Adaptive reuse

Plainwell Paper Mill Revitalisation

In Plainwell, Michigan, USA, the Plainwell Paper Mill played a vital part of the state's economy, history and heritage for more than a century. After closure in 2000, the site was earmarked for cleanup and revitalisation to create a mixed used, sustainable and community friendly development.

For the past decade, the City of Plainwell (City) in association with the Environmental Protection Agency, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and Weyerhaeuser and GHD has been championing the redevelopment of the site, which has considerable community-wide benefits due to the property's location and size.

The resulting plan includes restoring historic mill buildings, establishing new commercial areas and residential neighborhoods, as well as creating recreational trails along the nearby Kalamazoo River.

According to Wayne Bauman, GHD's Project Director, "We have been involved in this project since 2009 when the City selected us to become a development partner. This led us to renovate a commercial space at the mill, and relocate our 50-people Kalamazoo office to Plainwell in 2012.

"Today, we are undertaking a comprehensive program of consulting/engineering and cleanup activities for Weyerhaeuser, the party responsible for the site's cleanup. This includes removal and off-site disposal of contaminants including polycholorinated biphenyls (PCBs) from the former mill property, in accordance with state and federal regulations."

In addition to this role, the City appointed GHD as its engineer to provide a wide range of services for the creation of a city parking lot, demolition of buildings and rehabilitation of an old structure into a new public safety building. It also put GHD in a construction management role for the new city hall's offices.

Wayne adds, "This is a unique project where a local government organisation (City of Plainwell) and its development partner (GHD) both have offices on the property owned by the parties. This partnership and high level of collaboration with the City and other stakeholders including Weyerhaeuser has been central to delivering successful the paper mill's revitalisation over the long term."

Phase 2 of the project is set to begin with the site cleanup planned to start in late 2015 and earmarked for completion in 2016. Once the cleanup is complete the property will be ready for new development as well as continued rehabilitation of the former mill buildings.

For more information, contact Wayne Bauman on on +1 296 685 5181 or email