Crowdfunding campaign launched to transform historic Ypsilanti Freighthouse into community center

Nate Pilon

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

$50,000 goal to secure matching grant through MEDC’s Public Spaces Community Places initiative

Lansing, Mich. – The Michigan Economic Development Corporation and the Friends of the Ypsilanti Freighthouse today announced a new crowdfunding campaign through Michigan-based crowdfunding platform Patronicity. The campaign will support the final upgrades needed to restore the historic Ypsilanti Freighthouse for use as a community center. 

“Crowdfunding is a great way to bring stakeholders together to create vibrant public spaces that help bring new businesses, residents and visitors to the community,” said MEDC Community Development Director Katharine Czarnecki. “We are pleased to partner with the Friends of the Ypsilanti Freighthouse to help create that kind of public space in Ypsilanti.” 

Owned by the city of Ypsilanti and held in trust by the Friends of the Ypsilanti Freighthouse (FOYF), the landmark building is located in city’s emerging Depot Town neighborhood that has seen a recent surge in new businesses, restaurants, and shops. The renovated Freighthouse will provide a central gathering place for public and private functions, exhibits, auctions, classes, performances, and civic uses.

Money raised through the crowdfunding campaign will be used for infrastructure upgrades like a sustainable and cost-effective heating/cooling system, restrooms and new plumbing to meet city code, and a dry/wet fire suppression system for both the internal and external areas of the building. 

If the campaign attains its crowdfunding goal of $50,000 by March 1, 2015, MEDC will provide a $50,000 matching grant. For additional project details and how to contribute, please visit:

“The FOYF began this initiative and, with the help and support of Visual Compass Web Design, have finally been able to make this crowdsourcing campaign a reality,” said Courtney Tavernit, FOYF board member and director of business development at Visual Compass Web Design. “We look forward to the opportunity of showcasing other local merchants and businesses to residents with the opening of the Freighthouse.” 

Public Spaces Community Places is a collaborative effort of the MEDC, the Michigan Municipal League, and Patronicity where local residents can use crowdfunding to be part of the development of transformational projects in their communities and be backed with a matching grant from MEDC. Communities, non-profits and other business entities can apply at

"Projects like these can greatly help turn a good community into a great community,” said Michigan Municipal League CEO and Executive Director Dan Gilmartin. “The League strongly advocates the importance of creating communities and places where people want to live, work and play. The effort at the Freighthouse contributes to that placemaking goal in an up-and-coming area of Ypsilanti.”

The Friends of the Ypsilanti Freighthouse are dedicated, local residents who recognize the potential cultural opportunities and community contributions the Freighthouse provides to the city of Ypsilanti. The goal of this group is to preserve, restore, maintain, and operate the Freighthouse. Please visit for more information.   

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About Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC)

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation is the state’s marketing arm and lead advocate for business development, job awareness and community development with the focus on growing Michigan’s economy. For more information on the MEDC and our initiatives, visit For Pure Michigan® tourism information, your trip begins at Join the conversation on: Facebook Instagram LinkedIn, and Twitter.