LEWISTON — Some unexpected cleanup work at the old McCrory’s department building on Lisbon Street will push renovations back a bit, but not by much.

“Lo and behold, they made the floor tiles in the building out of asbestos,” developer Jason Levesque said. “So we had to go in and get those abated and find a company, and that pushed everything back.”

Levesque, chief executive officer of Argo Marketing, said he hopes to close on the building by Aug. 16 and begin the $2.4 million renovations in earnest, turning the the 100-year-old structure into space for up to 250 jobs, a cafe and retail storefronts.

He’s hoping for a New Year’s grand opening.

“We are really pushing for Jan. 1,” he said. “It might only be partially open, the meat-and-potatoes customer center, that’s what we’re shooting for. We can keep administration in our old building for the time being. “

City councilors voted Tuesday to change the development agreement for the building, moving the closing date back from Aug. 1 to Aug. 16.

According to the original agreement, the city is providing a facade grant of up to $150,000, a life safety grant of up to $100,000 under the same terms and 10-year tax-increment financing agreement projected to return $147,000 in property taxes to Argo over a decade.

But Levesque said his biggest concern now is finding people to fill jobs at this call center. He currently has 120 employees at a call center in Pittsfield and 110 in the Lewiston offices on Lisbon Street.

“But I need at least 100 more,” he said. “I had to open a satellite facility in Portland about a month ago. We have 60 employees there and it’s taking the stress off of Lewiston-Auburn. But strategically, I need 300 to 500 employees in Lewiston.”

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