Former Sappi site in Muskegon, Michigan, nearly cleared of all buildings following Oct. 27 implosion; talks with unnamed buyer group, current owner, Sappi, and state over environmental and legal issues at 'sensitive' stage, says state DEQ official

LOS ANGELES , October 29, 2013 () – The former Sappi Fine Paper North America paper mill property in Muskegon, Michigan, is nearly cleared of all buildings after an implosion of the power plant on Oct. 27, but negotiations about the site’s future continue, reported mlive.com on Oct. 28.

All that remains at the site are two 275-foot smokestacks, foundations of the paper mill buildings, and two structures that an unidentified buyer group has indicated it would use, said Doug Melching, who now owns the property.

The smokestacks are to be taken down separately next April due to environmental contamination issues, said Melching, who bought the 120-acre property from Sappi for US$2.3 million in August 2011, mlive.com reported.

Melching owns a Michigan demolition company called Melching Inc., which is doing demolition work at the site.

Currently, negotiations have reached a “sensitive” stage with representatives of the buyer group, Sappi, the state, and Melching, said Anne Couture, who is with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.

The talks concern complex legal and environmental issues facing the property, said Couture, who is the state’s Brownfield redevelopment expert, reported mlive.com.

Among the issues with the site are deed restrictions that Sappi placed on the property when it was sold to Melching, including limiting part of any redevelopment to industrial uses.

However, Melching said he heard last week from his attorney that the new buyer group is making progress as it works through its due diligence on the site, mlive.com reported.

Melching, community leaders, and the public seek a mixed-used waterfront development for the property.

For at least the next eight months, heavy demolition and cleanup will continue at the site; but the property should be cleared and leveled by this time next year, according to Melching.

The 3,000 tons of steel and concrete remaining in a 60-foot high pile after the recent implosion of the power plant should be cleared away within the next three weeks, Melching said, reported mlive.com.

The primary source of this article is mlive.com, Ann Arbor, Michigan, on Oct. 28, 2013.

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