UPDATE: Downtown Parking Ramp a bad deal. Yah think?!

We have all heard the story tonight, and Detroit Lewis saw this coming. I predicted early on “There will never be a hotel built at that site.” Trust me, I hate being the ‘I told you so’ guy, but this was obvious from the beginning. I will leave you with my public scolding tonight at the city council meeting.

UPDATE: The city just sent this out;

CLARIFICATION: The City of Sioux Falls has not ruled out private development at this site in the future. At this time, we are focused on the completion of the parking ramp portion of the project.

Today, the City of Sioux Falls provided the Village River Group (VRG) with a notice of termination of their development agreement and ground lease for the Village on the River project.

On December 29, 2017, the City entered into a development agreement for construction of a mixed-use development including a public parking ramp and private hotel with leasable retail space.

The City has invested significant time and resources working with VRG in furtherance of performance of the development agreement.

On April 1, 2019, the City notified VRG that it was in default on the Village on the River project. In accordance with the development agreement, VRG had 30 calendar days to cure multiple defaults. VRG has failed to cure these defaults within the development agreement’s cure period or at any time thereafter.

The project can and will proceed as a stand-alone parking ramp which will alleviate parking challenges within downtown Sioux Falls.

Consistent with protecting taxpayer interests, the City has reserved any and all of its legal remedies available to it under the terms of the development agreement.

In other news, at the Informational meeting, councilor Brekke read her letter to the editor that Cory Myers, News Director of the Argus Leader refused to publish;

May 6, 2019

Letter to the Editor

From: City Councilmember Janet Brekke

I am writing in response to the recent letter to the Editor by Former Councilmember Rex Rolfing and the May 5th Argus Leader Editorial. In my opinion both articles missed the point.

In today’s environment of good versus evil, winners versus losers, or us versus them, frameworks it is plain to see that the Sioux Falls City Council is suffering from the same ultra-polarization that is immobilizing our Federal Government.

The problem that arose with the City Council’s hiring of an Internal Audit Manager has very little to do with the candidate that was ultimately selected. Ultimately the failed discussions and subsequent actions are symptoms of a larger problem.  The larger problem is the City Council’s inability to discuss any divisive problem in a deliberative open minded manner.

Since I joined the City Council last year I have tried to promote and adhere to good government procedures and practice: Decorum, Ethics, Roberts Rules of Order, Open Meetings and Open Records laws. So why does process matter? I believe good process matters because solving complex problems calls for creativity and collaboration, in ways that us versus them, winners versus losers, and good versus evil, do not. In a political context the idea that the good need to simply destroy the evil as we were taught in the movies of our childhood simply does not apply. Affixing blame and demonizing individual councilmembers is counterproductive.

We all have a role to play in our dysfunction. Ron Brownstien, CNN Sr. Political Analyst spoke at the National League of Cities about Congressional polarization on the health care issue. He said both sides claimed they could not talk about the issue because they were too far apart.   Brownstein’s suggestion, “Being far apart on an issue is not a reason to refuse to discuss an issue. Rather being far apart on an issue is the very reason you begin discussions.”  The City Council needs to engage in a deliberative process where we interact and listen to each other. I believe each of us has a valuable perspective to bring to the discussion. We need to work on our ability to collaborate and compromise. If we cannot take the time and effort to work to achieve consensus on hiring an Internal Audit Manager how can we expect to solve the complex problems facing the City. This us versus them mentality serves no one well, least of all the residents of Sioux Falls.

What amazes me is that our soul daily in town had to come after the only councilor (besides Starr) to oppose the parking ramp. The chickens are coming home to roost.


#1 D@ily Spin on 05.14.19 at 9:29 pm

If there’s not to be a development, why must there be a parking garage? Back off from everything. Retract funding and use it for infrastructure. Why is it that the city is always eggs without hens to lay them?

#2 D@ily Spin on 05.14.19 at 9:30 pm

Ready – Fire – Aim

#3 Blasphemo on 05.14.19 at 9:42 pm

Excellent message from Councilor Brekke. The rest of the council and the mayor need to listen to her more frequently. She’s the only one with prior SF municipal government experience, a law degree, and is licensed to practice law. She knows a thing or two about researching and interpreting Open Meetings and Open Records laws, not to mention a variety of codes to guide ethical and legal governance. Who else on the council can claim the same?

#4 Blasphemo on 05.14.19 at 10:09 pm

“The City of Sioux Falls has not ruled out private development at this site in the future.” Oh. History has taught us how this will play out. For any other proposed development on top of this triple-reinforced bomb-proof parking ramp, there will have to be extensive, expensive studies done to determine suitability of the parking ramp foundation for an alternate project. Then, the existing structure will not meet the architectural and aesthetic needs of the amazing vision of the next developer/confidence man, requiring expensive retrofit/reconstruction. All of this will be at taxpayer expense to pay for subcontractor consultation services and TIFs, as city building and legal departments will lack the expertise and/or bandwidth to do this work themselves, and we’ll have to bend over backwards to attract any developer to get involved with this frankenstein project, and bless our lucky stars if one hero sees enough profit to be made to step forward.

#5 Blasphemo on 05.14.19 at 10:17 pm

Daily Spin: you nailed it – “Why is it that the city is always eggs without hens to lay them?” You have to walk before you can run. Take care of all the sprawl you’ve already brought into being before you take on more. This ain’t a school, and the taxpayers aren’t teachers. You run for office…you apply for a municipal job or get promoted from one to another…you’re assumed to be a competent adult. Conduct yourself accordingly. You might get a shiny new toy to play with once you prove you can keep your room clean.

#6 Scott on 05.14.19 at 11:45 pm

Now I kid of hope our insipid former Mayor (or his tennis loving wife) was indeed an investor.

#7 D@ily Spin on 05.15.19 at 8:37 am

Brekke’s letter is true. The latest democrat to announce for President is Montana’s Governor. When asked who he thought was our worst enemy he stated OURSELVES. What’s been going on in federal government is troubling but city government is worse. Principles and practices for democracy have become distorted such that there’s signs of kleptocracy.
To be fair, I believe the Argus has stopped letters to the editor so they wouldn’t print the Brekke letter.

#8 D@ily Spin on 05.15.19 at 8:45 am

Wikipedia def.

KLEPTOCRACY is a government with corrupt leaders that use their power to exploit the people and natural resources of their own territory in order to extend their personal wealth and political powers. Typically, this system involves embezzlement of funds at the expense of the wider population.

#9 Blasphemo on 05.15.19 at 9:29 am

12+ hrs after Argus broke the ramp project cancellation news on their web site, not a word of this or copy of the related official press releases on the COSF web site or mayor’s Facebook page. Most recent News Release on COSF News Page : “North Lake Avenue will be closed between West Bailey Street and West Avenue” for 3 days. This is about a block long in front of Dow Rummel. Most recent news release on the COSF City Council home page is from 10/5/18. Three cheers for our johnny-on-the-spot Department of Innovation & Technology. They’re really on top of cutting edge “information technology”, huh?

#10 TAXPAYERS Taj Mahal of a Parking Ramp on 05.15.19 at 10:50 am

Will taxpayers ever hear the truth?

“Consistent with protecting taxpayer interests, the City has reserved any and all of its legal remedies available to it under the terms of the development agreement,” the city’s release said.

The four known guarantors for this project were:

Jeff Lamont
CEO, Lamont Companies

Larry Canfield
Canfield Business Interiors

Paul Cink, M.D.

Norm Drake
CEO and Senior Principal, Legacy Development

Others who have invested in this project: Unknown at this time.

The city (TAXPAYERS) paid a premium for the parking ramp because it was engineered and built to support the 15-story building.


$20,000,000/525 parking stalls = $38,095 PER STALL

The bottom line is that this project could NOT have moved forward without the YES votes of these six City Councilors:

Michelle Erpenbach
Term-limited 2018

Christine Erickson
At-Large Term expires 2022

Rick Kiley
Southeast District Term Expires 2022

Greg Neitzert
Northwest District **2020**

Rex Rolfing
Term-limited 2018

Marshall Selberg
Southwest District **2020**

#11 Ljl on 05.15.19 at 11:21 am

A lot of courage councilor Brekke and very well said. Too many are taking sides before the dialogue gets started.

I didn’t say it before because it felt like piling on. Tex holdings letter was well out of bounce BUT if his claims of begging stehly to be on the auditor group are true and she said no, I would be ashamed if I were theresa.

#12 anominous on 05.15.19 at 1:35 pm

Those 6 councilors got left holding MMM’s bag.

#13 scott on 05.15.19 at 2:39 pm

can or will the city be sued by anyone to find out who the unnamed investors are?

#14 l3wis on 05.15.19 at 3:14 pm

scott, I think we already know who the investors are, they seem to be the same peeps that scare cops at Tuthill Park late at night 🙂

#15 "Very Stable Genius" on 05.15.19 at 4:47 pm

Maybe they can shuttle pedal pubs from this new parking ramp to the Levitt.


#16 theresa stehly on 05.15.19 at 5:09 pm

Rex Rolfing asked me to be on the committee in the Spring during my heaviest workload of teaching.
I was already serving on several committees and Rolfing would not commit to the days and time commitment that would be demanded of this project. I did not want to commit to something I could not fulfill.

I have been serving on the Audit Committee this year.

The Rolfing issue has nothing to do with the selection/process/concerns of our internal Audit manager position.

#17 scott on 05.15.19 at 5:36 pm

if you’re saying that the investors are the same as the tuthill park shooter, does that open the city up to a major fraud lawsuit?

#18 LJL on 05.15.19 at 9:43 pm

Fair enough. I will take your word over Rex and his letter was clearly meant to be misleading.

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