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Elks project fails to meet deadlines

After several contract extensions, renovations to downtown Dickinson's historic Elks Building were to be completed by Sept. 30, but that deadline was not met, leaving city officials with a decision to make.

"They have not made the imposed deadline and so the city has to take a position now because they've not made that deadline," said City Administrator Shawn Kessel. "I can't tell you what the city's position is going to be, but we're going to have to enforce the issue a little bit."

A major setback for the project was a 2007 fire that left the building gutted.

Developer Granville "Beaver" Brinkman was granted a fourth extension from the City Commission in June 2009 to finish ongoing work to the building.

The agreement stated that if substantial completion of the nearly $2 million estimated project was not completed by Sept. 30, ownership of the property would default back to the city, according to a previous Press article.

Brinkman said several factors, including winter weather and a nationwide banking crisis, played part in not meeting a June 2009 deadline, according to the previous article.

After the fire, possible future tenants backed out and new ones had to be found, sending the project back to square one, Brinkman said in June 2009.

One tenant that has been slated to move into the building's second floor is local law firm Ebeltoft Sickler Lawyers.

City Attorney Matt Kolling, who works at Ebeltoft Sickler, said the firm hasn't been given a time frame as to when that will be.

It is unclear the city will pursue taking back ownership.

"The building itself certainly has a lot more value today than it did at the time of the agreement," Kessel said. "But there still remains a lot to be done and the big question mark is if we did take it back, can we get that completed and can we market that building?"

If the City Commission chooses to take ownership back, Kessel said he would "hate to see the city be a developer," but rather, a private company come in and take over the project.

"As long as the contractor is working, is making progress, I'm content to extend the contract again if we had to," said Mayor Dennis Johnson. "If the contractor isn't working, then that would be another issue."

Johnson said even with taking the first into consideration, the project is taking much longer than anticipated.

"Way back when, when we first started working on this, we thought we would have been complete long before this," Johnson said.

A call to Brinkman went unreturned.