City condemns building on Ludington Street

Jenny Lancour | Daily Press The building, shown above at 910 Ludington St. in downtown Escanaba, was officially condemned by Escanaba City Council on Thursday. Following the city’s lengthy efforts to work with the owner and following Thursday’s public comments from neighboring property owners, the deteriorating structure is now slated for demolition.

ESCANABA — A privately-owned downtown building described as unsafe, unsightly and unfit for human occupancy was condemned by Escanaba City Council during its regular meeting at city hall Thursday and is now slated for demolition.

Following a public hearing on the matter, council gave the go-ahead for the city’s code compliance inspector, Blaine DeGrave, to seek bids to demolish the two-story 3,075-square-foot building at 910 Ludington.

The building is in poor structural condition and deteriorating to the point where it is leaning to the east, he said.

DeGrave stated he has been trying to work with the property owner, Caleb Hayes of DePere, Wis., and Hayes’ attorney for more than a year to maintain the commercial structure, which most recently housed the Performance Audio business.

DeGrave told council that Hayes “walked away” from the abandoned building in June 2017 and hadn’t acknowledged several violation notifications from the city until a couple weeks ago. Hayes was notified about Thursday’s public hearing regarding the condemnation of the property, DeGrave added.

In addition to the building meeting the city’s definitions for being a “public nuisance” and an “unsafe structure,” an exterior inspection of the building by a local engineer also deemed it to be in poor condition and uninhabitable.

“For the two-story building, with the likely water damages, deteriorated chimney and the structural concerns associated with the building lean, bowed walls, sagging roof, settling foundations and deteriorated stud walls, it is apparent that significant structural repairs are required to keep the building and chimney intact and protect the occupants of the building, the public and the neighboring property,” stated a report by Daniel Block, a project engineer of Dynamic Design Group, Inc. of Escanaba, who inspected the site last fall.

During Thursday’s public hearing, comments were expressed by property owners who each own neighboring businesses alongside 910 Ludington St.

Jayne Mackowiak, a local attorney directly to the west of the blighted building, said she is concerned about the safety of her staff, clients, and upstairs tenant because the structure is leaning. She noted her insurance company is also concerned about the building’s condition.

“Something needs to be done as soon as possible,” she told council, suggesting the building be removed and replaced with a pocket park providing access to a downtown parking lot behind the property.

“The building’s gotta’ go,” Mackowiak added.

Roy Hivala told council the deteriorating structure is listing towards the Canterbury Book Store, which he and his wife, Shirley, own directly east of the condemned property.

He said the structure is missing part of its foundation, gets flooded inside, and is a “zoo” for various animals. He’s concerned the building may fall and damage their property.

“I just want it gone,” Hivala told council members.

In addition, both Mackowiak and Hivala requested each tree in front of their businesses be removed. Hivala said his building has experienced flooding due to tree roots damaging the underground drainage system.

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Jenny Lancour, (906) 786-2021, ext. 143, jlancour@dailypress.net

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