AN UPDATE ON THE YPSILANTI FREIGHTHOUSE CONSTRUCTION
As many of you know, the Ypsilanti Freighthouse is a unique and treasured space, but it’s also very old. Construction projects are almost always more complicated when dealing with additions or renovations to existing buildings, because the existing conditions often are hiding things that are not known about the building until work is underway. Many times unusual or unexpected things can are discovered once renovation actually begins. In the case of a building as old as the Freighthouse; where the construction of the building is not the same as current methods of construction, there can be issues that are discovered and need resolving before work can continue.
When dealing with historic buildings, particularly with historic buildings that are listed on State or Federal registers, there are added complications. Any work needs to be approved by the historic building authorities, and if there are changes or revisions, those changes and revisions also have to be reviewed and approved by those same authorities before proceeding.
With the Ypsilanti Freighthouse, it is not just the local historic district commission that is involved. The State Historic Preservation Office has the final say regarding the impacts on the historic qualities of the building from the project. Every decision about the building as a structure and it’s aesthetics, as well as every change due to circumstances and existing conditions, must be approved at the State level.
Historic preservation is just one part of the administrative overhead the FOYF has to go through in order to move the Freighthouse project along. Any municipal project is also subject to higher levels of administrative oversight, which unfortuntely brings along a much slower pace than a private construction project. Since the Freighthouse is owned by the City of Ypsilanti, and the City is currently handling the Freighthouse renovations through their regular construction processes, it is essentially a municipal project. Furthermore, since the City works with a private, outside firm for project management, the process has to go through both that contractor and the City administration.