I will agree this will be a prime piece of land for development but not without many challenges.
The one thing it doesn’t need to be is another play palace or baseball stadium. This city has plenty of recreation opportunities. Heck, right across the street (Fairfax) there is a swimming pool and a future skatepark. I would even suggest we build a playground in the Northwest corner of Nelson Park.
As for ‘amenities’ does this area really need more restaurants, bars and shopping opportunities? Not at all, it is surrounded by dozens of restaurants and only a short distance from a grocery store and Lewis Drug.
I would suggest filling the area with affordable and workforce housing constructing hundreds of units that are studios, 1-bedrooms and 2-bedroom flats for younger folks just getting started in the workforce.
But it will need to be propped up;
TenHaken said it is “very likely” the city will ultimately purchase the land, though, and will then decide on negotiating sales or leases to private developers.
That is not his decision to make alone. While he certainly can negotiate (we saw how well that went with the 6th street Bunker bridge) the ultimate decision comes to the council. I know I will regret saying this, but this would be a great place to have a TIF instead of just a buyout from the city. The city could come in and use the TIF to build up all the infrastructure needed to put in such a large housing project, or take an even more daring approach and skip the TIF all together and just budget for the infrastructure taking out the tax rebate equation all together. If Riverline gets the investors and proves they are secure the city can hold up their end of the bargain by preparing the property with sewer, water, roads and other utilities without expensive TIFs and land purchases it would simply be a line item in the budget.
When we pay our 2nd penny in Sioux Falls it should be going towards infrastructure. There is absolutely NO reason the city needs to get into the real estate or tax rebate business on this one. It could be a lot easier then concocting deals. We provide the infrastructure the private investors provide the housing.
Often when there is development in Sioux Falls, anywhere, I ask ‘What is the benefit to the average citizen?’ We are often told that new development helps build up the tax base, but every year we continue to raise the property taxes on 3 levels (county, city and school). If all this development is increasing our tax base, why do we continue to raise taxes? Because of all the play palaces we are subsidizing.
There is ONE benefit to taxpayers, especially those who live in the area (I live 4 blocks away) if any kind of housing is to be put in this area it will border one of the most active and LOUDEST train tracks in the city. The trains are going nowhere. We would need to build a quiet zone in this area in order to make the housing work. I should know, I hear the train whistles all hours of the night since this is the most active thoroughfare.
While Riverline has challenges the city could make this very easy and painless by simply getting out of the way after building up the infrastructure. Of course that isn’t as sexy as having press conferences and talking about complicated land swaps and baseball stadiums that we DON’T need. Sometimes the best thing government can do with projects like this is get the f’ck out of the way and let the private sector offer a solution.
As I have said in the past, most smaller developers and contractors in this city take NO city subsidies. How is it that the little guy has figured out how to make a buck but the big guys are always begging at the trough?
If the city moves forward with a land purchase deal I would suggest the voters of Sioux Falls refer it to a public vote and break this cycle of waste and bureaucracy.