City of Negaunee to pursue lawsuit against Kirkwood Building owners

In 2019, the city had to demolish the building for safety reasons. Since then, the city says it has not been reimbursed for the work.
FILE. Crews work tearing apart Kirkwood Building in 2019.
FILE. Crews work tearing apart Kirkwood Building in 2019.(WLUC)
Published: Jan. 18, 2021 at 11:49 AM EST
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NEGAUNEE, Mich. (WLUC) - The City of Negaunee is filing a lawsuit against owners of a downtown building after a 2019 incident.

At its last regularly scheduled meeting on January 14, 2021, the Negaunee City Council voted unanimously to direct the city attorney to file suit against the owner(s) of the former Kirkwood Building property located at 324 Iron St. in downtown Negaunee.

In the spring of 2019, the Kirkwood Building’s roof collapsed and that caused the third-level floor to crash through to the basement. Following a review of the structure, it was determined that the building created a hazardous condition that posed legitimate safety and property risks to residents, visitors and nearby downtown buildings.

Despite repeated requests, the owner failed and/or refused to take necessary remedial action to abate the hazard the city said. This required the city to utilize emergency powers under the city’s Property Maintenance Code (PMC) to demolish and mitigate the health, safety and welfare risks posed by the collapse of the historic structure.

Demolition began in the summer of 2019, and was completed in the fall of 2019, at the city’s expense. The city said it also had to repair the roofs of the neighboring buildings, including reattachment of the roof lining to the edge of adjoining buildings that had come apart when the Kirkwood was razed.

Despite repeated requests, the city said it has not been reimbursed for the costs associated with the demolitions and necessary repairs.

As part of the lawsuit, the city will seek reimbursement for all of the costs associated with having to abate the hazard, which totaled $209,795.65, and included demolition fees, asbestos testing fees, engineering consultation fees, fence rental, roofing repairs, and other charges for service rendered by the city during demolition.

The city will also seek legal fees and costs associated with having to pursue the suit.

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