Officials pitch plan for new Watertown City Hall along Highway 20  (Audio)

March 8, 2023
Mike Tanner

WATERTOWN, S.D.–The search for a new Watertown City Hall has taken a dramatic turn, and it was discussed publicly for the first time Tuesday night at a city council work session.

Two years ago, the city bought the Wells Fargo Bank building downtown for $1.3 million. They received just one bid for renovating the building to fit their needs. That was submitted by Gray Construction of Watertown, but it came in way over budget.

The bid was rejected, and since then, the bank building has sat empty, with the city still owning it.

On Tuesday night, during a 90 minute power point presentation from City Engineer Heath VonEye, plans were revealed that would call for the city to sell the bank building, and build a brand new City Hall along Highway 20, on the property where the South Dakota Livestock Auction barn sat before it burned down several years ago.

Not only would a new city hall be located there, but so would a new Street Department headquarters. Mayor Ried Holien calls it a “bold move” and a “generational solution”…..

Holien says a lot of work needs to be done before this plan even gets to a city council vote…

Councilman Bruce Buhler is not convinced this is a good move. He says he’s, “not glued” to the Wells Fargo building, but believes it has some real possibilities, and wonders if the city should take another swing at soliciting renovation costs to see if the numbers come in any differently this time…

The cost of building a new Street Department facility and City Hall on Highway 20 is just under $28 million.

A public hearing on the plan will be held at 6 p.m. tomorrow in the community room of the Watertown Police Department.