Entries Tagged 'Developers' ↓

Kentucky Fried Policies

What’s up with the ‘white stained’ brick on the new building downtown?

Several people have commented to me that the white stained brick on the new building downtown going in the old Copper Lounge space doesn’t look that historical. Well join the club. A lot of the new construction downtown isn’t that historical. Just look at the condos across from Sunshine or the apartments and condos across from city hall and on Phillips to the Falls. They lack historical design.

But some are wondering how this brick facade got approved. Oh, the old ‘bait and switch’. I guess when the planning department was shown a sample of the brick that was going on that building, the developer, Legacy, showed them ONE brick that was the darkest from the crop with little white stain on it.

When the planning department was questioned about the relapse in judgement and what they were going to do about it they said moving forward they would require contractors to show a bigger cross section of the brick design.

But how does that solve this current problem?

You can’t make change stick unless you stick it to the original offender. I suggest the city informs Legacy they must paint the brick to come into historical compliance or tear it off. Once again, Legacy is given a free pass. Shocker!

Lloyd Co. may have the highest tax valuation but are they paying a fair percentage?

I had learned a few months ago when Lloyd came crying for their TIF for the Cascade that Lloyd paid the most property taxes and had the highest property tax valuation;

Lloyd Property Management (Lloyd Cos.) adds $186.8 million of tax value to the city, according to the annual Comprehensive Annual Finance Report released last by the city earlier this month.

While Mr. Snevaliscious does a great story, it’s just the tip of the iceberg. (I’m hoping you have some follow up stories). So how much does Lloyd actually pay? My rough estimates would be between $2-3 million a year. But is Lloyd actually paying the same percentage as you and me or other property owners in town? The reason I ask this question is because Lloyd has received millions in TIFs (tax rebates) from the city and not just Sioux Falls, but other communities across the region.

I would be curious just what tax rate they are paying after averaging their entire payment. My guess is they are getting significant breaks. And if you think this will end after TenHaken just appointed a former Lloyd Executive as his COS, you my friend are sadly mistaken.

UPDATE: We keep OSHA busy in Sioux Falls

UPDATE: I guess it is just quicker to start over (click to enlarge)

Another close call

First off, I will say that when you don’t use UNION labor, mistakes are made. But I also wonder if construction companies are under enormous pressure to get things done to fast. While growth is good, more measured, slow growth is better. When we start ramrodding growth for growth’s sake, mistakes get made, and buildings collapse.

Hopefully we will get some answers from OSHA on what happened. But it seems to me we need to cool our jets a bit.

From a SouthDaCola foot solidier;

I sat across the street from this building as the rafters were placed. I did not think there was enough bracing in place. They were raising 2 rafters at a time at a rapid pace.

TenHaken’s COS Erica Beck promises more transparency w/RFPs

I’m guessing, and hoping that Beck realizes that when the RFP process is more open and transparent, the public is more likely to go along with it, or at least understand it. Transparency probably also saves the city a lot in legal fees and counseling.

Beck also wants to have a more consistent proposal, or RFP, process for developers, along with more transparency.

While I am glad to hear about more transparency, I’m still a little nervous about gearing up for more developer welfare;

“Our community is at a critical stage in terms of growth. We have to address that growth and understand how we’re going to encourage growth in the future and what kind of growth we need,” Beck said.

While I will agree we are a ‘critical stage’ I look at it as revitalizing the core and pulling the reigns back a bit on more urban sprawl. Growth for ‘growth’s sake’ isn’t always a great idea. I guess I have been of the opinion the city should focus on the core more and if developers want to continue to push our boundaries they can pay a premium price for the infrastructure.

New Hotel Downtown to include a Residence Inn

Funny, I got a call before the parking ramp hotel was approved from a foot soldier, he said this;

“The new hotel downtown is going to be a Residence Inn and ran by Lamont.”

What’s ironic about this is that this has been kept a secret for over 6 months (or longer), for what reason? What would have been the harm in telling the public this when they knew about it? There is no good reason. Secrecy serves no one, and sometimes oddly, doesn’t serve a purpose.

Did Huether use insider city hall information to invest in real estate development?

This has been the lingering question with Huether since he walked into office 8 years ago.

Neither I or the media could answer yes or no to that question. I have never gotten a solid answer.

When we have talked about the lack of transparency in his administration it goes beyond sharing city business information with the public and council.

There has only been one incident since Mike took office that we could say that he did, or least his ‘wife’ did. Cindy invested in a property that received a TIF from the city. The only other instances I can point to is a couple of local developers telling me he has and a person from the planning office telling me this, but hearsay only.

There are minimal conflict of interest laws in the state to enforce this. And even if you don’t have an ethical issue with Mike doing this, shouldn’t he at least have to disclose this kind of information?

I really think the new city council should put a policy in place that requires councilors and the mayor to disclose if they are investing in local development projects, whether they are connected to the city or not, they all must go through the planning department so in some ways they are connected even if they are a silent investor/partner.

We may never know if Huether did, but we certainly can protect the public from the future mayor using inside information to fatten their wallet.

UPDATE: TenHaken’s transition team includes Executive from Lloyd Companies

I will admit I was impressed by the people on Paul’s transition team, all very smart and talented, including this curious selection;

former economic development manager and Lloyd Companies executive Erica Beck

While Erica will certainly bring a lot to the table when it comes to urban planning, I think Paul should know better considering this is a HUGE conflict of interest having an executive from a private developer that has reaped millions in TIF’s and special land deals from the city helping with his transition. It doesn’t look good, you know, kind of like getting campaign contributions from toddlers.

As I understand it, Erica was NOT terminated from the city as an urban planner but quit after being forced to write the Sanford Sports Complex TIF after her initial objections. Not only did the TIF set precedent because it was the largest the city had ever issued (I believe around $9 million) it was given to a project that had NO blight. I would also guess that she took issue with her former boss’s incompetence, Darrin Smith. A guy who went from running a non-profit to running the parking ramps in the city to becoming the director of community development. At least Erica will be able to recommend what NOT TO DO.

At least Paul is being transparent about the team.

UPDATE: The story this morning is that Beck is leaving Lloyd companies to work for TenHaken and the city. Not sure if that is the case, but if it is true, I would predict she would either be his Chief of Staff or more likely run Community Development with Ketchum either being terminated or demoted. This would also setup Beck running the Planning Department once Cooper retired. I will say this, Beck is a very talented urban planner and very capable of running any of these departments. If  Paul does bring her on, it shows he wants to surround himself with talented, independent voices, unlike our current King who only wants yes men and liars.

I have also heard from another reporter that Paul’s campaign manager, TJ Nelson will become his deputy chief of staff.

Downtown Parking Ramp Bonds sold in the dark of the night

So I guess the bonds sold last week at 3.5% interest rate. While the rate isn’t bad, I’m curious why there was NO announcement of the sale. Could it be with all the controversy surrounding Legacy and the pending lawsuits they didn’t want to draw anymore attention to it?

Also remember that the 2nd Penny, CIP road fund is being used as collateral. While they ‘claim’ they will never have to dip into this fund to make payments, some would speculate that is not the case, and the specific reason why that fund is being used as collateral. The enterprise fund for parking isn’t very big, and I can’t imagine they will be able to make that big of a mortgage payment and still be able to maintain salaries and maintenance without either dipping into the CIP or raising fess drastically.

We got duped on many levels with the DT Parking Ramp.

UPDATE on Unresponsive Bidders

On the Sioux Falls City Council agenda, Item#2 for Tuesday’s meeting has more details on what disqualifies bidders. Here is the full Doc; BID-Dis

I highlighted the items that ‘could’ apply to Legacy and Hultgren;