The tower section of the Binder Building, 34 E. Michigan Ave., continues to present a public hazard, as its location in the city’s historic district delays further action.
City staff have assessed the building regularly since several floors collapsed inside the tower on Sept. 6, 2019. Fencing and signage remain around part of the building in case of further deterioration.
The city has taken all steps available to try to quickly address the hazard the tower presents – it was declared a dangerous building, is posted as such, and entry is prohibited. The city also obtained bids for demolition of the tower portion of the building.
Because the building is in a historic district, proceeding with demolition requires the approval of the city’s Historic District Commission. At the HDC’s Dec. 9 meeting, city staff presented findings related to the building’s condition, and recommended demolishing the tower section. HDC members and others discussed the desire to give the property owner more time to address the building’s deterioration. As such, the HDC denied moving forward with demolition.
At the subsequent, Jan. 13 HDC meeting, the city presented the dangerous building findings, testimony from a structural engineer, and testimony from the Battle Creek Fire Department; firefighters are prohibited from entering the building, except for a rescue mission.
However, after lengthy discussion, the HDC again denied moving forward with demolition, as some members did not believe the conditions needed to proceed were met.
City administrators will appeal the HDC’s decision to Michigan’s State Historic Preservation Review Board, which next meets on May 29. In addition, state law allows an adjacent property owner or anyone who lives in the Battle Creek city limits, who disagrees with the HDC decision, to appeal it in Calhoun County circuit court.