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U.S. Customs, Border Patrol to lease offices in Duluth

The federal government has reached a lease agreement for new U.S. Customs and Border Patrol offices in Duluth.

The Denver, Colo.-based firm SBC Archway LLC will build a 31,800-square-foot-facility on a 19-acre site at the corner of Airpark Boulevard and Endeavour Drive in the Duluth Airpark.

"The new facility will have office and warehouse space, as well as heated garage for 25 vehicles and a separate garage for boat/ATV/snowmobile storage," said David Wilkinson, a spokesman with the General Services Administration, the federal government's real estate manager.

Construction is slated to begin in October, with a target date for occupancy of September 2009.

The 15-year lease will cost the government $853,266 a year in rent, Wilkinson said.

"We are delighted to be working with GSA again on another project," said Mark Aukamp, a managing member of SBC Archway.

SBC Archway has built an Internal Revenue Service national distribution center in Illinois, Social Security Administration offices in Montana and Indiana, Drug Enforcement Administration office in Montana.

The new facility will give Customs and Border Patrol more space.

"Their present offices in the Heaney Federal Courthouse have about 9,000 square feet," Wilkinson said.

The Border Patrol has worked out of the courthouse in Duluth since 1976. Officials with at the Border Patrol's sector headquarters in Grand Forks could not be immediately reached for comment.

Two years ago, the Border Patrol said it was planning offices for Duluth, Grand Marais and International Falls as the Department of Homeland Security beefed up its activity along the Canadian border.

The proposed facilities each would house up to 50 employees and require 10 acres of land. Each would include a helicopter pad; room for 25 vehicles in a detached, indoor garage; 50 outdoor parking spaces for employees; and a security buffer of 100 feet between the property and neighbors.

The Border Patrol's buildings in Grand Marais and International Falls were built in the 1960s.

In April the government announced that the Border Patrol was no longer searching for a new office in Grand Marais. Instead, the patrol will lease space at the Coast Guard station to relieve crowding at its offices along Minnesota Highway 61, near the north end of town.

Space in the old Coast Guard station became available last year when the National Park Service moved out of the first floor to a new office in Grand Portage.

Earlier this year, the patrol was still working on the logistics of having a new facility in International Falls.