Havre Daily News
The Havre City Council has approved a tax abatement from the Norsman Development Group, which purchased the former Heritage Center from the city in April.
Norsman's Todd Hanson and Erica McKeon-Hanson plan to reroof the historic former U.S. post office and courthouse and will improve the building's windows and mechanical systems. Norsman plans to make the refurbished building home to a restaurant, traditional Irish brewpub, the Plains Indian Gallery of Western Art and Artifacts, office suites and a banquet center.
City Council members approved a tax abatement that will allow Norsman five years of construction time without an increase in taxes. The property taxes on the improvements will then be phased in over a period of five more years at 20 percent a year. The Hill County Commission also has approved the tax break.
The building will be renamed the Hanson Building, in honor of Todd Hanson's parents.
Hanson said Wednesday the project will be completed in phases, with work on the roof beginning within two weeks. Contractors will concentrate on the first two floors of the building, which will house the restaurant, pub, gallery and some offices, before moving to the third floor, where the former courtroom will be turned into a banquet facility. Workers will then begin work on improvements to the basement.
Hanson said he hopes to hold a grand opening at the beginning of 2006.
Roofers were supposed to start work in June, but rainy weather caused delays on their other projects.
Hanson said the Havre-Hill County Historic Preservation Commission will be given office space free of charge when the major construction work is completed. "That will be our gesture back to that group and to the work they're doing in the community," he said.
Norsman has been working with state historic preservation officials and will include local preservation representatives in the construction process. Hanson also said he has spoken with local attorneys and physical therapists who are interested in renting office space once construction is completed.
"They'd move in tomorrow, but we're just not ready for them," he said.