Court order to allow for abandoned mall demolitionPublished 9:01am Wednesday, April 14, 2010
By AARON MUELLER
Niles Daily Star
There was a sense of relief in the voice of Niles Township Supervisor Jim Kidwell Tuesday afternoon.
Earlier that day, Berrien County Trial Judge John E. Dewayne granted an order to allow the township access to the abandoned Eastgate Plaza, bringing the township one step closer to demolishing the building. Villa Environmental Consultants, which was hired by the township last month, is now cleared to search the property for asbestos, mercury and other contaminants.
Kidwell was happy that the project is finally moving forward, after the hearing was postponed early last month when the court determined property owner MoorPark LLC of Van Nuys, Calif. had not received proper notice of the hearing.
“It was a great day,” Kidwell said. “It was a major step for us.”
As expected, a representative from MoorPark did not even appear in court.
The court order will also allow the township to construct a barricade around the property in 10 days, which will hopefully curb any further vandalism to the property before it is demolished.
Kidwell said if everything “falls in line” with the inspection of the building, a bid package will be released for prospective demolition crews by mid-May.
He is also holding out hope that the building will be razed in the next few months.
“If things go right, we are hoping for the end of the summer,” Kidwell said.
He also said if MoorPark does not pick up the tab for demolition, there are local foundations who have committed to donate.
Residents and area business owners, who see the old building as a community eyesore and hotspot for vandalism and mischief, have been hurrying the township board to demolish Eastgate for several months.
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.