After celebrating the 80th anniversary of its first residential program, the Abbott House is expecting another milestone this spring: the opening of its first foster home for boys in Mitchell.
The Abbott House's bid to purchase what is currently the Crystal Manor went through last week, though the deal on the building at 1001 N. Main St. hadn't officially been closed as of Monday, said Abbott House Executive Director Eric Klooz.
"Our goal would be to work toward that and hopefully have it open and running by March," Klooz said. "... We're still doing a building inspection, and there are a few things that still need to happen to make it final. But everything's looking positive at this point."
Klooz said while the Abbott House had been hoping to open a home for boys in Mitchell eventually, the nonprofit hadn't been actively searching for a building when a realtor shared that the current Crystal Manor building was on the market. Crystal Manor staff declined to comment on the sale Tuesday morning.
"We've been in the process of expanding in Rapid City, so the Mitchell plans have kind of been slowed down because of all the work we've been doing out there. And then this property became available," Klooz said. "Otherwise, we probably would've been a couple years down the road yet before we got back to that."
In addition to its all-female residential program, the Abbott House operates three girls' foster homes in Mitchell and one in Rapid City. Klooz said the homes in Mitchell are typically at capacity.
"We're really excited that we get an opportunity to serve the boys," Klooz said.
The Abbott House currently runs one boys' home in Rapid City, and a second is being built there. While each of those homes cost about $1.1 million, the bid on the Mitchell building was $435,000, and renovations such as putting in a new electrical system, reconfiguring rooms and installing new doors are estimated to cost an additional $200,000.
Klooz said there are a number of variables in the price difference between the Rapid City and Mitchell homes, including rising land and construction prices in Rapid City and the fact that constructing a new building is more expensive than purchasing an existing one. He said it's hard to find available buildings with more than a few bedrooms, and that coupled with the comparatively lower price made the Main Street building a good opportunity.
A similar opportunity came up about three years ago, when the organization was hoping to purchase a building near Mitchell High School owned by Avera and use it as a boys' home, but its bid wasn't accepted.
The building will be paid for through donations, and the Abbott House will be applying for grants and beginning a fund drive in the area.
Up to six boys will be able to live in the new foster home, and there will be between two and four apartments in the building, similar to the organization's housing on North Minnesota Street for young women who have just left the foster care system. Klooz said Mitchell's zoning regulations would likely require two apartments to start before the Abbott House could petition for more.
"When kids turn 18 and transition out of the foster care system, if they choose to, that'll be a place to go to kind of help them get launched in life," Klooz said.
Boys will be selected to live in the new building in the same way children are chosen for other Abbott House locations, Klooz said. Kids referred to the Abbott House are interviewed and visit their prospective home several times before officially moving in in order to make sure they're a good fit.