County storage building purchase

Clay County Administrator Stephen Larson and Facilities Director Joe Olson recommend the purchase of an existing structure rather than constructing a new building to meet Clay County’s storage needs.

county commission

Karen Newman 

At their May 25 meeting, the Clay County Commissioners voted to approve entering a $1.3 million purchase agreement for a storage building located at 2660 16th Avenue South in Moorhead’s Industrial Park.

County Administrator Stephen Larson explained the request as complying with a May 8 commission directive authorizing Clay County Facilities Director Joe Olson to enter negotiations for a county storage building to meet current and future needs. All department heads who would utilize the building toured it and feel it would meet their requirements. 

Olson explained that a key part of the building negotiations was a lease agreement. The business, JT’s lawn Services and Landscaping, currently occupying the building, will be constructing a new space for their business.  The lease agreement has a deadline of April, 2022 for the current owner to exit the premises.  The county will assume access to three bays in fall, 2021.  The county will be able to refit a $20,000 space for the Clay County Sheriff Department’s evidence storage needs within the building during the lease term. Olson said, “Everything could be moved over in the fall. We just have to work out the lease agreement.”

Larson reported that the 16,000 square foot building has a sprinkler system and nine doors.  The building includes a 1,500 square foot, two-level office space which could potentially offer some rental income in the future. Larson said, “When we were looking at Requests for Proposals (RFPs) on a storage unit, we were looking at about a 50’x200’ building which is 10,000 square feet.”  With the cost of building supplies rising and shipping delays being experienced by area construction firms, Larson says this building appears to be a good option to evade current construction woes. The original price of the building was $1.5 million. He explained, “…we are looking to purchase that as soon as June 15th with the understanding that we would lease it back to JT’s Lawn Service up until April of next year.” Taxes would be pro-rated based on ownership. The lawn service company will pay utilities until they move out. Another contingency of the purchase agreement is completion of the successful outcome of an environmental impact study. Larson and Olson reported that JTs wants to vacate the building “sooner than later”.

Commission Jenna Kahly stated, “We have talked about a lot of big, expensive projects today…can you give an overview for the public on how this will be paid for if we go forward with this?”

County Administrator Brad Larson replied that the county previously did a land swap with the City of Moorhead under which the county received $660,987.87. With the reduction in price from $1.5 to $1.3 million and the land swap funds, the cost would be $639,012.20. Larson said, “That figure has been included in Joe’s capital improvement funds. So, we would be requesting that if there would be a motion to accept today, that would include the potential of utilizing those funds in a future bond.”

Commissioner Mongeau noted that with the difficulties ordering and shipping building supplies, the originally proposed structure would probably have cost as much as the proposed purchase of the larger existing building.

The proposal passed with Commissioners Kahly, Gross, Mongeau and Ebinger approving.  Commissioner Campbell voted no, citing the difference in space between what was originally requested and the proposed existing facility. He facetiously remarked that there would be space for 200 years.

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