Benton Harbor, Michigan — June 2, 2011 at 6:40 am

Low-income hotel in Benton Harbor slated for July demolition


The Riverwatch Inn, which was condemned last month by Benton Harbor officials, is slated for demolition in July.

Riverwatch Inn during the Blossomtime Grand Floral parade protest in May

The motel, condemned in May by Benton Harbor inspectors, is scheduled for demolition next month, building official Ted Hanson reported Tuesday.

Hanson was among those who inspected the building at 711 West Main St., across the street from where Whirlpool Corp.’s $68 million headquarters is being constructed. They found many of the rooms were filthy and that the balcony and stairs were unsafe. On May 6 tenants were given 30 days to move out. Namada, the company that owns the business, was given 90 days to fix the unsafe and unsanitary conditions or tear down the building.


Namada, headed by Jay Kansara of Chicago, will relinquish rights to the property to Central Dock Co., which owns the lot, Hanson said, and demolition is being scheduled for July. A phone number to reach Kansara was not available.

Jack Kinney of Benton Harbor, co-owner of Central Dock Co., leases the property to Namada. He said he has no plans to sell the lot.

“We will definitely hold onto the property,” Kinney said.

He also said it will be up to officials in Benton Harbor to follow through on their condemnation order before he decides what to do with the piece of real estate sitting in the shadow of Whirlpool’s headquarters-to-be and along the St. Joseph River.

A couple of interesting things here. First of all, if this was such a valuable piece of property, which it is sitting so close to the mouth of the St. Joseph River where it empties into Lake Michigan, why lease the property to a company running what amounts to a welfare hotel? Why not tear this building down years ago and cash in?

Second, it will be very interesting to see who purchases the property once the Riverwatch Inn has been torn down and landfilled. Anyone want to bet a fiver on Whirlpool purchasing it?

Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?