Watertown’s move into a new City Hall has become delayed, expensive and contentious  (Audio)

February 17, 2022
Mike Tanner

WATERTOWN, S.D.–Fifteen months ago, the Watertown City Council voted to buy the Wells Fargo Bank building downtown (pictured) for $1.3 million, with the intent of turning it into a new City Hall. But it’s a move that KWAT News has learned has become complicated, expensive and contentious.

In an exclusive interview with Ried Holien, the Watertown mayor tells KWAT News a key vote on this project will be taken at Tuesday night’s city council meeting. Holien clearly has some reservations about making the move into the former bank building, particularly because he has not received any firm figures on exactly how much the renovation costs will be….

Behind the curtain of these conversations, the mayor admitted that, through the Watertown Development Company, a request was sent out to developers to see if they might be interested in buying the Wells Fargo property, taking it off the city’s hands….

Originally, renovation costs were believed to be in the two million dollar range. But Holien says it could end up being double that amount…

The problems don’t end there. The mayor says as the bank building exists right now, the city won’t be able to hold city council meetings there…

The mayor says they’d have to build an addition onto the bank building; space that would serve as a city council chambers….

Holien says they’ve kicked around the idea of holding city council meetings at the Watertown Event Center until they could hold them in a new addition in the former bank building.

When the purchase of the bank building was announced, then Mayor Sarah Caron said it was a deal that would save the city money…

Holien voted “for” the purchase of the bank building in November 2020 when, at the time, he was a city council member. But looking back, he tells KWAT News he wishes he knew then what he knows now…

The mayor says with an extensive renovation of the bank building still to come, they might be operating out of the current City Hall for another year or more.

Hear the full interview with Mayor Ried Holien by clicking the link below: