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Pennington County purchases $7 million property for future growth

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Pennington County Commissioners voted Tuesday to purchase a $7 million property at 900 Concourse Drive in Rapid City for the county's future growth needs, planning to move the administration offices into the building.

The Pennington County Board of Commissioners approved a $7 million purchase agreement Tuesday morning for a property that will help the county facilitate future growth.

The 76,316-square-foot building, located at 900 Concourse Drive in Rapid City, was identified by the county’s building committee as a potential relocation site for the county’s administrative offices.

A facilities needs assessment presented to the board at its Sept. 20 meeting found that space was limited around the existing downtown campus, recommending off-site facilities to meet future growth needs.

The building will address population growth over the next 20 years, which the study estimated to increase 23-30% in the Rapid City area and Ellsworth Air Force Base. The study also projected a 60% growth factor on 911 call volume and 55-65% on court filings and court personnel. 

The property, formerly a call center, presented “great potential” in the opportunity to buy an existing building relative to current construction costs, said Mike Kuhl, building and grounds director. The building included offices, multiple sections of cubicles, a gym, kitchen, cafeteria and “plenty of parking.”

The property had $3 million in updates performed in 2017, including completely replacing the heating/cooling system. Kuhl and Kevin Burton, senior construction project manager, researched available properties and found the Concourse property to be centrally located, possessing the needed infrastructure, furnishings, equipment and space needed for the assessment’s 20-year projections.

The suggested purchase price of $6,969,092 came to $92 per square foot. Burton told the board the current price for building ranges from $350-$425 (per square foot), without a land purchase. The relocation will also allow for the Public Safety Building to move into the current Administration Building, accommodating growing needs in law enforcement, the State's Attorney's office and Court Services.

Commissioner Ron Rossknecht, a member of the Pennington County Building Committee, noted a positive of the site was “plenty of parking.”

Burton said the original intent was to keep the downtown campus centralized, but the domino effect triggered by attempting to build drove them towards outside properties. The proposed property, he said, “seems like the best bang for the buck,” and that is still “a lot cheaper than working on the current campus.”

Commissioner Deb Hadcock noted the needs assessment that fueled the property purchase was looking at future expansion and needs, not just immediate. She commended the building committee, saying she appreciated “all the forethought put into this expansion. I think it’s a good move.”

The purchase of the property allows the county to begin moving forward with a solution “right away,” Kuhl said.

Rossknecht said other options presented were “well in excess of $100 million,” and that the decision “wasn’t that hard when you look at the options presented.”

Commissioner Travis Lasseter noted his apprehension to purchasing new buildings, but that he felt the committee did due diligence to ensure “we got a good deal on a good piece of property that’s going to last the county what we need.”

Commissioners unanimously approved the purchase.

The facilities needs assessment’s projected timeline estimated various phases being rolled out throughout 2023, with a possible move-in by the end of 2023.

–Contact Laura Heckmann at lheckmann@rapidcityjournal.com

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