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Developer to ask for 4th extension

A construction worker moves his lift into position so he can work on the exterior of the old Elks building on First Street East Wednesday in downtown Dickinson. Press Photo by John Odermann

Something that many in Dickinson thought would never happen became a reality last week.

After more than two years, the chain-link fence lining the sidewalks around the old Elks building on First Street West came down and the sidewalks opened.

However, developer Granville "Beaver" Brinkman said there is still plenty to do before the project is complete and he will ask Dickinson for an extension on their agreement at the Monday City Commission meeting.

"There's been a lot of hurdles that we've had to take and be overcome," Brinkman said.

The building is being remodeled after several years of no use after the Elks moved to a new location in north Dickinson.

The project, which is projected to come in at $1.9 million, must be complete by June or ownership of the property defaults back to the city, according to the agreement.

Whether or not commissioners agree to another extension is something that will be determined at the meeting, but city administrator Shawn Kessel said he'd rather the city not get involved in remodeling old buildings.

"You would be taking a roll that the private sector generally does quite well with and doing it ourselves," Kessel said. "I don't think that the city's primary role in this should be developer."

Kessel said the project has seen several extenuating circumstances that Brinkman cannot be blamed for, including the economic downturn which forced two of Brinkman's lenders to back out.

Brinkman said the federal government stepped in and issued cease-and-desist orders on any construction loans against two financial institutions with which he had secured funds. Brinkman is now personally funding the project, but is in negotiations with a local lender for financing.

"If you can imagine, it's kind of like buying a house," Kessel said. "You get deep into the process and all of a sudden the people you were going to sell it to can't find the financing so you start over and he did that twice."

City commissioners have agreed to three previous extensions and Brinkman is hoping for a fourth.

The first extension was so the project could secure government grant money, the second was granted following a fire that gutted the building and the third came last fall.

Following a winter of severe cold and record snow, Brinkman said work on the exterior was delayed.

"Because of the amount of moisture that we had over the winter months and the length, we had to wait for the brick to dry out before we could do the exterior work," Brinkman said. "That work is scheduled to be completed in three and a half weeks."

The interior will include four condos on the third floor, one of which Brinkman will maintain as a personal residence.

Brinkman said he is in a lease agreement with a Dickinson business to take the second floor and possibly part of the first floor. The remainder of the first floor will also be filled by a business he is negotiating with.

Once the leases are finalized, engineering and construction work can begin on the first and second floors.

Work on the storefront is scheduled to begin next week and the windows should arrive and be ready to be installed in three to four weeks, Brinkman said.

The plan is to construct a similar storefront to that of American Bank Center across the street.

American Bank Center President Frank Fridrich said he thinks the project will give downtown a welcome facelift.

"I think it will be great once it gets completed," Fridrich said. "I think it'll really improve downtown. We're excited. It'll be an asset once it's completed."