By JAMES MITCHELL
Sunday Times Newspapers
TRENTON — City officials hope this will be the year that brings relief to residents and long-needed progress on two of Trenton’s biggest problems, the former Riverside Hospital building and McLouth Steel and Solutia sites.
Mayor Kyle Stack said that the city council approved on Monday having city attorney Wallace Long prepare seeking legal remedies with regards the hospital property on Jefferson. The complex was purchased in 2001 by Henry Ford Health Systems, went through several owners and is currently owned by Dr. Iqbal Nasir, who initially planned to invest $13 million to construct an assisted living facility.
That was three years ago, and Nasir, chief of staff at Oakwood Southshore Medical Center , has since turned his attentions on property in Riverside, leaving Trenton awaiting answers.
Nasir wrote a letter last month to city officials thanking them for their time and patience, and said he’d made progress on some of the deed restrictions that prevented development progress and that his management company was actively seeking bids to demolish the boiler room and church house, and that the city would be advised within 90 days as to the status.
Stack, however, said Trenton needed to be prepared to take other actions. The complex has sat vacant for too long and attracted scavengers and vandalism.
“He had previous bids on that,” Stack said. “We want [legal remedies] in place so we have another angle to go to: I want the residents to know we’re all getting impatient with regards to that area.”
The city’s legal counsel will seek a court order allowing an inspection of the property—a request made to Nasir that was denied—which could be submitted for review by the dangerous building board.
“We’re going to court to see if we can get into the hospital,” Stack said. “We have to move forward, we can’t keep having issues with that.”
Stack said prospects are brighter for the 276-acre Detroit (McLouth) Steel property on Jeffeson, a question mark since the company’s bankruptcy in 1996. Increasingly as the economic picture improves there have been inquiries about developing the complex for industrial use. Stack said she could not divulge names of potential buyers, but expects that the industrial area will again be a contributor to the city.
“The people interested are keeping it as some kind of steel processing,” Stack said. “If we can get it viable, with jobs, that’s what we’re looking for. We need the tax revenue so we can keep our community going.”
Stack and City Administrator Jim Wagner has met with organizations including the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, Detroit Chamber of Commerce and Wayne County Economic Division, Port Authority, and a shared enthusiasm exists.
“One of the big drawing points is that it’s an international port right there,” Stack said. “It’s a valuable asset at that location.”
(James Mitchell can be reached at [email protected].)