City issues Stop Work Order of building demolition at former Products location

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Work came to a halt on Thursday, Feb. 14, at the former site of the Tecumseh Products where demolition had begun on a building located on the southend of the property. The city issued a Stop Work Order after the demolition company failed to obtain permits for the project. Photo by Mickey Alvarado.

People driving around the former Tecumseh Products manufacturing facility still can’t help but keep an eye on this little piece of town history and wonder what’s happening there — especially with visible machinery, dumpsters and a hole in a wall on the former loading dock area at the south end.

Tecumseh Food Machinery and Engineering LLC purchased the building a year ago on February 3, 2012, and new owner Dave Roberts expressed the hope then of attracting a new bakery-related business, but said the structure had to be cleaned up first. He said portions of the building might be demolished.

Although some of that demolition had begun, Tecumseh Building Department Director Brad Raymond said the city had to issue a Stop Work Order last Thursday, Feb. 14, because a proper demolition permit had not been filed.

“The dumpsters are there because they’re going through the used equipment that had been stored there and scrapping some of it,” said Raymond, “but in a factory scenario, there are certain things that have to occur before any of the building can be demolished.” He said a company known as Site Prep Corporation holds the demolition contract, including for the property.

Raymond said he shared a list with the company in February of 2012 that outlined the various steps that would lead up to obtaining the proper permit. It included sharing plans of areas to be demolished, proof of utility disconnections, plugging of floor drains to prevent contamination into the city’s storm systems, fire suppression plans and Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) notification regarding requirements subject to asbestos, which has to be abated before demolition.

“We also request a performance bond for the clean-up,” Raymond said. He added that he anticipated a meeting with company representatives later this week. “If the company addresses the items laid out in the letter, then we can issue a permit to continue the demo work,” he said.

Roberts was out of state when the Stop Work Order was issued, working on another project, but was reached by phone. He said application for the permits was “in process,” and he hoped to get things settled and underway by March. Since purchasing the property last February, he said he has worked to recruit another company.

“What I know is the bakery industry, and I’ve had six different food companies interested, but once they visit the plant and see all that environmental monitoring, like the air monitoring on site, no one wants to put a food company where that is going on,” said Roberts. “One of the things we’ve still got to do is to separate the Orbitech plant of the building from the older part where there is asbestos,” he said. “We’re working on the permits for that. We also have to get a clean bill of health for the building where that air monitoring is going on. What I’m still hoping to do is to get documentation that will clear things up, then maybe I can interest another company in coming to Tecumseh.”

Roberts became affiliated with the site when Consolidated Biscuit had an interest. His company was to construct the ovens and machinery for that business until the deal fell apart.

Roberts said he is not ready to give up on the Tecumseh site as a future manufacturer — even if it isn’t a food business. “I’m never giving up; I don’t ever give up,” he said. “There’s always something coming along. I think this economy will turn around and I think there are good things going on in the state of Michigan. The Right to Work Law has made Michigan look more attractive for companies, I think, and it’s centrally located. I’ve had food companies interested that are from that market area. If we can get a clean bill of health and take care of these clean-up issues, then I think I can go back to bringing people in. If I can show them that this is all cleared and get that old building separated, there’s a lot of potential there. I think we can still make it happen.”




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