Questions about the ownership of a strip of land within the Sioux Steel Co. site in downtown Sioux Falls has created a new, unexpected hurdle for the proposed $185 million redevelopment of the property.
The land in question was once a channel of the Big Sioux River and has ownership origins that stretch back beyond South Dakota statehood all the way to the presidency of Abraham Lincoln.
Archived press clippings appear to indicate that the channel that separated Seney Island from the western bank of the Big Sioux River was filled in and, along with the former island, was turned into usable land in the early 1900s. Sioux Steel Co. has owned and operated on the site since 1918.
Officials in the state School and Public Lands and Attorney General’s offices are reviewing maps, historic documents and other information to determine whether the state may have a claim of ownership to the strip of land.
I’m not naive, I’m sure the State will probably come back and say they don’t have rights to it, or if they do, sell it for very little coin. I know how palms are greased in Pierre.
But what makes this story frustrating is with all of the people from the Sioux Steel Company, Lloyd Company and the city’s planning office, NO one came across this possible conflict? It took a hobbyist in history to find it?
Not to mention that around $3.5 million has already been spent on planning this project and NONE of these questions were asked before passing a $20 million dollar TIF.
Sometimes I think developers in this town just fly by the seat of their pants, cross their fingers and hope things turn out.