Mike and Denise Hays, the new owners of the Longbranch Mercantile, said in October their vision is to reopen the building with a new café and meeting rooms by the spring of 2007.

In 2003, the couple started working on the mercantile building, which had been vacant for several years. They said they have discovered a variety of problems since then with the structure, zoning and other issues.

Before their purchase, the Department of Ecology had dug out underground storage tanks and the majority of contaminated soil from the property caused by gas spills at the old fuel pumps over years of operation. The agency continues to monitor ground water in the area to make sure no additional leaking has occurred.

The building, which was built in the 1950s, has major roof leaks, sinking floors, leaking plumbing and an undersized septic system, in addition to other problems, according to Denise Carron-Hays. A large portion of the building sits on a county setback for the Key Peninsula Highway, which means the county could condemn the building in the future if it needs to make road repairs or other work, she said.

“Given all these complex issues and the necessary funding to correct these deficiencies, it might make sense to just start over,” she said.

The owners said they are working with other local businesses to develop their ideas for the property.