Traverse City Record-Eagle

Archive: Sunday

April 6, 2014

Question Mark's days are numbered

HONOR — Questions about a Benzie County eyesore may finally be answered.

The blighted Question Mark Building in Honor was condemned years ago, in part because to many it seems a stiff breeze could blow it down. But authorities hadn’t been able to raze the building because of property rights inquisitions and queries from residents about the wisdom of a failed county building maintenance code that left many stumped.

Now it appears county and village of Honor leaders are nearing a resolution for the Question Mark question. County Treasurer Michelle Thompson foreclosed on the property because the owner failed to pay property taxes, meaning the village and county are approaching a final explanation for the interrogatory structure.

“My intent is to do the best for Benzie County and the village of Honor in terms of disposition of this property,” Thompson said.

Thompson said owner Gary Henning did not pay $6,448.32 in taxes. Henning could not be reached for comment. He is not related to a Traverse City man of the same name.

Benzie County tried to tackle the tough Question Mark topic in 2013 by passing a county-wide building maintenance code that became mired in controversy. Many area residents questioned the maintenance code, viewing it as too aggressive and overreaching, and the county eventually abandoned it.

Village President Pro-Tem Dennis Rodzik said the foreclosure last week means the state will have an option to buy the property, but that seems unlikely. The village will then have the option of purchasing the building for back taxes or pursuing purchase at auction.

“Nobody is going to want to buy a building they are going to have to demolish,” Rodzik said.

Rodzik said the intent is to put the final punctuation mark on the structure’s fate. There’s talk about replacing the Question Mark with a park to complement the village’s long-term plans for revitalizing its core and attracting new business.

“This is excellent news for us -- there’s an extremely high probability this building will be gone by fall,” Rodzik said.

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