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Major Clean-up underway at Cedar Knoll

The former Cedar Knoll Care Center
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After years of being abandoned, neglected, vandalized, occupied by the occasional squatters, a dump site for garbage and even a fire that only made things look worse than they already were, one of Grass Lake’s biggest eyesores is about to be cleaned up. Demolition has already begun at the former Cedar Knoll Care Center along the north side of I-94 as the buildings are being razed and the entire property cleaned-up by Grass Lake Charter Township.

Bulldozers and excavators are about to make quick work of the property at 9230 Cedar Knoll Dr in Grass Lake. Joe Smalley, owner of Smalley Construction in Scottville, MI expects to have the property completely cleaned up and ready for grass seed by the end of March and once spring breaks, grass seed and landscaping will be added to complete the job. Smalley Construction was awarded the contract by the Township to remove the asbestos, demolish the buildings, remove the garbage, asphalt, foundations and generally clean the property.

The building and property has sat vacant since it was last used as a health care facility/nursing home in 2007. The property has gone through foreclosure, bankruptcy over the years and then foreclosure again in 2015. In 2012, the main offices and one wing burned when squatters caught the building on fire. The property failed to sell last fall at the final Jackson County Tax Auction. The County turned over the property to the Township in January. Jim Stormont, Grass Lake Charter Township Supervisor, said “We have been working with the Jackson County Treasurer to clean up the abandoned Cedar Knoll property for some time now. Due to the property being in foreclosure, neither the Township nor the County was able to require the owner to comply with our ordinances.” According to the tax records the property sold in 2004 for just over $1M , in 2007 for $340k and then was listed for sale in the tax auction for back taxes, interest and penalties totaling to more than $300k. The Township acquired the property for zero dollars from the County with the hope that it would be cleaned up and sold.

This past December, the Township initially budgeted $50,000 to complete the demolition however that turned out to be substantially too low. In January, the Township commissioned an asbestos evaluation that determined asbestos was present in the floor tiles throughout the buildings, and abatement would be necessary to remove them. The asbestos abatement estimates ranged from $25,000 to over $50,000. The Township put the project out for sealed bids. There were 5 bids for demolition that ranged from $147k to $276k. Smalley Construction had the low bid of $147,480 and had all the necessary references and qualifications. Smalley was in attendance at the Township work session where the sealed bids were opened. He indicated they are currently doing a lot of business for the City of Detroit and the city of Jackson, amongst other projects and was excited to have the chance to remove this eyesore.

The demolition project started in February with the posting of notice for demolition as required by law, followed by the digging up of the asphalt driveway and removing of trash. The final step before demolition is the asbestos abatement. Items that can be recycled will be recycled, the building blocks will be crushed into stone and according to Smalley are likely to be used as base in upcoming road projects and the rest will be taken to the dump.

The property will be completely cleaned and restored to prebuilding conditions, all buildings, foundations, diseased trees and garbage will be removed and then the property will be listed for sale.  The sewer, water and electrical hook-ups will remain for future development.

According to the 2015 Township Assessment, the 9 acres has an appraised land value of $186,491. The project is currently scheduled for completion by the end of March, weather permitting.

Scott Bray is also an elected Trustee of Grass Lake Charter Township.

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