County approves $46 million in financing for jail expansion

Minnehaha County Jail Expansion

There’s no turning back now.

After a half decade of groundwork and planning, the Minnehaha County Commission approved the sale Tuesday of $46 million worth of bonds that will pay for adding up to 320 jail beds at the downtown correctional facility.

Commissioner Cindy Heiberger said the discussion about adding jail space has been ongoing since at least 2010. Tuesday’s unanimous vote is a major milestone for the county, she said.

“We’ve been working on this for about seven years to come to this point and make this motion just right,” Heiberger said.

The county’s jail today houses 400 beds. Adding 320 more beds should meet Minnehaha County’s needs until 2030, according to county projections. They include 45 rental beds earmarked for Lincoln County over the next five years.

The details of what the new jail will look like still aren’t known, but an architectural team composed of JLG Architects of North Dakota and BWBR of St. Paul will finalize plans before the construction team of Henry Carlson Company and J.E. Dunn Construction of Kansas City break ground next August.

“There’s a lot of architectural work and construction documents to be done between now and when they put the first shovel in the ground in August,” Minnehaha County Sheriff Mike Milstead said.

When construction starts, the county will lose about 150 parking spaces where the expansion will be built, directly east of the public safety building and jail. To make up for some of the parking loss, the county will develop a vacant property on the other side of Minnesota Avenue into a 54-space surface parking lot.

It’s projected to be about three years before the expansion is ready for use.