Source: https://www.grandhaventribune.com, February 21, 2019
By: Marie Havenga
It will be a few more months before burgers are broiling at a new Wayback Burgers restaurant on Grand Haven’s east side.
Owner Bhupinder Dhillon said when construction crews removed concrete this week after razing the former Oasis Party Store building at 541 S. Beechtree St. last Friday, they discovered underground fuel tanks, which present environmental concerns and will require their removal, according to Michigan Department of Environmental Quality standards.
Dhillon estimates the environmental cleanup could cost up to $1 million. He said he’s already invested more than $220,000 into the property.
Dhillon said he plans to apply for state grants to help fund the project. He dealt with underground tank removal when he purchased the site directly across the street to build a Sunoco gas station and party store that opened about three years ago. He said state, county and city funds paid for most of the tank removal.
“If the tanks are too old and have been in the ground for a long time, the state has some kind of funding where they will remove those tanks and pay for it,” he said. “We have a couple programs we have the choice of.”
Dhillon had hired Lakeshore Environmental to assess the Oasis site prior to purchasing it, but there was no way the environmental specialists could have known about the tanks because they were under the building, he said.
According to state records, a gas station was built on that site in 1925 and was in operation until 1958. Around 1960, after the gas station was closed, an addition was put on the building. It was constructed on top of the fuel tanks.
“Whoever at that time owned it didn’t bother to pull the tanks out,” Dhillon said. “As of right now, we cannot proceed until those tanks are removed. It all has to be inspected by the state (MDEQ). We have to go through that process.”
Dhillon, who purchased the property in 2016, said it’s possible the former owners didn’t even know about the tanks.
“If they knew, I’m assuming they would tell me,” he said. “Sometimes we don’t know because we are talking about a 100-year-old property.”
Despite the delay, Dhillon said he’s excited about his burger venture.
“As far as the business goes, we are bringing in a burger shop there as soon as we can,” he said. “We don’t know how long it will delay it for now. All that soil will have to be removed and fresh soil brought in.”
Originally, Dhillon had hoped to open a Wayback Burgers franchise at the east-side corner late last year. He said he became impressed with the franchise when he and his family stopped at one in Lansing.
“I was very impressed with the food,” he said.
There are currently four Wayback Burgers in Michigan and locations in 28 states, Washington, D.C., and several other countries.