Former Cliffs office building in Ishpeming to be razed

ISHPEMING – A historic building in Ishpeming will soon be razed.

The sprawling building on the corner of Euclid and Spruce streets – composed of three rectangles of varying heights covered with white siding – housed administrative staff from Cleveland-Cliffs Iron Co. (now Cliffs Natural Resources) for more than 100 years.

It will be demolished in the next couple of days and the property then deeded to the city, according to Dan Blondeau, senior adviser of communications and media relations at Eagle Mine. The mine bought the building from Cliffs in 2008 and used it until 2012.

“It’s already been staged,” Blondeau said of the demolition. “All the asbestos is removed from the building and pretty much anything of value, but they’ll probably start demo-ing it today or the next couple of days here.

“…No one else came along with really the interest and the money to be able to refurbish it,” he said. “So after discussions with the city, we decided that we’ll bring the building down, raze the building, and then donate the property to the city of Ishpeming.”

City Manager Mark Slown said demolishing the building is really the only available option.

“I don’t personally like to see a historic structure torn down, I really don’t, but in this particular situation, I don’t really know of any alternative,” he said, citing the significant costs “needed to bring it up to code and make it a viable building.”

Blondeau said the foundation and frame of the building itself “is still in excellent condition, but the plumbing, the wiring – I mean, everything would have to be completely redone and brought up to code…” he said. “I really don’t know how much it would cost. It would probably cost a significant amount.”

Slown said: “It’s somewhat sad, from a historical note, that the building will be destroyed. However, it still is a historical site; it’s actually on the register of historic places and it will always be a historic site, even with the building torn down.”

Leo Lafond, president and board president of Cliffs Shaft Mine Museum, which shares a parking lot with the property, said the original structure was built in 1890, with the additions to its north and west sides constructed in 1951.

“It used to house about 200 people at one time,” Lafond said. “They had offices … We used to have a lot of meetings up there, the company and unions, and they had the drafting (office) up there and purchasing department.”

Slown said the city’s plans for the property once the building is razed are still undecided, and that he’s heard several different ideas. One would be to build a park and bandstand.

“There was also discussion of it being rebuilt as a site for condominiums or something like that,” he said. “I think that there’s also been discussion of … other things related to the museum. I don’t know what will happen out there at this point, I just really don’t have a good insight into that.”

Blondeau said the demolition has been slightly delayed due to the discovery of a fiber optic line still being used by AT&T.

“There is an AT&T line going through the building, and they’re currently putting in a splitter to take care of that,” he said. “Apparently one of the lines that goes to the building feeds into some other residential households, so they’re taking care of that before they tear the building down.”

Zach Jay can be reached at 906-486-4401.