Ypsilanti Officials Celebrate Ground Breaking For First Water Street Project

Aug 14, 2014

Ypsilanti  leaders hope "Family Dollar" Groundbreaking is first of many to come, but there is community concern over what kinds of developments may locate in the Water Street re-development area.  

Ypsilanti's Water Street Family Dollar Ground Breaking
Credit Andrew Cluley / 89.1 WEMU

Ypsilanti officials held a ceremonial ground breaking for the Family Dollar store Thursday.  The celebration was for work starting on the store, but much of the attention was looking forward to what's down the road for the rest of the 38 acre site.  

The ground where the Family Dollar will sit at the corner of Michigan Avenue and Park Street has already been flattened by heavy machinery. Still Dignitaries and eventually anyone who wanted to got a turn at the shovels. This type of celebration isn't typical for a 7,000 plus square foot store, but most stores aren't 15 years in the making, or the first key piece to the future of a city.  But with millions of dollars already invested in Water Street, Ypsilanti needs to start seeing a return on the property.

City Manager Ralph Lange says it's going to be one of the most expensive Family Dollars in the world based on all of the infrastructure the company is paying to put in place. The stretches of sidewalk and roadway the store is putting in will pale in comparison to the amount of infrastructure included in a proposed low income housing development.

Lange says this work and some recreation friendly developments will really make Water Street Attractive."The Border to Border Trail and all those amenities are going to really open it up.  It's very hard to visualize Water Street, but after the Border to Border Trail and the mid-block crossing, and all that, I mean it will really start to stand out," he says.

Ypsilanti's Water Street
Credit Andrew Cluley / 89.1 WEMU

Getting developer interest in Water Street led Mayor Pro-Tem Lois Richardson to lead prayer sessions on the land.  She acknowledges the developments so far aren't the original concept, but she's still looking for a mix of low, middle, and higher income housing.

But what about area residents?  Their views are mixed, with some excited about seeing anything built on Water Street, especially a proposed Wasthenaw County recreation center.  Anthony Crossley lives in the neighborhood across Michigan Avenue and isn't as keen on some of the plans, "The Family Dollar sounds like a good idea, but back there in that back corner, they're talking about putting low income housing. That's just what Ypsilanti needs, you know what I mean.  We got enough of that already."

A recent informal WEMU poll of downtown businesses found mixed thoughts on the low-income housing.

The Family Dollar is expected to open late this year or early in 2015 and Ypsilanti officials are counting on plenty more ground breaking celebrations in Water Street.

Like 89.1 WEMU on Facebook and follow us on Twitter— Andrew Cluley is the Ann Arbor beat reporter, and anchor for 89.1 WEMU News. Contact him at 734.487.3363 or email him acluley@emich.edu.