A group of small business owners trying to open offices in a historic Hastings building are at a stand still because of conflicts between the city and building owner.
Alumni say the old Hastings Middle School building has made an impact on thousands of students over nearly a century. But since the new middle school building opened, the future of the old building has been in question.
"I felt the building deserved to have a new breath of life," building owner Butch Hughes says.
Now, Hughes is trying to do just that, by making it available for small business owners and maybe even residential use.
"We have 18 commitments in the building, eight of which are actually open for business," Hughes says.
Those tenants say it's an exciting and affordable opportunity.
"It's a perfect location because it's centrally located," Linda Kube says. She and her sister are planning to open a clothing boutique in the building.
But city officials say the change in building use also brings safety concerns.
"At this point we don't know if there's significant issues because Mr. Hughes hasn't allowed inspections on a regular basis," City Attorney Robert Sullivan says.
Until the building passes those inspections, the city won't let tenants work with private contractors on their spaces.
For Linda Kube, that means lost revenue. She hasn't been able to complete work in her suite that would replace a window and a wall.
"I have my inventory, I have my spring and summer inventory, sitting there, and I'm not selling a thing," Kube says.
Hughes is charged with several building, electric and fire code violations, none of which he says, are life threatening.
"We're doing everything to code if not above the code, but for the city it's a matter of procedure," Hughes says.
Sullivan says it's a matter of procedure, and of public safety.
"Out of abundance of caution, we've had to say no permits until we're allowed to do inspections as regular course of business," Sullivan says.
But Hughes and the tenants are confident they'll eventually be able to move forward.
Hughes' court case with the city has been bound to District Court. His next appearance will be April 14th.
Until the court proceedings are complete, those contractors still won't be able to do any work in the building.