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September 02, 2014 10:10 PM

New Owner For Green Building In Howard

Howard, SD

It may have been a concept ahead of its time.  After years of planning the small town of Howard, South Dakota, put up one of the greenest buildings in the country for nearly $7 million.

There were high hopes for it to attract new business to town. But when two wind-energy businesses backed out of using it, the building shut down.  Now a new owner is about to breathe life back into the high-tech facility.

When Randy Perry, Director of Howard Industries, shows someone around the former Maroney Commons building, you can sense the pride that went into years of planning one of the country's greenest buildings; one that never realized its potential. 

"It was so exciting, and then to have what we call the perfect storm, by the companies going down, really, really hurt--because not only did we lose their income, but we have to pick up all their expenses," Perry said.

After the multi-million dollar building shut down, it went up for auction.  But the bids came in too low. Then a month ago, a buyer showed up.

"I was in awe that it existed; not even a hundred miles away.  And to see the beauty of it and what it stood for, and the intention of it; the architecture of it was just amazing," Judy Shaw said.

Judy Shaw is the leader of the Center of Life Church in Sioux Falls.  She also does mission work around the world and has established a foundation. She saw this building as a way to carry out her foundation's work.

"The whole complex of the hotel, the restaurant, the conference and training center, all in one building? (An) Excellent concept," Shaw said.

Shaw plans to call the building the Howard Hotel Convention Complex and use it as a retreat and training center for her mission work. She also hopes it can draw more innovation and business to Howard.

"The dream is still alive; it's not dead. Timing is everything.  There's a second chance and third chance and fourth chance for everything and people in life," Shaw said.

The building has attracted Minnesota-based metal fabricator Donnerite.  Donnerite just moved into Howard and plans to add 30 jobs by the end of the year.  Donnerite will rent the facility from Shaw for its international customers. 

"You might be successful, and all of the sudden the floor drops out and now what are you going to do? You have a couple of choices:  you can say, 'It's over.  Oh well, we tried and that was it.'  Or you can lift your spirits up and say, 'Hey, we did all this work and we're not going to fail again,'" Perry said.

Shaw doesn't plan to waste any time putting this building to use.  She'll close on it next week and about a month later open it up for hunters to stay during the season.

Shaw purchased the building and the equipment inside for $377,000.

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