By: Charley Najacht
New owners of the former Shopko building in Custer plan to convert it into a climate-controlled self-storage and RV storage facility.
The real estate investment firm, Keating Resources, bought the 26,175-square-foot building on 3.3 acres last Thursday, Oct. 8.
“We would not be investing in the Black Hills but for the great people,” said Gerard Keating, 56, president and CEO of the company.
Also taken into consideration were “state tax policies, leadership of the governor and our success in repositioning South Dakota’s largest building which is located in North Sioux City,” he said. Tom Chvala, Partner with Keating Resources, said the facility will operate under the name “The Hills Self Storage,” according to a news release from the company last week.
Chvala also said that the Black Hills Federal Credit Union, which has occupied the building since was built in 2006, will remain.
“The facility will serve the booming population growth within 30 miles of Custer as the only climate-controlled self storage facility.” Chvala said.
The company expects 20-30 percent of space within the building to be occupied by e-commerce delivery companies and individuals storing products they are selling online, according to Chvala.
The same day the Custer sale took place, Keating Resources also purchased 1,325 mountaintop acres fronting I-90 in Spearfish. The land overlooks Spearfish and Centennial Valley.
Alec Keating, Partner with Keating Resources, said purchase of the land, which was owned by the same entity for nearly a half century, was a “rare opportunity to create another unique and special residential community within Spearfish.”
He said the firm is considering plans to divide the land into 40-acre parcels “for residential development, taking advantage of the spectacular views and privacy.”
Keating Resources is a family-owned company. It owns or operates agricultural, industrial, retail, office, mining and port terminal property in South Dakota, Nebraska, Florida, Texas, Arizona, Louisiana, Illinois and Colorado. It has offices in Dallas, Texas, and Naples, Fla.
Gerard Keating said, “The office is now wherever I am,” as he visited with us early Monday.
To date, the company has bought, leased, financed, repositioned, built and sold real estate assets valued in excess of $600 million.
Phil Lampert, with Custer-based Lampert Properties, represented Keating Resources and the seller of the Custer Shopko building.
“Phil is a real supporter of Custer and helped to make this happen,” Keating said.
“A lot of thought went into this. Custer is on the cusp of a greater future with its location, climate and people,” Keating said.
“I would like to invest more capital in Custer. I feel the town could be a four-season town and I have ideas I would like to share with people,” he said. “I think it is already leaning in that direction.” He said he was interested in possibly purchasing the property to the west of the former Shopko.
“The heart and soul of every city is its downtown. Right now I see new businesses downtown run by younger people,” he said. “The downtown should be friendlier and it takes leadership and a vision. There should be a safer and more positive venue for downtown. How do we get people to stop?
“People say, ‘I stopped in Hill City, but went through Custer,’ because Hill City has a more inviting, pedestrian-friendly downtown,” Keating observed.
He suggested a way to get this done is to find a way to build boulevards on Highway 16A through downtown with the cooperation of the city and state Department of Transportation (DOT).
He also suggested marketing the town as historic because it was built in the Western and Victorian eras and is the “mother city” of the Black Hills.
“You need a plan. Hire a consultant,” he suggested, and offered to pay half the cost of such a consultant.
“Show the DOT and governor a plan and they would not argue,” he said.
Keating noted all the media attention South Dakota has received lately due to Gov. Kristi Noem’s stance on the virus, which is resulting in great interest of people wanting to move here.
“I would warn Custer people, don’t let other people change your values. Don’t let socialists change your culture,” he said.
His entire family was recently in Custer to attend the annual buffalo roundup in Custer State Park.
The Atkinson, Neb., native is a 1987 University of Nebraska-Lincoln agribusiness graduate. He served six years in the U.S. Army and was discharged as a first lieutenant in 1998.
Keating Resources’ first venture in South Dakota was the purchase of the former Gateway Computer 750,000-sq.-ft. complex on 77 acres for $5,750,000. Seven hundred people are employed there now in North Sioux City.
Keating said his company will soon close on three other properties in the Northern Hills.