Demolition of ‘structurally unsafe’ buildings OK’d

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) –The Grand Rapids Historical Preservation Commission has approved the demolition of two buildings downtown that the city has deemed “structurally unsafe.”

The sidewalk in front of the visibly crooked buildings, located at 35 and 41 S. Division Avenue on the southwest corner of Weston Street, has been blocked off since April over concerns that bricks may fall on passersby. According to the city engineer, an “underlying soil issue” is causing “significant structural problems.”

Rockford Construction contracted to buy the buildings and then put in a request to level them, saying they could not be saved.

It appears the Historical Preservation Commission agrees. During a Wednesday evening meeting, it OK’d tearing the structures down.

“Demolition is something we never want to consider, but in some cases it may be the responsible thing to do,” commission Chair Barry VanDyke said.

There were no objections from the public.

Kurt Hassberger of Rockford Construction said Wednesday that the company hopes to get everything organized for demolition within weeks.The condition of the buildings — described as a “house of cards” — and their close proximity to other structures will make the operation delicate.

After the buildings are gone, Hassberger said, grass will be planted and the property will be fenced in until the company decides what to build in their place. That decision could come next spring.

Hassberger said the company wants to put in “something that’s going to be an asset to the neighborhood.”

“We’re working very hard on that. We’ve spent some time on it, but obviously, until we knew we could actually get approval here, we didn’t want to spend a lot of time on it. We’re going to move on it as quickly as we can,” he said.

The Historical Preservation Commission had the final say on demolition because both buildings are more than 100 years old.



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