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.”