Archived Story

Condemnation hearing set for Eastgate Plaza

Published 12:49am Saturday, February 27, 2010

By AARON MUELLER
Niles Daily Star

Niles Township may be getting one step closer to razing the long-abandoned Eastgate Plaza.

A hearing date at Berrien County Court has been set for March 11 at 9 a.m. for Niles Township to seek a condemnation order for the building.

If Niles Township wins the case, it will have access to the property, currently owned by MoorPark LLC of Van Nuys, Calif.

Niles Township Supervisor Jim Kidwell said the township will then send building inspector Jeff Dunlap to the property to assess it for contaminants like lead, mercury and asbestos. The amount of such contaminants will affect the bids the county receives from demolition crews.

The township would also be able to put a fence around the entire property, hopefully curbing further vandalism to the building.

Kidwell says he has his doubts if a representative from MoorPark will even show up for the hearing, considering the township has given the company multiple notices to take action on the building over the past four years. If that is the case, the hearing will default and the township will have access to the property.

Just how much would the demolition cost the township?

“Until we get in there and Jeff can determine the contaminants on the ground, it’s hard to say,” Kidwell said. “Preliminary demolition bids from people who have driven by there are between $65,000 and $300,000.”

Kidwell and the township board have been hurried to get rid of Eastgate by residents and business owners who see the old building as a community eye sore and hotspot for vandalism and mischief.

“It’s something we want to get moving on fast,” Kidwell said. “By the end of the summer, we want to get this torn down. Whether it’s unrealistic or not, that’s the goal.”

The 52-acre property on Oak Street was a popular shopping destination in the 1960s and 70s, featuring more than 20 businesses, but has been abandoned since 2006.

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