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Jun. 25—Now that the city's two year-long legal battle with the former owners of the Crafty Fox building is over, what's next for the downtown Mitchell property?
Although the city owns the building, Mitchell Mayor Bob Everson said the plan is to transfer the 223 N. Main St. property to the Mitchell Area Development Corporation (MADC) to get it redeveloped into a mix of retail and apartment living quarters.
"We foresee in the very near future a major development to occur in the building, which could be announced as early as a month from now or later," Everson said of the 223 N. Main St. property.
As the city has been fixing the nuisance conditions, including window repairs and roof improvements, that were plaguing the building for several years, Everson said an interested buyer already approached the MADC and expressed a desire to develop the property that's been sitting vacant for over two years.
"I know there is one party that would like to develop the main floor into retail space and a combination of apartments on some of the top floors," Everson said.
Over the past year, the city has been renovating the building and correcting the nuisance conditions such as window repairs and improving the roof. 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.
While there has already been interest, the MADC is accepting requests for proposals (RFP) from all parties. Everson said the MADC will be tasked with reviewing all of the RFPs that get submitted to the organization, which is set to take place in late July.
Geri Beck, CEO of the MADC and Mitchell Area Chamber of Commerce, confirmed the interested buyer has plans to renovate the former Crafty Fox building into retail space on the main floor, while turning portions of the top floors into loft style apartments.
"The interested party's plans with the building are exciting, and it would be a big win for downtown and the whole community," said Beck, who was named the new leader of the MADC and Chamber of Commerce in May. "We have high hopes for the future developments of this building."
Beck noted the interested buyer also owns some other properties in Mitchell, some of which are being renovated.
After reaching a settlement agreement, which was approved on Monday by the Mitchell City Council, Everson is eager to see the building that's been the source of major headaches for the city get redeveloped, as was the plan from the onslaught of the city's acquisition of the property.
The legal battle began after the former property owners Ronald and Janice Christensen filed a lawsuit against the city and Mitchell Area Development Corporation (MADC) in November 2019, alleging the city of Mitchell took ownership of the nuisance building through threats and conspiracy that violated their civil rights. They were requesting more than $500,000 in damages from the city and MADC. However, the city and MADC responded with its own lawsuit against the Christensens in part due to the former property owners "unpaid mortgages" on the building and their alleged claims on the city's acquisition of the building.
The city purchased the building — which had been deemed a nuisance property — for $1 roughly two years ago and planned on transferring ownership over to the Mitchell Area Development Corporation. However, the transfer was halted after the Christensens filed their lawsuit against the city and MADC.
During the time the Christensens owned the property, the city issued a number of orders to correct, including window repairs and tuck-pointing work, to name a few of the nuisance conditions.
Despite the nuisance conditions that have been hampering the aging building, Everson said the overall structural integrity is in good shape. With the steady progress the city has been making on the renovations, Everson said the building has "tremendous potential" to become a bustling property for many years to come.
"There is still work that needs to be done on it, but we're getting this building in good shape to be redeveloped for a reason. It has tremendous potential for years to come," Everson said.