Request to demolish ‘structurally unsafe’ buildings

The blocked-off sidewalk in front of 35 S. Division Ave. and 41 S. Division Ave. in downtown Grand Rapids. (April 2, 2014)
The blocked-off sidewalk in front of 35 S. Division Ave. and 41 S. Division Ave. in downtown Grand Rapids. (April 2, 2014)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Rockford Construction has put in a request to demolish two buildings in downtown Grand Rapids that have been deemed structurally unsafe.

Their fronts visibly slanted, the city engineer said in late May that the buildings at 35 and 41 S. Division Ave., on the southwest corner of Weston Street, were unsafe. He said there was “an underlying soil issue located immediately beneath the two buildings that is causing significant structural problems to the Division side of the structure.”

Concerned that bricks may fall on passersby, the city blocked off the sidewalk in front of the buildings. It also ordered that only authorized people be allowed inside.

Rockford Construction and SIBSCO, a real estate company owned by the Secchia family, have contractually agreed to purchase the property.

Rockford Construction CEO Mike VanGessel — the cousin of one of the previous owners — said engineers he contracted determined the crooked buildings cannot be saved.

He said the Historic Preservation Commission will have to sign off on the demolition.

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