BELDING — More than three months ago, the wheels were set into motion on the demolition of the Belding Clock Tower and surrounding silk mill and Gibson Buildings.
Now, physical evidence of the demolition process is beginning to emerge as city officials in Belding have been notified that buildings will begin coming down starting the week of March 11.
As of Monday, equipment has began to be placed on the site located on the corner of Bridge and Main streets in Belding in preparation for the demolition of the buildings and clock tower, and more equipment will continue to be added up until the start date of demolition in less than two weeks.
According to Interim City Manager Sam Andres, an email from Tim Cook of Golder Associates, a global company providing consulting, design and construction services in earth, environment and related areas of energy, was sent to City Code Official Gregg Moore informing him of the start date of the demolition process.
In the letter, Moore was informed that the demolition permit for the Electrolux buildings was received. It also stated that the contractor, Bierlein Companies, was going to begin moving large equipment onto the site on Monday, with additional support equipment brought in throughout next week. The letter then stated that demolition of the buildings would begin the week beginning March 11.
“This is the information we have received at this point and this is all we know as of now,” Andres said. “The first two weeks, they will begin staging everything. Then the demolition of the buildings will follow.”
Andres said Electrolux will have 12 months to complete the demolition processes, as according the consent judgment that was agreed upon by both Electrolux and the city of Belding and was signed by a judge.
According to the judement, during that allotted 12-month period, Electrolux must follow requirements enforced by the Michigan Department of Environmental Qualities (MDEQ) to ensure the site is environmentally fit at the completion of the demolition.
The judgment reads: “Electrolux shall, in a timely manner, actively and diligently perform all activities lawfully required by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality on the Electrolux property … Electrolux will use reasonable efforts to comply with any environmental standards that may be lawfully required by MDEQ in order for the easement property to be used as a public park, provided, however, that compliance with such standards would not constitute a material change to the environmental standards for industrial properties that apply to the Electrolux property.”
According to the consent judgement, in place of the Gibson structures will one day be a city park, as agreed by both parties.
The judgment reads: “The city and Electrolux mutually shall approve the design of a public park to be located on the easement property … including the design of all improvements … to be located thereon. Such designs shall be consistent with the easement … and the terms and conditions of this consent judgement.”
Electrolux will make a one-time contribution of $75,000 to the city of Belding to be expended by the city for the sole purpose of helping to defray the cost of designing and establishing a public park on the easement property.
The judgment also allows the city to reassemble the clock tower or reconstruct a replica clock tower on the site, however, a suitable environmentally safe location on the site would have to be located, and the easement would have to be modified to allow for the limited purpose of that location, including the city providing liability insurance for claims arising out of the erection, maintenance and existence of the clock tower or a replica clock.
The consent judgment reads: “Electrolux shall use reasonable efforts to dismantle, preserve, donate and deliver to the city … the slate tile rooftop over the clock tower, the clock, the wood housing surrounding the clock and the materials immediately abutting such wooden housing … and the blocks/place-cards containing the ‘Belding Bros.’ inscription and the plaque showing the year built.”
The original silk mill building and clock tower stand as two of the oldest landmarks within the city, the building having been created in 1901 and the clock tower built in 1903.
Alvah Belding and his brother, Hiram, established Belding Brothers & Co. in 1890. The company employed 500 to 750 people before closing in 1932. The factory was later purchased by Gibson and converted into a plant for central and room air conditioners.
Electrolux, which acquired all rights to the former Gibson name in 1986, re-purchased the property in 2010 after selling it in 1991. The company first sought to demolish the buildings after filing a building permit application with the city for demolition of all buildings on the 4.3-acre site in 2010. The buildings were condemned by the city in 2008 and have been vacant since 1988.
Belding Mayor Ron Gunderson.
In November, Belding City Council members voted 4-1 in favor of the consent judgment that will allow Electrolux to demolish all structures on the site at the corner of Main and Bridge streets. Mayor Ron Gunderson cast the opposing vote.
“It’s sad to see it go,” Gunderson said Wednesday. “It’s a big part of downtown and could have continued to have been a big part of downtown, but Electrolux wanted everything down.”