City of Watertown prepared to walk away from Wells Fargo building (Audio)

June 20, 2023

Mike Tanner

WATERTOWN, S.D.–It’s looking more and more like the Watertown City Council’s decision to purchase the Wells Fargo Bank building was a mistake.

The city bought the building more than two-and-a-half years ago with the intention of turning it into a new City Hall. But that has not happened, and it doesn’t look like it ever will.

At tonight’s city council meeting, the council will consider whether to declare the building as surplus property, and solicit bids to sell it.

The city bought the building in November 2020 for $1.3 million, and at the time, then-Mayor Sarah Caron lauded the purchase as a great deal for the taxpayer…

Councilman Glen Vilhauer also spoke enthusiastically at the time about the purchase of the building…

But it’s not going forward because the cost of renovating it into a City Hall is simply too expensive.

Critics of the move have included Mayor Ried Holien, who said the bank building would not provide the, “generational solution” to Watertown’s City Hall issues.

The city has sunk nearly $400,000 in taxpayer money into architectual design fees that cannot, and will not be recovered.