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MERRILLVILLE | The declining condition of the former Old Mill building has created a safety hazard the town looks to address by razing the facility.

“The structure is not sound at all,” Town Council President Carol Miano said.

Exterior bricks are crumbling, there are large cracks in walls, the foundation is bad and there is black mold in the structure, according to the town. The current state of the property at 73rd Avenue and Madison Street has Merrillville officials concerned it could fall.

“Pretty much, the whole building is an issue,” Town Manager Bruce Spires said.

The town had two structural engineers examine the site after the municipality began acquiring the property several months ago.

Reports from both engineers recommended demolishing it, Spires said. One report indicated it would costs hundreds of thousands of dollars to make the structure safe again, he said.

There are a couple matters that must be addressed before demolition could occur.

Spires said there is additional paperwork the town must file in connection to its ownership of the property. Once that is finalized, the Town Council must officially approve the demolition during a public meeting, Spires said.

He doesn’t anticipate the council objecting to razing the structure because of the safety issue associated with the building.

“Nobody wants to see it fall and crumble,” Spires said.

He said there will be “some expense” for the town to raze the building, but that would be “money well spent.”

Miano said it was “heartbreaking” to learn the facility must be torn down because of its history in Merrillville.

The building was constructed in 1851, and it served as a distillery, a mill that ground wheat into flour, a candy store, a school and different restaurants.

Although the building must be razed, Miano said she hopes the property could still be a focal point for a historic district in Merrillville.

She said any decisions regarding the future of the property would require Town Council approval, and she has some ideas she intends to present to the panel.

Those suggestions include using the land for special events. Miano said a new building could be constructed there to house a vending area and restrooms that would be available during programs.

Another option would be constructing a replica of the building, and renting space to businesses, Miano said.

She said she has received inquiries from people interested in opening businesses at the site, including a bakery and a brewery.

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Regional News Editor