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Kirkwood Block restitution: City officials to seek reimbursement for building demolition

Workers from Pitsh Companies work to disassemble the cornice of the Kirkwood Block on Iron Street in Negaunee in this September 2019 file photo. The Grand Rapids company was hired by the city of Negaunee to demolish the century-old, three story structure after a portion of the roof caved in in May, 2019. The city is seeking restitution for the demolition, which cost more than $200,000. (Journal file photo)

MARQUETTE — The city of Negaunee is seeking over $200,000 in restitution for costs related to last year’s demolition of the Kirkwood Block at 324 Iron St.

The city issued a press release Monday announcing the conclusion of the project, which was “focused on eliminating the public hazard” following a partial roof collapse in May 2019 that caused a large portion of the floor of the third story to “crash through to the basement.”

Following the collapse, the city blocked off a portion of Iron Street in front of the structure, including the sidewalk, and condemned the building, per the city’s property maintenance code.

Building owner Eric Miljour requested more time from city officials to shore up the remaining portions of the building following the collapse, but his request was ultimately denied. The building was condemned in June 2019 and a Grand Rapids firm began demolition in early September.

Negaunee City Manager Nate Heffron said the structure “posed life-threatening risks to residents and visitors as well as potential damage to nearby buildings.”

“Due to the owner’s failure and/or refusal to take remedial action to abate the hazard, it became necessary for the city to utilize emergency powers under (its) property maintenance code,” Heffron said.

The final phase of the project was to make “general repairs” to the roofs of the adjacent buildings on Iron Street, Negaunee Planning and Zoning Administrator David Nelson said. The repairs were completed earlier this month.

“These repairs included reattachment of the roof lining to the edge of adjoining buildings,” Nelson said.

The project was financed, in part, with a $75,000 drawdown of the city electric fund balance, a $50,000 drawdown of the city improvement fund and $67,550 drawdown of the general fund, an Aug. 19 article in The Mining Journal states.

Heffron said the city will seek reimbursement for “costs associated with having to undertake the demolition project.”

“The city should not have had to foot the bill for the abatement costs for a private property,” Heffron said. “Costs for the abatement totaled $209,795.65, and include demolition, asbestos testing, engineering consultation, fence rental, roofing repairs and other charges for service rendered by the city during demolition.”

Additional costs could include legal fees, according to the release.

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

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