Entries Tagged 'Downtown Sioux Falls' ↓

Touchmark finally gets the green light from the city council to expand

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We are treated to an unusual Sioux Falls City Council appeal process held on August 18, 2015. The meeting concluded the Touchmark at All Saints expansion plans rejected by the Board of Historic Preservation. Touchmark has gone back to the drawing board several times attempting to design a complimentary building addition only to be refused by the historic preservationists this year.

It took them almost 18 months of wrangling with the neighbors and the boards to get to this point. Ironically, only one neighbor came in opposition, and she just doesn’t like the color pink. This seems to be politically motivated.

While the current Phase 1 and Phase 2 pink stucco look is becoming a bit dated and tired, the latest designs may in the end be a welcome look. It appears Touchmark has taken the concerns of many of the neighbors and townspeople into consideration with the current plans.

The City Council had to become what’s called a quasi-judicial body to hear the appeal being presented. Items 48, 49 and 50 are the steps necessary to process the Board of Historic Preservation appeal.

Asst. City Attorney Danny Brown guides the Mayor and Council through the processes required to meet state law. The City Council became an appeals court chamber to hand down this type of judicial decision.

Item #48 is the hearing of the steps taken to this point, neighbor’s issues and filed plans. We were treated to some names and faces from Sioux Falls past bringing back some history to not forget. It was good to remember how bad the complex was before Waterford / Touchmark bought the place.

Item #49 is motion necessary to approve the project as stated in appeal.

Item #50 authorizes the City Attorney to file and post the Council’s decision.

Betty Best would be happy Touchmark has saved the complex and is expanding it’s footprint for the future.

Touch of Mexico?

IMG_1152Another Mexican restaurant in Sioux Falls? Yawn.

Over the weekend I helped the owner of Touch of Europe clean out her stuff from her restaurant that was flooded by a city fire hydrant (they still haven’t taken responsibility for the disaster caused by their broken pipe).

Many have speculated if the ‘TOE’ would ever reopen. Actually there was an attempt, but complications/disagreements with the city and the landlord left it out of the question. So we were very surprised when we got the call to haul all of the stuff out because a NEW restaurant was going in and they were in the process of remodeling and FULL approval from the city building services department.

Lots of great memories in that stinky old basement, not just the leaky roof, exploding toilets and faulty electrical, but all of the amazing musicians, friends and relationships made over the years.

It was never about the food at Touch of Europe, it was about so much more.

Fun Facts about the TOE.

• When the Nickel Plate closed (the original place upstairs) it was the oldest running restaurant in SD (75 years).

• The original owner of the TOE was Martin, he was an immigrant from Lithuania, he did all the brickwork himself.

• When the Washington Pavilion opened there was only really three staple restaurants downtown, Kristina’s, Minerva’s and TOE. They were jampacked every night there was a show. In fact, the Jazz popularity really got a boost after the Pavilion opened, because Tina’s and Minerva’s would close before the shows ended, so we would get a great crowd for desserts, apps and mostly jazz. In fact I often credit the TOE’s success from the opening of the Pavilion, and the many great local artists that played there. You have to realize, it was a transitional period for DTSF, the Pomp was closing, and people were getting into other generes of music, like jazz, TOE was the first Jazz Club in South Dakota. Many musicians earned there chops playing there.

• Natasha handmade (most) of the food served there. Her dolmas and cabbage rolls were to die for, though her seafood linguine, borscht and chicken prosciutto were fantastic.

• Worst menu item; Gravolox. Salmon Lox, pickled onions and cold scrambled eggs.

• Most popular menu item; Pierogies.

• Longest running house musicians; Jim Speirs and Jesse Christen

• We were called the most romantic restaurant in town (still makes me laugh) besides the often PDA in the booths (and other things) hundreds of people got engaged in the place and dozens got married or had their wedding receptions or rehearsal dinners there.

• Most interesting customers; George Hahn and “The Professor”

• Most controversial employee; Fucking all of us!

The ‘Banks’ project ‘changes’ to a square


Seems some people bailed on the project;

The City of Sioux Falls announces that the mixed-use development, including private development and a new public parking ramp announced in June, is taking a step forward.

After continuing negotiations with the developers selected for the project, both the City and development teams have determined the footprint for the project and have decided to place it entirely on the City-owned surface parking lot located at 110 South Mall Avenue. The Request for Proposal evaluation committee, which convened today, supports this position.

This designated footprint and project design will include all of the previously announced project elements. Final schematic design will determine the exact number of hotel rooms, apartments, retail spaces, and parking spaces.

The ‘BIG’ question is who is buying the old Skelly’s and Copper Lounge buildings? You also wonder if Darrin and Mike’s motor mouths announcing the project before a purchase agreement was signed screwed the whole deal up?

I also find nothing ‘unique’ about the building they are proposing besides grass on the roof. While I am against the TIF for the Washington Square project, at least that building will looks unique.

Best BBQ in town?


Just a couple of thighs you don’t have to propose to.

Okay, I haven’t obsessed about this much, but after getting home today and smelling my chicken smoked filled t-shirt, I kind of flipped. I tried Mr. Ryan’s BBQ ribs a few weeks ago at Bro’s (it is a Sunday Night deal) Best smoked meat in town. I obviously will eat most anything, at least once, but his ribs were perfectly cooked, fall off the bone, and on top of that, no sauce required, even though he makes his own sauce that is fantastic, and the red cabbage slaw is to die for.

Is the City of Sioux Falls having a change of heart about ‘Washington Square’?

Not sure, but this press conference has me curious;

Come to the news conference to learn more about the Washington Square project and how City officials are proposing to support the project.

As I have said in the past, I was opposed to the massive TIF requested for this project, but I wouldn’t be opposed to something scaled back, like a low interest community development loan, financial assistance with cleaning up the alley and upgrading infrastructure in that part of Downtown, even some kind of lease agreement with the city on parking. But a large TIF for condos doesn’t float my boat.

Sioux Falls LiveWell spokesmodel, ‘Moonshine Jerry’ prefers to just be called ‘Jerry’


After his 15 minutes of fame today in the media, ‘Moonshine Jerry’ is just going to be called ‘Jerry’. There has been numerous complaints to DTSF and the city that using 200 proof backwoods booze as a moniker for living healthy and safe in our city isn’t such a good idea. Seems ‘Moonshine Jerry’ would have been a better mascot at Van Eps park last summer then one for a PSA.

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Too bad Soda Pop wasn’t still alive, he would have ‘crushed’ this gig.

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Does the Railroad Relocation project have any value to Federal & City taxpayers?


The (forced) announcement today, where the mayor announced NO questions from NON press. I guess we can’t ask how you are spending our money.


The depot will remain under the poorly proposed plan

While nothing has been signed yet, the redline of the project was completed on Monday. The environmental study revealed that low levels of petroleum and lead were found at the site and 6” of brownfield will have to be removed before doing any development in the area. We will also have to put a security fence around the project while it is being prepared for development.

Where I see no value in the project is that two major RR lines will still remain downtown, which I assume will become even more busy. One of them crosses Cliff Avenue, and frankly is a pain in the ass as it is. I also don’t see the value in buying land to prepare an old RR yard for developers to buy. Then there is the relocation costs associated that we are basically giving to the RR. They are the ones moving, it shouldn’t be on the backs of taxpayers to help them with the move. While the developers will be required to do their own environmental study at the time of purchase, I still think all along this should have been a private matter between the RR and the developers. While the Feds did have to be involved, our city government should have kept its nose out a deal that is just going to cost us more money in the long run and not really solve the problems with train traffic downtown. According to the Mayor, it sounds like it is just going to be another park. Big whoop. How about cleaning up the park just 2 blocks away to the North?

The mayor, of course had to bring up the naysayers and how this project is bigger than the Events Center (thank God we are only building a fence and not siding a building). I find his ‘naysayer’ comment a bit hypocritical. I remember Huether being the biggest naysayer about this project when we were debating whether or not to build a Events Center downtown. I truly think that really put a hiccup in the process.

The city council will only approve this through a resolution on August 4th. No real discussion, no public input, no debate.

While I am happy that the tracks will be moved out of this area, this project is nothing more then another handout to the already super rich developers in our city AND it does nothing to end rail traffic downtown. Huether, Johnson, Daschle and Thune, thanks for nothing, but more federal debt. Ironic how Huether makes fun of Washington, but gladly takes money from them. He did it after the ice storm, and now with the RR relocation project.

Click to enlarge below graphic of press release;


Railroad Relocation project announcement Wednesday?

That’s the $40 million dollar question?

Officials are expected to announce the details of the deal between the city, federal regulators, BNSF Railway and the Ellis & Eastern Railroad. Under the terms of the deal, BNSF would receive millions of dollars for giving up the use of its rail yard.

The first thought that popped into my head is how or why would we be paying the railroad for land that is technically the Feds (ours) already. This explanation is going to be an interesting one. While the land that their buildings are on could technically be sold, I thought anything with tracks laying on it are Federal right-a-way and should go back to the Feds at NO charge.

My second thought was why was the Argus briefed about this before the city council (who will get briefed in executive session today after the informational, probably about the project). If the press conference is supposed to happen Wednesday, why is the administration waiting less then 24 hours to tell council? When I talked to council chair Kenny Anderson about this a few weeks ago, he said that the lawyers were mulling through the deal and it would be announced soon. Then bam, out of nowhere, without council knowledge, the Argus puts it out there. Seems the Mayor’s office has a mole with loose lips.


Found on Facebook – write your own caption

This was taken from a roof top last night at Hot Summer Nights. Don’t have a date? Blow, blow hard.

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Is it time for a graffiti alley in Sioux Falls?

With the recent arrest of a very talented (yet criminal) graffiti artist and the great success of Rapid City’s graffiti alley, is it time to do something similar in Downtown Sioux Falls?

I have often had long discussions with artist friends on how we could do guerilla art projects downtown without damaging property. I did the photos of sculpture walk sculptures with paper bags over their heads. I have also suggested just leaving random pieces of art at places (but that would be considered littering).

I think it is time DTSF explores their own graffiti alley, and I hope to bend the ear of the new DTSF director when he takes over this month about the idea.