The South Dakota School for the Deaf has been sold for $6.9 million, Sioux Falls Ministry Center board chairman Rich Merkouris announced Wednesday morning.
Center officials and the South Dakota Board of Regents reached an agreement Tuesday afternoon to buy the building as well as the football and track field next to the property for a total of 14 acres, Merkouris said.
Outreach services for the school are expected to be moved to a new location within the next four to six months, he said. The ministry center will build a hub for local services to better serve low-income families in a prime location that’s more centrally located, Merkouris said.
“It’s a huge transition,” Merkousi said. “This has only been possible because we’ve seen people from the business community step up and nonprofits willing to collaborate, and government and other entities converse together about what is best for our community.”
We’re really excited about the opportunity,” Merkouris told the Argus Leader Wednesday. “I think it’s got great potential benefits for the community as a whole.”
Celebrate Community Church officials offered to buy the property in 2018 for $6.6 million, but withdrew the offer after inspection issues came to light, said Brent Norgaard, the church’s chief operating officer, last month.
The ministry center will use the property to expand its current services by hopefully bringing in at least eight to 15 other organizations, Merkouris said. But it’s unclear exactly how many because the group is still in talks with those service groups and nonprofits, he said.
He hopes a master plan will come together within the next six to eight months, including what upgrades and renovations to make to the building, he said. He hopes to open soon after, he said. The biggest addition so far might be the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Sioux Empire, Merkouris said.
Boys & Girls Clubs of the Sioux Empire is excited about the potential of being involved in such an amazing endeavor,” CEO Rebecca Wimmer said Wednesday afternoon. “We strive to provide exceptional care and education for all children and youth and this collaboration would allow us to continue to expand our impact within the community.”
The ministry center hasn’t signed a formal lease with anyone yet, but hopes to finalize an agreement with the Boys & Girls Club in the coming weeks, Merkouris said.
The group also hopes to turn a portion of the undeveloped football field into soccer fields for the public and lower-income families, he said. The other portion will involve a conversation with other services to find out how to best use the rest of the land, he said.
The Argus Leader has reached out to the regents and the superintendent of the School for the Deaf, but none of the officials were immediately available. “We’re hoping to create a mall of services that can help families that have infants all the way up to adults,” Merkouris said.