• Fishbeck Environmental

Developer Sought for Vacant Northwest Michigan Elementary School

Updated: May 18, 2020

Merritt Elementary School is in rural Missaukee County, where a rolling green landscape of dairy and Christmas tree farms is dotted with bright white wind turbines. Merritt Elementary School, 14 miles from the county seat in Lake City, was built in 1940 and served residents in the eastern part of the county until it closed in 2007. A concrete block auditorium/gym and library was added to the brick four-classroom building in 1963. A church, a small general store, a post office, and scattered homes are nearby.

The school has been vacant since it closed in 2007. Missaukee County acquired the property in 2019 when a private owner stopped paying taxes. The county turned the property over to the Missaukee County Land Bank. The Missaukee County Brownfield Redevelopment Authority and the land bank will use state and local brownfield incentives to help a developer reuse the sturdy but functionally obsolete 11,000 square foot school.

Missaukee County hopes to see the site redeveloped for senior housing. The county needs affordable, accessible senior rental apartments. There are only 36 subsidized senior rental units in the county and none of them are barrier-free.

The Missaukee County Brownfield Redevelopment Authority retains Fishbeck as its environmental and brownfield redevelopment consultant, and called on Fishbeck’s brownfield team to help redevelop Merritt Elementary School. Fishbeck created a county-wide Brownfield Redevelopment Plan for reimbursement of environmental, site preparation, demolition, and lead/asbestos/mold abatement costs. We wrote a successful grant application to the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) for an environmental, lead, asbestos, and mold abatement assessment.

The Missaukee County Land Bank is looking for an interested developer. Soon we’ll have environmental information that provides certainty to developers when they estimate redevelopment costs and timing. The county is committed to use other brownfield incentives to facilitate an eligible project. If you’re interested in a tour of the Merritt School property, please contact Roman Wilson at 616.464.3876 to arrange a visit.


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