Entries Tagged 'Developers' ↓

Taxpayers duped once again by the pie in the sky dreams of developers and big business

I was very reluctant to post about this story, simply because it was no shock to me that this happened. I was waiting for the day to come when we would read this;

The company that would have been the first to build in the new Foundation Park development park has decided to look at other locations.

Stuless Whunder makes a great point;

Others question the role of taxpayer-supported public entities in the area of private development, especially if urgency to find companies to fill parcels at Foundation Park drives down the market.

In that same vein, I question why taxpayers (State and Local) are putting up over $20 million in infrastructure for a project that didn’t even bother to secure a solid purchase agreement? We should have never authorized the expenditures unless we had a ‘real’ promise from a prospect, we went ahead with the possibly of spending $20 million of tax dollars based on a ‘letter’.

Wow!

Another reason we can’t run government like a business. Unlike private enterprise, government shouldn’t be in the business of taking risks and land speculation.

As for saying I wasn’t shocked that this happen, it is because we have had precedent. For one, just peruse available industrial park land the development foundation and other realtors have available already. It’s like deciding to build a 3 car garage for your Fiat 300 and bag of golf clubs. There isn’t a need for more land, it’s a classic case of urban sprawl. Remember Phillips to the Falls? How did that work out for taxpayers? We spent millions so we can have a new location for German Fest. Also don’t forget the fiasco called EB-5. There is also the employment factor (I’m guessing that is why Logistics Buddy backed out). Capital One is leaving solely based on the fact we don’t have enough workers. There is also the promise of living wage jobs that has never been hammered out before we moved ahead with this project. But hey the city is throwing thousands of dollars at businesses for the “Welfare for Want Ads” project.

I know I often sound negative and am really a cynic at heart, but it pains me to be right about something so wrong. I hope things will work out in the end. But hey folks, it’s Meth Week in Sioux Falls, so don’t worry about failed developments and petition drives. We gotta nip this dang problem in the butt. You go Tiger Mike!

Car Dealership tears out wetlands after promising SON neighborhood they would not

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A before and after pictures of Charis corner when an ‘Act of God’ occurs (85th and Audie)

In all fairness nothing under the eyes of the law was done illegally. The car dealership (well at least its owner) got permission from the CORP of Engineers and SF planning department to tear out the wetland behind the dealership and adjacent to the SON neighborhood. The proper forms were filled out.
But according to those who live in the neighborhood, that wasn’t supposed to be the case. There was a promise while developing the car dealership lot that they would leave the wetlands, even improve the look of them, now they are saying they are going to ‘put up a big fountain’. Whatever that means.
This a prime example of how those in power use the back door of government and loopholes to do whatever they want to. Besides the CORP approving this, the city should have never allowed the wetland that served as a retention pond to be torn out knowing the issues with drainage in the neighborhood.
Our planning department is increasingly becoming the laughing stock of our city.

City of Sioux Falls Internal Audit on the Development Foundation; show us measured outcomes

Giving the Sioux Falls Development Foundation tax dollars each year is a debate of it’s own. My stickler with handing over this money for workforce development is that we never see what kind of results there is. I have often called the practice as ‘Welfare for Want Ads’. If you pay good wages and are a good employer, workers will seek you out. If you have to ask the government to fund your want ads because you are struggling finding workers, maybe you are not a good employer to begin with. If you can’t find ‘qualified’ workers, maybe offer a worker training program. I often hear these same business owners and the Chamber scream about the FREE market, then turn around and ask tax payers to bail their asses out. So which is it?

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Developer doesn’t get it

The Oakview neighborhood was successful, for today anyway;

Lloyd Company plans to withdraw its application to rezone this land at 6th and Bahnson at the next city council meeting after hundreds of neighbors complained.

So what were those main concerns the neighbors had? They were really simple; density, drainage, traffic, crime. They have gone to several council meetings and expressed these concerns to the council after the Planning Commission was tone deaf;

. . . it’s just more about the density and the affects of that rippling down to water, traffic and overall safety,” Burke said.

So how did the developer respond to these very simple requests, that’s right, by ignoring the 700 Pound Gorilla(s) in the room;

Lloyd Companies went on to say it has a long standing history in Sioux Falls of building and managing apartment communities that provide safe, clean and affordable housing.

The statement goes on to say ‘While we appreciate the neighborhood’s concerns and have withdrawn our request to rezone the land, despite having taken the time to address key points from the neighborhood, we know that the end result of our project moving forward would have meant that families had an opportunity to live in an area where their kids could get to and from schools, a community center, a park and a library safely – which is something that we believe is incredibly important and should all want for our community.

Huh? The neighbors never really brought up affordable housing, but they did talk about density. Their major concerns were evident. Drainage and Traffic.

Why is it so difficult for developers or better yet our planning department and planning commission to wrap their heads around the fact Sioux Falls is built on a pancake? It can only soak up so much syrup before it starts running off the sides of the plate. It time the planning department faced the facts and grow up already.

Is anyone listening at city hall? Nope.

After all the hoopla about transparency over the $25 million bond for a city administration building, you would think the administration would get the picture about transparency. They still don’t have a clue;

Details of the proposals aren’t public, but the city plans to contribute as much as $17.9 million for the project, which city planners hope to break ground on next year.

“Once a selection has been made, and we have an executed contract, we can share more information,” said Scott Rust, purchasing manager for the city.

The developers aren’t talking either, saying they are bound by a confidentiality agreement included in the city’s RFQ.

What!? You are going to spend $17.9 million of our money and you cannot share the details until AFTER a contract is cut? Not only are they NOT filling us in on the proposals they don’t even want to share details of a contract.

And they wonder why almost 6,500 people signed the petition.

What is going on with the Lacey Estates and Oakview Neighborhood?

Back at the June 21, 2016 Sioux City council meeting, (Item#48) the city council decided to postpone the 2nd reading of the Apartment project until September so the developer, the city planning office and the Oakview neighborhood could get together and ‘chat’ about a compromise;

A motion was made by Council Member Michelle Erpenbach and seconded by Council Member Christine M. Erickson to set a date of hearing and 2nd Reading for Tuesday, September 13, 2016, for Item 48.

I didn’t support the delay, I think the council should have voted the project down and sent it back to the Planning Commission/Department. Councilors Stehly and Neitzert agreed. Neitzert even said ‘by law’ if any changes are made to the plan, it HAS to go back to the planning commission.

The Oakview neighborhood was asking for a traffic study and drainage study, which would result in major changes. As far as I have heard there has not been any real major meetings between the developer, the neighborhood and the Planning Department, and the developer has no plans right now to make any changes.

So why the delay to begin with? Good question. Maybe they were hoping the flaming football would exstinguish by stalling this a few months? That tactic may have worked in the past, but I am guessing the new council isn’t going to stand for it.

Stop the Funding & Veto Pressers

Mayor Huether will own the Administration Building, and we will be paying for it (and so will he)

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Another leader that did whatever he wanted to. Gaius Caligula, son of Germanicus, nephew of Claudius, AD 37-41.

I think this quote from Steve Hildebrand says it the best when it comes to the mayor’s leadership style (also, vote in the poll);

“This is typical Mike being pigheaded and doing what he wants to do,” said downtown business owner and political consultant Steve Hildebrand, an outspoken critic of the bond ordinance. “It’s another deal where he wants his name on the building to say he got things done, but they haven’t looked closely at what city government expansion will look like.”

Before I lay out what I think of the situation, I encourage you to watch the full press conference first (CLICK HERE). I say this, because too often people start commenting here before they watch a press conference or educate themselves on an issue. I’m not saying you are ignorant, but please, before you argue for or against the project, watch and listen to the mayor’s own words.

Okay, now put the popcorn away. There are so many holes in his pro argument I don’t know where to begin, so if I seem like I am rambling, I may well be.

To answer the overwhelming question about whether or not there will be a petition drive and initiative to stop this. Not sure yet. We are weighing our options and what legal assistance we can get. So far, city attorney Fiddle-Faddle has told councilors that it is not an option, due to some rule or law he pulled from the netherlands. The mayor also has said in his interview with Stu Whitney that he got the three NO vote councilors (Kiley, Rolfing, Erpenbach) on board with him before he vetoed the repeal. Ironically playing games behind closed doors, the same thing he accused the five YES vote councilors of doing before the vote.

As for those three who voted NO to the repeal, I find it ironic that they are the same councilors who never return phone calls to constituents, yet somehow have a pulse on our community enough to go ahead with this project. It is hilarious to watch these clowns tripping over their rubber stamps while shutting off their phones.

But besides these fly by night councilors, who really owns this project? Mayor Huether does. If I were consulting him for higher office, I would have told him to not touch this VETO with a ten foot pole, instead he took it on and hung it around his neck like a yolk, and further more laughed about writing VETO on the ordinance in Fiddle-Faddle’s office. Like “Ha! Ha! City council and citizens, here’s my middle finger, suck it!” How can a guy go from almost choking up and crying about the sacrifice of city employees (they have’t sacrificed anything, just followed your orders) to laughing about screwing over his legislative branch and growing government to the detriment of citizens? Not sure if Huether is seeing a therapist, but if he is, I hope he is paying them enough to see a therapist after your sessions with him.

But enough of my editorializing. There were many missteps by the mayor, his administration, directors and precious employees (those are actually OUR employees, not his, we pay their wages, and his job is to ‘manage’ them, not force them into positions.)

The mayor’s stretches on this issue;

• We have a low debt load. Not really. But even if we could afford to borrow the money for the building, why would we? Besides what the mayor says, we don’t need a NEW building. We could buy existing buildings, we could refurbish existing city buildings, like we did with city hall. We have other options that the mayor claims we explored, we did not. Why not have city employees that don’t interact with the public work from home? Why not increase technology to lower our number of city employees we need?

• Leasing hurts us. Not really. When you look at a $1 million a year mortgage for an unfinished building (it will cost us more in the future) leasing is actually a great idea, that saves us money and is good for the economy. There is NOTHING in charter that says we need to have a certain amount of employees and certain amount of work space for them. NOTHING. High ceilings and air quality is poppycock made up by the mayor and his minions. People are trampling over each other to have a government job that pays decent, has great benefits and retirement, and you can shirk all of your work off on consultants. Councilor Neitzert pointed this out the best during the discussion. We don’t have a recruiting problem, that is a fantasy.

• Officials are elected to get things done. Partially true. We elect them to serve us. That could mean building admin buildings, pools and entertainment complexes, it also could mean we ask them to hold the brakes on such projects. Huether’s delusional notion of ‘getting things done’ doesn’t always mean building structures and increasing debt, it could also mean restraint which takes vision. Salesmen don’t have vision, they live for the day, don’t care about history or the future. Huether has proven this with his statements about how long this project has been discussed.

• We have been discussing space needs since Munson. Probably true. I’m sure every mayor has talked about it. But let’s present a real time line. The admin building discussion was collecting dust in the mayor’s drawer while he hammered home spending reserves and borrowed levee money on an indoor pool. The perfect capital to spend on an admin building, but he squandered it on a building that will never break even or run in the black. It would have been the perfect opportunity to bring up this ‘NEED’ but instead his selfishness and love of special interest club sports prevailed. So now he wants us to BOND for a need. Typical of a subprime credit card salesman (not a banker). He also claims this building was talked about more then the Events Center and Indoor Pool. That statement alone is so laughable that he should have been wearing a clown hat and squirting the crowd with seltzer water while saying it.

• The administration building will spur economic development. No building in government has done such a thing unless you are a courthouse in a county seat the size of the wart on my finger.

• The previous council supported the building. Flat out lie. Which has been pointed out several times by the media, but Mr. Pants on Fire can’t help himself from repeating it several times. It was a tie vote TWICE by the previous council to stop this train wreck and the mayor broke the tie.

• We have had professionals work on this project. You mean the professional who designed the bouncing balcony at the Pavilion and the bent up siding at the Events Center which resulted in a settlement? Why would we continue to hire someone that is detrimental to the taxpayers? Time to cut the apron strings.

Huether proved today just how out of touch he is with voters and his city council. He is living in la-la land, and if he thinks this kind of behavior will bode well in a statewide race*, he has a rude awakening coming. So laugh about signing vetoes in the city attorney’s office while eating carmel corn and peanuts, because at the end of 2018, you will be ‘truly’ crying something other then crocodile tears while sitting on the dock of your ‘lake’ home.

*I have already heard of two prominent Democrats that would run against him in a gubernatorial primary.

Hidden Hills apartments ‘Affordable’?

Remember when the developers of Hidden Hills were asking for special funding from the feds and TIFs to build four blocks of block like apartments on North Cliff? $680 a month is NOT affordable housing. If you were lucky enough to make a living wage as a single person in Sioux Falls, you would have to work a week and half to just pay the rent (no utilities included. Let’s say you make $12 an hour, you would have to work 2 weeks to just pay the rent. Sorry folks, this is NOT affordable housing. The property tax payers of this town were duped again.

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Mayor Huether will probably veto admin building repeal

During Dem Forum today, he brought up the administration building and the importance of the proposed structure, he also ‘claimed’ the last council approved the bonding of the facility. That is not true, it was a 4-4 tie with him being the tie-breaker.

After his words today, I suspect he will veto the repeal.

He also told councilors Neitzert and Stehly that were in attendance today that they need to learn how to work together as a team . . .