New Baltimore officials are looking for an expert to examine the safety of a historic building proposed for demolition.
Verheyden Funeral Homes has expressed interest to city officials in tearing down the former Christie-Olszewski Funeral Home on Main and Maria streets to build a new funeral home on the parcel. The city became the owner of the now-boarded building after Christie-Olszewski defaulted on taxes.
On Wednesday, Mayor Larry Smith said the city will likely seek approximately three bids from engineers who could determine whether the building is structurally sound. City officials would then award the project to the most qualified, low bidder to examine the building at an undetermined time.
"We got to find a structural engineer to look at it and let us know if it's safe," Smith said.
Since the business is already attracted to the vacated parcel, the city does not want to wait too long to find out if the early 1900s building should become history.
"If we have somebody's interest in it, we'd like to sell it," he said.
Verheyden Funeral Homes, which operates in Grosse Pointe Park, Warren and Detroit, proposed in a Dec. 6 letter to the mayor that the company tear down the building and rebuild a new funeral home on site.
"Our interest in downtown New Baltimore remains strong," Brian Joseph, owner and chairman of Chas. Verheyden Inc., wrote. "However, after careful review and consultations of that current building, we have concluded that we cannot make that facility safe to the public."
He proposes the company reimburse the city and county of any back taxes and financial commitment to the property, incur expenses to tear down the building after it is purchase and construct a new building that looks historic to fit in with the downtown, according to the letter.
Meanwhile, the former Christie-Olszewski Funeral Home owner, John Olszewski, 57, faces contract fraud charges for allegedly swindling people out of less than $20,000 out of the now-closed Duncan-Olszewski Funeral Home in New Haven. Olszewski was ordered to undergo competency and culpability exams at his adjourned preliminary exam earlier this month in 42-2 District Court in New Baltimore.