Entries Tagged 'Bunker Ramp' ↓

Bunker Ramp Developer Proposals need to be made public

The Anti-Transparent government running city hall wants to move forward on the failed Bunker Ramp project with even less transparency than what got us in this pickle to begin with;

Powers and chief of staff Erica Beck also have updated the City Council multiple times, answered questions and solicited feedback.

“It’s important to note that some of the interest is because of the confidence we’ve been able to share with the industry and because of the collaboration between the administration and council,” Beck said. “We’ve been transparent that we’re conveying the questions, concerns and comments … and I think that will lead to a process and ultimately applications that may be more than what we first thought we might receive. We’ve received a lot of good feedback both internal and external of the city and state for that matter.”

The city plans to use a negotiated sale process to either sell or lease all or part of the site, including potentially the ramp itself.

A committee of city and community representatives will lead the evaluation process and make a recommendation. The team will start reviewing submissions in January, but there’s no hard deadline yet.

While there is certainly nothing wrong with an initial review process to boot out the ridiculous, underfunded and impossible, serious finalists and contenders need to present their proposals publicly to the city council during a special informational meeting as long as they meet investment criteria (a little problem we had the first time around).

It certainly sounds like to me a process has been set in place that will make the final decision of who takes over the property up to the non-elected planning staff, the non-elected mayor’s staff, the mayor himself and handed over to the council for rubber stamp approval.

And who can resist a property that has PLUMP utilities;

I would challenge the city council to demand that at least 3 finalists need to present publicly their plans to the council, and allow the council to have an up or down vote on those proposals.

As of right now, it would be like going to the shoe store and asking to see all of their running shoes they have in size 8, and the salesperson bringing out one pair from the store room stating, “These are our best shoes sir, you don’t need to worry about what else is in stock.”

One of the biggest reasons corruption and bad decisions are made not just locally but nationally is because those decisions are made in the dark with very little if any input from the public. Bring the public along this time and it could be less complicated.

As I have predicted, the developer will probably be a usual suspect that will get all the handouts and goodies anticipated with a deal like this. There will either be a much lower purchase price or lease agreement negotiated(?) and a tax break or TIF to boot. No developer in their right mind wouldn’t go after this opportunity WITHOUT asking for the full reach around from the city, and they will quickly oblige, heck it is even mentioned in the proposal online;

For property that is being considered for sale, the value of the property is established by a market value appraisal prepared by an independent appraiser hired and compensated by the City. Projects that will provide tangible public benefits may be eligible for various forms of financial assistance, such as tax increment financing (TIF) and property tax reduction. Consideration of the purchase/lease price, incentive request, or other request of the proposer will be weighed to determine the best project and offer to the City

In other words ‘just ask’ and you may get what you want.

Found on Facebook

The Bunker Ramp got its first mural submission. Not sure it lasted long 🙂

Mayor TenHaken proposing sale/lease agreement on Bunker Ramp BEFORE developer selected

As I have stated in the past, the selection of who takes over the Bunker Ramp will likely be a usual suspect, and probably already in the hopper. But all assumptions aside, the mayor has sponsored a resolution (Item #59) to put framework in place BEFORE the developer has been chosen. Cough, snicker, laugh, cough;

Background & Objective: This Resolution outlines the City Council support to consider both a lease and/or sale of the property at 140 E 10th Street (Parking Ramp site). It outlines the goals and expectations of any proposals that will be received through the Negotiated Sale process.

It seems this time around they are trying to get ahead of any questions about who is chosen. I look at this as a good thing, besides who is negotiating this sale, likely behind closed doors.

They still struggle with the concept of transparency, and if used the first time around (they had three bites at the apple) we wouldn’t be in this place.

There has been a lot of discussion about what went wrong with the original project, just like how did a slaughterhouse get approved without conditional use permits, why is homelessness and violent crime exploding and musical chair rotating video lottery casinos.

It seems this administration and council have learned very little from the past, but they are trying really, really, really hard (not to blow out the candles during their meetings).

Sioux Falls City Councilor Selberg should recuse himself from Bunker Ramp negotiations

During the informational this afternoon the council discussed what next to do with the Bunker Ramp;

A public parking ramp that took nearly a decade and more than $20 million to build in downtown Sioux Falls could be sold to a private developer.

During a Tuesday informational meeting at Carnegie Town Hall, city councilors urged Mayor Paul TenHaken’s administration to consider all options when picking a new partner to build at the Mall Avenue and 10th Street site.

And that includes selling the entirety of the seven-story ramp that opened in July 2020 and is equipped to handle up to eight additional stories. The site has gone undeveloped since a mixed-use parking ramp project fell apart in 2019.

I do agree with councilors that they should take the best deal and I also agree with councilor Soehl that we need to use a 3rd party to vet the investors properly. I am also partially in agreement with what councilor Merkouris said;

Rich Merkouris said he’s apprehensive about giving any tax breaks to the eventual buyer unless they use the space to add residential stock downtown.

“For me personally, I would struggle incentivizing anything outside of housing unless it was a part of the bigger package,” he said.

I would go a step further and say there should be NO incentives. Anyone who takes over this property is being given a site in a plum location with an opportunity to do well. The taxpayers have already incentivized this project, there is absolutely NO reason to hand out more candy. Find an honest free market developer who has a solid plan to make it successful, then you don’t need to worry about tax incentives. It was also pointed out it is in an opportunity zone which means there will be some incentives to build there without city tax payers help.

But what what really pissed me off was having councilor Selberg sit in on meetings and negotiations for future use. NO councilor that helped approve this pile of sh!t should be involved. It should either be handed over to a new councilor or Pat Starr who opposed this. It would be like hiring the guy who rear ended your car to fix it. Any councilor who approved this should not be in closed door meetings trying to cover up their mistakes. We need councilors with a clear conscience to negotiate this deal with a focus on hyper transparency.

These knuckleheads learn very little from past mistakes.

Lipstick on a pig

The new and improved city government failure;

Joe Kirby critiques Sioux Falls city government on his new blog

While there are many parts of the Home Rule Charter and Strong mayor form of government I don’t like, Joe’s perspective on its current status is spot on;

We intended that the city council would be a strong partner of the mayor. The council is a part time, legislative body with control of the purse strings. As the city charter says, “all powers of the city shall be vested in the city council.” We thought the council would provide the long-range policy guidance needed to complement the mayor’s focus on daily operations. While many incredible people have served on the city council over the past thirty years, it has never quite performed as we intended.

The council sometimes seems to lack a strong, separate identity. All too often, it has done little more than rubber stamp the mayor’s proposals, both good and bad. That has occasionally created big messes, such as the ugly and incomplete Village on the River project in downtown Sioux Falls.

That project was rushed through the approval process without much transparency or chance for public dialogue. Some city council members and many citizens raised good questions about it. A pause would have been appropriate, and perhaps likely if the council had been able to do its job right. Instead of the promised fifteen-story building housing two hotels and a bunch of retail, we are left with a homely seven story parking garage with an unclear future.

Oh, but it gets better, he brings up why we don’t need the mayor chairing meetings and breaking ties (a tie vote would result in failure of an item);

Another related problem with the city government model we put in place is that the demands on the mayor can sometimes be too great. Some mayors have told me the job can be overwhelming, especially when they must run city council meetings after a tough day at the office. Given all that, I think I know what would fix these problems.

We went too far in our effort to ensure strong, centralized leadership by the mayor. We failed to adequately separate the executive and legislative functions in city government. Of course, the mayor is the city’s chief executive. Unfortunately, we also provided that the mayor chairs city council meetings and even casts the deciding vote on ties. In short, the mayor has a large measure of control over the council. All things considered that was a mistake.

He outlines why it is important to separate the council from the mayor’s office;

Separation of powers provides necessary checks and balances on power. In government it is a tried-and-true way to avoid the pitfalls of an individual or group exercising too much power. Can you imagine the President having the power to run congressional sessions? Or the governor running the legislative session? Of course, that wouldn’t work well for federal or state government, just as it doesn’t in our city.

Based on what we have seen, I would amend the city charter to separate the executive and legislative branches of our city government. I have proposed this idea a couple of times to the charter review commission, but they aren’t interested. Inevitably, those who are part of the system aren’t motivated to rock the boat. As they say, “you can’t fight City Hall.”

Yeah, the CRC isn’t big on doing anything. Those meetings are a graveyard of good proposals.

I hope Joe continues blogging, and I hope he brings a petition forward to let voters decide if we should make these changes. Now is the time to take the mayor’s power away and return it to the council.

Another Bunker Ramp update. Let me guess, we have winner!

It has only been a couple of weeks since we were told they were going put lipstick on that gigantic concrete pig, now we are getting another update;

• Downtown Parking Ramp Update by Erica Beck, Chief of Staff

More than likely this is an update with the mural selection process, but you never know, they may have an interested party. A few months ago I heard a rumor that Councilor Neitzert was telling some constituents he wanted to do an investigation into how the Bunker Ramp got so messed up. I almost died laughing. I told this person we could save a lot of time if we just handed Greg a mirror.

They will also be amending the Shape Places;

• Shape Places Ordinance & Proposed Amendments by Jason Bieber, Senior Planner

I find the expedited timeline of getting these changes in place interesting. This means many of them have been in the works for months without the knowledge of the public or council.

Top Floor of Bunker Ramp CLOSED to the public

I noticed this winter that the top floor of the ramp was blocked off with vehicle barricades. Didn’t think much of it, figured the city was saving itself snow removal money by not having to clear it. But as Spring arrived, it was still closed off (to vehicles). I have continued to ride my bike to the top to take photos (like the one above) and was there tonight. As I was leaving a private security guard came barreling out of the elevator telling me I couldn’t be up there (on my bike). I said, “Why?” He seemed befuddled and said, “Because the city doesn’t want anyone up here.” I again asked, “Why?” He seemed more befuddled and said nothing, so I told him I would leave since I have more respect for rent-a-cops then I do for the regulars.

But I really want an answer to that question. Why is the top floor closed?

Maybe the city is afraid if people park on the top floor of the ramp they will become complacent and not want to park in the mostly unused other 6 floors 🙂

*If you haven’t been up there, it is an excellent place to snap photos of the Sioux Falls skyline.

The Bunker Ramp big reveal

The deputy mayor is coming out of hiding at Tuesday’s informational;

Downtown Ramp – Next Steps by Erica Beck, Chief of Staff

There are NO attached documents, so this mean several things;

• They found an interested party for developing the property

• They are looking for interested parties

• They want to consult the council on how to move forward

I have suspected for a while that there are several developers in the hopper waiting to pounce on the project and all they needed the city to do is handle the legal part.

Since the city doesn’t do RFPs anymore, the administration and planning can pick anyone they want to develop the property with ZERO input from the council and the public. I think they already have an interested party and this presentation is just smoke and mirrors to make it look like they are going thru a transparent process.

With the economy the way it is, I guarantee who ever wants the ramp is going to be asking for all kinds of tax incentives from the city to develop this property.

I also don’t have much confidence in this administration or council to do the right thing since they have been doing the wrong thing for so long when it comes to this disaster of a project. Two councils, two mayors, and a payout to the scammers says all we need to know about how the project will be handled moving forward.

Maybe when it is all said and done we will finally get a public apology from the public officials for this major f’up . . . followed by pigs flying from my ass.

An Unjust Ending to the Bunker Ramp Debacle

As I suspected yesterday, an announcement was made that a settlement was reached in the Bunker Ramp debacle.

But was it a good settlement for the taxpayers? Hardly.

Fortunately the only good thing to come from today’s announcement is that it is finally over and it took a mayor almost his entire first term to write a check from our bank account to a failed developer who defrauded us.

The developer(s) didn’t do it on their own, they had the help of two mayors and several former and current city councilors who have yet to apologize to us for the terrible decision they made based on fraudulent information and even obvious information that investing with this group was a bad idea.

I remember sitting in the council chambers listening to citizen (item #44) after citizen come to the podium and plead with the city council to not do this. But even after that initial approval, a second mayor had an opportunity to undue the bad decision of the last mayor and councilors.

He chose to steam ahead because the banksters and bondsters involved needed to make their buck from the bonds. We could have refused the bond and paid a fine and moved on.

Councilors Starr and Stehly tried to do just that and were scoffed at. I told Starr today if any taxpayer asks you about why this sloppy settlement was done this way all he has to say is, “I didn’t vote for it. Go talk to the councilors that did.”

But what makes this announcement even more egregious is listening to what the city attorney and mayor said about the settlement;

“For that reason, the settlement agreement includes reimbursement of $500,000 from the city of Sioux Falls to VRG for a portion of the hard costs it’s leaving on-site, and reimbursement of the $150,000 developer fee previously paid to the city,” TenHaken said.

What about the additional costs to taxpayers to seal off empty floors with cinder block since the developer never finished the project?

Also our litigations costs of $300K.

And why are we paying those costs and the cost of the settlement out of, I am assuming, the general fund? Shouldn’t it come out of the Parking Enterprise funds?

Like I said, glad this is finally kind of over with (we still need to find someone to complete it) but the way this was handled says tons and tons about how the majority of the city council and this mayor has ran this city the past four years . . . on perpetual cruise control and little else.