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).
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?
So what has been going on? Are the Feds ready to ink a deal with the city and the railroads? How much has it been appraised for? What are we paying for it? How much money are the Feds going to give us? It’s nice we are blowing tax dollars on a Kiosk for a project that hasn’t been inked yet with the Feds.
What is going on? Is there a Federal investigation going on? It certainly would not be uncommon for the Feds to audit the process before handing over $30 million dollars, in fact it would be expected of them to do so. So who would do this investigation? The IRS? The FBI? The months of silence on this project is eerie.
I gave a brief history lesson last night (with props, FF: 5:50) to the mayor and city council about the RR relocation project. Had to chuckle when the mayor was telling ME where to get information on the project. Oh, Mike, I am well aware what has been going on.
More ‘strange’ campaign materials by Erpenbach. Even if she is suggesting the RR development area will be considered a ‘quiet’ development, she fails to mention that the area will still be surrounded by RR tracks, the landing path airspace for the airport, and when those two things are not rattling the dishes in the kitchen cabinet (I should know, I live about 5 blocks South of the area) there is the pleasant Avera chopper flying over. So once again, thanks for baffling us Michelle with your made up ‘issues’.
Someone asked me the other day what has been Michelle’s biggest weakness as councilor, and I said, “That’s easy, she rarely responds to constituents when they call on her.”
Hey, peeps, Michelle knows who butters her bread, and it ain’t the lowly whiners of the Central District (snark).
Not sure why the SF MSM failed to inform the public of this meeting involving a project that has gone on for 12 years and involves a 35 million dollar federal earmark? They must only have 99 eyes open on this one
With the draft Environmental Assessment and Section 4(f) Evaluation document out for public review, Public works will be holding the final public meeting to present the preferred alternative to the public.
The public meeting will be held on Wednesday, August 14, 2013, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Sioux Falls Convention Center, 1101 North West Avenue. The meeting will begin with a 30-minute presentation. A general question and answer session will be held following the presentation. Representatives from City, State, and Federal staff will be available to answer questions.
There are $35 million in Federal funds remaining to finish the relocation, which will free up about ten acres of the rail yard site for new downtown development. If the public input phase goes as expected, the next step is to figure out how much to pay Burlington Northern for the land.
$35 million for 10 acres of polluted land? Sounds like a deal. Of course Cotter said during the press conference that the land was ‘lightly’ contaminated. You mean like when you ask for light seasoning on your steak? He also said(?) this;
“There have been so many good bones that have already been revitalized in our downtown. And this is just another big and critical part to keep that momentum going,” Sioux Falls Public Works Director Mark Cotter said.
Not sure if that is a typo or if he really said that:)
He was also asked at the press conference what the land was worth and if it has already been appraised. He (claimed) that it could not be appraised until after the public input phase.
This is how I look at it kids, someone is going to make a lot of money off of this piece of property, and it’s going to cost taxpayer’s a bundle in the end. While I don’t like the tracks DT, and what that area currently looks like, I am skeptical of the ‘deal’ that is being cooked up. Expect another butt load of TIF’s to be handed out so someone can build more apartment buildings DT while you and me get stuck with the bill.
Okay, the memorandum of understanding is not a final binding purchase agreement, but wouldn’t it be nice if the city’s MOST TRANSPARENT politician would show the public the document before signing it?
The Argus Leader has not yet received a copy of the draft memorandum, but Cotter said Wednesday he would check with the project team about sending one this week.
So are you going to send this out before or after the mayor signs it? Funny how we had to hold off the snowgate election for another year because the council needed to ‘gather more information’ but it seems when it comes to the purchase of the railyard, that information is buried in some dark chasm of Mark Cotter’s office.
“I’m not going to be negative like that.” (actual quote at the press conference). Who wouldn’t be positive when you are spending other people’s money and hanging out with babes. (Image: KELO-TV screenshot)
Seriously. If they want this land for development, then let developers purchase the land for development. Why is my money being used to clean up this property so developers can profit from it? Screw that, didn’t we learn anything from Munson’s mess called Phillips to the Falls? (which we still own because of the contamination).
Nearby, though, the city dealt with high levels of contamination to build Phillips to the Falls, and the city is paying almost $20,000 for a study of Falls Park West to figure out how to go about building there because of previous contamination from when it was used as a landfill.
If BNSF wants to sell the railyard for private development – fantastic! Sell it to private developers and keep my tax dollars out of it.