It’s been an abandoned eyesore in the Albion Community for a quarter century, and maybe worse, a symbol of economic decline and a barrier to hope for the future.   Starting the week of March 2nd, the former Union Steel building in Albion will be torn down.

The Calhoun County Land Bank Authority (CCLBA) says Pitsch Companies Inc. will complete demolition of the dilapidated building sometime in June.  Residents are being encouraged to stay away, and keep doors and windows closed, as decades of dust and who-knows-what-else are stirred up during the razing.

The plant was a major employer in Albion for nearly a century.  Generations worked there their whole lives, played on the company softball teams.  It once employed as many as 1000 workers.

“The demolition of the former Union Steel building has been a long time coming and I want to thank the Calhoun County Board of Commissioners, Treasurer Brian Wensauer and the city of Albion for working with us to remove a dangerous and blighted structure that has sat vacant since 1995,” said Krista Trout-Edwards, executive director of the CCLBA. “Our community partners in this important project share our vision of eliminating blight, improving neighborhoods and promoting public safety.”

The Land Bank is finalizing the site for demolition, which includes providing information to neighbors and working with the Friends of Albion’s Animals to remove stray cats from the site.  Once demolition begins, residents should not walk through the site for any reason. The Land Bank also encourages neighbors to keep doors and windows closed to reduce noise and dust and minimize time outside during active demolition.

The demolition will be funded in part by the transfer of funds from the Calhoun County Treasurer to the Land Bank. The Calhoun County Board of Commissioners approved the appropriation last year. In addition, the Albion City Council approved $300,000 in financial support for the project. The city agreed to pay in five installments beginning this year and ending in 2024. Existing funding from an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) grant was also used to bring this project to fruition.

“As chairman of the Land Bank Board of Directors, I see firsthand the results of the great work the Land Bank is doing throughout Calhoun County, which includes the demolition of this dangerous building,” Wensauer said. “I’m proud to work with the Land Bank to help fund critical projects that fulfill its mission and are important to the safety of our communities.”

“I want to thank the Land Bank, Treasurer Wensauer and the Board of Commissioners for working with our city council to see this project through to completion,” said Albion Mayor Dave Atchison. “The former Union Steel building has been a magnet for crime and a threat to public safety for many years and we are excited to begin a new chapter for this property in Albion.”