Thursday, March 21 — Lansing Community College will soon start the process of removing three homes — each at least 111 years old — on the southwest corner of North Capitol Avenue and West Saginaw Street to make way for a park-like entrance to its campus.
LCC purchased the three houses in May for a total of $400,000. It originally planned to demolish them, but backed off after opposition from the local historic preservation community. The college then accepted proposals from anyone interested in moving the houses to another location.
8 Families LLC — a collection of Lansing residents looking to relocate the houses to a mostly vacant block in the nearby Genesee Neighborhood — was the only group to respond.
LCC spokeswoman Ellen Jones said the college gave 8 Families “multiple” deadline extensions to find land for the houses, but they were unsuccessful. The group’s plan to move them to the block bounded by Butler Boulevard and Ottawa, Ionia and Sycamore streets fell apart after the Michigan Association of Broadcasters bought the property nearly a month ago.
“This week, and I don’t know if it’s happened yet or not, a letter is going to 8 Families LLC saying that we recognize they can’t meet the requirements,” Jones said.
Jones said the houses will not be demolished. The college will send out a Request for Proposals for “deconstruction,” a process by which a house is taken apart piece by piece, recycling the materials.
“What we need to do is issue an RFP for reclamation and deconstruction,” Jones said.
“Reclamation is taking out historic elements. We would have to have a professional company do that because there’s a lot of lead and asbestos in there. After reclamation is deconstruction.”
Jones didn’t know when the RFP would be sent out or how much reclamation and deconstruction would cost.
As for what happens with the materials reclaimed from the houses, Jones said it’s something LCC would have to discuss with the potential deconstruction vendors.
“There’s a lot of ways you can do it. You can have a sale, you can set things up in another location. There’s all sorts of ways to disperse historic materials and we’ll figure that out,” she said.
Gretchen Cochran, president of the Downtown Neighborhood Association and a founding member of Preservation Lansing, was disappointed to hear the news.
“At least they’re not trashing all the pieces. That’s something,” she said. “The reality is that three Lansing historic structures are coming down and it’s another example of our disrespect of our heritage. I’m very, very sad. “
Two dumpsters full of debris behind the house at 211 Saginaw St., which was built in 1898, have nothing to do with deconstruction of the houses, Jones said.
“There are dumpsters over there and that is because there is water damage in 211 (W. Saginaw St.),” Jones said. “And that’s just for cleanup of the water damage.”
A look inside 211 W. Saginaw reveals that the flooring has been pulled up and a water dryer has been plugged in to help dry out the house. Jones didn’t know when or how the water damage happened.
“I’ve been told the pipes broke,” Cochran said. “If that’s true, then that is nothing but benign neglect. Anybody that owns a house knows if you turn the heat off, the pipes are going to freeze and break in the Michigan winter.”