Fall 2021 opening planned for SDSU precision-ag center

Capitol News Bureau

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — The precision-agriculture center planned for South Dakota State University might have fewer special features in order to meet its budget.

A state Board of Regents building committee agreed in a Monday teleconference that $36,940,235 should be the guaranteed maximum price.

The red brick and glass building could become a university centerpiece in Brookings at the corner of Medary Avenue and North Campus Drive.

The general contractor, McCownGordon Construction of Kansas City, Missouri, proposed the guaranteed-maximum price.

The company worked with the project architect to get the proposal to fit within the budget.

The overall project, including 6 percent of contingency funds, is now $41,600,000.

The Legislature in 2018 authorized $55 million, including issuing up to $20 million of bonds. Lawmakers also added an inspection fee of 25 cents per ton of commercial fertilizer and appropriated $2 million of state general funds.

The university was expected to shift $7.5 million within its budget and find $16.6 million of donations.

In the end, to bring down the price, changes were made to the plan.

One reduction was cutting a 50-kilowatt photovoltaic wall on the roof that would have supplied electricity to the building.

That feature could be restored depending upon prices from contractors.

The mechanical room was moved from the basement to the first floor. There are different finishes on floors and walls too.

The precision-agriculture major teaches students how to use current types of technology and analytics. SDSU is South Dakota’s largest-enrollment university and the state’s main agricultural campus.

Les Olive, the university’s planning director, said bids would be taken in the coming weeks and construction would still start this year, in late summer or early fall.

He said the center would be operating for the fall 2021 semester.

“We are setting right at the schedule the committee last saw,” Olive said.

The university in an October 2018 news release had said construction would start in spring 2019.

The center bears the name of Raven Industries because of a $6 million donation made by the Sioux Falls company.

The South Dakota Corn Utilization Council gave $5 million and CHS put in $1.5 million.

The Legislature this year added $900,000 to the center’s funding.

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