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Thursday, February 12, 2015

MR. INGERSOLL'S NEIGHBORHOOD: The "Front Porch Renaissance" Today

Front porch...no renaissance
"This was not a conspiracy," Steven Ingersoll's criminal attorney Martin Crandall said yesterday in federal court, referring to Ingersoll and his co-defendants, including wife Deborah. "This was a group effort to get it done and (it was) misinterpreted by the IRS. (The Ingersolls) are not spending money on themselves. They're spending money on their community. They're civic-minded. They don't take; they give."

Well, in addition to stiffing the city for nearly $200,000 in property taxes, why don't we look at what else the Ingersolls have "given" to Bay City!


Back in early 2009, Steven Ingersoll issued his "simple plan for Bay City", a precursor for what he'd later call the Front Porch Renaissance Group. Claiming in a 9-page PDF that "Bay City could and should be an economically vibrant, green community of close-knit historic neighborhoods, thriving thematic business districts with plentiful employment and even political harmony", Ingersoll proposed to act as the initial organizer of what he called at the time Bay City Renaissance, Inc. 

Recruiting a board of directors and community leaders to oversee its activities, Ingersoll saw the new effort as a community improvement entity charged with development, internal dissemination and execution of a comprehensive community improvement plan. 

Ingersoll proposed to establish small neighborhood schools as part
of his neighborhood restoration strategy. In his plan, Ingersoll stated that "these schools will give residents the attractive option of small neighborhood schools and provide evening venues for adult and
vocational educational programs. Extra-curricular activities, on a pay-to-play basis, will utilize Bay City’s many existing youth athletic, artistic and recreational offerings." 

And, of course, the project-based learning and character education contained in the Smart Schools curriculum would integrate just perfectly with neighborhood improvement projects such as community gardens. 

In April 2009, the Bay City Commission granted tax breaks on $500,000 Ingersoll claimed he was investing in two home renovations.


Telling the Bay City Times that Bay City has "the most extraordinary housing stock in the state; we've just mismanaged it," Ingersoll proposed a $300,000 historically correct restoration of Judge Sanford Green's house at 1501 Center Avenue, across the street from his own home. Green was one of the most notable individuals to come out of Bay City, having risen to the level of Supreme Court justice and having written much of Michigan's original code.

Ingersoll planned to make the judge's former home into four apartments, two of them one-bedroom and two of them two-bedroom. (The property was on the National Register of historic buildings.)

The photo at left shows how the house looked as Ingersoll embarked on that "historically correct" renovation. 

This is how the building looks today...I know because I took this picture this afternoon.

Although it's difficult to see in the photo, some of the windows are broken and the entire home sits empty—years after crews gutted it. 

Ingersoll reportedly planned to construct "executive apartments" in the building, but the only tenants today are a growing commune of squirrels.

At 615 N. Grant Street, Ingersoll started another "historically correct" restoration of the Newell Eddy house, claiming he would sink $200,000 in the home built around 1870. The Michigan Chapter of the American Red Cross was founded in the parlor of the house in 1881, and the Mitchell familywhich founded the first Cadillac dealership in the nationalso lived in the house for many years before moving to Essexville. 

The house is boarded up and unoccupied, like two houses directly across the street.

In 2009, Ingersoll told the Bay City Times that he planned to ask Bay City to establish a "Neighborhood Enterprise Zone" along Grant Street, between McKinley and Sixth streets, to provide more tax incentives for restoration work. Ingersoll revealed he was in the process of acquiring multiple properties on Grant Street.

And here are two of them: 616 N. Grant and 620 N. Grant.

Shown at left and at the top of this post, the two-story house Ingersoll currently owns at 616 N. Grant caught fire on January 10, 2014. Although Ingersoll quickly dubbed the fire at the vacant house an "arson" and claimed he planned to move forward with the restoration, it sits in this condition today.

620 N. Grant, shown in the photo at right, sits on the street Ingersoll boasted he'd make into a "Neighborhood Enterprise Zone".

Looks like the only "enterprise" going on at this house is rock-throwing.

But Steven Ingersoll was extremely successful with one turn-of-the-century gem, and it has a stunning garden to gaze at while you're sitting on its expansive front porch.

It's the Turner House, a fully-restored 1892 Victorian on Center Avenue.

And it's the home Steven Ingersoll shares with his wife, Deborah.

Renaissance this!

1 comment:

  1. Reminds me of a song ....

    "You made me promises, promises
    You knew you'd never keep
    Promises, promises
    Why do I believe?"

    Then, there is the other song.

    "If I had a million dollars
    If I had a million dollars
    Well, I'd buy you a house
    I would buy you a house

    And if I had a million dollars
    If I had a million dollars
    I'd buy you furniture for your house
    Maybe a nice Chesterfield or an ottoman."

    And when Steve had a million dollars,
    when he had a million dollars,
    he decided it just was not enough,
    and he stole from our kids."