No plans in place for redevelopment of Hamilton plant site, yet

Demolition of the Two Rivers Hamilton plant complex is underway, Thursday, May 15, 2014. (WLUK/Bill Miston)

TWO RIVERS - Having weathered time and changing business climates, the old Thermo Fisher Scientific complex can’t avoid the wrecking ball.

The former plant in downtown Two Rivers has gone by several names in its 130 year history. The old building is most commonly known as Hamilton Manufacturing Company.

Demolition on the 12.5 acre series of buildings began several weeks ago and is expected to take about one year, according to a Thermo Fisher spokesperson. Thermo Fisher owns the property. The company officially closed the plant in September of 2012.

You have to diversify

Located across the river from the plant site is the Susie Q Fish Company.

It’s been in the exact same spot on the East Twin River for 70 years. And the LeClair family has the commercial fishing market cornered – not necessarily by choice.

"In 1950, there used to be 35 boats fishing out of Two Rivers," said Mike LeClair, of Two Rivers’ commercial fishing industry.

Now, his trawlers are the only ones left.

As the fishing business changed, he did also – opening his market and smoking operation.

"You have to be diversified in this business," said LeClair

Through all the changes, there was always a constant in the background: the Hamilton facilities.

"It's something that's been there for years," said LeClair.

A company decision

"We were very clear at the time that we announced the decision to close the Two Rivers facility, that it, in no way reflected the quality of the work being done,” said Ron O’Brien, public relations director with Thermo Fisher Scientific.

Hundreds of people were left without jobs as the company moved lab equipment production to Texas and Mexico.

"We are no longer in the business of managing the laboratory furniture or fume hood business," O’Brien said in a phone interview with FOX 11.

That division was sold and the old plant was not.

Thermo Fisher is paying for the building's destruction, which is expected to take about a year.

"We're looking forward to the point in time where we can determine the disposition of the property," said O’Brien.

Two Rivers leaders say that time should be now.

"We think it's time for that dialogue to begin," said city manager Greg Buckley.

Buckley says talk of possibly re-using the buildings was just that.

"We've got to emphasize the positive and move ahead," said Buckley of the need to get re-development plans in place for the 12.5 acre site with waterfront access.

"Housing, commercial activity, there's a lot of room on the site,” said Buckley. "Our tradition is of a working waterfront."

One LeClair knows well.

“You have to change,” said LeClair. “Otherwise, like my dad said, 'If you don't go ahead, you're going to fall behind.'"