The following was published on the Northville Township website and is published here for those of you who have not seen it:
NORTHVILLE TOWNSHIP, Mich., November 13, 2017 – For anyone who has driven down Seven Mile Road in the last 15 years, one thing has stood out – the old, abandoned psychiatric hospital property. To many, the buildings are a sign of the past and have been an eye-sore and an attractive nuisance. From the time Supervisor Nix has taken office in 2012, he set this as one of the highest priorities for this Township. “For years, these buildings have created blight and have been a significant drain on public safety resources.”
A little bit of history – as a result of an election in 2009, Northville Township acquired nearly 350 acres surrounding the former Northville Psychiatric Hospital for a park and the preservation of additional open space within the Township. Township residents voted to acquire the property at a cost of approximately 23.5 million dollars.
The property purchase included the main Psychiatric Hospital and 18 other buildings. The buildings were in a deteriorating condition including asbestos and other environmental hazards creating a challenge to the Township for their removal and demolition.
“For the past several years, scrappers and trespassers have vandalized the property, spreading asbestos and have accelerated the deterioration of the buildings. This activity created public safety concerns for our residents and anyone entering the property” stated Supervisor Nix. As a result, the Township had to spend over $100,000 a year to protect the property and deter the scrappers and trespassers. This continued activity also increased the clean-up cost of environmental contaminants by millions.
From the time of his election in 2012, Supervisor Nix was focused on the demolition and clean-up of this property. One of the first targets which adversely impacted the adjacent subdivisions was the Power House, Maintenance Building and adjacent smoke stacks. The demolition included the removal of asbestos, hazardous waste barrels, debris and other environmental conditions at a cost of $600,000. The remediation was continued with the Township obtaining a grant of $320,000 to demolish the 19,851 square foot building “Number 72” site remediation in 2013.
Supervisor Nix recognized that the primary target and main focus was still the psychiatric hospital building. The tall, nine-story building (with two floors below ground), is by far the largest at 252,174 sq. feet and was used for administrative purposes, patient wards and medical services. The cost of demolition and clean-up created the largest challenge. Supervisor Nix and the Board spent considerable time and effort to find funding sources for this project.
A funding opportunity appeared when the Township acquired the Scott Correctional Facility for $1 at Five Mile and Beck. After demolishing the prison without cost to the Township, the goal was to sell the property for development and use the sale proceeds for Seven Mile demolition. However, any change in the restricted use of the property for public purposes required the consent of the State of Michigan. Supervisor Nix convinced the State of Michigan to permit the development of the Scott Property with the purchase proceeds being shared between the Township and the State of Michigan which provided five million in funding for demolition of the hospital building.
With that funding in place, the Township solicited bids for the project which ranged from 9 to 17.5 million dollars. These costs were greater than expected and were the result of scrappers and trespassers scattering the asbestos and further contaminating the site over the years. Since the Supervisor’s highest priority was the nine story building, he scaled back the project and worked with the contractor to reduce the cost to 6 million dollars to ensure the hospital building and connected buildings were demolished.
Supervisor Nix stated “I am extremely excited that this demolition project is coming to fruition and thank our team for all their efforts. Our residents will soon be able to view the skyline on Seven Mile with that blight to our community removed.”
Safety is of the upmost importance to both those working on-site and also the neighboring area. The Township has hired a consultant to monitor the process and inspect the work, including air-quality testing to ensure the community is protected and the demolition complies with all laws. This will include fully encapsulating the building to prevent containments from becoming airborne and completely washing down the entire building and all its contents before any removal occurs. Demolition will tentatively begin as early as late spring/early summer of 2018. It should also be noted that this will not be an implosion when demolition occurs – it will be a slow process, with the buildings being taken down piece by piece.
The current timeline subject to weather conditions is as follows:
November 2017: Setting up a work area on-site including a mobile office; fencing the perimeter, setting up large flood-lights, video surveillance and security detail during non-work hours.
End of November – beginning of 2018: beginning the abatement process; encapsulating the building.
April – July 2018: Once the building has been environmentally cleared, the above ground demolition of the buildings will begin.
July – mid August 2018: Crushing and filling of the below grade floors.
Mid-August – October 2018: Final grading/punch list; project completion