SHIAWASSEE COUNTY, MI - The city of Durand announced it will demolish the old Simplicity building.
For all of the public officials that attended the news conference on Tuesday, Aug. 22, there was one common agreement: the demolition is long overdue.
“It’s exciting but also somewhat sad losing a piece of our history, but we’re looking forward to good development, good employers and opportunity,” said city manager Cameron Horvath. “While the building has a history in the city it has become an eyesore and affected the city negatively.”
The demolition of the building, located at 209 S. Oak St., will begin the first week of September.
The blighted property is 2.25 acres of commercially zoned land between the Durand Depot to the east, McBride Street to the north and Oak Street to the west.
The city wanted to sell the property for redevelopment, but it never happened.
A relatively new antique tractor company, J&J Ag Equipment LLC, plan to build its headquarters at the location and have entered into a contract with the city to purchase the property.
The company specializes in pre-1970 antique parts and is currently renting a building in the city.
“We’re growing,” said Joshua Hicks, co-owner of J&J Ag Equipment LLC. “Being ecommerce focused, it’s given us a new opportunity to touch different markets and bringing new life to old technologies.”
There is no specific timetable to when the tractor parts company will establish its headquarters, but the plan is to build a single or flex warehouse with office space and manufacturing, Hicks said.
“We’ve been working with the city for two-and-a-half years to help rehabilitate the property,” Hicks said. “It’s been challenging to say the least.”
The oldest section of the Simplicity building, a former mill, collapsed in September 2021 likely due to high winds and poor weather conditions. The city paid the $90,000 price tag to remove the rubble and demolish the remainder of the old mill.
The Shiawassee Land Bank, created in early 2023 through a partnership with Shiawassee County, received $200,000 from the State Land Bank for blight elimination.
The Land Bank voted to contribute $109,000 to tear down the Simplicity property and the city will kick in the remaining $159,000.
“This is a very exciting day for us and one that I didn’t think was ever going to happen,” said Mayor Jeff Brands. “This has gone on for almost 30 years. I get disgusted driving by it. It’s more exciting for the people who live in a neighborhood everyday and have to look out the front window and look at this thing. They are better than I am because I couldn’t stand it.”
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