The Mill at Vicksburg Construction Update: Spring 2020

The physical transformation of the former Lee Paper Mill began just one year ago—and in that time, we’ve already seen significant changes. Prior to the COVID-19 crisis, our incredible construction crew from Frederick Construction was hard at work making progress to move the project forward into the spring.

Our partner Taylor Kallio, Owner and Videographer of Kalamazoo Aerial Media, had a chance to sit down with Ryan Collins, Frederick Construction Senior Estimator, before the Stay Home, Stay Safe order. They discussed the construction progress from the first few months of 2020 and how our teams are working together to mitigate waste by repurposing as much of the original structure and materials as possible.

Watch the recap below or read on to get the scoop on what’s happening at The Mill!

Building Demolition

Frederick Construction has brought on the demolition experts at Pitsch Companies of Belding, MI to complete the necessary on-site demolition at The Mill. Pitsch Companies is currently working on removing all buildings that were not part of the Lee Paper Mill’s original design from 1903, including buildings 11, 17 and 17A. After the Stay Home order is lifted, buildings 9, 10A and Fire Pump Building will be removed, as well as some small entrance additions.

In addition to removing the buildings not included in The Mill’s original design, Pitsch Companies also demolished three “out” buildings (buildings that are unneeded for the site’s future plans) along Portage Creek. Building 17B, a pre-engineered structure, was disassembled and will be re-purposed. Buildings 17 and 17A are in the process of being torn down, which you can see happen in action at 0:14 of the video.

Frederick also brought on the team at Bailey Excavating in Kalamazoo, MI to work behind Pitsch Companies to place and compact “engineered fill” in the voids left from the concrete foundation removal.

The Mill at Vicksburg Building Layout
The Mill at Vicksburg Building Layout

Interior Progress

The interior of The Mill also has come along nicely so far in 2020. The Frederick Construction crew has spent much time using BlasTek to remove old lead paint from all walls, floor decking, beams and roof decking. They also have worked hard to remove all old windows and install new, permanent window bucks on the east wing to seal the windows. Back in the old Lee Paper Mill days, this is where the paper-production process started, with the rag rooms in buildings A and B, then working north to the cookers, beaters and pulp drainers.

Interior Demolition

Demolition hasn’t just been taking place on The Mill’s exterior! Lots of interior, non-structural demolition has taken place in the first few months of 2020 throughout the facility. We look forward to seeing the interior start to take even more shape moving into spring/early summer construction.


Paper City Development has intentionality collaborated with all its partners to ensure The Mill at Vicksburg project truly adheres to Chris Moore’s vision of sustainable philanthropy—which extends into leading as sustainable a construction process as possible. Partners like Ryan Collins and Frederick Construction hold these same values and have helped us pursue this goal throughout the entire construction process. Ryan discusses our most recent sustainability efforts beginning at the 40-second mark of the video.

Concrete gets a new life

At the beginning of this year, Frederick Construction began removing concrete from all the buildings to be crushed into an aggregate for all paved surfaces, including future parking lots.

Recycling steel

All steel demolished from The Mill site is being diverted from the landfill to be repurposed in various ways for the project, such as being incorporated into possible artwork, sculptures and site features. As Ryan put it, “Not only are we diverting material from the landfill, but we’re making use of it again. It just makes sense.”

Ryan Collins, Frederick Construction
Ryan Collins, Frederick Construction

About Ryan Collins

Ryan has been a member of the Frederick Construction team for 19 years, and currently serves as Senior Estimator for the company’s projects, including The Mill at Vicksburg.

When asked to tell us his favorite part about being on The Mill at Vicksburg project, Ryan said, “The most exciting part to me is being part of something that is going to be here long after I’m gone. Chris is really looking at this as a 200-year project. He’s leaving something behind that’s going to impact this area for a very long time, in a positive way. I don’t work on too many projects I can say that about.”

Ryan’s comment points directly back to Chris’ commitment to sustainable philanthropy, as we mentioned earlier: development projects that are both environmentally sustainable and will be economically sustainable for the community for years to come. Pick of Ryan

Stay tuned for future construction updates at The Mill!

Follow along on our Facebook and Instagram to stay up-to-date on our construction progress throughout the year, and make sure to check back on the blog for quarterly updates. We hope you’re just as excited about this project as we are!

Share the Post: