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Ypsilanti : Development News

134 Ypsilanti Articles | Page: | Show All

Wireless Ypsi spreads wings, has big plans for second year

Wireless Ypsi isnít just for Ypsilanti anymore.


Wireless Ypsi, the little Internet-access engine that could, is picking up speed as it enters its second year of existence.

The free community-based Internet access system has spread well beyond its original boundaries of downtown Ypsilanti. It now covers points all over Washtenaw and Wayne counties and continues to spread. More than 500 people a day are logging onto the system.

"We're going beyond downtown Ypsilanti," co-founder Steve Pierce says. "We can relay wireless Ypsi to anywhere in the world with an Internet connection."

Read the rest of the story here.

Mass transit poised to take big step forward in 2009

After years of laying groundwork, mass transit advocates are gearing up to start doing some building in 2009.

The projects include the long-awaited Detroit-Ann Arbor commuter rail line and the Woodward streetcar line. Both of those are set to come online by October 2010, according to Metro Detroit Transit Czar John Hertel. He also added that a regional transit authority covering the entire tri-county area could be up and running by June.

He spoke at Transportation Riders United annual meeting in Detroit on Tuesday. There he laid out the long-range plan for regional mass transit that Metro Detroitís Big 4 leaders unanimously approved in December. He expects the Big 4 to again unanimously approve a regional transit authority soon and then have the state legislature approve it, too, all before June.

Once that is done, a funding system, a.k.a. tax, needs to be determined. The regional authority also needs to be established for the projects to have a shot at the President Obama stimulus package money.

Source: John Hertel, transit czar for Metro Detroit
Writer: Jon Zemke

Ypsilanti's Riverside Arts Center - "Going up!"

Ypsilanti's Riverside Arts Center just became bigger thanks to a new elevator.


The Riverside Arts Center is going up, up and away thanks to a new elevator between it and the historic Detroit Edison structure adjacent to it.

The $570,000 project not only built the elevator and adjoining stairway in the old alley between buildings but expanded and remodeled the lobby of the arts center. The whole project has gone a long way toward breathing new life into the century-old structures along Michigan and the Huron River on the eastern edge of downtown Ypsilanti.

"We wanted all of the floors to be accessible," says Barry LaRue, secretary of the board of directors for the Riverside Arts Center Foundation. "The top floor of the building, the Masonic Temple floor, couldnít be used because we didn't have an egress there."

Read the rest of the story here.

Ypsilanti to get into the roundabout game in 2010

Ypsilanti is jumping on the roundabout carousel with plans to build its first in 2010.


The Clean Energy Coalition's Rebuild Ypsilanti Program is off to a fast start with a number of commercial building owners signing up for the program's energy audits.

"We have 20 people already interested in energy audits," says Greg Vendena, project manager for the Clean Energy Coalition.

Read the rest of the story here.

Work wraps up on SPARK incubator in Ypsilanti

Construction is wrapping up on a couple of key projects in downtown Ypsilanti.


The finishing touches are being put on two major projects in downtown Ypsilanti, both of which are set to open soon - almost in time to ring in the New Year.

Maurer Management & Properties, a local family owned firm, has done all of the heaving lifting for Ann Arbor SPARK's new East Incubator and the retail space in the old Kresge building. The workers are painting the walls and getting ready to roll down the carpeting for SPARK in the Mack & Mack building. They are also moving in the last pieces of the kitchen for the J Neilís Mongolian Grille and Keystone Martini Bar in the Kresge.

"We're in the last two weeks of it," says Eric Maurer, co-owner of Maurer Management & Properties. "They should be in by January."

Read the rest of the story here.

Local powerbrokers, state legislature give OK to mass transit plans

Metro Detroit's Big 4 just did something regional leaders haven't been able to do for generations Ė agree on a plan to improve mass transit.

The leaders of Oakland, Wayne, Macomb counties and the city of Detroit signed off on the master plan for regional transit championed by Metro Detroit Transit Czar John Hertel.

The plan will allow Hertel's team to streamline local service and pursue federal money for mass transit improvement projects. Among the first orders of business is getting the ball moving on the proposed Woodward streetcar line and the Detroit-Ann Arbor commuter rail line. Both projects are expected to either be online or close to completion by late 2010.

The state legislature is also passing a number of bills that will allow these projects to move forward. They will basically allow for the establishment of a regional mass transit authority and funding mechanisms.

Both projects are expected to lead to billions of dollars of economic development in the neighborhoods surrounding the rail and streetcar stations.

Source: Megan Owens, director of Transportation Riders United
Writer: Jon Zemke

Beal plans to renovate 5 more historic homes in Ypsilanti

One of Ypsilanti's rising young stars is playing more of a role in restoring the college town's rich stock of historic homes.


One can tell how much the residents of Ypsilanti care about their historic architecture by how hard they work to preserve it. Just walk through the downtown, Depot Town or the cityís historic district, the second largest in Michigan.

A lot of that preservation is thanks to businessmen like Stewart Beal. The budding entrepreneur has saved a number of historic buildings, renovating them into student housing. And now he plans to add five more to his portfolio of rental properties.

The buildings -- 605 Emmet, 421 Emmet, 417 Emmet, 414 Washtenaw and 417 North Adams -- were previously owned by Romain Realty. They are within easy walking distance of downtown and Eastern Michigan University. They had fallen into foreclosure and disrepair when Beal bought them.

Read the rest of the story here.

Metro Airport station set for Detroit-Ann Arbor rail line

The date to start service on the Detroit-Ann Arbor commuter rail project is set and most of the station locations have been determined.

The Southeast Michigan Council of Governments plans to begin operationing the rail line in October, 2010. It also has sited the station locations for all but one of the stops. Only Ypsilanti remains. SEMCOG is still working with the city officials to find a viable stop location. 

The latest station announcement was the Metro Airport stop, which will go at the intersection of Michigan Avenue and Henry Ruff Road on Wayne County property. Shuttle busses will connect the stop to Metro Airport.

SEMCOG officials and the myriad of train companies that control the track are still working out the logistics of how the commuter rail line will work and what improvements are necessary. Amtrak will provide the trains.

The commuter rail line would utilize existing tracks with stops at Metro Airport, Detroit, Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti and Dearborn. It's possible it could also be expanded to connect Royal Oak, Ferndale, Troy/Birmingham and Pontiac.

Source: Carmine Palombo, director of transportation for SEMCOG
Writer: Jon Zemke

Eastern Michigan breaks ground on Mark Jefferson Building

The ground is breaking for Eastern Michigan University's biggest construction project ever.


Before the scientists can do their work the construction crews need to get on their job, which is happening now at Eastern Michigan University's Mark Jefferson Science Complex.

The university broke ground on Tuesday and expects to finish the $90 million renovation and expansion project in 2011. This is the largest single construction project in the history of the EMU. It is expected to meet the university's needs for minting more teachers in science, technology, engineering and math for decades to come.

Read the rest of the story here.

Eastern Michigan almost done with Pease Auditorium restoration

Eastern Michigan University is finishing off work on one of the university's landmark structures.


The most visible signs that work is wrapping up on the renovation of Eastern Michigan University's Pease Auditorium can be on seen on the building's exterior.

Workers are putting the finishing touches on the landscaping around the building, including the creation of a small park at the corner of College Place and West Cross Street. The improved surrounding green space is meant to complement the $2.2 million restoration of the 94 year-old building.

"This is pretty much the icing on the cake," says Ward Mullens, a spokesman for Eastern Michigan University.

Read the rest of the story here.

Local activists get approval to install solar panels on Ypsilanti City Hall

The sun will soon have a new place to shine (and create energy) in downtown Ypsilanti.


A group of local environmental activists are gearing up to put a modern twist on Ypsilanti's historic City Hall.

The final approval for the solar panel project is in now that the cityís Historic District Commission gave the green light last night. The group plans to start putting the solar panels on the backside of the City Hall next year.

"Our next step is to request bids," says Dave Strenski, volunteer with the Ypsilanti Solar Panel Project.

Read the rest of the story here.

Aerotropolis bills look to spur development around Metro Airport

Metro Airport has it a bit backwards. Usually good policies lead to infrastructure investment, which attracts business. Metro Airport already had the businesses there when it built the new terminals, and now it's going for the right state policies to lure even more companies.

A series of bills aimed at providing huge economic incentives for building out the Aerotropolis have been introduced into the state House of Representatives. The bills are the product of a joint venture from Detroit Renaissance, Wayne County and Washtenaw County.

The bills would deploy economic development incentives, such as Renaissance Zone tax abatements, MEGA tax credits, tax increment districts and other property tax abatement tools. The idea is these incentives will help spur $10 billion in additional economic activity while creating up to 60,000 new jobs within the next 10-15 years.

The incentives would be managed by the Aerotropolis Development Corporation, which is controlled by local government institutions. These include, the Wayne County Airport Authority, the counties of Wayne and Washtenaw, the cities of Belleville, Romulus, Taylor and Ypsilanti and the townships of Huron, Van Buren and Ypsilanti.

Source: Detroit Renaissance
Writer: Jon Zemke

Ann Arbor SPARK chooses new home in downtown Ypsilanti

The old Mack & Mack building in downtown Ypsilanti is about to become the new home for Ann Arbor SPARK's east satellite office.


Take two! Ann Arbor SPARK's East Incubator is getting off to a fast start now that the start-up business incubator has chosen the Mack & Mack building in downtown Ypsilanti.

SPARK originally chose an old Smith Furniture store on Washington Street for its Ypsilanti satellite office earlier this summer, but that deal fell through. That led to the switch to the Mack & Mack, 211-215 W. Michigan Ave. next door to Bombadill's Cafe, and its 8,300 square feet of space.

"The location is ideal," says Elizabeth Parkinson, director of marketing and public relations for SPARK. "There is some parking and its space we think we can fill quickly with tenants."

Read the rest of the story here.

Ypsilanti's biz districts prove too attractive for former Ann Arbor businesses

Ann Arbor's downtown has always been a hot spot to do business, but now Ypsilanti's city centers are generating some heat of their own.


A number of businesses that once called Ann Arbor home but struggled with rising rents are finding safe harbor in Ypsilantís historic central business districts.

Among the refugees are longtime Tree Town staples like Fantasy Attic Costumes and Ann Arbor Alive Radio. Old World Bakery also recently made the move to Ypsilanti.

"Their most famous thing is the Ann Arbor-style cheesecake, which can now be found in downtown Ypsilanti," says Brian Vosburg, executive director of Ypsilantiís Downtown and Depot Town development authorities.

Read the rest of the story here.

Trenton sets up free wireless network to make downtown more attractive

For about $1,000 down and $60 a month, Trenton made its downtown a free wireless Internet playground.

The city used Meraki technology to create a Wi-Fi mesh covering about a mile of downtown. The coverage area stretches along Jefferson Avenue between Elizabeth Park and the old Riverside Hospital.

"It's a great way to get people connected for cheap" says Robert Cady, city manager for Trenton.

Meraki is a Google-funded start-up that makes off-white transmitters that look like a child's walkie talkie. These transmitters (attached to streetlight poles in Trenton) connect Internet hot spots at local businesses, institutions and homes. The transmitters use the extra bandwidth from the hot spots to create a mesh-like net of Wi-Fi coverage.

Similar systems are spreading in San Francisco, Pittsburgh and San Diego. More than 50,000 different people have logged onto San Franciscoís Meraki network, which covers large sections of the city and has the goal of reaching every neighborhood.

A group of community activists formed the first Meraki network in downtown Ypsilanti called Wireless Ypsi earlier this year. That group helped create similar networks in Trenton, Dearborn and Lincoln Park.

Cady says the Meraki network has become a great asset for downtown as far making it more useful and attractive to anyone with a laptop or wireless connection.

"It's a great tool," Cady says. "During our street fair vendors were using it for their transaction sales. There are usually 10-12 people on it at any one time."

Source: Robert Cady, city manager for Trenton
Writer: Jon Zemke
134 Ypsilanti Articles | Page: | Show All
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