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County moves ahead with purchase of NR County Market

The Health and Humans Services department staff will have some new digs since the St. Croix County Board of Supervisors approved $3 million to purchase the vacant County Market building in New Richmond and convert it.

Without much discussion and no amendments, the resolution passed by unanimous 16-0 vote with three supervisors absent at the county board meeting Tuesday morning.

The approved funds include $1.28 million to buy the building on the south side of New Richmond that has been vacant for seven years and $1.8 to remodel the building to accommodate the Health and Human Services staff.

The total includes estimated operating costs over a five-year period, according to the county’s finance department.

“This is not a short term band aid approach,” said administrator Pat Thompson. “I look at this as a long-term solution for space needs for one of the largest departments in the county.”

“It’s a long-term commitment to the New Richmond facility,” he said, “but if the board ever decides to sell the building down the line, we could recoup our costs.”

The purchase became attractive when research determined it would cost more than $4 million to rent and renovate a similar space to serve HHS over a five-year period.

The expenditure includes $128,000 earnest money for the purchase of the building.

Proceeds from the auction of county land of $3.3 million will go toward the purchase of County Market.

In his regular report, Thompson said the expansion of the 911 center at the Government Center is scheduled to start in September and finish in January 2014.

The expansion will eliminate the community room next to the 911 center. It has been dedicated to Ole Anderson, who served as county board chair 1968-1989. Thompson said the current county board room will be re-dedicated to Anderson.

The administrator also said the agriculture building in Baldwin will be sold and the staff there would be moved to Hudson in mid-2014. The building is appraised at $1.9 million. The proceeds from that sale would go into the capital fund.