Information from this article was first published in Demolition Magazine and is being reused with permission from the National Demolition Association.
In the aftermath of the 2008 economic downturn, General Motors found itself accelerating its consolidation and plant decommissioning schedule. One such facility, the venerable Grand Rapids Metal Center, stamped body panels for GM cars since opening in the mid-1930s.
Located in Wyoming, Mich., adjacent to Grand Rapids, the structure began as a 500,000-square-foot structure with an attached 50,000-square-foot. administrative building. Subsequent additions in the 1940s, ‘50s, and ‘60s were constructed until the massive structure totaled 2,400,000 square feet on 90+ acres. Nearly a hundred huge under-drive metal stamping presses required 400,000 square feet of pits from which maintenance and repair operations were conducted.
When the “new” General Motors was formed, the Grand Rapids Metal Fab was placed in the liquidation unit, Motors Liquidation Company (MLC). The Brownfield Redevelopment Authority of The City of Wyoming eventually took ownership of the property. It selected noted suburban Detroit commercial and industrial developer Lormax Stern to head the project. Managing partner Chris Brochert brought The Right Place onto the team to assist in an international effort to showcase the parcel and the benefits of locating business at the site.
MCM Management Corp was contracted to perform asbestos removal, environmental cleaning, demolition, concrete recycling, and filling of the pits. Mobilization, asbestos abatement, pre-demolition surveys, and environmental cleaning began.
Before the buildings were turned over to the Redevelopment Authority and Lormax, MLC auctioned all presses and most of the production assets. When these removals were completed, the buildings were nearly empty and many of the press pits were open.
With safety equipment installed, cleaning operations commenced on both main floor and pits in mid-August 2011. Machinery began to arrive at the site during the same period from MCM’s just-completed project, Old Carco’s [Chrysler] St Louis North and South assembly plants. Asbestos removal began in other parts of the structure at the same time and was coordinated with cleaning activities. Environmental work was expedited to allow demolition to begin by fall.
The low bay portion of the plant measured approximately 1,000,000 square feet. MCM fielded about 12 machines on this portion of the work. All structural steel was cut to domestic mill ready spec and was shipped by both truck and rail. A second mechanized crew began removing debris and the remaining press support structures at grade and below in early October. When this operation progressed far enough to allow a second demolition crew to begin, MCM began demolition of the higher crane bay structures, approximately 1,300,000 square feet. These structures were 70 feet in height and included extremely heavy columns and beams that supported large overhead cranes.
Demolition of slabs on grade and size reduction of concrete began several months later. Press pits, most of which are 20 to 22 feet in depth, were filled with crushed material. This work will use all of the concrete material generated by the slabs on grade and the foundations to a level of 4 feet below adjacent grades.
Rob Mardigian, co-owner of MCM, oversees scrap sales and the financial performance of this and all MCM projects. The schedule and scrap market conditions were the major challenges that will affect the outcome of the project.
“MCM has taken many buildings down adjacent to public streets and sidewalks and we’ve never had better support than what we’ve gotten from the City of Wyoming,” said David Mardigian, co-owner of MCM.
The project was managed by Dan Perry who worked with Robert Cuppetilli to co-manage the St. Louis projects. Perry's experience with fleet management, material handling, concrete recycling and six years with MCM give him the knowledge and experience to coordinate various activities in a safe and productive manner. Project Manager Bob McNulty interfaced with both city of Wyoming and Lormax personnel.