Life After Paper Mills: Muskegon

Posted at 11:03 PM, Oct 02, 2013
and last updated 2013-10-02 23:03:40-04

MUSKEGON, Mich. – On the banks of the Muskegon Lake, waterfront views are made more accessible as demolition continues at the former Sappi Paper Mill.

“There is a wonderful 120 acres here that is going to get some good use someday,” said Ken Callow the site manager for Melching Demolition, a company that acquired the land in 2011.

“Back in 80’s as an engineer I was part of building stuff,” said Callow.  “Now, in the 2000’s, I’m part of taking it apart.”

Two years into the demolition project and only 25% of the structure remains.  The owner said while they continue to knock down portions of the property they are looking for someone with a vision for the future and the money to make it possible.

This month, the large power plant still standing at the site will be imploded.  A plan approved by the city commission in late September.

“We’re not tearing down the past,” said Callow, “We are preparing for the future.”

Unlike other paper mil towns, the future is coming on quickly.  The problem at the former Sappi plant is redevelopment will have limited options.

Right now the property is zoned as heavy industrial, like other mills, the cost of a full site clean-up with require EPA intervention.

Melching has hinted at possible buyers for the property but nothing official has been announced as of yet.