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.

9 Thoughts on “The Riverline District needs to be housing, and that’s it.

  1. The Guy From Guernsey on February 1, 2023 at 11:37 am said:

    “… but this would be a great place to have a TIF instead of just a buyout from the city.”

    Why not both?

    ‘Cuz you know that is the direction toward which this thing is traveling!

  2. And with the precedent the city council set with the Bunker twins (ramp and bridge) they will most likely roll over like old dogs and approve the mayor’s deal. I know we don’t pay them much for their part-time positions but they really need to engage their brains once and awhile.

  3. Prime opportunity here to help the citizens and workforce as mentioned. However, this Mayor sees nothing but $ signs and a chance to earn another gold star from developer friends.

  4. Mike Lee Zitterich on February 2, 2023 at 7:47 am said:

    Part of the conditions laid out in the transfer of the land from the previous landowner (property holders) will play a key role in the agreements made forward to develop the land. I do agree with Scott, that TIFS seem to be a key ingredient here as for the City to utilize to bind the private developers to a specific agenda for the area.

    We should as a community stop playing this game of accusations, slandering each other on social media, we are all human, make mistakes over our life times, ‘we’ learn from them and move forward in a positive manner.

    I would not call the 6th Street Bridge a bunker, due to the fact this project was planned way back in 2010 if not sooner – the city council new back then what the plan was to replace the 6th Street Bridge, and by delaying it over the years, they had to know that the price would go up over time, as is the case, it has gone from $5 million, to 10 million to now being part of an over all project worth as much as $21 million mostly due to probally their own COVID Policies.

    COVID has ruined many small businesses, let alone the economy itself, it has created supply shortages, despite the demand for the work to be done, which has today, raised our prices …

    Some of us now believe, this was the intent all along with COVID – to allow big businesses to succeed, while small businesses now fail – today, we have seen restaurants closed, small car dealerships struggle, other small businesses have also been hurting, but in the end, look where all the wealth has been incorporated – Multi-National Corporations, who were allowed to remain open.

    Even the CHURCHES are upset, and today, have all organized behind the thought of giving up their Tax Emxemptions, in trade, they can NOW get more politically motivated, to restore our morals, values, and righteous behaviors.

  5. My Mistake Mike on February 2, 2023 at 9:44 am said:

    Will Riverline be surrounded by a tall chain link fence, like Handy Man across the street, to keep the panhandlers and thieves out?

    It should be noted that Drake Springs took its name from the natural underground springs in that area. They still exist. This is why private developers passed on previous opportunities. While I hope something cool comes of this proposal, they have a lot of hurdles to overcome.

  6. Johnny Roastbeff on February 2, 2023 at 10:01 am said:

    A downtown baseball stadium would be boss.

  7. D@ily Spin on February 2, 2023 at 11:11 am said:

    The city should stay out of the real estate business. Past deals were failures. Even when they don’t pay real estate taxes and do not have to show a profit, they melt future tax dollars with repairs and future ideology.

  8. And how are the numbers of students in the schools assigned for those living in downtown? Our schools are already overpopulated and the city continues to cram massive amounts of multi-family homes and large apartment units which is going to greatly impact numbers in the schools.

    Growth in this city needs to be slowed down until infrastructure (schools, roads, housing, etc) can handle it rather than the city just trying to cram as many taxpayers as possible into the city for sake of increasing their wallets without caring about the taxpayers who already live here having the infrastructure that ever-increasing tax rates are SUPPOSED to be already covering.

  9. Very Stable Genius on February 5, 2023 at 2:06 pm said:

    Riverline District, East Bank, the Steel District, Village by the River, Pettigrew Heights, Taupeville, Bunkerville, but what kind of name should we give the new hog plant?….. Smithfield & Beyond? #SouthSiouxCityIsJealous

    ( and Woodstock adds: “How about Stratford-upon-Swine?”….)

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