City receives funding for warehouse demolition

Published 8:00 am Friday, July 3, 2015

The city of Dowagiac will be receiving some hefty assistance from the State of Michigan for its plan to demolish the old “big gray” warehouse downtown.

The Michigan State Housing Development Authority announced this week that the city was one of 19 communities in the state to receive grant money through the MSHDA blight elimination program.

Dowagiac has been given a preliminary award of $250,000, which will be used to reimburse a significant portion of the demolition costs of the three-story former warehouse, located by the railroad tracks on East Division Street.

The city acquired the vacant property back in May. Shortly thereafter, Assistant City Manager Rozanne Scherr created an application to MSHDA for blight elimination funding, which city council approved on May 22. Dowagiac was one 49 applicants requesting funds from the $8 million program, according to a press release from the organization.

“We thought we had a real solid grant application, but you never what the pool is going to be like until you jump in,” said Dowagiac City Manager Kevin Anderson.

With the application approved, the city will follow up some additional paperwork with the state, and will shortly begin the process of placing the project up for bid to contractors, Anderson said. Preliminary cost estimates for the project fall between $400,000 to $500,000, meaning the MSHDA grant could cover half the costs.

“Just because we got the grant doesn’t mean the building will be knocked down next week, but we will be working hard to move this project along as quickly as we can,” Anderson said.

The 100,000 square foot building, constructed by the former Round Oak Stove Company, has been vacant since the mid-90s. The structure is in poor condition, with a heavily damaged roof at risk of collapse, along with a crumbling façade. The city has also received frequent complaints about vandalism and illegal trespassing inside the structure, Anderson said.

“When you can remove large deteriorating buildings, it helps all the properties surrounding it,” Anderson said. “It will be a benefit to downtown and to other commercial properties around the property.”