Demolition Starts Early in the Park District

Thursday, September 28, 2017, 11:13 am
By: 
Alice Dreger

Demolition of the derelict “big bank building” at 100 West Grand River started earlier than scheduled when, last night around 10 p.m., a driver plowed into the building, damaging the construction fence and reportedly punching a small hole in the building. 

ELPD Deputy Police Chief Steve Gonzalez tells ELi the driver was a 28-year-old East Lansing man who was trying to turn right from westbound Grand River Avenue onto northbound Abbot Road. "The driver lost control of his vehicle and struck the old bank building on the northwest corner of the intersection," according to Gonzalez.

The building was not structurally damaged and the driver was taken to Sparrow Hospital for non-life-threatening injuries. Says Gonzalez, "Alcohol is believed to be a factor in the crash."

Meanwhile, ELi can report that scheduled demolition will start soon and will temporarily result in street closures and diversions. The major demolition—tearing down of the four-story building at the corner of Abbot Road and Grand River Avenue—will begin next Friday, October 6.

DRW/Convexity, the would-be redevelopers of the area, have not yet submitted new plans for what the companies would like to build at that location. The previous plans fell apart for reasons ELi has spelled out. Once demolition is done, the property will be an empty, fenced-in lot until something new is constructed.

Various ELi readers have asked why the properties can’t be turned into a park temporarily or permanently. The reason is that the properties are privately-owned by developers who want to turn the land into income-generating properties as soon as possible.

City officials also want to see redevelopment soon, partly for the economic health of downtown, but also because the redevelopment is likely to provide substantial financial assistance to the City through new tax revenue and various tax capture schemes.

Asbestos removal has occurred at the properties and workers are now constructing fences for the demolition. The City of East Lansing has been participating in preparation, managing sewer and water lines in the area. Residents will start to see construction vehicles and sand for the backfilling arriving on Monday, according to David Pierson, attorney for DRW/Convexity.

The demolition will at first involve only the “big bank building” at 100 West Grand River Avenue (shown above). Probably about a month later, according to Pierson, construction crews will demolish the smaller commercial buildings at 124-140 West Grand River Avenue. Those are the derelict buildings just west of the big bank building and just east of People’s Church, as shown below.

Starting Friday, October 6, roads around the area will be temporarily closed. According to Pierson, “Evergreen [Avenue] will be closed from Albert south to Grand River for the duration of the demolition project. Evergreen [Avenue] to Grand River [Avenue] is the truck route out of the site. The panels at Evergreen and Grand River will be opened each morning for trucks going out and closed at the end of the day.”

From Friday, October 6, through Sunday, October 8, Abbot Road is expected to be entirely closed from Grand River Avenue north to Albert Avenue, and the two north lanes of westbound Grand River Avenue will also be closed. Most sidewalks in the area will also be closed.

According to Pierson, material from the demolition will start being removed from the sites on Monday, October 9. He has previously told ELi, “The contractor estimates 133 trucks going out and 162 trucks coming in with sand to fill the site and stage the demolition. There will be [another] 30 truck trips for equipment.”

DRW/Convexity has been in close contact with Peoples Church to keep the church apprised of what to expect. The church had been in favor of the redevelopment project that fell apart.

This is an entirely separate project area from the redevelopment know as Center City District: different owners, different developers, different site. To read about that project, go to our dedicated page on it.