Cass County entities collaborate with EGLE to demolish unsafe building in Edwardsburg

Published 10:03 am Monday, April 22, 2024

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EDWARDSBURG — A prime piece of real estate in uptown Edwardsburg will soon get a new life, thanks to a collaboration between multiple county and state entities.

Known by most locals as “the old gas station,” the dilapidated property at 26828 Main St. was most recently an antiques and collectibles store. In the years it has sat vacant, however, the site has become a safety hazard and topic of concern for many neighboring business owners and residents, causing the Village to seek help in addressing the blighted property. 

Among those concerned were representatives of the Edwardsburg Area History Museum, which is right next door. In a letter of support for grant funding, the museum board expressed grave concern over the safety of the property.

“The building should be condemned,” the letter read. “It is a hazard subject to vandalism and even arson. Should that building catch fire, our property would be lost. … Over the last 22 years much has been invested in the museum in the form of repairs, remodeling and most importantly the acquisition of artifacts that simply cannot be replaced. The building is open to the elements with the east side basically collapsed. It is unsightly, has a terrible odor and is a home to feral cats and likely other animals. The museum totally supports any action to remove this dangerous and unsightly blight from our community.”

Hearing their concerns, Cass County Treasurer Hope Anderson, who is also chair of the Cass County Land Bank and a member of the Brownfield Redevelopment Authority, made the property the Land Bank’s top priority in the latest grant application for the state land bank’s blight elimination program.

However, in the process of securing funds for demolition of the building, the land bank learned that the project would need more resources than originally anticipated due to the underground storage tanks from when the property was originally erected as a gasoline service station in the 1940s.

Anderson approached the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) about how to address the issue, and EGLE ultimately agreed to pay for not only the corrective actions through the tank and soil removal program, but also the demolition of the existing building.

“I am proud to see this brownfield redevelopment project moving forward in partnership with EGLE,” Anderson said. “This initiative not only addresses environmental concerns but also paves the way for new opportunities and growth in our community.”

Cass County Commissioner Roseann Marchetti, a member of the Uptown Improvement Association, echoed her thanks to EGLE.

“It is truly an enormous help that the Landbank and EGLE have worked together for the benefit of the community,” Marchetti said. “The cost for the demolition and removal of underground storage tanks is enormous and EGLE has been a welcome partner in that regard.”

This project is one of multiple efforts in an ongoing push to revitalize the “Uptown” district in Edwardsburg. Blocks away, the Cass District Library will soon build a new Edwardsburg branch. Library Director Barbara Gordon also expressed her support for the demolition project.

“Situated in the heart of the village, this particular area will soon be buzzing with traffic as our library system is constructing a new 9,500 square- foot library just 0.1 miles directly west of the referenced property on Main Street,” Gordon wrote in a letter of support. “The revitalization of 26828 W. Main Street will continue to add to the positive momentum happening in the Village and Cass District Library is in full support.”

After demolition, owners of the former gas station intend to construct a small, mixed-use commercial and residential structure.

On May 22, EGLE will host a mandatory pre-bid meeting to kick off the project.

“The [demolition] project is slated for completion by the summer of 2024, marking a significant milestone in the Village of Edwardsburg’s journey toward modernization and revitalization,” Anderson said.