Tomorrow, at the 7:00 Council meeting there wi ll be a First Reading regarding property that adjoins Phillips to the Falls. (The Item is not appearing on the agenda) The property borders the west side of Phillips Avenue and has already received the benefit of multiple TIFs.
At the June 5th 2013 Planning Commission meeting, Craig Lloyd appeared to request a conditional use permit for the property. It is currently zoned C-3 which allows mixed use with residential ABOVE the first floor. He is asking for consent to develop a four story building with the first floor consisting of 4,416 sq. ft. of commercial space and 17 TEMPORARY dwelling units.
The reason for his request became clear as he was questioned by the Commission. The Vice-Chair of the Commission, Jessie Schmidt, clarified with Lloyd that the property had originally been planned as ALL commercial on the main floor, but a conditional use permit is being sought because of financing issues.
This is Craig Lloyd’s response,
“Right now DT has more than enough office and retail space VACANT, right around 250,000 sq. ft. vacant DT, and our lenders are not comfortable with having to put a whole bunch more retail. We went through this process at Uptown, the one that we are just finishing on Main and that’s got residential on the main floor EXCEPT FOR WHAT FRONTS MAIN AVENUE. We also have the Tri-State Building, by the end of next month most of that main floor will be vacant and the lenders just require us to build residential as much as we can because they can finance it and we can take it to a secondary market, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac who is our secondary market WON’T ALLOW ANYMORE THAN 20% OF YOUR BUILDING TO BE COMMERCIAL, so we’re trying to meet the requirements in those areas. Looking into the future, because I don’t know how long this will all take to happen, but that’s the reason we’re putting 14 ft. high ceilings on the main floor so that we can convert this at some point in time when the market turns around and the demand turns around to build office space. We can make a lot more money on commercial than we can residential, BUT IT DOESN’T FIT INTO THE FINANCING PROGRAM.(sic)”
Taxpayers have invested millions of dollars in Phillips to the Falls. It is designed as a gateway to our City’s namesake and to one of South Dakota’s major tourist attractions. It was NEVER intended that there be residential housing AT GROUND LEVEL along this important street. The vacancy rate for commercial property is obviously high in the DT area and it does not appear this is going to turn around soon. So, this is hardly a TEMPORARY request for a conditional use permit. It is not the taxpayers responsibility to modify our City’s Vision for Phillips to the Falls so that Craig Lloyd can secure financing for his project!
In addition, he is also requesting that 25 diagonal parking spaces be placed along Phillips Avenue. This will create the same kind of situation as on South Phillips Avenue with cars backing in and out of traffic. Is this really what Phillips to the Falls was designed for?
For all of these reasons, I urge the Council to decline this request for a conditional use permit & ask Lloyd to build this of it’s original intent per the TIF he requested.