to a number of developers about taking on the development and are keeping a very open mind about what can be built there.
Source: Karen Hart, planning and development director for Ypsilanti
Writer: Jon Zemke