Battle Creek’s Iconic Binder Building Is In Trouble
One of Battle Creek’s most iconic buildings is in serious trouble. The “Binder Building”, at 34 East Michigan Avenue, is crumbling. The area has been cordoned off by city officials, and adjacent buildings have been evacuated.
The 75 foot tall triangular stone building was built in 1887, and its unique shape and material have peeked the curiosity of generations of Battle Creek residents. Some view it as Battle Creek’s version of the iconic “Flat-iron” building in New York City.
Some local residents noticed cracking and bulging of the upper side of the northeast face of the building. Witnesses say they were looking at the building today (Friday) and actually saw the wall suddenly crack further and bulge outward.
The Binder Building was originally a slaughter house, owned by the Binder family. The Binder family donated lands now occupied by Binder Park Golf Course and the Binder Park Zoo.
The odd triangular shape of the building was by design, to maximize the effect of the prevailing winds to cool and ventilate the slaughterhouse.
The building has been owned by Bryant DeBolt since the 1980’s and has been used for storage.
Chief Building Official at City of Battle Creek Richard Bolek says they’ve called in some contractors to assess the problem. “Essentially, we’ve got some contractors that are trying to put some information together to see what it might cost to stabilize it, or whether we’ll have to make some other decisions, ” said Bolek. “We’re playing it safe for now until we have a better handle on how this is going to play out.”
Battle Creek Fire Chief Brian Sturdivant was on the scene directing staff to order all the adjacent structures vacated. That includes Ermisch Travel, New York Connections, All State Insurance, and Architect Randy Case’s office. Officials are concerned that if the Binder Building were to completely fall, it could certainly impact the other nearby structures.
Battle Creek Downtown Development Director John Hart told WBCK “It’s a rich piece of Battle Creek history that could have been preserved for someone who was willing to make an investment in it. The city called in an architect and an engineer and a fence company to secure it. They’ll work over the weekend to determine what it would cost to stabilize it. After that, it’s up to the owner to decide what approach he’d like to take. ” But while he is cautiously optimistic, Hart is concerned that costs to stabilize the building could exceed $100,000, and that the building’s days could be numbered.