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Sep 23

Ode To The Thompson Building

Comments (7) 4:55 AM posted by admin |

It’s done.

I’m sure there are a hundred cell phone pictures and the Facebook updates will eventually come, but when someone asks you the questions, “Where were you when the Thompson Building burned down?” you’ll probably tell them “asleep”. Both Linda French and Pete Murdock have better pictures than I do, but I can tell you the inside is gone. Some interior walls have collapsed. The back of the building is crumbling.

This is very sad with a lot of irony mixed in with it.

At tonight’s City Council meeting, the City Attorney updated us that Mr. Kircher petitioned the Michigan Supreme Court to hear hs case on the demolition of 107 East Cross Street (the white house directly behind the Thompson Building). Mr. Kircher has also filed an appeal with the Michigan State Historic Preservation Office. The City had been granted permission to demolish the building. The Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the lower court’s ruling. Now that these appeals have taken place, it’s safe to say that it will be years before that building comes down. The house at 107 East Cross will likely be standing long after the Thompson Building comes down.

What’s also ironic in all of this is that in 2006 Mr. Kircher lost ownership of the Thompson Building to Stewart Beal after Mr. Kircher failed to remit payment for repairs done on the building to remove fire code violations stemming from a process that began in 2001. Follow me here. Mr. Kircher owned the building for 40 years. It had what the courts called significant fire code violations. It was placed into receivership in order to remediate said violations. Ownership was lost due to non-payment. The building burns down.

Mr. Beal must be devastated as the owner. Andy Garris must be devastated as a potential tenant. Depot Town will be devastated as it’s now likely the district will not get any bigger. Ypsilanti will be devastated as a once promising redevelopment project is likely delayed indefinitely.

This is very sad. My sincerest condolences go out to Mr. Beal.

A frustrating footnote to all of this is that all of the fire departments that showed up to this were awesome, but onlookers were overheard bitching about the lack of progress on the fire despite the efforts to keep the fire from spreading to neighboring buildings. Ypsi City, Ypsi Township, Ann Arbor City, Pittsfield Township, and Superior Township were all on the scene doing what appeared to be an incredible job.

Pete Murdock’s pictures:

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  1. Comment by Ingrid
    September 23, 2009 @ 7:57 am

    How sad. Thank you for the post and the pictures.

    Brian, do you know if there was a functional sprinkler system in the building?


  2. Comment by brobb
    September 23, 2009 @ 10:02 am


    I have been told by Mr. Kircher there indeed was a working sprinkler system in the building. I once posted nearly 200 pictures of the interior, one of which showed the main valve that was in the basement.

    I am told the current owner removed the system during his time as receiver.

    I’ll dig up the link to the pictures and repost it this evening.

  3. Comment by Laura Bien
    September 23, 2009 @ 10:31 pm

    Went there twice today. Group of folks there tonight after dinner were at a wake.

    Emailed Mr. Beal to respectfully ask if I may salvage any remaining historic metal items (freight elevator) for the Museum, as I did at Water Street.

  4. Comment by Kristin
    September 23, 2009 @ 11:00 pm

    I can’t believe people were complaining about the firefighters. I own a house three doors down from this building and I’m completely grateful the the fire department arrived so quickly and contained this fire. No damage was done to my property or any of the surrounding properties. Thank you!

  5. Comment by Murf
    September 24, 2009 @ 7:24 am

    I can’t see how that building can be salvagable past the parts like any metal and the bricks. If it turns out to not be worth saving, I’m sure Stewart would have the help of many people from the surrounding neighborhood associations to sift through and help save some bricks to be included in the new project.

  6. Comment by Lynne Fremont
    September 24, 2009 @ 12:10 pm

    I find it difficult to believe that people would complain about how the fire dept handled this. Granted, I am not fire expert but from the looks of the building, it looks like the fire was HUGE and it makes total sense to me that given the situation, they chose to prevent neighboring buildings from catching fire too. I think some people will just complain about anything.

  7. Comment by Steve
    October 2, 2009 @ 5:55 pm

    I knew the tenants Fantasee Lignting who were there for 20 years. A few facts:
    1 This building had a fire supression system on all floors in fairly good shape. It could have been easily tested and turned on. If I were the owner, I would have made this a priority.
    2 The Ypsilanti Fire Department came through a year or two before the city took the building to review the interior in case of fire. At the end of the tour, they all agreed that ‘this place is not bad at all, we heard it was a fire trap’
    3 A structural engineer made recomendations for a few repairs … that were all made.
    4 The city called MIOSHA in from Lansing to inspect for safety violatons, they looked over all floors and did not find any safety violations except for a ladder that was missing 2 rubber feet. They were angry that the city made them come down for an urgent visit.
    5 Fantasee would not have stayed there so long if the building was ‘unsafe’ as they cared for their employees.

    The city was having a ‘feud’ with the landord. That is why it was taken from him and Fantasee forced to move to another city. Too bad we drove out a good company and let the building go to its grave.

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