BISMARCK – A fundraising committee needed just eight weeks to round up $500,000 in private donations required before construction can start on a new North Dakota governor’s residence to replace the existing 55-year-old home.
Jim Poolman, co-chairman of the Friends of the North Dakota Governor’s Residence fundraising committee, said recent donations of $25,000 each from Midcontinent Communications and BNSF Railway put the fund over the top.
The Legislature voted last spring to spend up to $4 million in state funds on a new residence if $1 million in private funds could be raised. Half of the $1 million must be secured before work can begin.
“We have over $500,000 committed, and checks to be in the bank by Jan. 1. They’ve all been coming in as expected,” Poolman said.
The committee announced $300,000 in corporate gifts Dec. 2, and more than $30,000 has been donated through its website, www.friendsoftheresidence.com, Poolman said.
“People have been incredibly responsive and understand the need for the project and want to make sure that the thing is built,” he said.
He hopes to reach the $1 million goal during the first quarter of 2016.
“We’ve talked to a number of individuals and corporations who are very interested, we just haven’t gotten a commitment yet. So we’re very optimistic about that,” he said.
State Facility Management Director John Boyle said he expects construction on the new 17,700-square-foot residence to begin in June or July just north of the current 10,000-square-foot, ranch-style residence in the southwest corner of the Capitol grounds.
As approved by a design committee and the Capitol Grounds Planning Commission, the new residence will have a one-story section with private living quarters facing Fourth Street and a two-story section overlooking the Capitol mall with space for hosting guests and public events.
The current residence has been home to eight governors and their families, including current Gov. Jack Dalrymple, who is not seeking re-election next year.
Lawmakers said the residence is plagued with problems ranging from security to asbestos to a lack of handicapped accessibility and would have cost up to $3 million to repair and upgrade. It will be demolished upon completion of the new residence, slated for November 2017.
Boyle said the new residence is being designed to cost $4.5 million, with potential add-ons if donations exceed expectations. About $50,000 has been spent so far on the schematic design, and architecture fees will amount to 7 percent of the total cost, he said.
He hopes to hire a construction manager by late January to work with the architect and finalize the project’s cost. More than five firms have inquired so far.
“We’ve had a lot of interest, so that’s good,” he said.
The original North Dakota Governor’s Mansion, built in 1884 and located a few blocks south of the Capitol, is now a state historic site.
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