Bids come in lower than expected; Donarski Brothers awarded. Asbestos was recently abated.

    It's the end of the line for the Polk County Professional Building in Crookston, as the County Board of Commissioners approved a bid for demolition at its meeting Tuesday. County Administrator Chuck Whiting said the project is set to get going around Feb. 20.

    "The bids came in much lower than we were expecting," said Whiting. "This demolition project, I expect, will be much easier than the ones downtown were, given its location."

    The board awarded the bid to local company Donarski Brothers Construction of Crookston, which also did the Z Place/Rock's Jewelry demolition, for $86,000, which covers both removal of the building and backfilling the empty space. One bid did come in lower, but because it didn't include the backfill, the board felt that the total price tag would be higher in the end.

    What to do with the Professional Building, which started out as St. Vincent's Hospital in the late 1800s and ended housing county offices such as social services, public defenders and the county attorney, has been the subject of discussion off and on for the past decade in county board meetings. It's been empty of offices since 2009 and the demolition process was put on hold a handful of times since then due to various reasons. The process got a shot in the arm last spring when asbestos was removed at a cost of $66,650.

    About that time, a developer expressed interest in purchasing and renovating the building into apartments. However, Whiting said, this would entail significant expenses, and the discussions with the developer remained stagnant.

    Sentiment among board members was to move forward on tearing the building down rather than go through a number of delays due to possible development that fell through in the end, as was the case with the Wayne Hotel property.

    "No more dilly dallying; it's time to bring it down," said Commissioner Warren Affeldt. "It's going to be more valuable down the road this way, either for the City of Crookston or for some developer."