Entries Tagged 'Developers' ↓

Is city planner Jeff Schmidt an elitist?

Okay, now that I have your attention, I don’t think he is, but he does think highly of himself.

Great Hair.

He came to speak at Democratic Forum today, and I did enjoy his opening joke (sorry no audio or visual, so I scratched this down from memory). After explaining what the Planning Department does, Jeff says this;

“I’m not a member of the city council, because I actually do something.”

He certainly believes that the Planning Department has a lot of power, and they do, if they don’t have checks and balances, and maybe that is what his joke was about, his department is unchecked by the city’s legislative branch.

So I decided to question Jeff about this, I mentioned to him at the mayor’s last Shut up and Listen session that the mayor said there was ‘nothing’ the city could do to limit zoning of car lots because he believes in free enterprise, so I said to Jeff,

“Just because the planning department and planning commission recommend something and vote for it doesn’t mean the city council has to approve it?”

He of course talked about how the planning department and commission must follow zoning laws, etc, and I nodded in agreement, he eluded that if the city council ‘doesn’t like someone’ they can vote against them or follow recommendations. (which is funny, because the department and commission have voted against several entities that they didn’t care for politically that were well within their legal rights)

So I followed up and said, “But the council has the power as elected officials to vote against a re-zone?” and Jeff said, “Yes.”

I found the exchange interesting, because while I knew the answer, I was surprised, first off, that Jeff answered it honestly. But what took me back more is that Jeff doesn’t understand the importance of elected officials versus appointed public employees. Our city council is our check against the mayor’s administration and public employees. And while everything is well and good on paper at city hall, the public may not want a freaking disgusting car lot fly by night operation next to them, and that is the power of our city’s legislative branch to say NO, and they have that power, and they should exercise it, because as Jeff says, they need something to do.

UPDATE: Not much influence?

UPDATE: HERE ARE THE DETAILS OF THE PIPELINE PROPOSAL

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We don’t have time for no stinking oil pipelines!

I was partially confused yesterday at the city council informational meeting when I heard Councilor Erpenbach talk about an upcoming joint Minnehaha & Lincoln County commission meeting next week (I think Tuesday afternoon at Carnegie). The meeting will be an informational from the Dakota Access (Baaken pipeline) People.

As we have discussed in the past, the pipeline will be coming very close to the city and through Lincoln and Minnehaha counties. What shocked me was when Michelle didn’t seem to see the importance of the meeting when she said,

“We don’t have much influence over that . . . the PUC has to grant the permit.”

While this is true the county commissions and the city council also have to approve zoning for these projects, and should be VERY involved with the process. For someone who calls herself a self-proclaimed ‘Government Nerd’ she better get to ‘Nerding Up’ on some of her job duties.

GOT TIFs?

Well it has been over two years, and no one has applied for a TIF (imagine that, record building permits in 2014-thank you hailstorms-and we did it without issuing one single TIF) As I have often pointed out, development in Sioux Falls will steam ahead, with or without TIF’s.

A Sioux Falls developer is seeking a tax increment financing (TIF) designation to build an 80-unit affordable housing complex next to Sunshine Foods downtown.

Legacy Development and Consulting Co. is seeking a TIF for a project it wants to construct at the northeast corner of Third Avenue and 13th Street, or just north across from Sunshine.

As we all know, I am not a fan of TIF’s, they take money out of the county for prosecuting criminals and money from public schools. But I will play the devil’s advocate on this one, using the criteria that TIF’s are mainly used to clean up blithed areas I am puzzled by this request. This seems like a pretty simple project, leveling a few buildings, tearing up a parking lot and slopping up some middle to lower income apartments. Seems like a very profitable venture for anyone with the capital to invest in this project. I see NO need for a TIF. If Legacy cannot get a bank loan to fund this, it’s not the TIF that is holding them back, it’s their credit rating.

 

Re-Zone on Holly Avenue

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The ‘100 Eyed Spaghetti News’ did a story today about the rezone to commercial property on Holly Avenue next to residential. You can read all the juicy details here (Item #25).

I really don’t see an issue with the rezone, and if I was sitting on the council I would vote to approve it. While it is close to residential housing, you must realize it is only a block off of 41st street. I have friends who live 2 Blocks North of 41st street near Western Avenue, and I don’t think they have ever seen any bad effects of retail near them. In fact, it is a pretty quiet neighborhood.

What I found ironic about the rezone was the petitioner, Lloyd Companies and councilor Erpenbach’s reaction to the rezoning proposal;

That’s probably true, Erpenbach said. But she wasn’t picking up that sentiment in any of the letters she was reading on this issue.

“For now, I take the other side of the fence,” she said. “There are people living there, and continue to live there, and they would have to put up with the construction and the additional traffic. I want to hear from them. We need to hear their voices.”

Michelle, should I laugh now, or wait until you vote for this tonight? One of your largest campaign donors, Lloyd is asking for a re-zone, I’m pretty sure you don’t give two snits about what the residents think. We know the only thing you listen to is the sound of a check being signed by another developer donating to your campaign. You will vote yes tonight after you explain to us how you are satisfied with the fencing, berm and buffering. Do you need me to write you the script? I can email it to you?

I also find the Lloyd connection interesting because they are requesting they encroach into residential to expand retail, yet when Lloyd received a TIF downtown for condos and retail, he had to change it to all condos and no retail because retail just couldn’t be supported at that complex.

You know what, I think I just changed my mind, I don’t think any residential should be rezoned to commercial in this city until we have filled all of the other vacant retail space in town. Of course, that would require developers to get more creative, and who needs creativity when you can just donate a couple of grand to a councilor’s campaign, it’s a much easier and cheaper way to go.

Didn’t we just have this PC a couple of weeks ago?

I guess no one was listening or cared about a record breaking (Hail Storming) building permits in Sioux Falls last year, so let’s have a re-run;

2014 End-of-Year Building Permit Stats Are In! A Record-Breaking Year News Conference on Monday

 

What:  News conference to announce end-of-year building permit totals for 2014 and preview what’s ahead in 2015
 When: Monday, January 5, 2015
11 a.m.
 Where: City Hall Commission Room
224 West Ninth Street
 Who: Mike Cooper, Director of Planning and Building Services
Ron Bell, Chief Building Official
 Why: Sioux Falls building permits broke three different records in 2014. Come to the news conference to learn which records were broken and what the statistics mean for 2015.
 Visuals: Charts, graphs

Like I have mentioned before, wouldn’t have happened without the hail storm. I talked to a roofer the other day that said a lot of impatient homeowners used out-of-state (cheap) companies and we will probably seeing the effects of that in a couple of years. He also told me he already has 45 re-roof jobs lined up for the Spring, so it seems like the damage that needs to be repaired from the hail storms is still trickling in.

In other city news, I see Cory Madville did a great post about Big Brother using our cell phone data to track us;

Mayor Huether could buy more detailed information about Scott Ehrisman’s weekly travel habits. Mayor Huether could buy more detailed data, divide distance by time, mass-mail speeding tickets to every phone user who gets across town in under fifteen minutes. He could buy cell phone data to calculate road usage and send every driver a bill for road usage, essentially turning every street into a toll road. No federal legislation stops him. The Obama Administration says (and the courts so far agree) cell phone users have no reasonable expectation of locational privacy. The only things stopping Mayor Huether from such invasions of privacy are cost and good will:

What concerns me even more is that the traffic department is doing this kind of research using our tax dollars and without prior approval from the city council. Heck, I think most of them didn’t even know about it until they saw it in the newspaper. But hey, what do you expect from the most transparent mayor we have ever had?

The largest Pawn Shop plan, tell me it isn’t so Scott!

tifpawn

Here is the details of what is being proposed for Badlands Pawn (Item#6). What I find interesting is that Scott Hoy is also listed as an owner. Scott, PLEASE STOP! Hopefully nobody buys video games at the Pawn Shop and plays them in the backseat of a car.

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Planning Commission to get TIF briefing

I found this interesting and something perhaps to watch;

Prior to the monthly Planning Commission public hearing, the City of Sioux Falls Planning Commission will be having a briefing on Tuesday, January 6, 2015, at 12 noon. The briefing consists of the items on the upcoming January 7 Commission meeting agenda, and then the members will adjourn to be briefed by the staff on a Tax Increment Financing project.

The briefing will be held at City Hall in the Commission Room on first floor, 224 West Ninth Street. More information on Planning Commission hearings, agendas, and other items is available at www.siouxfalls.org/planning-commission and is posted at the specific public facilities.

I am not aware of any projects pending, but if there is, I can almost guarantee they will have either Lloyd’s or, ah, Lloyd’s name attached to it ;)

I also find it interesting the ‘briefing’ must take place at noon at city hall instead of during their regular meeting that night at Carnegie (perhaps because the cameras won’t be rolling at the old commissions chambers).

How ‘Executive’ & ‘Hip’ we have become. I’m almost blushing with pride.

Nothing like taking money out of the public school and county’s kitty and building luxury quarters for the rich in Sioux Falls.

Downtown residential development in Sioux Falls had lagged that of other cities, despite the central presence of beautiful Falls Park. But things picked up after city leaders worked to attract more commercial activity. Hospitals, banks, hotels, and others moved in. Craig Lloyd, CEO of Lloyd Co., made the $2 million, winning bid for a city-owned brownfield, using tax increment financing to improve the site. He rehabbed two buildings, demolished another, and built three apartment buildings. 

Funny how they forgot to mention Lloyd went back on their promise to have retail on the first floor, but still gave them the TIF anyway. Who runs this town? Good question.

UPDATE: Choo! Choo!

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Trust me, I would cry if I could

The (non) Big announcement will be made today at 2 PM at City Hall about the RR Relocation. I don’t expect any fireworks.

UPDATE: The appraisals have been finished, and shared with BNSF and Santa FE Railroads, but cannot be shared with the public (due to some obscure Federal law). The mayor said they are in ‘beginning stages’ of negoitiating a purchase (yeah right).

The mayor refuses to answer questions about the appraisal AND doesn’t mention that the MOU ends on Dec 31 (which will pretty much force the process to start over).

In other words, as I predicted NOTHING has been accomplished, and NOTHING is being said about that failure to cut a deal with the Railroads. It is time for the city to cut ties with this deal, it’s a waste of tax dollars and city employee resources.

Click to enlarge

IMAG3693

 

UPDATE: What’s going on with the RR Relocation Project?

UPDATE: Well, I heard a few things from a reliable source tonight that I (we all) have suspected. Basically, BNSF is asking for an atrocious price for the land, I won’t say the amount, but let’s just say it is laughable.

You have to remember, this has been a switching yard for over 120 years, the amount of pollution on that plot of land is probably enormous, on top of the fact it will cost a lot to clean it up. I would compare it to buying a home with a bad roof and broken foundation, you would ask the seller to come down in price, way down.

The kicker though, and I am speculating here, is the first appraisal came in way, way, way lower then the asking price, and I hear the second one wasn’t much better.

Without saying too much I will put it in perspective. Let’s just say the appraisal isn’t matching up with the asking price, by a long shot.

This is probably why the negotiations are taking this long. It would be like you getting a $250 credit limit credit card with $190 dollars in fees on it when you receive it in the mail . . .

I have a feeling the FEDS are probably going to refuse to purchase the land for what BNSF is asking, or already have.

I know, I know, I have asked this question a couple (100) times over the past, I don’t know, 8 years? But the mayor mentioned at his Shut Up & Listen session last Saturday that it is still proceeding, and it has been one of the most challenging projects he has ever worked on (yeah, hoodwinking the Feds isn’t as easy as hoodwinking passive South Dakotans).

Now we have a local developer, and River Greenway welfare queen, Jeff ‘Government Handout’ Cherapa saying this;

Jeff Scherschlight, CEO of Howalt McDowell in Cherapa Place and managing partner of Cherapa, detailed the parameters of the potential changes.

“Basically, they’re going to leave the tracks that are furthest east will still exist,” Scherschlight said. “There’ll be two tracks, and everything from there coming west will be removed. And that is the railroad switchyard, which they’re going to relocate in smaller towns around Sioux Falls, and do their switching there, which is the big advantage that we gain this extra land downtown for downtown development.”

Scherschlight could see his building, Cherapa Place, expand to include a second building, should the current railway switch yard site become transformed into parking. Only two railroad tracks would remain, while the switchyard would be relocated away from downtown.

What I find interesting about this ‘edited’ story is that the original text that was posted last night on StormLand’s website has disappeared (I should have copied it) there was a mention in the original post that said “. . . an announcement could be made as soon as Tuesday” about the progress of the project.

UPDATE: It is in the video though if you listen closely. Wonder why the city didn’t want to do an on camera interview? And what does Jeff Cherapa know? If anything?

Sioux Falls ODDS & ENDS

After listening to the podcast version of Mayor Huether’s interview on Belfrage’s show yesterday, I noticed that the mayor said some interesting ‘OTHER’ things.

When he was talking about the snow plow issue he mentioned that the city doesn’t want to become ‘lawsuit happy’. I about chocked on my water. This is a guy who is having his attorney’s office criminally charge and arrest people for storing building materials in their yard. I would have to say the city is VERY lawsuit happy.

He then talks about how the Events Center has had ‘record sales’ since it has opened. Huh? How do you break record when there is no record to break. While I think it is great the place (mostly contractors and promoters) are making money, I think saying we are breaking records is a little far-fetched. Beating projections would be a more honest statement.

He also mentions the city has big plans for Van Eps Park now that it is a dry park, but he didn’t expand, just told listeners to be watching for them next year. I heard he is erecting a large Coca-Cola bottle in the park with a crucifix floating inside.

Lastly, once again he can’t resist taking credit for snow gate implementation. Mike, the voters of Sioux Falls implemented snow gates, not you, get over yourself. He also mentions that snow gates may not always be used depending on the snowfall, around that 6-10” range. As I understand it, if we get a heavy wet snow, they don’t work well, and it would probably be wise NOT to use them. But if it is a normal dry light snow, they can be used up to 20-30”. I also heard not only will they not be used on emergency snow routes, that the secondary routes may be ignored to.

BUSINESS AROUND TOWN

I noticed in the Sioux Falls Business Journal a blurb about Lloyd Companies and Hegg teaming up to build a $45 million dollar apartment complex in Minot, ND in the Bakken Region. Surprise! Surprise! I wonder who will be investing with them and if they got any TIFs?

Arc of Dreams

I see the Arc of Dreams has raised $480,000 so far which is great! I hope they fund this project totally privately, and pass their fundraising skills on to the mayor’s wife so she can pay for own damn indoor tennis center.

As I understand it the project is being built on private land. But I found it a little strange that they have already hit half their fundraising goal and haven’t approached the Planning Commission or the CORP of Engineers for permission to build. As I understand from an engineering standpoint, the counter balance in the ground will have to be enormous. I will be shocked if 1) They can build this for $900K and 2) that they don’t ask tax payers to contribute. Stay tuned. The two guys heading up this project are behind BibleWalk, uh I mean SculptureWalk downtown, I expect them to be extending their hands at a council meeting very soon.