A construction victory of a medical complex in Tuscola County is expected to help with the development of a similar complex in Huron County.
Bill Putman and his company, Putman Developing, are in the process of constructing a $7 million, 42,000-square foot medical complex on five acres at 1800 W. Caro Road (M-81), Caro.
When that project is done, Putman Developing has its sights set on building an even larger state-of-the art medical complex in the Bad Axe area.
Getting construction of the medical complex back on track in Caro was an uphill battle for Putman, but he is used to challenges.
After losing his mother when he was eight years old and being placed in five different homes, Putman learned to be self-reliant, and that has worked out well for him with his project in Caro.
After months of construction delays due to being at odds with South Central Michigan Construction Code Inspections, which is the company Tuscola County hired to handle building codes, Putman and his attorneys researched ways to end the loggerhead to move ahead with building the complex.
Putman took matters into his own hands and contacted SAFEbuilt about doing inspections on his Caro complex. SAFEbuilt is a community development service company.
After doing a lot of research with their legal counsel, Tuscola County Commissioners approved allowing SAFEbuilt to take over the Putman Developing project.
Commissioners approved having their attorney Eric Morris work out an inspection agreement with SAFEbuilt on just the Putman project. SCMCCI will handle other building code matters until their contract ends Sept. 30.
For about three years, commissioners have dealt with various complaints about SCMCCI’s service, so they voted to terminate their contract with them, and do a request for proposal for another agency to take over code enforcement duties.
If a deal had not been worked out, Putman, who already had millions of dollars invested in the Caro project, said he was ready to pull the plug.
“We’ll have to take this somewhere else,” he said. “I’m not threatening. I’m just being blunt and honest.”
Before commissioners made the decision for SAFEbuilt to work with Putman Developing, Morris pointed out that moving forward with SAFEbuilt could leave the county liable if SCMCCI doesn’t cooperate.
Morris noted that going ahead without SCMCCI’s signing off could result in their never signing such an agreement and the county could not make them.
“This needs to happen,” Commissioner Kim Vaughan said. “We’re going to do it whether SCMCCI gives us that release or not.”
It was the consensus of the commissioners for SAFEbuilt to handle inspections and code issues with Putman Developing, regardless if it created issues with SCMCCI because the county’s contract with the company ends in about two months.
Also, county Controller and Administrator Clayette Zechmeister said the state was contacted about the issues with building codes, and to get a list of potential firms to serve as inspectors for the Putman project.
“SAFEbuilt was one of the firms the state’s building codes department recommended,” she said.
During the many discussions on issues with Putman Developing, and SCMCCI officials, commissioners said they felt the blame for construction delays should be shouldered by both parties.
With the county’s decision to allow Putman Developing to move forward with SAFEbuilt, there has been a flurry of building activity because there are contracts signed for space in the medical center.
“The commissioners’ decision is exciting,” Putman said. “Not just for our project but for what it will bring to the community. I feel in my heart of hearts this project is going to be one of the greatest things for our community.”
McLaren Caro Region signed a lease for about 20,000-square feet in the complex. Some of the other services the complex will offer are primary care professionals, laboratories, and imaging. And, some of the others who have leases for the facility include physical therapy, a pharmacy, urology, chiropractic care, and several other medical care services.
A unique aspect of the medical center is that it will cater to veterans’ needs both physical and mental healthcare.
“We will pay for it,” Putman said. “They don’t have to worry about VA. We are going to give them the best care available, and the same with the elderly, and mentally and physically handicapped will have care. We will foot the bill for that, and we will also check into if there are ways to get them insurance and if necessary better insurance.
“It won’t be a hospital, but rather a one-stop complex for medical services.”
Wrangling with building codes put the complex seven months behind on the completion date, and more than $1 million over budget.
A target date of Oct. 21 has been set for a celebration of the complex.
“That date is to say thank you to all involved in making this happen,” Putman said. “It may not be totally done then, but ready or not, there will be a celebration on that date. It needs to be 100% done to get a certificate of occupancy permit.”
Putman talked McLaren into selecting the Caro site from two other choices.
“Caro raised me and helped me make a living,” he said. “This is an opportunity for me to give back to the area. This project is my last hurrah. I’m going to retire when it is done.”
And, the Caro complex is not the only medical center Putman Developing plans to do.
Putman will be turning the reins over to his son, Blake, who is in the process of negotiating a purchase of property in the Bad Axe area to build a one-stop medical complex like the one in Caro. The Bad Axe project will be larger at 55,000 square feet and offer even more services.