The Essence of Politics

Thursday, November 19, 2009

7850 East Jefferson Pension HQ Goes to Full Council Friday

I'm just passing along information in hopes that people who are interested in this decision will attend this meeting as well as email the current and new council members to voice their concerns regarding this matter.

The Villages Community Development Corp.

CORRECTION, The Full Council Meeting is this Friday, November 20th at 10am

STOP THE REZONING of 7850 East Jefferson


Today the Detroit City Council Planning and Economic Development Committee (Reeves & Collins) voted against the concerns of Detroit Residents and the City Planning Professionals. They overruled the Detroit City Planning Commission's recommendation to deny the rezoning of 7850 East Jefferson for the 7.4 Million dollar luxury riverfront Pension Fund Building. The committee action today, pushes the rezoning to a final decision through a full City Council vote on Friday.

The full City Council vote will take place Friday 11/20/09 starting at 10am. This is the last and most important meeting to come to, We can win on this issue, please every make every effort to attend this meeting. We need a large group and we will be heard!

Meeting Details:
Full City Council Meeting
Friday the 20th of November 13th floor of the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center (City- County Building)Time: 10 am. Please be there by 10 am for public comment, public comment will come first at this meeting, this is our time to be heard!

Also Please call again and resend your emails to remind Council Members that there is significant community opposition to the proposal and the City Planning Commission has recommended against the rezoning. Ask them to Vote NO on the Rezoning

Please forward this email to supporters

For your convenience

Mayors office & City Councils physical addresses and phone numbers:

Mayor Bing
City of Detroit
Executive Office
Coleman A. Young Municipal Center
2 Woodward Ave., Ste. 1126
Detroit, MI 48226
Phone (313) 224-3400 Fax (313) 224-4433.

Detroit City Council
Coleman A. Young Municipal Center
2 Woodward Ave, Suite 1340
Detroit, MI 48226

Kenneth V. Cockrel Jr. (313) 224-4505
JoAnn Watson (313) 224-4535
Martha Reeves (313) 224-4510
Kwame Kenyatta (313) 224-1198
Barbara-Rose Collins (313) 224-1298
Brenda Jones (313) 224-1245
Alberta Tinsley-Talabi (313) 224-1645
Sheila M. Cockrel (313) 224-1337



Statement: Opposition to changing the City of Detroit Master Plan and the rezoning of 7850 East Jefferson The following document outlines in detail reasons for opposing the petition to change the City of Detroit Master Plan and allowing the rezoning of 7850 East Jefferson from High Density Residential (R-6) to Planned Development (PD) for the proposed development of a low rise office building for the Detroit Pension Funds Administrative Offices. The Case has also been clearly made that the petition directly conflicts with the City of Detroit's Master Plan and does not meet minimum conditions of approval for rezoning per the Detroit Zoning Ordinance (Chapter 61 of the City Code).

The City Planning Commission will consider this topic on 10/15/09 at 4:30pm on the 13th floor of the CAYMC

Opposition includes:
· The Villages CDC
· The Indian Village Neighborhood Association
· West Village Neighborhood Association
· Detroit Towers Building Association
River Towers Building Assocation
. Shoreline East Building Association
· Hundreds of handed signed & online petitions from individual residents and stakeholders from a large cross section of the community who have a significant stake in the future and share a vibrant progressive vision of the Villages Community and the City of Detroit.

Sign Our Petition

The Villages Communities Position:
The Villages Communities object to the Detroit Retirement Systems' request for a change in the City of Detroit Master Plan, and the rezoning of 7850 East Jefferson from (R-6) high-rise residential to (PD) Planned Development, and the proposal to build a small office building and parking lot on that site.

The proposed use is not good for our Community
It is not the highest and best use of the parcel for our Neighborhoods or the City of Detroit. The proposed structure would be another sterile gated office building in a vibrant riverfront residential neighborhood using the property during business hours only. Further, this project would generate little or no revenue (relative to residential development) for the City, which is unacceptable considering the relatively high value of Detroit's limited, developable riverfront property.

The Villages neighborhood is one of the few areas in Detroit that has stable and genuine population density, income growth, and the current ability to attract residents and new retail business. Once the Riverwalk connects to Downtown through The Villages, our neighborhoods residential and retail desirability will only increase.

The Proposal is not good for Detroit
The proposed development takes jobs and commercial tenants out of the Central Business District where office space occupancy is needed the most. We need to keep our city center strong - weakening our city center by allowing employees from the Central Business District to be moved to a residential neighborhood fails to make sense. The current vacancy rate in the Downtown area is about 30%. We, as a City, cannot advocate, encourage, legislate or enable in any way re-zoning that encourages the depopulation of Downtown Detroit. Development of the proposed locale will not contribute to creation of new full time jobs with the pension board.

The plan directly conflicts with the City of Detroit's Master Plan and does not meet minimum criteria for approval for rezoning per the Detroit Zoning Ordinance. A full (long/legal) explanation of why the plan directly conflicts with the Master Plan and does not meet the Minimum Criteria of the Zoning Ordinance is listed as an addendum to this document.

If this change to the Master Plan and rezoning is approved, it is a Vote against a dense Downtown; it is vote against Downtown businesses and building owners; it is a vote against the City of Detroit; it is a vote against every small Downtown business that depends on a high density of Downtown Detroit to stay in business, pay its bills and its employees; it is a vote against all owners of emptying buildings struggling to maintain their occupancy to keep from exiting the City. Voting "yes" on this plan for this site is a vote against the work of the DEGC, DDA, the DDP, the Riverfront Conservancy and every other organization working for a greater Downtown Detroit (which ultimately leads to a stronger tax base, and the ability to render services city wide).

It is the Villages CDC's belief, supported by Detroit City Council Resolution and City of Detroit Master Plan, that any use for 7850 East Jefferson site must include easement from Jefferson to the River and easement along the River. These acts of our City's legislative body, that incorporate future planning design to guide development-based improvements to Detroit, must not be watered-down at the whim of the first developer with money to come along and find the requirement inconvenient.

The City of Detroit has less than 13 miles of developable riverfront. Every possible inch of that riverfront should be utilized for the maximum benefit of the Public and the city, and in this case maximum benefit is high density residential, access to the water, and public riverfront use along the entire length of the Detroit River within the city.

The Villages Community is Thriving
The Villages is a thriving, growing area that is proven in its ability to attract private investment dollars. The Villages are not a part of Detroit that people talk about when they speak of a shrinking city. Although the city, state, and nation are in a recession, the Villages have recently been able to attract an investment of over $2 million from Shelburne Development, who are moving their headquarters from the City of Wayne into a properly zoned historic building. Tim Horton's just opened up. The senior section of the Historic Whittier Hotel is now leasing successfully. A Pizza Bistro is opening in the Hibbard Building, and according to recent Social Compact data, City of Detroit Master Plan Cluster 3, Indian Village area (including 7850 East Jefferson) has the higest concentration of income in Southeast Michigan.

Perhaps most exciting is that Community Foundation of Southeast Michigan has asked the Villages CDC to lead the master planning for the extension of the Detroit River walk east of Gabriel Richard Park. Not only is this a testament to the commitment of the Villages CDC to the City of Detroit, but a commentary to the thorough, professional, and measured manner in which the organization approaches comprehensive community development.

The success of the Villages does not give us voting privilege, but it does require a significant level of attention when looking at the future of Detroit as one of the city's areas of greatest tax revenue generation. Given the current tax revenue generated in the Villages and the area's current ability to attract new investment, it is crucial that the planning of this area be reflected upon when assessing the financial future of the City of Detroit. Within the Villages, basic planning principals dictate that the most valuable land will be along the waterfront, with the highest and best land use being as indicated in the master plan, high density residential.

Our community vision includes an extended Riverwalk; a connected greenways plan;, neighborhood oriented retail development in commercial sections, Green-oriented, light industrial in the Island View warehouse; district and high density residential development on the Riverfront with lower density residential development across Jefferson in the neighborhoods, allowing direct public access to the riverfront. These are not just dreams; these are plans that are being actively developed within this community today, and are all in accordance with the City of Detroit's Master Plan.

The Master Plan and when it should be changed
The City of Detroit's Master Plan was developed in partnership with City of Detroit, Elected Officials, paid City of Detroit staff, and many years of extensive meetings and input from the community.

The Master Plan should only be changed in unique situations when a project is presented that provides an opportunity for significant area improvement that would benefit the City of Detroit and the community adjacent to the project. The project must be unique in a way that could not be duplicated in another part of the city that is zoned for that specific use, or a neighborhood where it would have an even greater impact on the city (City of Zoning Ord.Sec 61-3-96, 3).

It should not be necessary for the residents of the City of Detroit to defend the City of Detroit's Master Plan; it should be up to the petitioner to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the project is in the best interest of the City of Detroit and its surrounding community, in the case, the Villages Community.

The petition to change the City of Detroit Master Plan to allow the rezoning of 7850 East Jefferson does not meet that minimum standard.

The Petitioners from the Pension Funds of Detroit are not able to present an acceptable argument as to why this project is good for the community or why it should be approved. The Petitioners' arguments in support of the project revolve around what is good for the need of the retirement systems, which have nothing to do with the community and are not exclusive to the land at 7850 East Jefferson.

The Petitioners case is not based on the criteria for approval stated in the Detroit Zoning Ordinance, nor the policies stated in the City of Detroit's Master Plan. The arguments presented by the Petitioner are based on benefits to the Petitioner, not on benefits to the City of Detroit, or the Community surrounding the proposed project. The following summarizes how these arguments are flawed:

The Detroit Retirement Systems' representatives who are from Milestone Real Estate, Royal Oak, have continued to try to make their case why the site is good for the Retirement Systems. However their arguments have failed to make any basic, plausible case for why is it good for the community (unless you include the idea that this development will replace the currently blighted, nuisance property that this group has owned since January 2008). The only thing that is clear is that per the Police and Fire Fighters pension fund's minutes, Milestone Real Estate stands to make $210,000 if this project is approved. Their motivation is not for the community, nor the pension funds; it is for its paycheck.

The 7.4 million dollar parking lot
The Retirement Systems first argument, centers on the necessity for a $7.4 million riverfront parking lot for retirees. The Detroit Retirement Systems representatives made much of the necessity to provide easy access for retirees who visit the offices. However, there seems to be no concern for city employees who may not find the location convenient to their workplace. There is no acceptable reason why a retiree must visit the pension offices, but a visit is essential in order for an employee to retire. A lot of discussion centered on retirees who come monthly to pick up their pension checks. No explanation was offered as to why this high-value riverfront land is necessary to provide convenience to a small fraction of all the retirees.

We have been told that the retirement systems receive up to 100 visitors a day, but we have also been told by other sources that most of the visitors are current employees setting up their retirements. Most of these current employees work downtown. The number of retirees picking up checks is never given at any meetings; but we can create a fair estimate. There are approximately 11,500 retirees and beneficiaries receiving pension benefits. We can estimate that about 100 physically pick up their checks every month, less than one tenth of one percent of those receiving pensions. However, to the pension fund trustees the $7.4 million cost of providing a convenient location for those who want to pick up checks is essential. That cost gets spread across all 11,500 whose pension money is in trust. Pension money is in the trust not only for the roughly 100 retirees and beneficiaries that possibly pick up their check on a monthly basis, but also for full-time city employees who have made contributions to the funds for their eventual benefit.

At the City Planning Commission public meeting hosted at The Iroquois Avenue Christ Lutheran Church on September 18, 2009, the Chairperson of the General Retirement Pension Funds Systems stated that the pension boards couldn't refuse to have retirees come to the office for checks. Why not? Social Security offers a mailed check or direct deposit and no other option. On the presumption that many or most city retirees are also receiving Social Security (or will in the future), it would appear that retirees are capable of dealing with mailed checks or direct deposit or will have to learn. Most pensioners who have retired from the City never find cause to go to the pension board offices again, if a pensioner has a problem, it can all be rectified by phone and mail.

Therefore, even if it was a good idea to spend $7.4 million on a few employees to pick up their checks, it does not establish a need to build on $1.8 million riverfront land- the City's most valuable land asset

If we don't build nobody will
The Chairperson went on to make the Detroit classic threat: "if this isn't approved the land will remain vacant and nothing will happen." That is, of course, an empty threat. Even in this recession the Villages area is a desirable area to buy and develop as demonstrated by how aggressively the Pension funds are trying to develop 7850 East Jefferson, in addition to the previously mentioned developments and improvements being made during this recession.

The Chairperson also made the telling admission that the Police and Fire Pension Board bought this land not for the present project, but as an investment. Only later did the two boards turn to this parcel as the site of the new offices. The Pension Boards cannot have it both ways. If the land was bought for investment and it was a good investment, then it won't lay vacant if this rezoning is denied. Otherwise, the Pension Boards are telling us that they both made a bad investment or, perhaps, that if they do not get their way, they will refuse to develop just to SHOW those people. Which, of course, would be a violation of their fiduciary responsibility to the employees and retirees whose money they are spending.

Note: the Police and Fire Fighter Pension Funds board of directors meetings, seem to contradict the Chairperson's Statement. The Meeting Minutes seem to indicate the intent all along was to purchase the property to build the Detroit Retirement Systems offices. It is not clear what the Petitioners' intention was. (Source: Pension Boards Minutes January-April 2008)

It has been vacant for years and nobody has developed it.
Previous to the pension fund purchasing the property the land was owned by a private investment trust. This is the type of trust with more money than sense that can and will hold land for decades looking to hit the jackpot with a wealthy buyer. Now that the Pension funds purchased the property, it is in the hands of an owner with a clear responsibility to make a profit; the land will either be sold again or be developed into an appropriate use.

Also, a residential property owner who attended the September 18, 2009 meeting posed the question, "How did the pension funds come to acquire the property?" He stated that he had been trying to purchase the property for years, but the owner was unwilling to sell.

Bus access
For retirees who must take the bus, the East Jefferson location works well only for those who live on the East Jefferson line. As one resident commented, most retirees taking the bus to East Jefferson will end up transferring downtown. Would a downtown location perhaps be more convenient for them? Convenient parking is not an issue for them, even if it is for staff.

The retirement systems have claimed that this building's use should be acceptable based upon the existence and position of the UAW Solidarity House (a non-conforming R-6) and St John Riverview Hospital (commercial). What they fail to disclose is that St John's, after recently purchasing many city blocks and homes in addition to convincing developers to build additional office buildings on the site, is now largely vacant. The action virtually land-locked the surrounding community. Now, the massive site houses only an urgent care facility, a few doctors' offices, and a small nursing school subsidized in order to use that location.

In very recent years the CPC and other agencies saw fit to retain the UAW solidarity house's non-conforming use by keeping the building zoned high-rise residential. The existence of this building has not spurned any economic growth within the community (especially given its gated, set back position on its site), now there seems to be even less activity at the site, with less cars parking in the UAW's riverfront parking lot. Neither property sets a good precedent for office use on the riverfront.

Shared Parking & Residential on the far end of the site
At the September 18, 2009 meeting several residents made the very pertinent point that we need residential mass in order to support better retail and services in the neighborhood. A small apartment building at the back end of that lot does not equal high-density residential development, which the community and the Master Plan show to be the best use for the land.

The pension funds heavily promoted possibility of a residential building at the river end of 7850 East Jefferson. A community member put it best. "It is a straw man proposal designed to quiet those who advocate residential use and gain support for the project. The proposed residential building area within the parcel is too small for any significant development even if the parking problem could be resolved. The pension board conveniently left out the riverfront easement in their conceptual drawing that showed an idea of what a residential building might look like". Adding the easement would highlight the limited amount of developable space.

What is more disturbing is that the pension Board Representatives admitted for the first time that they would like to sell the land that is being set aside for future development. If they want to sell the land, why are they pushing so hard for to change the zoning on the whole site, what will be built if they sell it?

The idea for residential development inclusion, made little if any attempt to realistically address the most basic of plan requirements: location, size, parking... A petitioner's representative had the wherewithal to suggest the idea of alternative use - the pension staff using the spaces during the day while the apartment residents are at work. This is patently ridiculous. Would that mean retirees would have to move their cars during the day? What about residents on evenings or afternoons, what about alternative work schedules and vacation, and sick-days? To the extent that this should even warrant discussion, to our knowledge this type of parking has never been approved in the City of Detroit, and there is no precedent for it working elsewhere.

Is there support for the project?
Thus far, the only community residential support for the project at the City Planning Commission Public meeting came from select residents from River Towers. This is not unreasonable at all. The River Tower residents are legitimately concerned with the overgrown condition of the lot next to their home. They are fearful for their safety, relaying stories of drug deals, predators lurking on the lot, lack of light, etc. Any community concerns with the condition of that lot since January 2008, are the direct responsibility of the property owner - the Petitioner.

For almost two years the Pension Boards have owned the property and have not removed the dangerous situation created by the overgrown condition of the property. It is shocking that the City of Detroit's General Pension Fund and Detroit fire Fighters and Police Pension boards are acting like slumlords, perpetuating a nuisance site that attracts criminals and crime. What is equally disturbing is that the petitioner seems to be using the over gown lot as a negotiating tool to push this project through. The petitioner has been telling the seniors surrounding the building that this project will bring them safety and security because the will lot will be cleared, completely omitting the fact that of who is responsible for the condition of the parcel. Just east of the parcel is another vacant parcel that was once the site of a large house, no one is complaining about the vacant land being a source of crime because it is property maintained by its owners, development or no development.

The Plan Does Not Make Financial Sense
The retirement systems have made a decision that the most cost effective thing to do is to build their own single use building, yet they have not presented facts to back that up, and there is plenty of evidence to refute that claim. Including the availability of long term low cost leases, 30% vacancy in the Central Business District, and additional holding costs that have not been discussed. Plus how can we believe their financial arguments when the Petitioner purports that the most cost effective solution begins with the acquisition of land that is among the city's most expensive.

A new building is better than an existing building
Retired Wayne County Judge Mary Waterstone told the attendees of the September 18, 2009 meeting that the county retirement system recently informed its members that their offices at 28 W. Adams had been renegotiated at a lower rate. The owner of 28 W. Adams is the City of Detroit Police and Fire Pension System. Boards' Chairperson told Judge Waterstone that 28 W. Adams was not a possibility for the Detroit retirement systems because it is full. This contradicts the Pension Fund representative's arguments at the community meeting where they tried to convince the neighborhood that investment in older downtown buildings is not financially feasible. So this raises another question, is 28 W. Adams a bad investment even though it's full? If it's full why did the Police and Fire pension system reduce the county pension system's rent?

One question that lingers is, will the property be worth $9.6 million dollars when completed? The answer we have gotten seems to be no, but if you look at longer term projection, the answer is maybe. If the Project is worth the money long term because of the value of the land, it undermines their case from two perspectives. First, they claim they are not planning to sell their building so appreciation does not matter which makes it a foolish move to build on the 1.8 million dollar property. Secondly, if they expect the property to appreciate it directly contradicts their argument that there will not be not any demand for the property and nothing will be built at 7850 East Jefferson.

The Pension Board Representatives elected to reference the County's project at the Guardian Building as an example of high costs for the purchase and renovation of an older building. The Guardian Building is perhaps 10 times the size of the Retirement systems building and is widely considered one of the most significant historic buildings in the city. It makes about as much sense to compare the proposed Detroit Retirement Systems headquarters to an Indian Village home than the Guardian Building, It might make even more sense because Indian Village Homes are closer in size scale.

Taxable or not Taxable: Desirable and valuable property in city on a project that will not generate acceptable tax revenue for the city?

Property in the city with the most taxable potential in terms of property, business and income taxes cannot be used for projects that are not expected to generate significant tax revenue for this city.

The Chair Person of the Pension Board on 9/18/09 stated without further explanation, that no property taxes are being paid presently on 7850 East Jefferson.

The petitioner for this zoning change is PFRS/GRS Jefferson Avenue Corporation. Documents on file at the Michigan Bureau of Commercial Services, Corporation Division, indicate that this is a Michigan for-profit corporation established in January, 2008. The most recent annual report gives the officers and directors as Jeffrey M. Pegg, Susan R. Glaser, Marty Bandemer, and Sheila W. Kneeshaw. Two of these are Fire and Police Retirement System trustees, and two are trustees for the General Retirement System. It is important to note that Susan R. Glaser is Vice Char/Secretary of the City Planning Commission. The articles of incorporation and later filings make it clear that the sole function of the corporation is to develop and operate 7850 East Jefferson, and to remit the net income to the pensions system. If it is true, as stated, that no property taxes are currently being paid, then something strange is going on that needs to be identified and addressed.

The city assessor's office claims that 7850 East Jefferson is a taxable property, however the property is only assessed at about $300,000 with about a $27,000 tax liability. If this property was assessed based on purchase price the state equalized value would be $900,000 and the tax liability would be $72,000 per year. Whether or not they are still paying taxes, it seems like something was overlooked when their property was reassessed.

The representatives of the pension board also said that the completed development would pay property taxes. Perhaps they're planning to use their PFRS/GRS Jefferson Avenue Corporation for-profit corporation to develop the project and rent it to the pension system; that entity would be subject to property tax. That would also make this project truly an investment by the pension system, since their financial role would be as investors and/or lenders.

But if that's the plan, it runs directly counter to the Chairpersons statement that this project would eliminate the pension system's need to pay rent. Indeed, given the high cost of the land and the substantial cost of a new semi-green building, the rent might be higher than at present if there's to be a proper return on the employees' and retirees' money.

Also we have been notified that the Brownfield authority at the DEGC has received notification that the Petitioner is going to apply for Brownfield tax credits or rebates that will significantly reduce the amount of taxes the will be responsible for on this project, significantly minimizing the financial impact to the city.

The cost of $390,000/year to the City of Detroit
Pension Funds representatives stated that they pay $390,000 in rent at the CAYMC, We later learned that the Retirement Systems subleases space directly from the City of Detroit. The City of Detroit leases space from the CAYMC Joint Building Authority. If the Detroit Retirement Systems moves out, the $390,000 in rent for empty space will still need to be paid by the City of Detroit. This is money the City will not be able to use for Fire, Police, garbage and other city services. The taxpayers of the City of Detroit are going to be left to cover the rent.Because this project could cause the City to lose income, in our present financial situation it would be devastating. By not following its Master Plan, the City would aid in an act that provides a luxury location for fifty pension staffers while sacrificing police protection or trash pickup. For those still employed by the city, it means risking a layoff so the pension employees can have their brown bag lunches at the rivers edge. It's this simple: if the planners were right when they developed the master plan, if the panel of zoning experts were right when they completely rewrote the zoning ordinance only a few years ago, and if City Council was right when they voted to adopt the updated master plan, then this project is wrong.

Renting or Owning: Fiduciary responsibility to make a profit for the Pension Funds
The Pension Board representatives claim that this project will be a low cost alterative to renting. This claim is full of inaccuracies as well.

If this development is going to be structured as a real investment, then the pension boards will pay rent just as they do now. The value or income of the investment will be part of the funding of the pensions. By the same token, the pension board's costs won't decline; they should increase. If the pension system directly invests in this project and owns its own office without paying rent, the value of land and building will not be counted as part of the funding for retirees pensions. That takes eight or nine million out of the pension fund and puts it into a capital asset that has value but no investment income to return to fund the pensions.

The Chairperson made a statement that this project would relieve the pension systems from paying rent. If this is a for-profit project intended to create net income for the pension systems, where does the net income come, if the pension systems are not paying rent? If this is an investment of money in trust to create income for the pension funds there must be income in the form of rent.

The question becomes; how high would the rent be? The pension funds have never shared any detail the answer to this question. We can only base the answer on the national average, and the information we know about the project. We know the pension board has a very high per-square-foot cost for the land based on the $1.8 million purchase price. We know they have very substantial costs for a 7.4 million dollar new semi-green building (though not as green as the LEED certified silver CAYMC they are moving out of). We know their new space will be almost twice the size of their current 17,000 SF of space in the CAYMC, though they are not adding any employees (PLEASE NOTE: There is space available in the CAYMC for the additional space). Coupled with the additional costs such as overhead, security guards, heat, light, and property taxes, the costs increase.

If this is to be a true investment that creates a decent return on the employees and retirees money, the pension system will not only pay rent, but a very substantial rent on some of the most valuable land in the city or they'll be violating their fiduciary responsibility as trustees of other people's money.

Will this new building save money or al least break even
As was previously stated, the pension board currently pays about $390,000/year in rent at the CAYMC. The representatives of the pension funds have stated that the project will save pensioners money over time. They have never been able to offer any proof that the pension fund will save money or at least break even over the long run with this new building. One fairly simple way to evaluate this project is to look at it with price-to-rent ratios. For example, if a house costs $120,000 and it can be rented for $12,000 a year ($1000/month), that's a price-to-rent ratio of 10.

The following link provides some information related to commercial real estate:

Basically, it states that nationwide, commercial real estate price-to-rent ratios averaged around 11 in 2003, and averaged around 14 in 2008 (most likely higher due to the real estate bubble). According to the recent Crain's article, the estimated construction costs for 7850 E Jefferson are $7.2 million, and the land would cost $1.8 million, for a total price of $9 million. Compared against their current rent payments of $390,000 a year, that would be a price-to-rent ratio of 23 (9,000,000/390, 000), which is much higher than the national average of 14. This suggests that the building will ultimately cost the pension fund considerably more than if they continued renting. To cover the costs, the for-profit corporation would have to charge quite a bit more than $390,000/year to pay items such as taxes, insurance, maintenance, repairs.

After reviewing the information available, the City's own Master Plan, and the appropriate City Zoning ordinances, there is nothing in the petitioner's proposal that warrants a change to the Master Plan or rezoning of this site. It is incumbent upon the City Council to uphold the city planning commission's recommendation to deny the rezoning of 7850 East Jefferson

Message Headline
By breaking up the body of the letter into logical topics, your readers can focus in on the topic that they deem most relevant.

Select your wording carefully. Most people scan their emails very quickly. Keep your paragraphs to seven lines or less. If you have more information, include a link to your website where your readers can get further details.

The Villages of Detroit
The Villages Community Development Corp.

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Jay-Z - History

(Jay-Z - History)Jay-Z - History with Lyrics

LYRICS : [Chorus: Cee-lo]
Now that all the smoke is gone
And the battle's finally won
(Gimme a lighter)
Victory (Lighters up) is finally ours
(Lighters up)
History, so long, so long
So long, so long

[Verse 1: Jay-Z]
In search of victory, she keeps eluding me
If only we could be together momentarily
We can make love and make history
Why won't you visit me? until she visit me
I'll be stuck with her sister, her name is defeat
She gives me agony, so much agony
She brings me so much pain, so much misery
Like missing your last shot and falling to your knees
As the crowd screams for the other team
I practice so hard for this moment, victory don't leave
I know what this means, I'm stuck in this routine
Whole new different day, same old thing
All I got is dreams, nobody else can see
Nobody else believes, nobody else but me
Where are you victory? I need you desperately
Not just for the moment, to make history

[Chorus: Cee-lo]
Now that all the smoke is gone
And the battle's finally won
Victory is finally ours
History (yeah), so long, so long
So long, so long

[Verse 2: Jay-Z]
So now I'm flirting with death, hustling like a G
While victory wasn't watching took chances repeatedly
As a teenage boy before acne, before I got proactiv I couldn't face she
I just threw on my hoodie and headed to the street
That's where I met success, we'd live together shortly
Now success is like lust, she's good to the touch
She's good for the moment but she's never enough
Everybody's had her, she's nothing like V
But success is all I got unfortunately
But I'm burning down the block hoppin' in and out of V
But something tells me that there's much more to see
Before I get killed because I can't get robbed
So before me success and death ménage
I gotta get lost, I gotta find V
We gotta be together to make history

[Chorus: Cee-lo]
Now that all the smoke is gone
(Lighters. Up.)
And the battle's finally won
(Lighter. Up.)
Victory is finally ours
(Lighters. Up.)
History, so long, so long
So long, so long

[Verse 3: Jay-Z]
Now victory is mine, it tastes so sweet
She's my trophy wife, you're coming with me
We'll have a baby who stutters repeatedly
We'll name him history, he'll repeat after me
He's my legacy, son of my hard work
Future of my past, he'll explain who I be
Rank me amongst the greats, either 1, 2, or 3
If I ain't number one then I failed you victory
Ain't in it for the fame that dies within weeks
Ain't in it for the money, can't take it when you leave
I wanna be remembered long after you grieve
Long after I'm gone, long after I breathe
I leave all I am in the hands of history
That's my last will and testimony
This is much more than a song, it's a baby shower
I've been waiting for this hour, history you ours

[Chorus: Cee-lo (2x)]
Now that all the smoke is gone
And the battle's finally won
Victory is finally ours
History, so long, so long
So long, so long

Man in the Mirror--By Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson - Man in the mirror

I'm gonna make a change,
for once im my life
It's gonna feel real good,
gonna make a diference
Gonna make it right...

As I, turn up the collar on
my favorite winter coat
This wind is blowing my mind
I see the kids in the streets,
with not enought to eat
Who am I to be blind?
Pretending not to see their needs

A summer disregard,a broken bottle top
And a one man soul
They follow each other on the wind ya' know
'Cause they got nowhere to go
That's why I want you to know

I'm starting with the man in the mirror
I'm asking him to change his ways
And no message could have been any clearer
If you wanna make the world a better place
(If you wanna make the world a better place)
Take a look at yourself, and then make a change
(Take a look at yourself, and then make a change)
(Na na na, na na na, na na, na nah)

I've been a victim of a selfish kind of love
It's time that I realize
That there are some with no home, not a nickel to loan
Could it be really me, pretending that they're not alone?

A willow deeply scarred, somebody's broken heart
And a washed-out dream
(Washed-out dream)
They follow the pattern of the wind ya' see
'Cause they got no place to be
That's why I'm starting with me
(Starting with me!)

I'm starting with the man in the mirror
I'm asking him to change his ways
And no message could have been any clearer
If you wanna make the world a better place
(If you wanna make the world a better place)
Take a look at yourself, and then make a change
(Take a look at yourself, and then make a change)

I'm starting with the man in the mirror
I'm asking him to change his ways
(Change his ways - ooh!)
And no message could have been any clearer
If you wanna make the world a better place
Take a look at yourself and then make that..
(Take a look at yourself and then make that..)

I'm starting with the man in the mirror
(Man in the mirror - Oh yeah!)
I'm asking him to change his ways
(Better change!)
No message could have been any clearer
(If you wanna make the world a better place)

Michael Jackson - Man in the mirror

A Change is Gonna Come by Sam Cook

It's been a long time coming but a change is surely going to come in America and the World! I am the Future of America and the World and that is the message that each of us must carry with us each and every day that we wake up on Earth! I am the Future! You are the Future! We are the Future of America and the World! That is way every election is important--primaries, special elections and general! So vote every year and hold our politicians accountable. Hold our political officials accountable by writing them, calling them and making sure they attend meetings that we the people have. "The Time for Change is not Now but Right Now!"

"EmPOWERment By Any Means Necessary" should be our anthem and should be our creed as we make the positive differences in America and the world that so many people beg for and hungry for year after year! A Change is Gonna Come, A Change is Gonna Come, that's what we must say as we say "God grants us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, Courge to change the things we can, and the wisdom to know the difference" each morning before we go about the task of making a positive change in America and the world a reality.

Born In The U.S.A. - Bruce Springsteen

“When will people realize that we are Americans first and foremost, not Democrats or Liberals, not Republicans or Conservatives, not Independents or moderates. We are Americans. Stop putting a political party above America and stop putting any politican above America. America succeeds because of us the people holding our government responsible no matter the political party because the main two political parties are to blame for the condition America is in."—Hodari P.T. Brown

America with its flaws and all is a country I am proud to have been born in. America is not perfect but my love for it is perfect. That’s why all Americans must realize that we are all Americans. In fact we are Americans first and foremost. We are not Democrats or Republicans. We are Americans.

We are not Muslims, Christians or Jews. We are Americans. Too many times we recognize our differences with others rather than appreciating our similarities which are, we are Americans. We are Americans first and foremost, no matter if we were born here or moved here legally. We are all Americans, here in this country to make not only our lives better but the lives of other Americans better so future Americans can enjoy the rights and freedoms that make us all Americans.

We are all Americans. We are one party united under God. We are Americans and this is the only political party that matters. We are Americans and this is our country so let’s make sure that we make America better than how we found it so future Americans can live prosperous and joyous lives. We are Americans and must not ever forget that.

America will prosper as long we make sure we are doing our part to make it prosper and that means we can’t put any political party or politician above America. Long live America forever and long live America’s service to the world. Together, America and the world will prosper for future generations to enjoy America and the world we live in.

Lift Every Voice and Sing

This video of the ' Negro National Anthem' was originally screened at the historic African-American Church Inaugural Ball in Washington, DC on January 18th, 2009. Many of the esteemed individuals featured in this video in attendance and we presented with the ' Keepers of the Flame' award for the monumental contributions to social justice.

This version of the song was performed by the Grace Baptist Church Cathedral Choir, conducted by Derrick James. The video was produced and donated by Ascender Communications, LLC ( at the request of The Balm In Gilead, Inc.

If I Was President--Wyclef Jean

If I was President that is the people's anthem. We all have ideas of what we can do as President and through this website, we will fulfill our deam as a people!

Somethings Gotta Give--Big Boi ft Mary J Blige

Somethings Gotta Give people and it begins today for all us to make sure that something is us. We the people are sick and tired of suffering. Where is our piece of the Dream that so many people dead for so that we all could see today. This is our time people to change America and the world so that the Next Generation has a better future than the past we inherited.

This is our call to service. This isn't about one political candidate or one political figure. This is about us as people coming together to finally leave up to our potential and achieving the great feats that those before us have achieved. This is our moment to lead our nation and our world to greater heights.

Somethings gotta give people and it starts with us the people making it happen. We have to improve our education system in America. We have to rid the world of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. We have to go to the streets and lift a hand to another in order to decrease poverty in this world. We have to take a stand today and make sure that the future of America and the world is brighter than it has ever been.

Somethings Gotta Give and that is why we must "Remember Each One, Reach One and Teach One so America's future and the World's future continues to prosper."

John Legend - "If You're Out There"

If you're out there than you need to get started in helping to change America and the world. The world and America won't change until you get involved in making the changes you want to see in this world. If you're out there, than you must know that tomorrow started now and today started yesterday so you are behind in helping to the change. If you are tired of hatred, racism, poverty, war, and violence than the time to change it is now. If you want universal health care, world peace, democracy for every nation, equal rights, and happiness for all than you must get involved now to help the save world.

You must believe in the change that you want to see and you must act on making that change a reality. If you're out there than say it aloud and show the rest of America and the world that you're out here to make a real positive change in the communities we stay in. If you're out there than get involved now. I'm calling every women and men to join me as we take back our country right here, right now. If you're out there than the future started yersterday and we are already late so we have lots of work to do but I know we can do it together as one.


Yes We Can accomplish anything that we set out to do! We don't need charismatic or inspirational leaders to believe in ourselves and to take responsiblity for our own faith, we just need each other. Yes We Can build a new America and a new world if each of us would take action now to make the changes that we want to see in the world. Yes We Can control government by holding our political officials accountable for their actions by calling them out when they don't pass legislation that supports the common good of all man and by voting in every election to ensure that we have people representing the people locally, state wide, nationally and in the world.

Yes We Can be great! Yes We Can be what we want to be! Yes We Can be glorious in not only America but the world! Yes We can put action behind our worlds and change the world starting right here, right now! Yes We Can as Republicans, Democrats and Independents become one as we freely think about our fellow men and women and make decisions that will be in the best interest of all people and not one single group.

Yes We Can be the change that we want to see in the world! Yes We Can show the world that the youth are ready to lead! Yes We Can put our egos, our social economic statuses, our religions, our educational statuses and our skin color to the side for the better good of the world! Yes We Can be Greater than we have ever been and help others be Greater than they have ever be!

YES WE CAN and YES WE WILL BE VICTORIOUS IN ALL THAT WE DO! YES WE CAN, no matter what others may say, we will be glorious! YES WE WILL and YES WE CAN! YES WE CAN!

YES WE CAN! YES WE CAN! YES WE CAN is what will be sung from every mountaintop, every riverbank, every household, every school yard, every factory, every sporting event, every college campus and even every place you can imagine in the world is where YES WE CAN, will be said and heard!


Keep On Pushing - Curtis Mayfield & the Impressions

Wake Up People! No matter who is elected to any public office, we have to “Keep On Pushing” as a people to make sure they don’t leave us in a worst state than what they inherited. We as a people have to “Keep On Pushing” to make a difference in the lives of others. We have to have an “EmPOWERment By Any Means Necessary” attitude as we continue to push our agenda that we the people deserve and want better. We have to “Keep On Pushing” to bring about change in a positive way that will benefit all Americans no matter their age, their religion or skin color. We have to “Keep On Pushing” to bring about change that will improve our education system, improve our military, improve our national security, improve our healthcare system and improve our economy. We have to “Keep On Pushing” to bring about change that will leave America’s future in a better than how we found it and that will leave the world’s future in a better state than we imagined we could live it. We have to “Keep On Pushing” to make life better for our neighborhoods, our families and even our quote on quote enemies. We have to “Keep On Pushing” to inspire, to uplift and to guide those who need help spiritually, physically and mentally. We have to “Keep On Pushing ” so that our lives, our future generation’s lives and the lives of those who came before us does not die in vein.

“Keep on Pushing”

A War For Your Soul

A War For Your Soul-regular version from Erisai Films on Vimeo.

The moment has come for us as a nation of people to finally wake up and realize that our destiny and fate in society has rests on our shoulders. We cannot allow the forces of evil and darkness to drain us out. We have to continue to overcome all odds in order to make the future of our nation better and the future of future generations of Americans better. We have to continue to pray to our Lord and we have to continue to uplift each other in prayer as well as take action against those things that are trying to destroy us. We have to stand up once and for all and be the future that we want to be. Now is our time and we shall do together by any means necessary.

This video was created to inspire young African-Americans not to fall prey to some of the problems they face in society. The use of the voice "Master of Darkness" represents evil, which is where the blame of all problems should be placed, and not on any one group of people. This video should not to be used to divide people (Black & White), there are images of heroes that are white in this video, and there are images of Black & White coming together with the words of Dr. King in the background. Some of the images from the past can be unsettling, but they are used to show all Americans how far we have come, and how far we still have to go. This film is being strategically placed in school systems, churches and youth orgs around the country, in hope of helping a lost generation of kids that we as Americans have forgotten. As fellow Americans we must continue to love each other, and take that love and spread it to the rest of the world. **THIS VIDEO IS NOT FOR SALE & I AM NOT ACCEPTING DONATIONS FOR THE FILM, I ONLY WANT THE MESSAGE TO REACH AS MANY PEOPLE AS POSSIBLE WITHOUT ANY HIDDEN POLITICAL OR FINANCIAL AGENDA.

Sitting On the Dock of the Bay by Otis Redding

"The time for sitting is over! The time for action is now! The time for hope without action is hopeless! The time for change without a positive attitude is a change that we can't believe in! We need change that is positive of helping all people! Our time for action is now, our time for hope is now, our time for change is now and our time to believe that we can do whatever we set our minds to is not now but right now!"


The Star-Spangled Banner by Francis Scott Key

O say, can you see, by the dawn's early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming;
And the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there;
O say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free, and the home of the brave?

On the shore dimly seen through the mists of the deep,
Where the foe's haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o'er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, now conceals, now discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines on the stream;
'Tis the star-spangled banner; O long may it wave
O'er the land of the free, and the home of the brave!

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle's confusion
A home and a country should leave us no more?
Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps' pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave,
From the terror of flight and the gloom of the grave;
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O'er the land of the free, and the home of the brave!

O! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved homes and the war's desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heav'n-rescued land,
Praise the power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, for our cause it is just.
And this be our motto— "In God is our trust; "
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free, and the home of the brave.

Black President

Our Time is not now but Right Now! Our Time has finally come to change the world not now but Right Now! If you don't believe that we can change the world than watch as we do it by changing your mind into believing in us and what we can do! This is OUR TIME RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW!


We got to FIGHT THE POWER! We can no longer sit on the sidelines and watch injustices take place. We can no longer sit by and allow our right to vote to become unexercised. We must FIGHT THE POWER for our past, present and future! We can no longer allow our rights to be oppressed and our voice to become drained by the powers at be. We must FIGHT THE POWER and show that we have a lot to say that needs to be heard by the mainstream media. We must FIGHT THE POWER and live up to our potential as dynamic, unbelievable and phenomenal people.

We must not believe the hype but we must become the hype. We are not Harriett Tubman, Marcus Garvey, MLK, Malcolm X, Booker T. Washington, Carter G. Woodson, W.E.B. DuBois, the Black Panther Party, SNCC, or any other activists but we are the fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, uncles, aunties, and relatives of those who came before us to pave the way for us to FIGHT THE POWER! We are not next Generation of leaders who will not be honored and praised until they die but that’s the fight we accept. We are not fighting the power for glory or fame but we are fighting the power for just causes that most men and women will not understand until years or decades later.

We are fighting for our sisters and brothers in Darfur, Georgia, Iraq, Iran, China and Mexico. We are speaking for those who are poor and have no food or water. We are fighting for those who are sick and dying. We are fighting for universal healthcare across the world and human rights for all people. We are fighting for rich and poor! We must FIGHT THE POWER no matter how hard and tough the road may be. We must FIGHT THE POWER for a better today and an even greater tomorrow!



“People Get Ready” our time is coming! We have come too far to turn back now. Our train is coming and it is coming in waves. “People Get Ready”, we don’t need a ticket but we need faith and the Lord will help guide us as we take back America and the world. “People Get Ready” our moment is now and we are ready to see the change we want in America and the world. All we got to do is have faith, hope and prosperity. “People Get Ready” to face your fears. “People Get Ready” to face your demons and the challenges of yesterday because today and tomorrow we will conquer & be victorious. “People Get Ready” a change is coming and our actions will make sure that change is a real positive change that lasts forever.

“People Get Ready” because we have had enough of just talking but now is our time to show action. “People Get Ready” to take back America and the world. “People Get Ready” to take back our communities and to make our streets safer and schools better. “People Get Ready” to make all our dreams come true. “People Get Ready” to see a better present for everyone and a better future for future generations. “People Get Ready” to live up to your potential and to help others live up to their own potential. “People Get Ready” to move past hatred, bigotry, racism and sexism. “People Get Ready” to fulfill the dreams of those who came before us and those who will come after us.

“People Get Ready” as we make our actions speak louder than our words. “People Get Ready” to make words mean something again as we put action to back up our rhetoric. “People Get Ready” as we embark on a new journey that will re-write America’s history as well as the world’s history. “People Get Ready” as we make the lives of others better and the lives of future generations better. “People Get Ready” because all we need is faith, hope and action to make this world a better place. “People Get Ready” to make a difference. “People Get Ready” to fulfill the American dream. “People Get Ready" to live out the American Dream as our founding fathers wanted us to live it. “People Get Ready” because our time is now, our moment is now and our moment in time to change America & the world is not now but right now. “People Get Ready” because a change is coming!

(Let me tell you now)
People get ready, there's a train comin'
You don't need no baggage, you just get on board
All you need is faith to hear the diesels hummin'
You don't need no ticket, you just thank the lord

People get ready, for a train to Jordan
Picking up passengers coast to coast
Faith is the key, open the doors and board them
There's hope for all among those loved the most

There ain't no room for the hopeless sinner
Who would hurt all man kind just to save his own (believe me now)
Have pity on those whose chances grow thinner
For there's no hiding place against the kingdoms throne

[Alicia & Lyfe]
So people get ready there's a train coming
You don't need no baggage, you just get on board
All you need is faith to hear the diesels humming,
You don't need no ticket, you just thank the lord


God Bless the U.S.A. by Lee Greenwood

Lee Greenwood-god bless the U.S.A