Lakes Region EMS Executive Director Aaron Reinert said the building Lakes Region recently purchased to become the operation’s new headquarters was “too good of a deal to pass up.”
The 22,000-square-foot building, located in North Branch’s ESSBY Business Park near 400th Street, was formerly used by Topline Automotive until that business folded. The building had been vacant for years before Lakes Region inquired about purchasing it.
Reinert said the building was on the market for about $1.3 million, but Lakes Region was able to obtain it for less than half that price.
“The deal with buying this building was the bank had to buy our existing building,” Reinert explained. “So for what they gave us for our existing building and for what we negotiated the price on this building, we ended up paying $560,000.”
Lakes Region External Education Manager Paul Amendt said the ambulance service was in a space crunch at its current location before the opportunity to purchase the former Topline building came to fruition.
“We now have 73 employees, where we used to have 40,” Reinert said. “We have 10 ambulances now, where we used to have three.”
Reinert said Lakes Region had looked at what it would have cost to build a 3,000-square-foot addition to its current facility, which is 5,000 square feet, and the cost for that space would have totaled about $500,000.
“It was 3,000 square feet for $500,000, or 22,000 square feet for $560,000,” Reinert said. “It was a deal we simply couldn’t pass up.”
In retrofitting the building to accommodate Lakes Region’s needs, the ambulance service is staying frugal.
Contractors are utilizing anything already existing in the building that can be used for construction.
For example, large panes of glass that were formerly part of cubicles on the building’s second level are being repurposed as walls for meeting rooms.
Amendt said the new building will allow Lakes Region to do more than basic emergency medical service operations and will provide needed space for state-of-the-art staff training that is more similar to what emergency medical technicians and paramedics would experience on an emergency call.
In addition, Lakes Region plans to use the larger space for other community purposes, such as blood drives and classes for new moms, which would be run by Chisago County Health and Human Services, one of the organizations with which Lakes Region partners.
Lakes Region hopes to forge more partnerships with other community organizations after it moves to the new building.
Construction on the building is planned to be finished by August, and Lakes Region plans to have all of its operation moved to the new facility by September, at which time it will have an open house to show the community its new headquarters.