Holiday inn

“I don’t think we’re too late”

The owner of the former Holiday Inn building has again appeared in court to take stock of the building’s demolition.

Jeff Kern appeared virtually at the Midland County Courthouse Monday afternoon for a review hearing of an ongoing case with the convicted hotel property. The hearing considered how many buildings are demolished and how many Kern fines have been paid.

At the previous review hearing on August 16, a quarter of the building was demolished and $ 22,500 of Kern’s $ 231,490 in fines and costs were paid.

The amount of buildings destroyed to date differed between the defense and the prosecution. City attorney Jim Branson said from the city’s perspective, 55% of the building was demolished; 98% of the debris was removed; and no work was done on the parking lot.

Branson said there had been no activity in the past three weeks and the last landfill to the town of Midland landfill was on September 8.

“There has been no activity on the site, and it looks almost abandoned (for) the past three weeks,” Branson said.

The city is worried about the approach of winter. If all concrete and asphalt are removed after Oct. 15, it won’t be possible this season to stabilize the ground, Branson said.

Kern’s attorney, Richard Wolney, said he believed about 66% of the building had been demolished by September 20. Site demolition contractor Pat Battaglia said the building was over 50% demolished.

Battaglia said the demolition was being done in the “hot zone” of the building, where there is a large amount of asbestos. He said Kern had filed applications with the Michigan Department of the Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) for that section, which was released last Friday. Battaglia is now awaiting proof of funds from Kern.

Demolition is not “very late” on the project, Battaglia said. He expects the abatement to be completed by the end of October.

Battaglia said he believed the building would be demolished before winter.

“We can pull foundations and slabs at ground level, even if it’s snowing, unless we have some kind of hard frost, which is very unlikely by the first of the year,” he said. declared Battaglia.

Judge Michael Carpenter, of the 75th District Court, has seen no movement regarding Kern’s payment of his fines, having seen no new payments made since the court’s last hearing. Wolney said a payment was made in August, but said he was not aware of the amount paid.

Kern’s virtual appearance went against Carpenter’s orders in the last hearing, when he told Kern he had to appear in person. Kern wrote a letter to Wolney asking to be excused for being there in person due to his anxiety. Carpenter didn’t grant him that.

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 by Carpenter on August 2 because two-thirds of the building had not been demolished by the start of the hearing that day. Kern was initially unable to leave Midland County after his release from prison, but was allowed to return to his home state of California after a hearing on August 16.

Kern’s next hearing is scheduled for Monday, October 18 at 2 p.m. ET. Carpenter said if Kern didn’t appear in person again in court, he would again find him in contempt of court. He also asked Battaglia to close the fence openings on the property.

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