GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Demolition crews were out Sunday to begin the process of knocking down two buildings on Division Aveue deemed 'structurally unsafe' by city officials.
The buildings, 35 and 41 Division Avenue, have been visibly leaning for quite some time, forcing crews earlier in the year to place barricades around the sidewalk in the area out of fear falling bricks and other debris that could injure people walking past the site.
“You can see how it’s leaning," said John McGill who was worried the space will now just become a vacant plot of land. "The foundation is bad, and so they’ve got no other choice other than to tear it down."
A small crowd gathered across the street to watch history fall to the ground Sunday morning as crews began demolition.
“It will clean up the neighborhood a tremendous bit," Barbara Kadrovach said. “It’ll be good to come down, because a lot of homeless people go in there and hide out.”
Rockford Development has been contracted for the demolition and city engineers say the plan is to have the project completed in time for the start of ArtPrize on Wednesday.
It's a demolition Bradley Hartwell says is a long-time coming of a building her refers to as the "leaning towers of Grand Rapids."
“It’s been kind of a security hazard and a fall hazard so it’ll be good to be safe again," he said. “I'm excited to see what will happen next.”
In July, the Grand Rapids Historical Preservation Committee approved demolition of the two buildings that have stood on the corner of Division Avenue and Weston Street for more than a century.
"It is problematic, and it has the potential to be more problematic," city engineer Mark De Clercq told FOX 17 in July.
"We noticed that the basement foundation up against Division had been removed and replaced. It's sort of like Jenga blocks: If you pull one out, the whole thing may come down."
Pub 43, a popular local bar located in one of the leaning buildings, was forced to relocate because of the problems with the building's structure.
Developers say they want to build something on the property that will be a valuable asset to the neighborhood, but no specifics have been given yet.