Holiday inn

Former Holiday Inn owner cleared to leave Midland County

The owner of the former Holiday Inn building has been released from Midland County after satisfying 75th District Court Judge Michael Carpenter with his progress in demolishing the building and paying his fines.

The decision was made during a review hearing Monday to see the status of the building’s demolition and fines. The owner, Jeff Kern, was ordered to remain in Midland County on August 9 after being released from the county jail.

Kern can now return to his home state of California but is due to return for a 2 p.m. review hearing on September 20.

“I am confident that the process is moving forward now, it is moving at a steady and steady pace, and that Mr. Kern has done what is necessary now to satisfy the court regarding his civil contempt,” Carpenter said.

Midland City District Attorney Jim Branson and demolition contractor Pat Battaglia said the building, located near the corner of West Wackerly and Eastman, was about a quarter demolished. However, Battaglia said the asbestos hot spot in the center of the building presented many challenges.

“We’ve been concerned about this hot asbestos area of ​​the building for months now,” Battaglia said. “(The) reduction alone could take, if taken seriously, six to eight weeks. It’s so intense because we have to scrape every inch of plaster from the existing walls and ceilings of this building.

Battaglia said that given both the asbestos reduction and the rest of the other parts of the building still standing, it could be up to 16 more weeks before the building is completely demolished.

As of August 16, Kern had paid $ 22,500 of his $ 231,490 in fines and costs. These include fines for not demolishing the building on time and interpreter fees, as Kern needed an interpreter during the court process.

Kern paid $ 2,500 in jail and another $ 20,000 after last week’s hearing. Kern’s attorney, Richard Wolney, said Kern had to return to California to meet with his financiers and lenders for additional funds because they would only free him $ 20,000 in Michigan.

The 142,500 square foot property has been doomed since 2018. The city filed a lawsuit against Kern in 2020 after a long period of little action by the owner to demolish the structure at 1500 W. Wackerly St.

Kern was jailed for civil contempt on August 2 because two-thirds of the building had not been demolished at the start of the hearing that day.

Carpenter allowed Kern to get his driver’s license back so he could return to California. However, he is due to return in person to the Midland County Courthouse for the September 20 hearing where the judge will see the status of the building’s demolition and how many fines Kern has been paid.

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