LSS opens new downtown campus

By Jodi Schwan

LSS opens its new campus in the former Kilian Community College building this week.

The nonprofit is finishing up a renovation of the first floor of the building at 300 E. Sixth St. to accommodate its Center for New Americans, which is moving from leased space on Main Avenue.

“We’re just really excited about it. The functionality of the space has turned out really well,” president and CEO Betty Oldenkamp said.

“We spent a lot of time upfront on design and have been really pleased with that. it stayed on budget and on time and that’s been wonderful.”

The $1 million renovation included widening hallways, raising ceilings, converting four rooms into one for casework, adding windows to allow more light, making HVAC improvements and updating the exterior.

“We were trying to create an open feeling, having light and making it feel welcome, and we feel really good about that,” Oldenkamp said. “These staff collaborate constantly on cases and work in teams, so having a layout that supported that was really important.”

The center serves between 350 and 500 refugees and immigrants annually with English classes and helps with job searches, housing and other services.

Work on the second floor is starting this month and will be done as funds become available. LSS is leasing some space to Mitchell-based Dakota Wesleyan University for classes and plans to locate its administrative offices and mentoring program on the second floor. TSP, Inc. is the architectural and engineering firm, and Beck & Hofer Construction Inc. is the contractor on the project.

Long-term, LSS projects it needs 10,000 square feet more to accommodate all of its programs. The organization still owns a building at 705 E. 41st St. that is on the market.

The plan had been to build a two-story addition at the downtown property, but that will be determined in part by how proposals come together for adjacent city-owned railyard property.

“We have had conversations with a couple developers who have interest in doing something in conjunction with us, and we’re open to those conversations, although no commitments have been made,” Oldenkamp said.

“We recognize the value of the north end of this property, if you look at the city’s overall concept, so we’re just going to see where those conversations go. It might be awhile before we get everything located down here because we’re trying to be good community citizens as well and be part of what’s happening down here.”

An open house will be held for the downtown renovation from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 19, with a ribbon-cutting at 4:30 p.m.





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LSS opens new downtown campus

LSS opens its new campus in the former Kilian Community College building this week.

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