Rail Relocation in DTSF? F’ck Em!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lWsuVuw5JO4

Ellis wrote his weekly rant about giving the money back to the FED’s and betting bottles of my favorite gin;

And to get the negotiators in the right spirit, I’m personally willing to put up a case of Bombay Sapphire gin and some vermouth. Martinis have a way of facilitating the free exchange of ideas.

For the longest time, I have often been for the project, and wondered why it has taken so long to get to this point (or wherever we are now?). But there is also a part of me that thinks if we don’t remove the tracks 100%, what’s the point? It just kinda seems to me that taxpayers (Federal and Local) will be footing the bill to help a private company (The Railroads) get a better switching yard and developers an opportunity to develop some cheap land. In other words, what is the benefit to citizens? Once again, we are left writing the checks with nothing in return. F’ck Em!

And J.E. may be onto something;

Sioux Falls has been no more money-grubbing for federal handouts than other cities. In fact, the city paid the federal government’s share for building a stronger levee system. The city has an agreement that the feds can pay back the money, but don’t count on it.

Why not just take that $35 million set aside for the RR relocation project and use it to pay the city back for the levees and say the Hell with the project. Seems fair to me. If private developers and RR companies want action, they need to get their checkbooks out for once and stop bilking us.



55 comments ↓

#1 Andy Traub on 02.21.12 at 1:18 am

I disagree. We HAVE 35M. Opening that area will help transform downtown into what it should be, the focus of our city’s commerce in many ways. This is what government is for, to assist the private sector in creating healthy businesses. The government needs to create an atmosphere for economic growth instead of spending our money on an empty events center. If we move the tracks businesses WILL expand and the “citizens” will have more jobs. I think moving the tracks benefits citizens because it creates more commerce, which is more jobs. The EC on the other hand creates 180 permanent jobs and costs 182 million. This state is just plain dumb sometimes.

#2 l3wis on 02.21.12 at 6:36 am

I agree moving the tracks is a good idea, but like I said above;

1) We should do ALL of the tracks or nothing

2) The RR companies should pony up something

#3 Andy Traub on 02.21.12 at 8:17 am

Agreed

#4 Craig on 02.21.12 at 8:27 am

I could be wrong, but I don’t think the RR companies really care. They need a switching yard, but what they have works just fine. For that reason they aren’t likely to offer to pay to move their facilities elsewhere because they aren’t going to see any direct benefit.

On the inverse, the citizens would benefit from relocation because it would reduce the number of traffic blockages on streets. It would also reduce expenses for upkeep on things like the viaduct bridges because in time they could be downsized a great deal.

If you help traffic flow, you increase productivity. Also, the rail crossing on Cliff Ave near McKennan is known to be a problem for ambulances, so they often need to take a longer route to avoid that crossing. In theory that could be the difference between life and death for someone.

I will agree with you Scott that it should be an all or nothing concept, because if they don’t move everything the benefits are minimal. If the RR companies really do see some benefit to their operations then by all means they should pony up at least a small slice, but I’m not sure that is going to happen.

I can’t really agree with Andy’s views that moving the tracks will help businesses expand, because businesses will expand regardless. Jobs will be created regardless. The only difference is where that expansion and job creation occurs. It can either be along the riverfront downtown, or it can be someplace else.

The thing is, if that land is so valuable for redevelopment, then the city should be able to recoup much of the cost when they sell or lease the land. Considering this is prime downtown land I’d almost opt for some type of long-term lease agreements rather than an outright sale.

One final thought. I have heard some citizens are starting to meet surrounding an additional rail line south of 57th street. Seems they aren’t happy about the increased noise it could create so they are going to try to put a stop to it. No matter where they try to move the switching yard to how they try to reconfigure they can expect more of the same from citizens. Most will agree something should be done, but most will also be the first in line to complain if they try to put something near them.

#5 l3wis on 02.21.12 at 8:34 am

“Most will agree something should be done, but most will also be the first in line to complain if they try to put something near them.”

Exactly, everyone wants their slice of heaven. I think I have mine. I live right next to Avera, and I love it. I hear the traffic from Cliff, a substation snapping and buzzing all the time and several train tracks and train whistles. I wouldn’t trade it for nothing. I live DT where the best restaurants and bars and entertainment is and really don’t care about all that other crap. The guy commenting about ‘train graffiti’ made me laugh. What a perfect opportunity to explain to your children about underground art. Oh, I forgot, I live in ignorant artville.

#6 rufusx on 02.21.12 at 10:28 am

Shouldn’t art be kept locked up behind museum walls, with guards and alarms and stuff, so as to not let it loose and run around messing up life and all? (sarc).

When I lived in San Francisco, I articularly enjoyed the cracking and sparking (fireworks really) and then the “burnt electricity” smell of the electric busses as the passed below my third floor, voltage arms contacting and loosing contact of the power lines all day and all night long (not sarcastic – I really did). There, the air was “electric” with excitement. What a city is all about.

#7 Sy on 02.21.12 at 10:45 am

The thing is we don’t have choice to re-allocate the money. We either use it for this project specifically, or we lose it and it goes back to the Feds. We lose it, the opportunity to do this project is gone forever.

Maybe Ellis or someone could explain to me why on earth the Feds deserve this money back anyway at this point in time? We haven’t seen an actual Budget in nearly 3 years and what they have done on both sides of the aisle lately doesn’t give me a ton of confidence that this money would be better spent in DC.

This process is being held up in part by the Feds, but I also think it’s the City’s responsibility to pick a site, get it secured and move forward with design work. That process only gets more expensive the longer we wait as we already know. Once that’s done, then the Feds can actually perform that mythical environmental impact study that they require in order to greenlight the whole deal. The biggest barricade to that happening? Yup; money. This is actually a $50 million or more project and the big white elephant in the room is no one wants to figure out a plan to find the additional funds.

This isn’t about downtown development, although I would argue that those 17 +/- acres fully developed out will generate a shitload more than $35 million in tax revenues for the City AND the State over the first 20 years post track removal. The State should be all over this project, but as it eminates from Sioux Falls it’s regarded as some big-city, liberal folly by an unfortunately large number of ignorant legislators. It’s also about all of what what Greg mentioned, along with being able to develop more rail-served industrial property in the Sioux Falls & Brandon metros. A region like this should never, ever be in a position where we damn near lost TJN because we couldn’t provide them with the right site when it came time for them to expand. Rail is still the future of competitive commerce in many industries and you’d think the whole concept of Jobs, Jobs, Jobs would be highlighted as a reason to complete this project sooner than later.

The SE siding idea should die, too many NIMBYS. We should go with the design that puts it out by Great Bear where the overall impact will be minimalized. Keep in in the City Limits so Brandon can’t stop it. They certainly have other directions they can & shoud steer their growth towards.

#8 cr on 02.21.12 at 1:29 pm

I have followed the railroad relocation project for the past ten years.

Councilor Aguilar is incorrect when she states that the City will have little say in this project. At the July 5th, 2011 Council Informational meeting (see siouxfalls.org) the Railroad Relocation Project Director, Mark Cotter (Director of Public Works) stated that it is the City of Sioux Falls that is driving this project not Burlington Northern (BNSF).

In addition, the project will require millions of local tax dollars to supplement the federal earmark, and it is the Council who will be casting the vote on whether or not to appropriate this money. BTW, local officials have been unwillingly to state exactly how many local tax dollars will be needed to complete this project!!

There is a way to stop this project….and that is what is occurring now…..PUBLIC OPPOSITION!

All three pieces of this project face significant local opposition (relocation of the switchyard, a second bridge over the Falls, a rail siding in SE SF)!!

The removal of the downtown switchyard to an area north of Rice Street was originally planned for the west side of Timberline Road. Because of multiple issues including a history of flooding it was moved to the east side of Timberline. At this point, the City of Brandon entered the picture because of their opposition to the proximity of the switchyard to Brandon properties.

The other two points of contention are the possibility of a second bridge over the Falls or a rail siding in southeastern Sioux Falls. One of these two options must be chosen in order to reconfigure the rail lines.

Sioux Falls taxpayers have invested millions of dollars in the rehabilitation of Falls Park which makes the possibility of a second bridge over the falls unacceptable.

A rail siding (whether it is south of 57th or 69th) will have a negative impact on property values all along the line as the increased train traffic moves back and forth between downtown and southern SF. Of equal importance are the safety and traffic concerns that will be created on major streets throughout the eastern part of our community. This will only be exacerbated as the city grows to the east and southeast. Let’s be clear about this: the major objective of the project is not to protect the safety of SF citizens, it is to free up 16 acres of downtown land for commercial and residential development!!!

Both Senators Johnson and Thune have stated that the federal earmark is at risk. As soon as the environmental assessment (EA) is completed, there will be a rush by local officials to sign-off on this project.

It is imperative if you oppose any piece of this project, that you speak out now, contact your local, state, and federal officials, write letters to the editor and SHOW UP AT THE PUBLIC INPUT MEETINGS!!! A demonstration of local opposition can stop this project.

#9 l3wis on 02.21.12 at 2:04 pm

Well, if the FEDS are involved in anyway, I can almost guarantee it will never be completed.

#10 cr on 02.21.12 at 2:13 pm

Federal and State officials will be in SF and Brandon next week to take public input as part of the environmental assessment process.

The feds cannot sign off on the earmark until the EA process is completed and the public input is a part of this process.

Sioux Falls Monday, February 27th, Orpheum, 6 pm

Brandon Tuesday, February 28th, Brandon Municipal Golf Course 6 pm

#11 Sy on 02.21.12 at 2:18 pm

The reason no one knows how much it will cost is we don’t have a site. Once we have a site = final design, then you can get your costs. Along with those, hopefully someone will put together what the postive, long term financial impacts of this project will be.

Again, this isn’t “let’s spend $35 million so Minervas or Monk’s can benefit”, this is the most significant proposed change to our transportation infrastructure since the interstates came through.

Beyond that, here’s a nugget of info I pulled from the Build it Downtown Facebook page as to why the City wants to (and would be smart to) open that land up;

“We’ll use the city of Asheville as an example. Asheville realizes an astounding +800 percent greater return on downtown mixed-use development projects on a per acre basis compared to when ground is broken near the city limits for a large single-use development like a Super Walmart. A typical acre of mixed-use downtown Asheville yields $360,000 more in tax revenue to city government than an acre of strip malls or big box stores. ”

http://www.planetizen.com/node/53922

If you’re going to oppose this project, maybe at least wait until you have a clear understanding of what’s actually at stake before you decide. Just sayin’.

#12 Badbenbodyenemy on 02.21.12 at 2:42 pm

I like how the guy they interviewed on KELO last night was worried about his kid potentially seeing graffiti on the rail cars.

I literally had to laugh out loud at his first world problems. I think his real main concern was the value of his cookie cutter McMansion.

#13 l3wis on 02.21.12 at 4:17 pm

“A typical acre of mixed-use downtown Asheville yields $360,000 more in tax revenue to city government than an acre of strip malls or big box stores. ”

Probably. But in this town we like to hand out TIF’s like candy DT. Never understood it. If a parcel of land works for you, and you can afford to develop on it, why give you a tax break? Are you telling me that Jeff S. is losing money on Cherapa Place? Give me a break.

#14 l3wis on 02.21.12 at 4:18 pm

Bad – I laughed at that to. I have taken many pictures of beautiful graffiti art on train cars DT. One was a portrait of a couple and sprayed across it was the word ‘Love’. I guess he doesn’t want to explain that word to his kids 🙂

#15 Sy on 02.21.12 at 4:28 pm

L3wis, like we don’t incentivise Walmart as well? At least with Jeff S. his profits stay here in SF and actually a lot of them get donated to wirhtwhile projects like Blood Run. You know the reason for the TIF’s is that downtown land is typically more expensive to acquire and develop than suburban farmground for the developer, not necessarily the City. Every acre we stretch out toward Canton or Brandon or Harford means the City extending services along with it, which does add significant costs to the taxpayer over the long haul. Believe it or not, Sioux Falls has the beginnings of an urban sprawl problem. The sooner we face that and support projects like the tracks, which help mitigate that problem, the better.

#16 Sy on 02.21.12 at 4:29 pm

Sorry, I meant “worthwhile” projects.

#17 Tom H. on 02.21.12 at 6:59 pm

“beginnings of an urban sprawl problem”? Understatement of the century.

#18 l3wis on 02.21.12 at 8:43 pm

“You know the reason for the TIF’s is that downtown land is typically more expensive to acquire and develop than suburban farmground.”

Yes, I know that. But why does a private developer deserve a property tax cut because of it?

#19 l3wis on 02.21.12 at 8:44 pm

CR talked about it tonight at the council meeting;

http://docs.siouxfalls.org/sirepub/mtgviewer.aspx?meetid=1646&doctype=AGENDA

#20 Scott on 02.21.12 at 10:58 pm

I almost forgot Jeff S. is an angel.

#21 Craig on 02.22.12 at 9:06 am

This is off point a bit, but why should train graffiti be ok? If that was your car, home, business, or property being painted you would most likely be irate. Keep in mind you don’t get to decide what is painted until you wake up the next morning and see their vision.

Plus most of the “art” is merely someone’s tag and they often cover up the markings on the car that tell them what serial number it is, weight loads, capacities, age etc, etc. Yes in modern cars a lot of this is encoded in a RFID tag as well, but there are times that information is needed so the railroad companies are forced to spend a lot of money every year repainting either that data or in some cases the entire car.

I would guess the railroads wouldn’t care if people would just limit their paint to the unimportant areas of the car – and I’ve seen quite a few that are actually very beautiful (which is a shame since most will be painted over within a few years). I’ve always said the railroad should hold a competition (in the daylight even) and turn those cars into rolling art shows.

The downside is I have seen more than one car with colorful language on it, so I can see parents not wanting to explain why that train car includes a 45ft. F-bomb cross-shaded in six different colors.

#22 Shrimp Taco on 02.22.12 at 11:25 am

CR did a nice job of summarizing the RR situation. It will be interesting to see if anyone other than NIMBY’s attend and engage next week.

Side observation – What gives with Entenman? Go back and check the archives, he hasn’t attended a single Council meeting in February! He really has checked out since the EC vote, hasn’t he?

#23 Scott on 02.22.12 at 12:59 pm

Nothing has come up since that would enrich him.

#24 l3wis on 02.22.12 at 1:30 pm

ST – I knew Jim was going to be gone. Stehly had been trying to get a hold of him and finally his secretary at J & L called her back and told Stehly that he would be out of town and unavailable until the end of February.

They just don’t give a rip.

#25 cr on 02.22.12 at 3:54 pm

I just looked at the piece that KELO did with Jeff Scherschligt dated February 17th.

The following paragraph was taken directly from the broadcast:

The switch yard is in the way of prime land for a $30 million dollar addition to Cherapa Place. Cherapa TWO would go right next to the current space, and bring more apartments, office space and a lot more parking spots. He admits he and other developers could make a lot of cash, but also bring in new blood from the edges of town.

*********************************************

I got to thinking…….What is wrong with this picture!!??

This is the same guy who was one of the main promoters of a downtown events center that would have been built at the exact location as the proposed Cherapa TWO.

He obviously thought that the events center could be placed at this location WITHOUT the switchyard being removed……..now, suddenly, according to him, the switchyard has got to go!!!

And, AT ANY COST…………….because it is going to take millions of local tax dollars to supplement the federal earmark. At this time, that dollar amount is an UNKNOWN!!

This interview with Jeff Scherschligt is exactly what this debate is all about.

Freeing up 16 acres of downtown land for commercial and residential development!!

The railroad has been a part of downtown Sioux Falls for over a hundred years. It has never stopped development from happening in the past, and it will not stop future economic development in the downtown area.

#26 Scott on 02.22.12 at 4:20 pm

But he’s an angel…it can’t be about the money. Sioux Falls should bow down and give him EVERYTHING he wants!

#27 Sy on 02.22.12 at 4:32 pm

@ Scott..no the only business people in this town who qualify as angels are the fast food moguls. The rest of us are indeed all greedy scum.

#28 Sy on 02.22.12 at 4:45 pm

@ CR It’s not a space issue for Cherapa 2. Yes, the EC could’ve gone in, but it would’ve been right next to the tracks until they came out and that area wouldn’t have been available for the flat parking lots that apparently the bulk of South Dakotans are able to actually negotiate without incident. Jeff S. wasn’t kidding when he said he was going to lose 10’s of millions of $$ if the EC went in, but it was his preferred use for the site as it would’ve been a bigger overall benefit to the community. I think he would’ve donated it if the City was serious about locating there, but that ship has sailed. Now his only option is plan B = Cherapa 2.

The problem with the tracks is the noise. Those trains blare their horns (as required by law) whenever they cross a street. And again when they back up and unhitch load A. And again when they go back over to switch tracks. And yet again when they back up to pick up load B, one last time as the go through with load B to wherever it’s supposed to go.

In order for downtown to hit the next level, we need more people to live and to stay the night down there. It’s not unlike the suburbs, where once you get a certain number of rooftops, services and retail follow in behind. We have two problems with enticing more condo and hotel development: 1. the noise as outlined above and 2. TIF’s don’t qualify for condos, only apartments. That’s why you aren’t seeing condos going in even though the waiting list for them is quite large and getting bigger.

#29 Sy on 02.22.12 at 4:58 pm

CR, please read the link in my post above. 16 acres of downtown mixed use will likely kick back the tax revenues of 8x that amount of ground developed on the fringe of town for a Super Walmart if we are anything like the comparison cities, which I would submit we probably are better off economically than most. Plus, most people who develop downtown are locals, if they (heaven forbid) make money on developing downtown, they re-invest that in the community more often than not. With the Wal Mart, all those profits go to Bentonville, AR.

#30 cr on 02.22.12 at 5:06 pm

Sy says…..

The problem with the tracks is the noise………… (downtown)

Thank you for helping me make one of my points.

Two points of contention are the possibility of a second bridge over the Falls or a rail siding in southeastern Sioux Falls. One of these two options must be chosen in order to reconfigure the rail lines.

A rail siding (whether it is south of 57th or 69th) will have a negative impact on property values all along the line as the increased train traffic moves back and forth between downtown and southern SF. Of equal importance are the safety and traffic concerns that will be created on major streets throughout the eastern part of our community. (think: Cliff/14th, River Road/Southeastern, 26th/Southeastern, 49th/Southeastern) This will only be exacerbated as the city grows to the east and southeast.

So, are we willing to negatively impact all those SF citizens (with the noise) who live next to the rail line throughout the eastern corridor, in order to build a few condos on those 16 acres DT?!!

In addition, are we willing to negatively impact all those commuters who use the east-west routes that will see increased train traffic as the trains travel back and forth to the rail siding in SE SF, in order to build a few condos on those 16 acres DT?!!

#31 cr on 02.22.12 at 5:20 pm

Sy, in response to your post at 4:58………..

Not everything is about economic return.

Preserving our city’s namesake….the Falls of the Sioux River…..

Protecting the Quality of Life for all those that currently live along the rail line…..

And, protecting thousands of commuters from increased traffic tie-ups……

I believe these Quality of Life issues are much MORE important than freeing up those 16 acres for commercial and residential development!

#32 Sy on 02.22.12 at 5:31 pm

Again, I oppose the rail siding in the SE. Politcally that option has a snowballs chance, even if it’s the most cost effective one.

However, the primary reason for the noise is how the current set up downtown requires multiple street crossings for trains to switch loads and/or switch tracks.

They’ve built the 57th overpass and also the 69th, so any new siding down there won’t cross those streets = no multiple horn blaring. The long range transportation plan I believe also includes a massive 26th/I229 interchange street re-do, which I think will mean an overpass or tunnel to eliminate the trains holding up traffic there.

#33 Sy on 02.22.12 at 5:42 pm

As for the Falls, I don’t like a second bridge all that much either, but that whole area historically has been industrial first to the point where we almost choked the life out of it altogether. In the last 20 years we’ve made massive progress to correct that, but rerouting all the tracks out of downtown also isn’t an option as that’s probably the most expensive by a mile. So one bridge or two we still will have trains rolling through to get to Corson or out to Brookings. I guess I see that as the least offensive to the largest number of people since we really aren’t adding anything that isn’t already there. The key to me is a new switchyard out by Brandon can open up a bunch more rail served industrial ground in an area that is already industrial and always will be.

#34 l3wis on 02.22.12 at 6:15 pm

I’m still sticking with my notion. All or nothing. We have to remove the tracks DT 100% or there is no point.

#35 cr on 02.22.12 at 7:18 pm

To remove all of the tracks DT has already been studied several years ago, and taken off the table as too expensive.

Many citizens do not know that even if the switchyard is removed from downtown, two out of the five rail lines will still remain.

I believe that most SF taxpayers after having invested millions of dollars to rehab Falls Park will have “zero tolerance” for a second bridge over the Falls.

And, BTW, that second bridge will be built to the NORTH of the current bridge AND the original bridge will remain.

#36 Shrimp Taco on 02.22.12 at 7:53 pm

Simply add crossing arms at the RR crossings and most of the noise problem goes away! Why are we too dumb to figure it out?

#37 Craig on 02.22.12 at 8:53 pm

Shrimp – I don’t think it is that easy. Not sure they can stop blowing the horn just because they have crossing arms. I’ve seen many times where trains still blow their horns even with crossing arms, and I’ve seen people drive around and directly through crossing arms as well.

I read some of the data on the FRA page, but I didn’t get through all of it so I didn’t see a conclusive answer.

http://www.fra.dot.gov/Pages/95.shtml

#38 Scott on 02.22.12 at 9:53 pm

Sy, trust me this city has never given us any special treatment.

#39 l3wis on 02.23.12 at 9:17 am

Quite the opposite, really. You are lucky that you have a national franchise backing you up. I can’t imagine what it would be like opening a private restaurant in this town. When you factor in licensing and leasing, you really are held by your balls.

#40 Scott on 02.23.12 at 9:41 am

I have no doubt that my family has suffered from my big mouth. We regularly get the run around, and code enforcement seems to enjoy hassling us. My favorite was when Huether’s stormtrooper showed up at a new store on the first warm day of spring and gave us 48 hours to get the sod installed…an impossibility in late March.

#41 l3wis on 02.23.12 at 9:47 am

I have often felt you need to fail your Personality Analysis in order to garner a job with SF code enforcement. You also must be kinda stupid and a failed contractor (that is who most of the planning office employs).

#42 Alice15 on 02.23.12 at 10:24 am

I am just glad that SY is back in the “mix.” You’ve been missed.

I want those tracks gone and I wanted them gone a long time ago. I am sick of hearing the “run around” from the city and whoever else. You already screwed DT on the EC and those costs are going to be astronomical to build in an industrial park with still no economic development around it. Pull your head out and get these tracks moved.

I don’t care who benefits more – in the end we all benefit from a better and more vibrant DT – of which my husband and I will be having dinner DT on Friday, enjoying Driving Miss Daisy, and then a cocktail with friends afterwards. We will also be attending the Stampede game on Saturday night with our kids where we will promptly drive in, go to the game, and drive home. See the trend? Too bad 58% didn’t – including half the city council and De Knudson. Still makes me shake my head on a daily basis.

#43 Sy on 02.23.12 at 2:03 pm

Thanks Alice,

@ Scott, the “special treatment” you claim is a two way street. When the City was short on funds to finish the phase 1 River Greenway, guess who got out his checkbook to finish it as designed?

#44 cr on 02.23.12 at 2:45 pm

He did get out his checkbook to the tune of $150,000+………………for cosmetic quartzite finishing.

And, in exchange he got part of an almost 6 million dollar greenway in front of Cherapa, including a pedestrian bridge costing almost a million dollars.

The bridge is part of the TIF he negotiated with the city in 2005. BTW, this is the bridge that empties into two different parking lots….Raven’s and Country Inn and Suites. In other words, a million dollar bridge to nowhere.

His benevolence certainly was not evident the night that he showed up at a Council meeting alluding to a lawsuit if the city did not fulfill all of the promises they had made in 2005……including the bridge!!!

#45 l3wis on 02.23.12 at 2:54 pm

“His benevolence certainly was not evident the night that he showed up at a Council meeting alluding to a lawsuit if the city did not fulfill all of the promises they had made in 2005”

No kidding. What I have seen of Mr. Slickless in the media and privately is a lot of arrogance. $150,000 for a $8 million dollar facade on the river ain’t a bad deal. You also must remember all of the property tax money he is saving with his TIF. I’m sorry, but I ain’t buying Mr. Charitable.

Alice, I agree totally. A TOTAL removal of the DT tracks is the only option that seems equitable IMO. Will it cost more? It sure will, but why do we constantly mess around with doing things 50% in SF? I think it is fantastic that we refurbished Falls Park, but the city has no real plans to move JM’s out of town, so does it really matter if the park is lovely when everytime you go there it smells like a rendering plant?

#46 Alice15 on 02.23.12 at 2:57 pm

The bridge was to have a very nice purpose had the city been economically smart with the EC. As a side note – when the weather has been nice – I have used that bridge multiple times walking and biking and it will also have a nice use when the River Greenway is finished. It was put up basically right before winter began. Don’t judge its use or purpose on 3 months.

#47 l3wis on 02.23.12 at 3:03 pm

No doubt people will use it, but was there really a ‘need’ if the steps into the river were not built? Nope.

#48 Scott on 02.23.12 at 3:50 pm

Angel Jeff!!!

#49 Sy on 02.23.12 at 5:49 pm

I guess my overall point is I know Jeff, I’ve done business with Jeff and he’s returned the favor. He’s the farthest thing from the “evil developer” as you can get. Howalt donates a shitload of money to a lot of causes in this town, as does Jeff personally..most of the time without fanfare. His building was a prime example of not building something half assed, and his hope that others will follow suit is actually taking shape. I also know some people who work there and they take excellent care of their employees.

As for alluding to a lawsuit..so what? Did he pull the trigger even though the City didn’t hold up their end of the deal? No. Did he hold a grudge against the City even though he got screwed not once, but twice on his offer to provide an Events Center site at his cost? No. The Greenway was and still is a worthwhile project and for once it’s something uniques for a upper midwest City of our size. When complete it will be a major draw for the entire region instead of an industrial wasteland that it once was.

BTW L3wis, TIF’s expire..and when you build something that will last 50 to 100 years, 20 years of reduced taxes isn’t a big deal, especially when you factor in all the other positive impacts of a $50 million project like his. TIF’s work, bottom line.

Is he an angel? Of course not, but I can tell you that Sioux Falls is much better off with him than without him because he actually gives a shit about this town and he puts his money where his mouth is.

#50 Craig on 02.24.12 at 8:59 am

In that case I recommend we give TIFs to every new home built in the next decade. These homes will be around for at least 100 years on average, so 20 years of reduced taxes isn’t a big deal, and I’m sure the economic impacts of people flocking to Sioux Falls to build new homes will have a huge impact upon our economy.

Might even sell some tile for their bathrooms and kitchens.

I’m just not sold on the whole “lets toss some money at a special interest to get them to spend money in our city” because often (and I’m not saying this is the case with Jeff) there is some back door dealings where a city leader or group of leaders finds a way to reward a friend or political contributor when they most likely would have built or developed that area with or without a TIF.

I’m more of the belief that a TIF should only be used when the city designates an area for redevelopment, assigns a TIF to that area, and then developers can submit plans and bids for their projects in that area. That way it minimizes the gigantic city-developer circle jerk that seems to reward the haves while forgetting the lifeblood of our city.

Maybe I’m naive.

#51 Tom H. on 02.24.12 at 10:14 am

Similar to Sy’s Asheville example, Strongtowns did one for Brainerd, comparing two nearby blocks. One is a traditional, mixed-use block with 9 run-down buildings, one of which is vacant, a parking lot where one building was torn down, and full of “undesirable uses” and cheap second-story apartments. The second block (one whole block!) is occupied by a shiny new Taco John’s, built with TIF incentives from the city.

They do a pretty thorough financial analysis on which is the more productive development pattern.

http://www.strongtowns.org/journal/2012/1/2/the-cost-of-auto-orientation.html

#52 Tom H. on 02.24.12 at 10:19 am

Follow-up article is here, for those interested:

http://www.strongtowns.org/journal/2012/1/4/the-lost-opportunity-of-auto-orientation.html

#53 Sy on 02.24.12 at 11:11 am

@ Craig, in the case we are talking about (Cherapa) the TIF was in place for exactly what you descibe in your third paragraph.

As for your first paragraph, why would you incentivise suburban sprawl? Aren’t we pushing towards Harrisburg and Brandon fast enough?

#54 Sy on 02.24.12 at 11:12 am

@ Tom…great info, thanks for posting.

#55 l3wis on 02.24.12 at 11:06 pm

A TIF circle jerk. Hmm. Something I am trying to imagine.