Building owner may opt for legal action against village

A.K. Hoagland, 2007. mtu.edu The former JC Penney (Ruppe) building on Fifth Street is in danger of caving in and causing damage to adjacent buildings,including the Family Dollar building. The new owners of the Family Dollar building, Real People Media, requested the village council take immediate action to enforce its blight ordinance before the Ruppe building collapses.

CALUMET — The village council heard a letter from the new owners of the former Family Dollar store at its regular July meeting, in which the board of Real People Media (RPM) requested the village take immediate action against the owners of the Ruppe building, at 211 Fifth Street, adjacent to the Family Dollar building. The letter, written by Rebecca Glotfelty, executive director of RPM, was read to the council by Jerry Younce, also of the 501(C)3 organization.

The letter stated RPM’s intent to initiate legal proceedings against the village if it does not take immediate steps to have the dilapidated building next door to the the Family Dollar stabilized to prevent the rear of the structure from collapsing. The building is the former JC Penney building, better known as the Ruppe building.

In May, RPM hired Stephen Wright from UP Architects and Engineers to make an assessment of the Family Dollar building. While conducting his inspection, the letter states, Mr. Wright was able to view the extensive damage to the back of the Ruppe building. Wright sent a letter to the village stating that in his professional opinion, the Ruppe building is a dangerous building. RPM’s general contractor also stated that the Ruppe building may not last another winter if the roof and the back of the building are not repaired.

“It is evident that current owners of the building, …Have no plans to repair their building,” Jerry Younce of Real People Media read from the letter.

“This is despite the fact the (owners) were awarded a matching MEDC grant soon after purchasing the building in the early 2000s,” the letter stated.

If immediate action is not taken, the building will surely collapse, the letter states. More seriously, the building collapse could cause severe damage to our building, and to (the) other adjacent building, and could even result in loss of life.

RPM stated it hopes that the village will take immediate action to enforce is blight ordinance by hiring qualified engineers and contractors to immediately stabilize the structure, the letter went on. Contractor fees would be charged to the (owners). Failure to pay these fees would result in the Houghton Land Bank taking possession of the building.

RPM’s board is in the process of drafting a resolution which will allow the organization to take legal action against the village if the village fails to enforce its blight ordinance.

“This is an action that we do not want to wish take,” the letter finished, “but are compelled to as we can not risk our financial investment in our building at 211(217) Fifth Street or risk injury or loss of life to our patrons.”