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Demolition of old VFW building could be weeks, months away

For months, the old Veterans of Foreign Wars building has sat in a state of disrepair on the corner of First Avenue and Main Street in Mitchell.

But according to Mitchell Mayor Ken Tracy, it could be weeks, or even months more, before the building is torn down. That's because the demolition is being included in the contract for the construction of Mitchell's new city hall, which is planned to be built in the vicinity of the old VFW building.

"I would rather that the building be torn down soon to get rid of the eyesore, but I guess we're just going to have to wait a little while," Tracy said Monday.

It will likely be a matter of weeks before the new city hall project is put out for construction bids, Tracy said, because Architecture Incorporated, of Sioux Falls, is still working to finish the design.

Once a bid is awarded, Tracy said, demolition of the old VFW building will be able to begin.

City officials combined the demolition of the old VFW building with the construction of the new city hall hoping to save money, Tracy said.

The old VFW building was damaged during the demolition of the old Longhorn Bar, with which it shared a common wall. The city bought the damaged building last September for $175,000.

The old Longhorn -- which was believed to be the oldest surviving building in Mitchell -- was deemed unsafe after a wall collapse in November 2011. The city bought the building for $1 from the owner, who said he couldn't afford to repair or demolish the building on his own. He moved his business across the street.

Demolition of the former Longhorn began May 14, 2013, but was halted two days later when it was discovered the building's shared wall with the VFW building was unstable. The VFW was forced to close for more than a month as a result of the situation.

The VFW has since moved to a building at 215 N. Main St., which was previously occupied by Prairie Breeze Gallery, an art gallery and gift shop.