Next Steps for Hayden Ford Mill

On March 1, 2023, the Purchase Agreement between Old Mill Holdings, LLC and the City of Tecumseh expired for the Hayden Ford Mill Property. The City of Tecumseh originally accepted a proposal from Old Mill Holdings LLC, an affiliate of Grand River Brewing Company of Jackson, for the redevelopment of the Hayden Ford Mill property in June of 2019.  For nearly four years, both parties have worked together to bring Old Mill Holdings’ vision to reality. During this time period, City staff worked with regional partners and the State of Michigan to secure grant funding to pay for the environmental reviews of the property, which were completed in 2021, without any cost to the project. Since that time, City Economic Development staff continued to work with Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), to research additional grant funds or loan funds to support the project. 

With additional input from various professionals and after a due diligence period of almost two years, a Purchase Agreement was executed with Old Mill Holdings in August of 2021.  This Purchase Agreement was set to expire on March 1, 2022.  However, due to the impacts on construction costs caused by the lingering COVID-19 supply chain issues, the City agreed to extend the original Purchase Agreement with Old Mill Holdings, LLC for an additional year until March 1, 2023.

When the final notice was sent to Old Mill Holdings, LLC regarding the upcoming expiration date of the Purchase Agreement, they decided to complete some additional environmental reviews which raised new concerns related to the cost of rehabilitating the building. Old Mill Holdings notified the City that the agreed upon purchase price of $100,000 was too high based on their new estimates. This new information was delivered to the City less than two weeks before the Purchase Agreement was set to expire, nearly four years after the proposal was first accepted in 2019, and 1.5 years after the Purchase Agreement was signed. City staff quickly researched potential loan funding that could be utilized for the project and contacted the Michigan Department of Environment Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) to provide more guidance on the stated environmental concerns.  Due to the uncertainty about these potential costs, Old Mill Holdings decided to allow the agreement to expire.

The new concerns brought forward in mid-February 2023 stem from when the building was last renovated in ~1998 (25 years ago). Specifically, it pertains to the historic wood block flooring in the basement that they chose to keep during the renovation. A plastic barrier was then placed over the wood block flooring and four to five inches of concrete was poured over the barrier. The current concern is whether the old adhesives that were used in this type of historic flooring will break down over time and release some gases. When the environmental consultants drilled through the concrete slab, they found some of these gases were present under the slab of concrete.
Based on indoor air sampling, there is not a concern for the current use of the building. However, a more intense use of the basement level could be a concern in the future. The question is whether the existing plastic liner and concrete is an adequate barrier long-term. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) and EGLE have provided the City with several options to consider including sealing the concrete with an additional vapor barrier, installing a new HVAC system with an air exchanger, or removing the old historic wood block flooring completely. The City’s environmental consultant is working to evaluate these options, so the costs are fully understood, and this concern can be resolved.

At this time, City staff and Council are in discussions about the next steps for the Hayden Ford Mill building and if it is time to send out a new Request for Proposals (“RFP”). Old Mill Holding has been invited to resubmit a proposal based on their new understandings. In the interim, the City is working with its environmental consultant, MDHHS and EGLE to fully understand the concerns raised by Old Mill Holdings about the cost of rehabilitating the building.

After four years, the City’s goal is to move the Hayden Ford Mill building project forward. City staff is in discussions with City Council about putting out a new Request for Proposals (RFP), with guidance from the MEDC and with a better understanding of the rehabilitation costs. The new RFP will be structured based on similar projects in other areas of the State. The City remains hopeful that Old Mill Holdings (Grand River Brewing) will submit an updated proposal based on their new findings. The primary goal for the City remains to find a project and use for the building that brings value to the City and its residents while fostering economic growth for the community. Revitalizing an iconic, historic building that sits at the entrance to the Tecumseh community, would be a tremendous addition to the City and remains the City’s objective moving forward.

For more information, contact:
Dan Swallow
City Manager
City of Tecumseh
(517) 662-0012