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Dec 05

The Death of the Ypsilanti Depot

Comments (0) 12:00 AM posted by admin |

Attempting to break my dominance in the world of Ypsilanti-themed web sites, Sandee French, of the French cartel, has launched Ypsilanti Depot. Her aim here is to take shots at Ann Arbor speculator cum slumlord Dennis Dahlmann and his treatment of the crumbling Ypsilanti Depot.

Mr. Dahlmann bought the property back in late November in 1999 for the sum of $179K. While many would like something done with the place, like turn it into a brewpub or the like, most are guessing that he is sitting on this property with the hopes that a commuter rail line serving Ann Arbor to Detroit really happens. It is assumed that he thinks the Federal Government will shower him with cash to fix it up.

Dream on you Kircher wannabe.

While Mr. Dahlmann is dreaming, the building continues to slip towards a most undignified death. The building has fallen into the same category as the old Penninsular Paper Mill and the wobbly Thompson block. Everyone dearly loves these buildings for a whole host of reasons, but there is no practical way a person could make a business case for them. The old depot is too small to be a restaurant. It’d be lucky to seat 20 people at a sitting. Back-of-the-envelope math tells us that anyone hoping to fix it up would have to serve seventy-four dollar beers to have a shot at breaking even.

No one is willing to say this out loud, but the place should be torn down. It’s a shame, but when you allow these kinds of things to happen, the consequences are disappointing.

I do have to say I like where Ms. French is going with this idea though. There is a common held belief that speculators buy up property in Ypsilanti and become slumlords. Maybe that’s true. I really don’t know what percentage of the rental market is owned by out-of-towners. With that said, it’s not always out-of-towners who are the slumlords. David Kircher is obviously Ypsilanti’s least-favorite son, and he’s a local. Robert Barnes of Barnes & Barnes is from Ann Arbor, but he’s been praised and rewarded by the City for the care he takes in his rentals. So the blanket statement about out-of-towners taking advantage of Ypsilanti and putting their garbage here while they keep their own backyards free from this blight is a little bit of hyperbole. Okay, a lot of hyperbole, but that kind of talk is fun.

Ms. French is essentially going on the offensive and attacking Mr. Dahlmann with the hopes of embarrassing him into either fixing it up or selling it to someone else. In only a week or two, it has already generated some as yet unpublished news articles and a web site.

I like that. I like that a lot. Imagine taking this a step further. Imagine a web site devoted to all landlords. It wouldn’t be a site wherein you could rate your landlord and his practices, but rather it would be a site that compared pictures of the owner’s rental property with a picture of the owner’s real-life, out-of-town home. That would be just as subversive as what Ms. French is doing, but it would tackle more landlords.

If only there was someone to take this project on full-time.

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