Birchwood Mall now eyed for storage, not apartments

KINGSFORD — The owner of the former Birchwood Mall now wants to make the site into storage space rather than apartments.

Kingsford City Manager Tony Edlebeck said William Neuens LLC would like the property zoned B-2, instead of B-1, so it can be used for indoor storage.

Neuens indicated he didn’t think the property was right for his original plan and would like to start getting some return on his investment that he can reinvest in another area, Edlebeck told the city council earlier this week.

Neuens originally planned to build 27 apartments in one area of the building during the first phase of construction, 22 units during the second phase and 40 units in a third phase. He also planned to build four townhouses with 22 units in the parking lot area.

Edlebeck said other properties in the area are zoned B-2 so it would not be out of line.

But several council members said they were disappointed with the shift in plans because the area needs more housing.

The council agreed Monday to send the rezoning request for the Birchwood Mall property to the city’s zoning board.

In other business, the council:

— Will discuss at a committee meeting potential ways to recoup some of the estimated $8,000 cost to maintain Commemorative Field, where area high school teams play soccer. Mayor Tony Erickson said city taxpayers now pay for upkeep of a field they can’t use and he would like to see that money go to other city parks. Compensation for Commemorative Field maintenance should come from other sources, such as perhaps a share of ticket and concession stand sales, he suggested.

— Heard from Edlebeck he will meet with We Energies on Nov. 15 on a proposal to replace street lights with LED lights. The city then would advertise for bids on the project. He will update the council when he has more information.

— Learned from Edlebeck that Wright Electric has submitted a purchase order for the LED lighting replacement project at the public works building and will start work very soon. Wright, from Marquette, bid $12,200 to replace lights in several areas at the building.

Marguerite Lanthier can be reached at 906-774-3500, ext. 42, or