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Oct 04

Cozy With The Courier: PART 1

Comments (0) 9:00 AM posted by admin |

Sometimes it pays to develop cozy relationships with the hometown paper.

From the 4 October, 2007 edition of the Ypsilanti Courier.

A group of Ypsilanti residents eyeing the stalled Water Street Project for a minor league baseball stadium are taking steps to see the idea turn into reality.

Kevin Hill, a member of the Downtown Association of Ypsilanti and the resident spearheading the stadium idea, said the former ad-hoc group that had been considering the use is now a permanent committee with about eight active members.

“We meet regularly about every two weeks,” Hill said.

However, he said he would like to keep the specifics of the committee confidential, as the group is still in a premature stage.

The committee has created a rough sketch of the plan for the stadium and surrounding community. Using about 16 acres, the stadium would seat 6,000 to 7,500 people and would feature an out-door market in front of the entrance. Light residential and commercial use would be located north of the stadium, with storefronts along Michigan Avenue and loft apartments overlooking the stadium. A proposed hotel would be located to the south of the stadium, again featuring rooms with a view of the ball game.

Hill called it the “first conceptual design.”

However, he said the group is working with private investors and the Michigan department of Transportation to create a formal site plan for the stadium. He said the site plan is one of the criteria the city requires for developing the Water Street Project.

“The city has criteria and we plan on meeting that criteria,” Hill said.

When asked how long it might take to create a site plan, Hill said, “We’re a good six months out.

“We will have a site plan,” he said. “The site plan is our highest priority.”

City Council Member Brian Robb, D-3rd Ward, is one of the members of the ballpark’s committee. He said the group intends to plan and develop the park completely through private investments.

“We’re not looking for government money,” Robb said. “The idea is to take the city our of the real-estate development business.

“We have been in contact with several groups who are interested in minor league baseball and are interested in moving teams,” he said. “We will not build it, they will build it.”

Robb said talks are too premature to discuss what groups are interested in building a stadium and moving a team to Ypsilanti.

“We’re still trying to generate interest,” Hill said. “As more time has passed, more interest has been generated.”

When asked how he would feel if a different plan for Water Street was conceived and executed before his group could get the stadium off the ground, Hill said, “We think that would be incredible.

“The whole idea is to have that piece of property developed,” he said.

Both Robb and Hill said the main goal of the committee was to get people thinking of different uses for the Water Street Project. They said the city still relies too heavily on the Freed design, and more creative ideas would help get the project up and running quicker.

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