Council gives final approval for demolition

By DANIEL HERATY
Times-Herald Newspapers

DEARBORN – The city’s skyline will soon look a little different.

The buildings along Michigan Avenue that housed Giuliano’s Restaurant, Brother’s Formal Wear and Bally’s Fitness Center have been given the go-ahead for demolition.

Councilors unanimously okayed the demolition at their regular meeting Sept. 6. Councilor Nancy Hubbard was absent.

The buildings have been vacant for many years and were scheduled to be demolished in 2007, but the city was awaiting Brownfield Funding. Now, after four years of delays, the demolition is scheduled to begin after the credits were approved.

According to a letter to the councilors by Dearborn Director of Economic & Community Development Barry Murray dated Aug. 29, Dearborn Village Partners LLC will be reimbursed for the demolition under the Brownfield Plan, after the new buildings begin generating revenue.

The demolition and development plan have until next year to be approved before a yet-unnamed developer loses an estimated 10 percent tax credit, determined by the value of the property, an estimated $90 million in private investment.

Murray said the development plan still must be approved by the state and the Michigan Economic Grown Authority before the reimbursements are awarded. He said if developers build what they say they’re going to, then they get the credit. If they haven’t paid the second half of a $30,000 down payment (a percentage of the estimated value of the property determined by the State) by May 2012, they won’t get the credit.

The decision will allow for DVP to begin a two-step process of demolishing the buildings to a foot below ground level, leaving the existing foundations for Brother’s Formal Wear and Bally’s in place, and filling them with clean fill dirt and planting grass on the surface.

Giuliano’s will be the first building demolished and completely removed, since it has only a basement and not a foundation.

“It’s the simplest of the three buildings,” Murray said. “It’s going to have the most immediate impact from an eyesore perspective.” He said the demolitions should take no more than a few months, based on his previous experiences. He said walls shared by the buildings need to be protected, which might add time to the demolition.

In May, Councilors passed a resolution allowing for most of the foundations to be removed, and created deadlines of seven months for the demolition and nine months for detailed plans for new buildings. City Attorney Debra Walling said the demolition needs to be completed by Dec. 13 and plans for the property development need to be in place no later than February 2012.

After a new structure is approved, the basements and foundations will be filled with compacted soil or crushed stone to the specifications of the new structures.

The sub-grade improvements under Michigan Avenue, made under the level foundation, are to remain, since protecting the sidewalks and utilities is important, Murray said.

Walling said the possibility for tax credits is a “substantial” incentive for potential developers to build on the property. She said the nine-month timetable following the buildings’ removal is for plans to be submitted to the Michigan Economic and Development Coropration, the organization in charge of awarding the tax credits.

Walling said there are no current plans to develop on the site.

(Daniel Heraty can be reached at dheraty@bewickpublications.com.)

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