Entries Tagged 'Developers' ↓

Why is our local newspaper endorsing a TIF?

How does that old saying go about ‘Fair and Balanced’ reporting? The Argus Leader Editorial Board and columnist Jodi Schwan both have endorsed using a TIF for the Washington Square project, something I would expect out of Stormland TV news (who is always sucking up to city subsidized projects) but I found it to be a little strange for our local newspaper.

Then there is the tired old argument that TIF’s are needed for any of these projects to succeed;

But it all comes down to public-private partnerships.

They’re not important. They’re absolute. They’re critical. You can’t do it without them,” he said. “If you’re setting out to do something transformational for your city, it’s impossible to do it with only private money. You need at least a third of the money … to come from the public sector.”

Let’s think about that. The Houwmans are looking for less than 15 percent of their financing from TIF with no other public funding. Stark is saying one-third is justifiable.

While I am all out opposed to TIF’s, especially when big developers make ridiculous statements about them being the lifeblood of redevelopment, let’s say for a moment I supported them. I think a TIF would be fine for the utility work and cleaning up the alley between Main and Phillips Avenue, but 15% of the total cost? I don’t think so. There seems to be this movement by developers (and investors) in Sioux Falls (who have already seen record growth over the past several years) to feed at government’s trough. While a TIF is certainly not a handout, it is a rebate on property taxes (and they are requesting the rebate for 10 years). While the County struggles to make ends meet (they are considering another opt-out) we want to give another private development millions in tax rebates.

Worst of all, they have suckered our local paper into believing that somehow we need more parking in that area (that can only be used at night and weekends).

I think this project should sink or swim on it’s own. No pulling strings behind closed doors in City Hall or at our local paper. If we really want Downtown to be successful in development we need a stronger concerted effort of helping private homeowners and apartment owners surrounding downtown with fixing streets, infrastructure and community development grants and loans. Neighborhoods and districts are built by individuals helping each other. A couple more condos at 12th & Main in no way should be funded partially through property tax rebates, and shame on the Argus for getting in the middle of the fight that is between the developers and our local government.

UPDATE on the Phillips/Banks project

Besides the hilarity of the bossom buddies screwing up another press conference and making announcements before final deals have been cut . . .

“There’s no deal,” Haugo said Wednesday from his home in Arizona. “No money has been exchanged and there’s no signed agreement. This was a case of the mayor and (development director) Darrin Smith overdriving their mouths.”

Well that mayor’s mouth has been on overdrive ever since he decided to run for mayor, I’m pretty sure it runs off a Hemi 440. His mouth was certainly in overdrive Tuesday night when he decided to get up from his chair and chew Kenny Anderson’s ass for not ‘controlling’ the city council discussion at the meeting, but you won’t see that tidbit on SIRE since somehow it mysteriously got edited from the video. Rex Rolfing likes to remind people to remove their hats during public testimony because of ‘decorum’. If we want real decorum at our council meetings maybe we should remove the mayor?

I digress.

Back to the $40 million dollar project that may or may not happen. I asked a committee member with the RFP the other day what proposals are being thrown out there (and these are very, very preliminary)

-The project would request $10 million from the city (taxpayers) to build the ramp. The city would own the ramp, and lease space to the hotel and apartment dwellers.

-The project may also be asking for a TIF.

I say one or the other, but not both. I like the idea that the city would own the ramp, but with such a large project ($40 million total) I don’t like the use of a TIF. I would want the remaining $30 million in private investment to be paying the FULL property taxes when the project is completed so that we can recoup our parking ramp expense. I would also be willing to throw in FREE use of the landfill if the other buildings need to be demolished.

I don’t thinking building a ‘boutique’ hotel is a wise choice of TIF money, and since the city would be ponying up $10 million already, I think the gift giving should end there.

What will the downtown Sioux Falls ‘Banks’ project cost taxpayers?

While the media and the city have been busy showing us pretty pictures of the project, there are still a lot of unanswered questions.

What we do know is that the project is projected to cost around $40 million, it will have 600 public parking spaces, it will have a partially public rooftop park and it will require demolition of a few buildings to construct.


-What kind of reimbursement will the city receive for the façade it paid for in 2007 for the building that is being demolished?

-How much money will taxpayers be putting towards the project? Will it be a loan, a TIF or a one-time payment (rumored number is $10 million)? Where will the money come from? Reserves? Bonds?

-If we are giving 25% towards the funding of the project, will the city actually OWN 25% of the building (for instance, the parking ramp portion)

-How will property taxes be assessed if we own a portion of the building? Or will we lease? And if we are leasing, why would we help fund the project?

-What is the real economic impact of the project? Besides the few hundred temp jobs it will provide in construction, how many permanent jobs? Or mostly low-paying hospitality part-time jobs?

Too often we find the ‘Devil is in the Details’. Remember the supposed $4 million dollar TIF Dunham requested for the COSTCO project that quickly got reduced after all the facts came out? If we move forward on this project like our fine mayor, planning department and community development departments usually do in a non-transparent manner – the taxpayers of the city may be getting the shaft at the end of the day.

I encourage the city council to study the options closely, and make sure the taxpayers of this town are not once again handing out money and tax breaks like candy to the developer welfare class of our community.


This is how we do ‘business’ in Sioux Falls

The Argus Leader reported today that the RFP for the mixed use parking ramp downtown was awarded to a joint venture which includes Ramkota Companies and Bender Real Estate.

These companies are lead by Robert Thimjon and Michael Bender.

Both men have donated in the past to the mayor and his campaigns;


Nothing nefarious here, it is perfectly legal in South Dakota to ‘pay to play’. A certain Ad Agency in Sioux Falls has been doing it for years with the state.

So it is NO surprise who got awarded the RFP. The bigger question here is if any city officials or family members are or will be investing in the project? A good question to ask at the presser tomorrow.

Mayor Huether in a Huff?

I found this on Steve Hildebrand’s FB page;

I bet I’ve spoken to more than 100 people about this project – all who believe it’s important and a great step forward for downtown and Sioux Falls in general.

I’ve also spoken directly to Mayor Huether about it. He’s absolutely got his heels dug in on this one and says “they will not get a TIF.” When I asked him why he was opposed to a TIF for this $29 million project with tremendous economic impact for our city, he literally stormed off in a huff. Really? Seems like when a taxpayer asks a public official to explain their position, the could do just that – without getting all uptight.

For the life of me, I can understand why Mayor Huether would oppose this important project for Sioux Falls. If you believe this project is important, please call, email or talk to Mayor Huether in person. Please also share your thoughts with members of the SF Planning Commission and the City Council. We need their support to make this project possible.


For the record, I am against this TIF, but I am bias, I don’t believe in TIF’s. Over the past two years we have had record building permits, and NO TIF’s were granted. Are they needed? Or can private enterprise roll on it’s own? Playing the Devil’s advocate, let’s say I am for TIF’s, the biggest issue with this one is it is too large. I think if they scaled it back by 75% they would have a better chance.

As for the mayor, he doesn’t play well with others, and that is becoming more evident.

Foundation Park, why the 3 year secret?

I will be the first to say I think this project is wonderful, and I don’t give a flying monkey who gets credit. It will be a shot in the arm for jobs in Sioux Falls and the region, and a perfect location for the project.

But while this project was in the works for 3 years, why so many secrets?

“I can’t believe they didn’t tell us.” Homeowner Angie Mulder sighed, exasperatedly.

So while land sale deals were being done, state, city and development organizations were wheeling and dealing, no one thought it would have been a good idea to clue people in?

So while the officials involved took their sweet ass time working on this (I heard it was closer to five years) they now are expecting the Sioux Falls City Council to make a decision on annexation as soon as June 9, a decision that would ultimately cost us millions in infrastructure costs for years to come.

What’s the rush?

I highly suggest and recommend the city council studies the annexation proposal thoroughly before making a decision.

I think I am going to start singing my public testimony

Or maybe I should rap? Kind of looks like Ann Arbor isn’t much different then us.

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Why TIF financing just doesn’t add up

Today in the Argus Leader, they did a story about the Washington Square developers applying for a $4.6 million dollar TIF. They contend they deserve the TIF based on the fact that they will provide FREE public parking of 189 spaces (at night and weekends ONLY).

This is where the TIF funding does not add up. As of right now they pay about $7K a year in property taxes, after the project is completed they assume the property tax bill will be $500K per year. What they don’t tell you is when you subtract the TIF rebate value from that tax bill, the government entities will NOT be receiving these taxes until 9 years after the project is completed (around 2025-26).

We can talk tax benefits all we want, but when we don’t provide TIF’s and private investors figure out how to build these projects with their own money (remember last year we had record building permits with NO TIF’s issued), the community benefits from the property taxes immediately after the project is completed, not 8-9 years later.

All Saints Neighborhood crying about nothing

Touchmark has been trying unsuccessfully for years to expand on the corner of 18th and Phillips. The neighbors claim that it would ‘ruin the neighborhood’ and historical aspects.

First off, without the most obvious argument, Touchmark owns the land. Yeah, Yeah, I heard the same with the Walmart issue, except, Walmart DID not own the land, they only had an agreement to purchase, not even sure if they have bought it to this day.

Also, it seems besides a few nit-picking neighbors, the historical preservation board seems to be the only ones objecting, and they truly are powerless and advisory in nature. The Planning Commission and City Council CAN ignore their advice, and should.

Other then that, I actually think a building on that corner would be an improvement. I drive past that intersection a lot, and I have yet to see anyone utilizing the land for recreation that live at Touchmark. In fact, I have never even seen a groundskeeper in the grove of trees.

Touchmark owns the property, and the expansion would improve the lives of their residents. Stop crying about a couple of trees and let them expand.

Interesting TIF discussion

At the Land Use Committee meeting yesterday (FF to Item C) there was a lot dancing going on, but it wasn’t like Irish Riverdance, more like something from Cinco De Mayo.

While directors from the community development office were doing one dance, councilors Jamison and Erickson were trying to figure out the beat while Anderson went into full defense mode of the city blaming developers for the reason TIFs have NOT been awarded in 27 months.

While confusing at times, it is clear that the power structure of developers is shifting. I guess what I am saying is that the former developers who used to be able to get about anything from city hall are finding out they are being turned away.

Why? Not sure, but remember a salesman only makes decisions based on who will pad their wallet the most.