PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — Two officials who comprise the South Dakota Board of Appraisal decided Monday to reduce the minimum amount that state government would accept for the former STAR Academy.
The structures and remaining 133 acres at what most recently was a facility for juvenile offenders near Custer will be offered for $1 million at a 10 a.m. MT auction February 12 at Custer County Courthouse. That’s a 40% discount from the previous minimum of $1,680,000.
A September auction brought a successful sale of a separate 40-acre parcel for $320,000 but the main complex drew no bids. The whole site had been available for $2 million.
Governor Kristi Noem recommended on December 8 the Legislature spend $1.7 million to tear down the academy’s buildings, in the hope that bare ground could be easier to sell.
State School and Public Lands Commissioner Ryan Brunner remains in charge of the sale. His office recently received a price estimate of nearly $675,000 from a Rapid City firm to demolish the main building, a connected group of four structures constructed in 1917, 1925, 1963 and 1990.
Brunner suggested Monday to State Auditor Rich Sattgast that the complex be offered for $1 million to offset the cost to take down the main building. Sattgast agreed, They are the Board of Appraisal that sets minimum amounts state government can accept for property being sold at public auction.
“It is still costing maintenance and repair dollars to have the facility there,” Brunner told Sattgast. “Walking away with a million dollars is better than spending one-point-seven million dollars.”
The September auction was the third attempt to sell the academy’s buildings and land. The complex had been a state hospital that then-Governor Bill Janklow closed in 1996 and converted to a juvenile-offenders site. Then-Governor Dennis Daugaard closed the juvenile facility in 2016.
There were 20 parties that showed interest in the main parcel and buildings at the September auction but none bid, Brunner said.
Some state government properties have been sold at deep discounts in the recent past. Brunner cited examples of the old State Veterans Home that transferred to the Hot Springs municipal government for $1 and two buildings at the South Dakota Developmental Center that went to the Redfield municipal government for $1. Other examples involved properties at Plankinton and Brookings.
“Multiple times we have a precedent that we have done this,” Brunner told Sattgast.