A new contractor was tabbed on Monday to remove lead from inside the former Crafty Fox building after the previous contractor notified the city it wasn't capable of completing the task.

During Monday’s meeting, the Mitchell City Council approved ServiceMaster Recovery Management to take on the task of removing high amounts of lead from the interior of the 223 N. Main St. building. FloorTec Cleaning was the previous contractor that the council approved in late June to complete the lead removal process, but Public Works Director Joe Schroeder said the company recently notified the city that “they are no longer able to provide those services.”

“I received an email from FloorTec saying they had an issue with their certification to do lead removal,” Schroeder said.

In June, FloorTec Cleaning submitted the lowest bid for the project, which came in at $21,801, roughly $6,000 lower than ServiceMaster’s bid. With the council’s approval to go with ServiceMaster, the cost of the lead removal project jumped to $27,340.

A recent survey of the former Crafty Fox building in downtown Mitchell revealed there was lead that "exceeded the Environmental Protection Agency's lead dust concentration for a residence." While crews have been working on the exterior and interior of the building that the city acquired roughly two years ago with the intention to transfer it to the Mitchell Area Development Corporation, the high amounts of lead that was recently detected temporarily halted renovation work.

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“The survey was completed at no cost to the city. The report shows that surface wipe samples exceeded EPA's lead dust concentration for a residence as well as for child occupied facilities,” Schroeder said. “The report recommends precleaning be completed prior to continuation of renovation for future use.”

Once ServiceMaster completes the lead removal project, Schroeder said it will allow crews to resume renovation work. According to Schroeder, ServiceMaster stated it could complete the lead removal work by mid-August.

“We have reached out to ServiceMaster Recovery Management and they have stated that they can have the work completed by the second week in August,” he said.

When the city purchased the building from the Christensens a little over two years ago, it was deemed a nuisance. However, the city has been correcting the myriad of nuisance conditions, which ranged from broken windows, corroding brick walls and roof problems, to pave the way for a development opportunity. Since taking ownership of the property, the city has put $60,000 into fixing the windows and roughly $30,000 for the roof repair work. Some of that work was funded through a state grant.

Now that the lawsuit between the former property owners, Janice and Ronald Christensen -- who alleged the city wrongly took ownership of the building through threats and conspiracy that violated their civil rights -- and the city of Mitchell has been settled, Mayor Bob Everson said the building is inching closer to being transferred over to the MADC for the local organization to spearhead getting it redeveloped.

According to Geri Beck, CEO of MADC and the Mitchell Area Chamber of Commerce, an interested buyer is seeking to renovate the interior and transform the building into a mixture of loft apartments and retail space.