After years of neglect, the former Crafty Fox building will have a large portion of its windows replaced by the city of Mitchell to address a nuisance property in downtown Mitchell.
Following the Mitchell City Council’s unanimous approval during Monday night’s meeting, the city will be contracting Custom Carpentry to repair all of the windows along the eastside of the 223 N. Main St. building at a cost of $60,000. The city’s request to solidify the contract for repair comes roughly a year after the city purchased the downtown property for $1.
The city intended to replace the corroding windows following the purchase, but after former property owners, Janice and Ronald Christensen, filed a lawsuit against the city and Mitchell Area Development Corporation (MADC) for the events that unfolded prior to and at the time of the sale, the window project has been on hold.
“We’ve had a number of different times when glass is broken out of the windows, and we have storm damage that leaves glass on the sidewalk. It’s becoming more and more of a safety hazard,” Public Works Director Kyle Croce said Monday. “Boarding it up with plywood and plexiglass didn’t seem like great options, because of the cost.”
Further breaking down the price tag of the project, Croce said each window replacement is expected to cost approximately $1,000, equating to $60,000 for the windows alone. Croce noted the total cost of the window project as presented to the council Monday does not include the rental fee for the lift that is needed for crews to replace the windows.
According to Crocce, there are roughly 120 windows on the entire building.
Considering the building is deemed historic, the window replacements must meet the requirements to maintain its status as a historic building, adding more challenges and costs to replace the windows.
Previously, Janice Christensen stated the cheapest options she was presented with to repair the windows to meet the city building code hovered around $115,000 to $200,000.
“We think this is the best option to maintain the historic integrity of the building to move forward on repairing the building,” Croce said.
Larry Jirsa, a local architect, has been developing a plan for the city to replace the windows. As the owner of an old Main Street building nearby, Jirsa has extensive experience in maintaining aging structures, and he said the windows on his building mimic the Crafty Fox’s. According to Jirsa, the overall integrity of the building is in good shape. Jirsa also recommended Custom Carpentry to take on the project for the city.
“Each window will be different, but there is a lot of material that doesn't need to be taken out and replaced, so that is why I think this is the best option to deal with this problem,” Jirsa said, noting one window may take less time to replace than others. “The key to all of this is to get the wood primed and painted, because it will last a long time.”
While the lawsuit alleges that the city of Mitchell took ownership of the building through threats and conspiracy that violated civil rights, the city responded by filing a counterclaim lawsuit of their own, denying the Christensens' allegations. City Attorney Justin Johnson said the lawsuits are pending.
Council member John Doescher asked whether the city could recoup any costs of the building repairs from the pending lawsuits. In response, Johnson said there wouldn’t be any opportunities for the city to recover any repair costs.