The Tom and Danielle Aman Foundation, which has been working on the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Depot since 2005, is ready for another entity to take over the historic structure.
Restoration of the depot is about 80 percent complete, said Jodi Gerdes, the foundation's director.
Work still needs to be done on the soffits, brickwork and a small number of windows on the second floor of the building, which is at the corner of Main Street and Railroad Avenue.
Rebuilt in 1911 after a fire, the depot was long home to the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad, or the Milwaukee Road for short.
The depot has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1977.
“It is considered locally significant for its role in transportation and for its architectural style, and is the largest brick passenger depot still standing in South Dakota,” according to material from the foundation.
Work already done includes roof repair and stabilization and the installation of a geothermal ground heat exchange. An elevator was installed to make the building handicapped-accessible. Public restrooms were installed in the basement and first and second floors. In addition, the electrical system was updated, a stairwell was added and the parking lot resurfaced.
The effort has been assisted by federal and state grants and donations from private entities and individuals. Still, the foundation has spent $580,000 in construction costs since taking ownership of the building in 2005.
At that time, the foundation agreed to facilitate the redevelopment and restoration of the depot.
At this point, though, the foundation would like to transfer ownership of the building to a nonprofit organization or another entity.
Tom Aman, secretary-treasurer of the foundation, said one or two organizations have toured the depot. He intends to accelerate the process of looking for a new owner.
One of the occupants of the building is the Native American Cultural Center.
“Our goal is to keep the Native American Cultural Center there for little or no rent. That’s our goal,” he said.
If a new nonprofit entity takes over the building, the foundation would help that organization seek grants to finish the work, Aman said.
Aman would like to see a Wall of Chiefs built in the Native American Cultural Center. That display would honor all 17 tribes that the Aberdeen office of the Bureau of Indian Affairs works with. Each tribe would be asked to nominate a chief or other symbol for inclusion in the display.
As far as the building is concerned, Aman would accept a reasonable offer from a potential buyer.
“We're at the stage where we're moving along but we're probably not moving along fast enough for the community,” he said.
He believes the community would like to see the depot completed so that it can become a viable space.
Aman thinks it would make sense to house the area's economic development agencies under one roof, either at the depot or elsewhere.
Entities connected to Aman have been involved in the depot since 2003.