Here are some leading questions after the collapse;
• Will Downtown businesses be reimbursed for lost business by the construction company’s insurance? Most of these businesses are family owned, they don’t have a lot of buffer like national franchises especially during one of the busiest shopping times of the year.
• Will the city be reimbursed for the enormous cost of the rescue and security efforts? While most would argue this is part of paying taxes, sometimes those costs go above and beyond.
• What is the signifigance of the meeting on Monday between the city, OSHA, Hultgren and the families affected? Will they be talking about a private settlement?
• Since Legacy Development was one of the companies to bid on the future parking ramp, were they chosen? And if so, will the city pull the contract? Will the public ever be told? Do we have a right to know?
Who are the private investors in Legacy Development?
One of the biggest questions that has been boiling to the top all week – did any of the city councilors, county commissioners or even the Mayor have investments with Legacy, Hultgren or with the PAVE or Lewis project? And if so, isn’t this a conflict of interest, especially since the construction company has gotten quite a few ‘passes’ from the city’s planning/building services office? This speculation comes from the city’s decision to launch NO investigation of their own and a desire to not press charges unless OSHA finds serious fault. Think about it, Cameraman Bruce was arrested and taken to court over a stack of shingles and the possibility of a couple of mice, something the city called a health/public nuisance. Doesn’t it seem silly the city is worried about a couple of mice, but not that a man died in a construction accident? It just doesn’t add up.
I will tell you folks, this goes deeper, and I think some people with some serious connections are involved. Notice the rancor coming from the city lately about the media stirring the pot, they are trying to squelch the message and kill the messenger.
It will be interesting to see who is holding the bag when the smoke clears . . . it may just be one of the biggest scandals this city has ever seen, it will make the secret million dollar settlement on the EC look like vandalism under the 10th Street bridge.
We ask, what could ever go wrong? Why do we need standards and codes? On November 29, 2016 we heard discussions with interested asking great question on how to make a growing downtown Sioux Falls a more inviting place to walk, shop, work and live. It all starts with standards based in codes laid out to make it work.
Why do we let developers who are concerned about their property but not the well-being or feel of the rest? We have design standards to build in safe streets and vibrancy.
Gee, why would we need standards or codes? What could ever go wrong?
Many in the development community may already know what that secret is, but, it seems, some do not;
But that’s not sitting well with JDI, Inc.’s CEO Robin Miller, who’s company wanted to build a 12-story condominium, including underground parking and a rooftop garden.
Miller said unlike the two other proposals, which would have maintained the parcel’s green space by turning it into a park, JDI’s plan would have generated $35 million or more worth of construction, brought high-quality architecture to downtown and bolstered downtown’s parking capacity.
If that plan wasn’t good enough for the city, Miller’s not sure what would be.
“When we first went to the city they said ‘We want to see quality construction that’s uniquely special to that site, and we agreed.” Miller said. “When they don’t proceed with what you think is a good proposal … what’s my incentive to make a proposal on something else.”
What many people may not know is that the city may be holding back on projects like this because of the height of the building. Remember the $1 Million dollar fire truck the city had to provide to make sure they could reach the top of the Events Center? Rumor is the planning office won’t allow NEW buildings over four-six stories. It has a lot to do with the airport and National guard base’s proximity to downtown, but it also comes to the fire department not having the equipment to put out fires over 4-6 stories high. The other bank buildings downtown that are over four stories were built before these regulations were put into place.
Let’s face it, we could develop 12-story condos downtown, but if the fire department can’t reach the top in an emergency, we would be screwed.
I wonder if anyone in Community Development or the Fire Department will ever share this little tid-bit with the good tax payers of Sioux Falls? Oh, that of course requires transparency. LOL.
“There’s no parking downtown! You have to walk so far from your parking spot to get to the store you’re looking for!” How many times have your heard (or said) this? South Dakotans love (and NEED) to be able to park directly in front of the store they’re shopping at. When there isn’t a nice open space on Phillips Avenue it’s “Bah There’s no parking down here!” (God forbid hey use the completely empty and free after 5pm parking ramps).
I never hear the same complaint about shopping at the Empire Mall. It’s the same concept! Park in one location, then walk a short distance to go to multiple stores conveniently located next to each other. Director ofDowntown Sioux Falls Inc. and urban design advocate, Joe Batcheller, made this very handy map showing how the two locations (downtown and the mall) compare. The red outline is the mall’s parking lot and the yellow shape is the mall’s footprint. I thought seeing the two overlaid like this was interesting and a great way to illustrate the discrepancy for people who ‘hate parking downtown’ but love shopping at the mall. Check it:
If you squint your eyes a little bit, it kind of looks like a Trojan Horse
I will admit, I was skeptical when the organizers of this project said they would raise all the money privately (I still am a little).
The project is being funded by private donors, with a goal of $1.25 Million. Schiller says they are at $1.17 Million right now.
It’s not that I don’t think the money is here in our community, it’s just that taxpayers have been down this road before. I have pressured Sculpture Walk organizers over the years to become more independent, they have been listening. There is also the logistics of the project. Talking to engineers and others in the art world who have been around large sculpture projects before I have a couple of concerns.
1. Since the large structure does not connect in the middle, there could be issues with it’s weight when it comes to high winds and counter balance.
2. The quartzite that has to be drilled through in order to create that counter balance could become very costly.
I have put city officials on notice that if any trouble arises and we the taxpayers have to chip in, that they proceed with caution. Think Trojan horse. While this is a great gift to the city, remember since it is sitting on city property, we have a great responsibility to maintain it. Where will that money come from? The sky? It would be like your dying uncle giving you his classic Ferrari.
We took a gift from Mr. Fawick back in the early 70’s and the city has been reluctant many times to keep him around, even throwing David in a storage lot for several years because they didn’t have the money to put him back up. I would be curious what the city is budgeting each year for maintenance of such a large piece of public art?
I also take issue with this statement;
Supporters have high hopes this new, massive piece of artwork will bring more than just tourists to the downtown area.
“The new awareness will truly advance economic development, workforce development in so many ways for so many years,” said Schiller.
Um . . . how will it do that? Sure it will promote more tourism to downtown, but we already have a great tourist attraction downtown, and it’s not Minerva’s or the Statue of David (Though he is my favorite DT).
When I watch press conferences like this, I often shake my head when our city leaders make ridiculous statements like this.
But at the end of day, I do Thank You . . . kind of.
I’m kind of on the fence on this one. While I supported the smoking ban in bars due to the health of workers, I question making a ‘legal product’ OUTSIDE in public spaces illegal or even enforceable. No question smoking kills more people in America then anything. I have often wondered then ‘Why not just make tobacco products illegal all together?’ instead of piddling with more laws limiting a legal product.
While we will hear several arguments about not being allowed to smoke outside the EC and in public parks, the big kicker will be at downtown patios. Businesses currently buy a special permit to have those patios, it is city property (public property). From what I can tell two downtown business owners allow smoking on their patios, Stogeez and Lucky’s. While Lucky’s doesn’t have a special state permit to allow smoking inside their establishment, Stogeez does. But will they be allowed to use that special permit to allow smoking on their patio that is city owned public property?
City Property. All property owned, leased, or operated by the city, including but not limited to all city parks; city golf courses; city buildings; any ticket, boarding, and waiting areas of any public transit depots; public parking strip; and any public sidewalks abutting any city property.
Section 3. That the Code of Ordinances of Sioux Falls, SD, are hereby amended by adding a section to be numbered 92.211 to read:
§ 92.211 Prohibited Conduct.
That the use of tobacco products and electronic smoking devices is hereby prohibited on any city property.
I’m sure we will be hearing from Stogeez owner, Tim Kant on this one.
When I travel, I try to make it to downtowns to see how their parking is setup for visitors. This is what I found on my last trip.
In Rapid City, they allow 3 hours free parking on their main street. I talked to downtown gallery owner Joe Lowe about it (we mostly talked politics 🙂 and he said that they do monitor it, and you can move your car after 3 hours if you want more time.
In Deadwood I walked from my hotel, but it seemed there was plenty of public parking available for free in flat lots.
In Cody, WY I didn’t see a time limit on the main drag (Sheridan Ave?) and NO parking meters.
In Fort Collins there was 2 hours free parking in the Downtown area, plus 2 hour free flat lots.
While downtown Sioux Falls does allow free parking on Main Avenue, Phillips Avenue does charge on the meters from 9-5, weekdays. I have often argued if we want even more activity downtown we should remove the parking meters on Phillips Avenue from 14th to 6th Street, leave them everywhere else, and still charge for the ramps. I think the Phillips Avenue parking should be a 2 hour time limit, and monitored.
We consistently hear that since the parking system is an enterprise fund, we need the revenue to support it. I think with the possibility of a new ramp, and all the other ramps available and side street meters we could easily afford to give FREE parking on Phillips to visitors. The economic boost would be worth it. I would even implore we charge additional property taxes to Phillips Avenue businesses to offset the meter loss.
I am just baffled how I can visit four other Midwestern communities who have figured out free parking for their visitors, but for some reason this boomtown can’t.