Hill City Center construction close to conclusion

Esther Noe

After seeing the construction along the alleyway between McGregor and Elm and around the new Hill City Center, many are wondering how things are progressing. The answer is things are progressing well.
In the alley all the rock work is completed and the construction crew is preparing to install the curb and gutter. Once that is finished, it will do the asphalt, pave the alley and finish up any remaining details. Depending on the weather, the alleyway should be completed in a couple more weeks to meet the contract deadline of June 28.
There is also some electrical work to finish at the parking lot for the Hill City Center in regards to the lights and pedestals. However, after the site is cleaned up and the equipment is removed, the Hill City Center parking lot will be striped and should be available for use right away.
Originally, there was some concern about parking and deliveries during construction, but the situation is being managed as well as can be expected to make it work and get the job accomplished. The angled parking along Walnut Avenue helped with this.
“Hopefully here in a few weeks we can kind of get back to normal,” said city administrator Brett McMacken.
Meanwhile, at the Hill City Center three main things need to be accomplished before opening.
First, the city is still working with a contractor to secure the final doors, which were part of the original design for the building.
Second, there has been some difficulty obtaining countertops for the kitchen. Finally, there is some various electrical work to be completed. These delays are primarily due to supply issues, shortages in materials and shipping delays like many other items these days, but they are pushing forward regardless.
Other than that, the interior of the building is done.
According to McMacken, “everything is looking great.”
The public restroom element of the new facility is finished as well and will be available once the building and alley construction are completed.
“We are excited to showcase that as well. It is quite an upgrade from what we had previously,” McMacken said. “They are really high quality.”
The next big effort once the interior is done will be moving various equipment and necessities back into the building. This includes kitchen supplies like pots, pans and silverware as well as tables and chairs.
Around the exterior of the Hill City Center, crews recently poured some additional sidewalks and drainage areas. Also, a retaining wall was put in for the yard area south of the building, and some grading of the soils was completed on the grass lawn so the rainwater drains well.
The patio area on the northeast corner of the structure turned out nice as well, city officials feel.
“Now that the train is active across the street, it is the perfect vantage point for people to watch the train come in and out,”  McMacken said. “It’s going to be a great space to come out, relax and watch the day go by.”
With that, there are just a few bits and pieces left to finish due to supply issues and weather, but McMacken said, “we’re working through it all.”
“I’m most excited for people to visit the new center and just be wowed by how different it is,” McMacken said. The space looks so refreshed and new with additional things added that those familiar with the old building will barely recognize it, he said.
Already people are commenting after walking or driving by how amazing the building looks. They are eager to see it for themselves, experience the space and attend events there. Some people have already started calling to reserve space for later in the year.
The good news is Mary Walton has already begun her work as the director for the Hill City Senior Center and community coordinator for the city. This position is provided through a partnership between the seniors and the city to make the space successful, open to the citizens and a central place of activity for the community. Additionally, since Walton worked for the senior center before, the transition was smooth for everyone.
“She’s going to be a great asset of coordinating not only senior activities but also anything that the city would like to do and meetings from other groups,” McMacken said.
McMacken said it’s easy to get anxious for construction to be over, but it is also worth remembering that ground was not broken until after the Sturgis Rally last year. All that has been accomplished was done so in a relatively short period of time. Plus once it is finished, the public will be able to utilize and enjoy the facility for the next several decades.
It was also paid for primarily through the hotel tax, Business Improvement District Board and other sales tax.
“That upgrade was really something that was produced from tourism revenue so that burden isn’t placed upon our own citizens,” McMacken said.
At this point there is no set date for the opening of the Hill City Center. However, it is expected a soft opening will take place once construction is completed and an official grand opening will take place sometime in July.

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