Badlands Pawn property to become innovative center for veteran, military organizations

Dec. 12, 2019

The long-vacant Badlands Pawn property is going to find new life as a first-of-its-kind location for veteran and military-themed organizations.

A new veteran, military and civilian nonprofit corporation has purchased the building at 1600 W. Russell St. for $9 million.

The South Dakota Military Heritage Alliance Inc., a 501(c)3 corporation, plans to bring multiple organizations under one roof, led by the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars.  It also will provide a state-of-the-art location for entertainment, events and meetings, as well as an eventual military museum.

“The Alliance is a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting veterans, military service members and their families, all while integrating the civilian community into the process.  Anyone with a love of country is welcome and encouraged to support and participate in this unprecedented endeavor,” Alliance vice chairman Ken Teunissen said in a statement.

Teunissen describes the initiative as the most innovative in the nation, with 100 percent of the proceeds going to support military and veteran organizations and causes. Much of the building’s cost was paid for through private donations, but fundraising is underway to pay the balance and ensure the building is ready to open in early 2020, he said.

“We are extremely excited to provide this type of opportunity,” Teunissen said. “I’m not aware of any facility in the nation that brings together multiple veteran and military organizations, celebrates and preserves their individual identities, yet also joins forces for other causes such as helping homeless veterans and ensuring honor guards for military and veteran funerals.”

The honor guard element is especially important considering the pending arrival of the State Veterans Cemetery, he added.

“The Alliance will be unlike anything in the nation but also exactly what our veterans, military members and their families deserve. It will demonstrate how our community and state lead the way in taking care of those who protect us.”

Teunissen said the building purchase is the first of many steps needed to open the doors. If all goes as planned, the building would be fully operational in the spring of 2020.

The building has been vacant since Badlands Pawn closed in early 2017.

“The building is unique because it does not fit into a particular category of commercial property,” said Dennis Breske of NAI Sioux Falls, who co-listed it with Dale Zomer. “It is not a true office, retail or industrial building. It is a blend of all three with an expensive-to-build-and-equip gun range included. Additionally, it is was one of the highest priced listings I have marketed during my 30 years of selling commercial property.”

Badlands Pawn, which combined a pawn shop, live entertainment, cafe, gun range and radio station, closed after owner Chuck Brennan, founder of Dollar Loan Center, cited a statewide vote in 2016 to cap interest rates on short-term loans.

It originally was listed for nearly $14 million and cost about $20 million to build.

“The buyer is a very unique fit because they can use the building and the substantial amount of personal property included pretty much in ‘as is’ condition,” Breske said.

“Finding a not-for-profit buyer with a cause that was able to generate significant charitable contributions was key given the large sale price. It was very difficult for the for-profit prospects to take on the debt risk that would have existed.”

Those who did look at it often were interested in portions of the building, Zomer said. Some thought of it for a nightclub, a fitness center or a wedding venue. Others were mostly interested in the gun range.

“This is really a special-purpose building, and the type of user going in there taking over will be able to use all the different facets of the building in its own very unique way,” Zomer said.

“The warehouse side of it, for instance, will make a great museum, the office section will make great use for the many different organizations that will be using the facility. The bar and dance floor will be able to be used for the public as well as all vets organizations involved in this facility.”

The proximity to the Denny Sanford Premier Center complex, Sioux Falls Regional Airport and South Dakota Air National Guard is another benefit, he added.

“When the air show is in town every three years, it will be a great place to stop by to go through the museum to take in all that they plan to put in there honoring our vets and showcase of military-related memorabilia,” Zomer said.

“The best one, I think, is what better place to have awards ceremonies to honor our vets when it comes time for something like this. I believe this could end up being a national spotlight for something of this nature to make sure our vets are honored and appreciated for protecting our country so we can have the freedoms we have.”

Want to stay in the know?

Get our free business news delivered to your inbox.

Badlands Pawn property to become innovative center for veteran, military organizations

The long-vacant Badlands Pawn property is going to find new life as a first-of-its-kind location for veteran and military-themed organizations.

News Tip

Have a business news item to share with us?

Scroll to top