State might have buyer for STAR Academy

Capitol News Bureau

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — The winning bid was $1,325,000 Friday at an auction sale of the former STAR Academy. The property had been a state government corrections facility for juveniles near Custer.

Faith Lewis of Keller Williams Real Estate represented the buyers. Their identity will be publicly disclosed after the governor approves the purchase agreement. That’s according to state School and Public Lands Commissioner Ryan Brunner, who conducted the sale.

Brunner said three bidders participated in the auction that began at the $1 million listed price.

The auction was the fourth attempt to sell the buildings and land. The complex was a state hospital that then-Governor Bill Janklow closed in 1996 and changed to a juvenile-offenders site. Then-Governor Dennis Daugaard closed the juvenile facility in 2016.

The current buyer provided a letter of credit from a bank stating approval to make the purchase, according to Brunner.

“The public auction was the right way to to find the fair market value,” he said in a statement to KELOLAND News. “Even though it took multiple attempts it is important that we follow a fair process with state property. Ultimately lowering the price led to multiple bidders and a good return for the state.”

A 40-acre parcel sold at a September auction for $320,000 but no one made a bid for the main complex that was listed for $1,680,000. The state Board of Appraisal on which Brunner serves dropped the minimum price to $1 million afterward rather than have the main building torn down.

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