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Smalley construction awarded bid to demolish Daniel’s showroom; Morrel-Samuels resigns from board after vote

Main Street view of the Daniel's Showroom.

The Chelsea DDA  board of directors voted 9-1 to accept the bid of Smalley Construction of Scottville, Mich., to demolish the Daniels Showroom portion of the Longworth property complex on Thursday morning.

Four bids were received by the city following a request for proposals for the demolition, and Smalley’s bid of $22,300 was the lowest and was approved “subject to a scope of review.”

Palmer Morrel-Samuels was the lone “no” vote.

Prior to the vote on Sept. 20, Tom Girard of the Chelsea Area Historical Society requested that the DDA fix the problems in the other two buildings – the Mack and the Livery – that were causing water problems, and could lead to the eventual collapse of the buildings.

In addition, Jan Bernath of Preservation Chelsea, reminded the board about the wording in a letter that had been sent to City Manager John Hanifan on Sept. 14 from the Michigan State Housing Development Authority State Historic Preservation Office.

Read the two-page letter by clicking Letter from SHPO of 9-18-12.

Following the vote, Morrel-Samuels announced his resignation from the board saying it was done “under protest” and stated that “although it was a pleasure and an honor to serve,” his commitment to historic preservation was at the crux of his decision to leave.

By voting to approve the low bid for the showroom demolition, he said the board was “intentionally violating the DDA’s mission,” which includes promoting business development, reversing or preventing decay of a downtown district and promoting historic preservation.

You can read a copy of the DDA mission statement and here’s a look at its history and legislation.

Morrel-Samuels said via email after the meeting, “So today’s vote to demolish part of the Longworth Complex is not just unwise, it crosses a bright clear line by intentionally violating the DDA’s explicit mission.”

Also in that emailed statement, Morrel-Samuels said, “There are two contributions that have been especially gratifying during my tenure on Chelsea’s DDA: The most important accomplishment is that I was able to sway the board’s opinion in favor of adopting bylaws and being videotaped despite the fact that I was out-numbered 11 to 1 on both initiatives when I first introduced them for discussion.”

The second accomplishment of his tenure, he said, “Throughout my many years on the board I was a strong advocate for sensible, business minded, historic preservation. As part of that work I was able to get approval for a certified commercial appraisal of the Longworth Complex – a move that saved the town approximately $80K because, as I had suspected, the asking price was out of line with the building’s market value.”

In closing he said, “Like it or not, it’s important to remember that more than 700 people signed a petition in favor of historic preservation at the Longworth Complex. I am not embarrassed to respectfully resign in protest and be counted among their ranks. My only regret is that their views and their desires did not prevail today.”



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5 thoughts on “Smalley construction awarded bid to demolish Daniel’s showroom; Morrel-Samuels resigns from board after vote”

  1. Wow… after reading the letter from the SHPO, it’s pretty clear that the DDA really doesn’t care what anyone has to say about preserving the building.

  2. Too bad Chelsea has to lose the building. I would guess there are no “old time Chelsea” members of the DDA. The Spauldings, Kusterers, Schneiders, Holmes, Winans, Flintoffs, Fosters, Palmers, etc. would not let this happen

  3. The DDA’s position that demolition of the Daniels Showroom “is a step forward” to take the Longworth property to the “level that it needs to be” is preposterous. This beautiful and historically important showroom could have great value as a sidewalk-level (no set-back) retail location, providing continuity for pedestrian traffic between the old downtown and the clocktower complex. Its demolition will be an act of vandalism.

  4. The comment of my CHS classmate, Bill Sorensen, reflects that he doesn’t know that there are some “old time Chelsea” on the DDA. Anyway, it’s not about how long you have or have not been in Chelsea, it’s about preserving a sense of place.

  5. Palmer, The absence of your clarity of expression and persistence at DDA meetings will be a real loss for Chelsea. I can understand your frustration, however we have lost a voice.

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