The STAR Academy has a new owner.
The estate sold for a minimum bid at $2.34 million in auction. It was the second time the academy campus went up for auction.
Former Custer mayor and real estate agent Jared Carson, and his business partners, met the minimum bid to purchase the state owned, former juvenile detention center.
The 37-year-old went to high school in Custer and served in the army. Over the next year, Carson and his business partners plan to turn the campus into what he calls a “light manufacturing” center with a low-carbon food print.
Carson says he hopes the business will fill the hole that the state closing the STAR Academy left.
“That was a very large employer in our community. So, the process to figure out what next has been on going by a number of different entities, not the least the state,” Carson says. “We decided it was time to take ownership of our economics and destiny here and capitalize on the state’s decision.”
Carson and his associates, who he’s declined to name, must put down 10 percent, and the rest when they close the deal. Carson says his group has the financing.
He says remodel and construction of the facility will begin in the spring. He says he expects the project to create up to 125 jobs.
The 173 acre lot has almost 170,000 square feet of buildings as well.
State Representative Tim Goodwin, who represents he Custer area, says the sale is a bitter sweet deal.
“We still need the STAR Academy, some facility like that. We had that here. But we did authorize in the legislature to sell it, so, I guess you can’t go back. Water is under the bridge already. You can’t unring the bell. So, once it was it was authorized to sell it, that’s what we came here to do, to sell. If it wouldn’t have sold, we would have done other things. But it sold, goes back on the payroll, looks like we got a good buyer, good jobs for the community of Custer and Southern Hills, so, that’s what we need.”
The decision to put the STAR Academy up for auction came toward the end of last session. The state closed the STAR Academy in 2016 as a part of juvenile justice reform.
A spokesperson from the South Dakota Governor’s Office says Governor Daugaard hopes to approve the bid for the STAR Academy in Custer by next week. They say the governor is pleased that the former juvenile detention center sold.