At its 17th annual awards ceremony last week, the Neighborhood Business Alliance of Grand Rapids honored the Clearwater Place with the "Best Reuse of a Building" award. Clearwater Place is the city's old Monroe Avenue water filtration plant, which DeVries Properties with a healthy contribution from Michigan taxpayers redeveloped as an office complex.
However, the Clearwater Place project wasn't the first reuse of the filtration plant. In 1999 then-Mayor John Logie sold the city-owned property to Dykema Excavators Inc., which inaugurated its first reuse as a hazardous waste landfill. Dykema was one of the Boardwalk project developers, who needed a dump for the 25,000 tons of contaminated soil that they and Pioneer Incorporated had to excavate from the project site. The need to get a nearby hole, quickly and on the cheap, to landfill the Boardwalk site's waste was driven by the demands of Logie's business clients -- namely, Spectrum Health Corporation, the anchor tenant for the completed Boardwalk project, and Fifth Third Bancorp (then Old Kent Bank), one of the owners of the Boardwalk project -- to clean up the place, no questions asked, as reported here last week.
So for about five years, the filtration plant served as a toxic dump, affectionately known as "Logie's Landfill". Dykema and Pioneer managed to landfill about 20,000 tons of Boardwalk waste into the northwest water tank of the filtration plant until the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality got wind of their activity. Then Dykema Excavators sold the plant to DeVries Properties (at a tidy profit over what they had paid the city only a few years before), who poured asphalt over the northwest tank to turn it into a parking lot for the Clearwater Place office complex.
But don't worry, folks, the poison underneath the Clearwater Place won't stay there forever. No one ever plugged the holes that Dykema punched through the bottom of the northwest tank in the spring of 1999 before the dumping started. So the lead, arsenic, mercury, and twenty other industrial chemicals and heavy metals contaminating the soil there are slowing leaching away into the Grand River. Thus, Logie's Landfill will disappear just like its namesake's political clout. Just be careful about drinking the water in the meantime.