Kirkwood Building demolition has begun

NEGAUNEE — Demolition has begun on one local landmark after it was deemed a hazard to the community. The roof of the Kirkwood Building in downtown Negaunee first caved in back in May, and the city has been worried about the structural safety of the building ever since.

Demolition began Wednesday after the proper permits were secured by the city, and because of the proximity of the neighboring buildings, demolition crews are taking extra precautions.

“There’s always going to be some concerns when you’re demoing a building that’s between two others,” said Negaunee City Manager Nate Heffron. “We don’t know what that’s going to yield at this time, but as we go those folks that are professionals that are tearing this down, will be evaluting that every single minute as they are tearing this structure down to see if it will cause any negative effects on the other buildings. So there is some concern.”

The structure of the building has been a concern throughout the summer for the city, which also has asbestos throughout. Due to the condition of the building, there is not much that will be salvageable, but the city has requested that certain pieces be saved, if possible.

“So we’re going to attempt to save the [part] that says ‘Kirkwood’ on it, and we’re going to try to reuse that possibly, if we get to keep that portion of it,” Heffron said. “In addition to that, the two buttons on the front that say when the building was built, we’re going to attempt to keep those as well.”

The asbestos in the building has created an additional concern for the city: air contamination. The city has been working with the Environmental Protection Agency throughout the project, who is also providing assistance in making sure air quality is not effected.

“They do have several machines set up within the community, they’re testing the air as they’re tearing the building down and checking those levels,” said Heffron. “So far everything has come in way below the levels that we’ve gotten back so far. And in addition to that, they’re going to continue monitoring, and making sure the building is taken down properly as it pertains to the asbestos that’s currently in the building.”

The demolition is expected to be done next week, and as of right now there are no plans for the lot once the demolition is complete, though Heffron says that it will not be a parking lot.