The property at 23 and 25 Broad Street will be demol­ished. Collegian|Josephine Von Dohlen

Due to its dilap­i­dated con­dition and the danger it poses to public safety, the two-property building on 23 and 25 Broad Street will be demol­ished by the City of Hillsdale.

The city tried to auction off the building after its fore­closure on back taxes, which amounted to about $55,000. When no one bought the building, the city bought the property in the second annual tax sale for $75.

According to City Manager David Mackie, “the property is in very much dis­repair.” An engi­neering study con­ducted by the city said the building is prac­ti­cally beyond repair — with a hole in the roof, sinking floors, and black mold in the basement.

“From the top of the building to the basement, you can actually see day­light where the building is sep­a­rating,” Mackie said at Monday’s Hillsdale City Council meeting. “The old section is sep­a­rating from the newer section of the building.”

Ward 3 Coun­cilman Bruce Sharp said at the city council meeting that the property has been a “safety issue” that people have been com­plaining about for years.

“If we lived in an earth­quake zone it would already be down,” Sharp said.

If the city did wish to repair the building, Zoning Admin­is­trator Alan Beeker esti­mates it would cost the city upwards of $2 to $4 million.

“In all honesty, if somebody really wanted to sink the money into it it could still be restored but you’re talking about $2 to $4 million,” Beeker said. “The city isn’t going to be able to justify that kind of expen­diture.”

The city has had two con­tractors apprise the cost of tearing the building down, and is cur­rently waiting on a third and poten­tially a fourth. The bids will be pre­sented at the March 4 city council meeting.

One con­tractor set the price at $190,000 and the other at $230,000. According to Mackie, that price will hope­fully fall.

“The city would like to see the bids at least down around the $170,000 mark,” Mackie said. “But time will tell.”

Some of the money used for the demo­lition will come from the city’s general fund. Since the building is clas­sified as a “con­tributing building”, which means it is a good example of his­torical archi­tecture, any state or federal agency is not allowed to supply money for its demo­lition, according to Beeker.

Mackie said at the city council meeting that $60,000 from the budget intending to go toward the Mitchell building will be put toward this demo­lition, in addition to money from the code enforcement budget as well.

Once the actual process begins, the city will probably have to close down part of the state highway M-99, as well as the side­walks nearby, which will involve working with St. Anthony’s Catholic Church, a nearby property, according to Director of Public Ser­vices Jake Hammel.

“It’ll be tricky but we’ll be able to do it,” Hammel said.

In regards to future plans for the building, the city is just looking to tear down the property first; however, they have con­sidered con­verting the space into a pocket park, selling it to a developer, or even working with St. Anthony’s Catholic Church or Tim Dixon, the owner of the law office north of the building, to sell the property.

“We would like to try and find a developer or someone who would be inter­ested in rebuilding the site,” Mackie said.

As of now, a date has not been set, but the city is working as fast as it can, according to Beeker.

“I know a lot of people look at what’s going on and say, ‘Well, the city’s not doing any­thing about it,’” Beeker said. “The wheels of gov­ernment never spin fast. There’s a process for every­thing and so we’re doing the best and trying to get it taken care of as quickly as we can, within the para­meters of what we’re allowed to do.”

  • Jen­nifer Melfi

    this is a sad day. We should do every­thing we can to keep these buildings from getting to this point. Look at the typical strip mall style archi­tecture that will likely replace this… not good. Maybe if Hillsdale wasn’t spending so much on their temple to Mammon they could have spared a shekel or two to help ren­ovate this building. Oppor­tunity Costs.

    • George Gibbs

      Alas, it’s a matter of social credit; his­tor­i­cally the college has made very good invest­ments (eco­nom­i­cally speaking), while the city much less so. Examples of the former just don’t tend to choose working with examples of the latter.
      I actually do believe there are many good local projects the college should help with (like the Keefer, the Dawn, and certain streets) — but turning an empty building into an empty lot, mainly due to its former owner’s own neg­li­gence, is not one of them.

      • Jen­nifer Melfi

        I dis­agree with this in many ways. The college pre­vi­ously chose to court a certain type of donor and to create a great student expe­rience to drive alumni returns. They are now choosing a dif­ferent type of donor to court, and I don’t see it working out well. It’s not fair to compare the city and the college — except if you choose to say that Hillsdale has chosen to sep­arate itself from the very place of its exis­tence, and that choice to remove their capital has dra­matic impacts on what happens to the city. Hillsdale is at least as anti-fragile as any of the other crap towns around it — which means it is basi­cally broke. But let’s not act like it was wise deci­sions by the admin­is­tration that made this happen. there has been a long history of overall good deci­sions that have made the college what it is today.

        • George Gibbs

          I don’t think I dis­agree at all with this comment — and I don’t believe the city would fail without the college’s help except, yes, for the fact that it is man­aging with a badly crippled section of the national economy (is Hillsdale weak for a Rust Belt Mid­western town of its size? No. But is it weak for a college town? Slightly, yes) — but it’s also very dif­ficult for me to tell what you’re artic­u­lating here. Or maybe I expressed myself wrongly.

          • Jen­nifer Melfi

            I struggle because on one hand:

            1) I think the college has made ter­rible deci­sions with their buildings on campus over the years and have paid out­sized costs for those poor deci­sions. At the same time, their revenue sit­u­ation has been high enough, and growing, that no one has had to tighten their belt as a result. The school is making poor deci­sions, but they are hard to emerge due to the overall pos­itive financial sit­u­ation.

            and yet — there are some deci­sions that probably don’t have a great financial payback that I think they should make

            2) The town of Hillsdale and HC are really tied together, and I wish that HC (other col­leges have this issue as well — in Detroit, UDM is crim­i­nally neg­ligent of what they allowed to happen to Martin Park while UDM still had $) would take more own­ership for the town and work together to create a great place that ben­efits both. cur­rently, they have created a very expensive faux-Savannah in Michigan, but who can blame them with the cash burning a hole in their pocket

            I know the bottom line can’t be what runs a college, but it has to be part of it. Hillsdale has let many building assets go to waste and replaced them with gaudy expensive ver­sions. They have enough cash to make it work, but I wish they would use that cash to drive investment in HIllsdale as a place.

          • George Gibbs

            Agreed. Specif­i­cally, I would be inter­ested to know what % of the prop­erties the college has demol­ished could be qual­ified as “blight,” which the city itself has vowed to elim­inate, so poten­tially some common ground there.
            But as for building new struc­tures when local strug­gling ones would serve well is another matter. I don’t com­pletely accept your example of Christ Chapel, as the point has been made (and I’ve wit­nessed first-hand) that College Baptist is simply a bit too small for full-college events — I would also call it “fragile”, in my concern for his­toric preser­vation! But, to withdraw the old cor­diality toward the Dawn, and to scoff at helping revive the Keefer when there’s an obvious shortage of hotels for the college’s OWN pur­poses, seems the height of intran­si­gence. I wish I knew what is truly going on, without the spec­u­lation and con­spiracy that run in these parts.

  • Ellsworth_Toohey

    Cor­rection, the county held the auction and sold it to the city.