Company hired for Kirkwood demolition

Dan Michelsen, at podium, right, owner of a neighboring building to the Kirkwood Block on Iron Street in Negaunee, addresses the Negaunee City Council during a meeting on Thursday about past problems with the three-story building. The council voted to accept a $192,550 bid to demolish the structure, which suffered a roof collapse in May. (Journal photo by Lisa Bowers)

NEGAUNEE — A contractor has been selected for the demolition of the Kirkwood Block at 324 Iron St. in Negaunee.

The Negaunee City Council voted unanimously on Thursday to accept a $192,550 bid from Pitsh Companies, a demolition contractor out of Grand Rapids for the project and authorize City Manager Nate Heffron to negotiate contract terms.

The Pitsh bid was the lowest of the three received by the city, with Dore and Associates out of Bay City, Michigan, coming in at $247,600 and Moyle Construction out of Houghton bidding the project at $475,000.

Mayor David Kangas asked City Planning Administrator David Nelson why the amounts seemed so far apart from contractor to contractor.

“It just seems like there is a discrepancy of money in each one of those (bids),” Kangas said.

Nelson said Pitsh was the lowest bid because they would not need to contract out for equipment or labor to complete the job.

“Pitsh, their bread and butter is building demolition. That’s what they do every day, all day,” Nelson said.

“They are well known throughout the Midwest. They have done a lot of work in Grand Rapids, (and) their buildings are really tight, just like ours. So, that’s where the discrepancy in the bid amounts is. You have a contractor who does this for a living, they have all the equipment, they are not having to subcontract out anything.”

All three bids met the requirements for bid specifications, according to an agenda supplement.

Nelson said the process, once the contractor is on-site, should take roughly three weeks.

“Once they get up here, they are saying one week to get the building down to the ground,” Nelson said. “A week to haul it out and a week to do the finish work. So we are looking at three weeks and the building is down, gone, capped, covered, seeded, sodded and they’re out of here.”

The project will be financed with a $75,000 draw-down of the city Electric Fund balance, a $50,000 draw-down of the City Improvement Fund and $67,550 draw-down of the General Fund.

Any reimbursement from the property owner will go back to the General Fund first, followed by the City Improvement Fund and the Electric Fund.

The sidewalk in front of the Kirkwood Block, which suffered a partial roof collapse on May 16, has been barricaded since May 17. A portion of Iron Street has been blocked off since mid-June due to heightened safety concerns.

Dan Michelsen, who owns the building directly next-door to the Kirkwood Block, said reduced parking due to the safety barricades has had a direct impact on his business.

“I currently also manage the Lowenstein Antique Mall,” Michelsen said. “The parking situation has definitely affected my numbers. It’s untenable in the long term.”

He said the Kirkwood building has been a concern to him for over a decade.

“Over the last 15 years, I have spent between $7,000 and $10,000 on roof maintenance. The majority of that from small perforations in the roof caused by small pieces of brick and in some cases, whole bricks being shed out of the west wall of the Kirkwood directly onto my roof,” Michelsen said. “It’s been an ongoing issue for me for some time, because it hits me in the wallet.”

Following the collapse on May 16, he said, Kirkwood owner Eric Miljour repaired the roof of his building.

“I would comment that the large gashes in my roof from the large pile of bricks and two capstones that hit the deck of my roof were largely cushioned because I put in 6 inches of insulation 25 years ago when I put my roof on,” Michelson said. “But the building owner came out and patched my roof for me, which left me somewhat impressed, which gives me a mixed impression.”

Negaunee City Councilor Paul Maino, who made the motion, said he would just like to get the project done.

“It’s time for (this) company to do the work and get our downtown back to being a little bit more normal than it is right now,” Maino said.

Miljour did not attend Thursday’s meeting and could not be reached for comment before press time today.

Lisa Bowers can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242. Her email address is lbowers@miningjournal.net.