Historical house faces demolition

“I know these are tough economic times, but there are people out there that love these types of homes. Once it’s gone, it’s gone.” — Don Schultz, Wyandotte Cultural and Historical Commission president


Sunday Times Newspapers


WYANDOTTE — The City Council has given the Cultural and Historical Commission 90 days from Feb. 23 to save a house from demolition.


The house at 150 Spruce, which once belonged to the Labadie family, is slated for demolition if it cannot be moved to a different location. Commission members now have until May 24 to find the funds to move the house to a more appropriate location to be restored.


The city currently owns the property and insists that the house be moved before it can be restored.


Mayor James DeSana said the reasoning behind officials’ insistence is that the house is behind a block that may be used for more commercialized properties in the near future.


He said the city has planned to develop the blocks between the south side of Ford Avenue east of Second and north of Spruce into a more commercial area, including doctor’s offices.


“We need to move it because it looks like that block in the future will not be a block that a historical house should be left on,” he said. “We don’t want to be in opposition of other economic development that might end up on that site.”


He added that parking is at a premium when talking to developers, and having more space would aid in the city’s attempts to bring in business.


“That is why we would want to move it and restore it elsewhere, because we might be changing the way that entire block looks in the next few years,” he said.


A bid came in to the council from a Lincoln Park resident who offered to restore the house on the current location, but members did not consider that a viable option.


“Basically I thought there were two options: either to try to come up with some type of credit to move the house, or to demolish it,” Councilman Todd Browning said. “Now there might be a third option.”


Cultural and Historical Commission President Don Schultz asked the council for 90 days to find someone who would be willing to save the house.


“We’re just asking for a chance to find the funding, the person to move it and get it done,” Schultz said. “I know these are tough economic times, but there are people out there that love these types of homes.


“Once it’s gone, it’s gone.”


DeSana said the city has experience moving houses, and that officials know the costs involved.


“We have just moved a house off of Mulberry to Third,” he said. “It isn’t as simple as just moving the house.


It is everything else you would have to do to make the house ready to be moved.”


City Engineer Mark Kowalewski said renovations to the house would cost at least $100,000, and that the total cost to move and restore it would be about $260,000.


“The (Wyandotte) Community Alliance has restored the home at 3634 Third Street and has been trying to sell it since October 2008,” Kowalewski said. “Thus, this project would have to be heavily subsidized.”


He believes the project would not merit any city resources during the current economic climate. That means the fate of the house will be determined solely by the commission’s attempts to find an investor.


“I think the commission at least deserves the opportunity to find someone,” Councilwoman Sheri Sutherby Fricke said.