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News and quick-hit commentary from around mid-Michigan ... from the Morning Sun.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

The Old Water Tower

Behind the Borden Building is the ancient water tower that once served the one-time condensed-milk factories boilers. Some also believe that the tower might have held water for steam locomotives -- the Ann Arbor had a siding that led to the factory.
In any case, the water tower, rusty, flaking lead-based paint and generally decrepit -- appears to be on its way out.

The financing of the Borden Building project is a complex melange of municipal bonds, brownfield tax credits, private money, public money and historic preservation tax credits. The interplay of these credits is supposed to tilt the playing field enough to make the cost of converting the ancient factory into office space competitive with going out and converting a soybean field into an office.
To qualify for a historic preservation tax credit, a building must be restored as closely as possible to its original state. In the case of the Borden Building, that would include the water tower.
But the water tower is contaminated with lead. State environmental regulators say the best thing is to make it go away. State historic preservation people wanted it to stay, to maintain the historic integrity.
It looks as if the environmental people will win this one. Word is that the state historic preservation gurus looked closely at the issue, and are likely to give their OK to make the water tower go away. The decision might be helped along by the fact that the low bid to clean up what would now be a purely decorative feature of the building was more than $42,000.
They'd rather have the restored old building than sink the project over a rusty mass of steel.


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