Entries Tagged 'Developers' ↓

TenHaken interview reveals his lack of leadership

The first thing he does in this interview is blame the last guy for the problems with the Bunker Ramp. While there is ‘some’ truth to that, he could have put the brakes on immediately after he took office, instead he took a piece of toilet paper signed by developers that said they were good for the money.

Then he says he doesn’t want to do an audit until after it is finished, while that is SOP, and I get it from a financial standpoint, there is NOTHING stopping him from looking into what went wrong RIGHT NOW. That doesn’t take an audit to achieve, it requires him doing his job as the city manager and city employees boss (his main job according to charter) and putting a boot up their butts or at least a stern talking to and get them on investigating what went wrong before we sign on the dotted line for another developer to finish it.

He once again fails to lead.

I really believe one of the reasons the deal fell through towards the end is because of the Sioux Steel development and potential for a TIF funded parking ramp.

This is pure speculation of course, but think about it for a moment, what if they would have allowed the Bunker Ramp Hotel to be ‘scaled back’ and finished? That means a nice hotel in the center of our downtown would have opened at least a year before the Sioux Steel Hotel and Convention Center. Things that make you go hmmmmmm. I won’t get into all the players involved, but something smells funny here.

Towards the end of the interview, PTH continues to blabber about charging non-profits for police assistance, China and Kermit.

UPDATE: The ‘TIF’ Threat

I still remember attending the open house about the Sioux Steel Development at Josiah’s. Many people from the public offered their opinions at the meeting, as did I. I remember telling them it was a great idea, but I advised them to ‘go it alone’ and not get the city involved. I remember Rysdons’ incredulous look. Shocker! They didn’t take my advice.

It’s like the playbook never changes, when a developer in Sioux Falls wants a TIF they use the tired old threat,

Right now, the Sioux Steel site is valued at about $3.1 million by the county equalization office, resulting in an annual tax bill of $57,000. When the project is complete, the anticipated property tax payment would be around $1.58 million a year.

That equates to a 14 YEAR TAX BREAK!

Without it, parking to service the businesses included in the vision would likely be scaled down to surface parking lots, said Jake Quasney, executive vice president of development for Lloyd Cos.

“What would happen if we didn’t do the parking ramp, we’d build a scaled down version of the hotel and conference center, maybe some apartments and some surface parking,” he said.

Oh Well?

These are private developers that are already getting around $10 million from taxpayers to upgrade the river greenway along their property (something else I’m opposed to – because I think the city should just sell them Kiwanis Park and let them ‘upgrade it’). They are also ‘Private’. Why should the city be concerned if they scale back the project? Which brings us to another interesting factor. As we are trying to get the EC campus to get it’s poop in a group so the CVB (that we fund) can bring in more conventions, this private development wants to build a convention center, downtown. While I will applaud them, because it is a great idea, it is still private. So why would we give property tax rebates to a private development that will be competing with taxpayers for conventions? It is insane! It would be like paying Wild Water West to accept the City of Sioux Falls pool passes!

In this ARTICLE and STUDY they lay out what TIF’s really do;

“On average, [TIF] may be moving development from one part of the city to another, and changing the timing of the development, but there’s not more development than would have otherwise been made,” Merriman said.

Basically he is saying that you are robbing Peter to pay Paul. As I have argued, the development will happen anyway – with or without the TIF.

In addition, this is a tool with several drawbacks. According to Merriman, TIFs might “capture” some tax revenue above the capped “base value” that may have been generated anyway through natural appreciation in property values if the TIF hadn’t been created. This is money that taxpayers might have otherwise paid directly towards an overlapping school district, or for public services. And while TIF is not a direct tax increase, it may lead to higher rates or service cuts elsewhere, if the city plans on bringing in the same general property tax revenue as before TIF.

In other words, while this PRIVATE developer is getting a massive 14 year tax break, the rest of us are paying higher taxes to support it. Even with provable economic impact, those higher taxes for the rest of us don’t offset what benefit we would get from it. In other words the only one who is really benefitting is the developer.

Also take note that we have bonded for several major projects recently, the Denty, the City Admin Building, the Bunker Ramp, the new jail, the new schools and very soon the public safety training facility and water plant. At rough estimates that is about $680 million in new bonds over a short period of time with a payoff amount exceeding $1 Billion.

There is something else developers and city leaders like about TIFs;

Perhaps the biggest concern with TIF, though, is that of transparency, because of the way this mechanism effectively bypasses the public municipal budget process.

“Once a TIF is created, the operation of a TIF receives less scrutiny than other spending,” Merriman said.

In other words the public is essentially left out of that process and is usually given ZERO evidence that it will help us. But in this town, we love closed door deals, 5G is a great example of this.

Not everything about TIFs is bad, if used properly;

But TIF is good for sparking public-private partnerships that may help fund useful infrastructure that may not otherwise be appealing to investors, such as raising the height of a bridge tunnel so it can carry large trucks, for example. In the report, Merriman recommends several ways to use this tool more effectively, and make it easier for policymakers and researchers to evaluate. Most important: Cities needs to be more transparent about how they are using TIF. It’s not a magic free-money generator.

“It’s a concern about why those decisions are being made,” he said, “and why there’s a public subsidy for development that might have occurred even without the subsidy.”

So is the Sioux Steel development giving Sioux Falls residents something we need to improve quality of life and infrastructure? Not one iota. In fact the infrastructure upgrades to the river greenway along this development is being paid for by us. I would even be willing to gift the development the river greenway land, give them a smaller TIF, and have them upgrade it. There the taxpayers would benefit.

I also enjoyed this little tidbit;

The ramp portion of the project is estimated to cost about $22.6 million.

So they are going to build another Bunker Ramp downtown for about $25K a space. How is this possible? I will tell you – BECAUSE THAT IS THE F’ING GOING RATE! Never mind that hand soap sanitizer man child Neitzert has told you different. The cost for the Bunker Ramp was incredibly inflated and we said it from the beginning. With the new codes in place they will have to build this facility with the proper lighting, fire suppression and generator power – just like the bunker ramp.

I will say this, I think the concept of this development is fantastic, and I commend them on it, but like most things ‘FREE ENTERPRISE’ I also believe they can sink or swim on their own. TIF or NO TIF, it will be successful, and they know it, they just want to save a little money, that is obvious. I encourage every single public servant who is voting on this to request a comprehensive TIF study in Sioux Falls on economic impact and workforce development. I would even go so far to say that the city pays for it and has one of our public universities do it. It seems like when we ask for TIFs in Sioux Falls, it is all based on a whim, and NOT reality. Don’t be suckered by the ‘threats’. Make the one’s asking provide the evidence that this will help us. I already know the answer and this is why they avoid the study.

UPDATE: I see they are bringing out the ‘big guns’ on this, employing everyone in the (paid) media to tell us that this is a partnership with the community;

Both current downtown redevelopment projects require some level of partnership with our city government. In the case of the rail yard development, the city is being asked to sell land. In the case of the Sioux Steel development, the city is being asked to approve tax increment financing.

It sure is a partnership. The developer gets a gigantic tax break and all of our taxes continue to go up. Who wouldn’t be for this kind of ‘partnership’? Comparing the railyard project to getting a TIF is hardly a comparison. Did we get what we wanted for the land? Nope. But that was never going to happen. I think it is wise for the city to liquidate property so it can start generating tax revenue. Unlike what they did with Phillips to the Falls where the city ‘sat on’ land and held it for 11 years for a developer. They were never going to sell it to anyone else. And surprise, surprise, the same the developer is going to the trough once again.

It will be fun to watch the predictability of how this will play out. They asked for $21 million, but the city will come back and say we will give you ‘X’ amount instead. Then the city will brag about how they negotiated a better deal. It’s the old bait and switch the energy companies have been playing for years with rate increases. They always ask for double of what they really want or need then make it look like they cut a deal with the PUC. Old’s trick in the book, and our elected officials fall for it everytime.

VILE comments about Councilor Stehly on FB

During the joint Minnehaha County/Sioux Falls City Council Meeting yesterday, Councilor Stehly suggested that we need more mobile home parks in Sioux Falls. I have heard Stehly talk about this in the past. What she is essentially saying is we need to promote more affordable housing solutions for people in Sioux Falls. Whether that is mobile homes, tiny homes, smaller manufactured homes, etc. A new, modest family home in Sioux Falls will run you well over $250K. Other affordable pre-owned housing will run you around $150K, but those houses are few and far between in Sioux Falls. One reason is we allow the major developers and hospitals run the planning department. They admitted to it when I attended the Citizen Planning Academy a few years ago when an attendee asked why Sanford Hospital is allowed to tear up these affordable neighborhoods, the answer was it came down to ‘money’. They have a lot of it, so they get to do what they want to. Many people are being ‘priced out’ of housing in Sioux Falls, and all Stehly was asking for is options.

That didn’t stop this frequent commenter and A-Rod on Pitty Patt’s blog to comment on FB that suggesting more mobile homes or other affordable housing is ‘Stupid’. I just want to tell ‘Troy’ that the only thing that is ‘stupid’ is the greed of people like him. I can tell you why contractors are not building affordable housing in Sioux Falls – there’s no excessive profit in it.

Speaking of ‘Dead Jensen’ (My new nickname for him) his all knowing treasurer, Paulson, sent out this fundraising email the other day;

Good afternoon –

Over the last couple of years, I’ve become increasingly interested in local political issues. Your local city and county governments have a significantly higher influence on your day-to-day life than your state or federal government. They maintain infrastructure, build public amenities such as parks and bike trails and foster future economic development. Because of the role local government plays in our lives, I think it’s incredibly important to have a solid mayor, city council and county commissioners. 

This election cycle, I am backing candidates in Sioux Falls that will support future growth in the city, work collaboratively with stakeholders across government and private industry and put the best interests of the community first. Specifically, I have agreed to serve as the campaign treasurer for Alex Jensen who is running for the At Large position (currently held by Theresa Stehly) in next Spring’s city council election.

Alex is one of the most positive, sharp and community-minded people I know and he will be a fantastic addition to the city council. He and his wife Nikki just welcomed a son (Jack) into the world. Alex works as a business banker for First Premier and has volunteered with the YMCA, Junior Achievement, the Home Builders Association of the Sioux Empire and Faith Lutheran Church. He previously served in the state legislature where he voted to increase teacher pay, provide property tax relief and implement a new roads and infrastructure plan. 

There aren’t many politicians I get excited about, but Alex is one of the good ones. Alex hopes to reach every voter in Sioux Falls with his “positive and proven” message. I plan to give my all over the next five months to help get him elected and hope that you will consider helping too. 

Thank you for your consideration. 

Matthew Paulson

I think it will be funny if ‘Dead Jensen’ raises and spends $100K+ and Stehly decides NOT to run. It will show that apparently it costs $100K in Sioux Falls to just get on the city council without a competitor.

UPDATE: Sioux Steel Development wants to get a TIF, as we suspected

UPDATE: You will see in the Planning Commission Working Session on December 3, they are already going to be talking about the TIF for the Sioux Steel Development. They will try to ramrod this TIF through as fast as they can before anyone notices what is going on.

I will stick with my main four arguments against this TIF;

• Free Enterprise and Capitalism. I think this development will do just fine with private investment and doesn’t need any tax rebates. It is just corporate welfare.

• The development is already going to receive around $10 million in tax payer subsidies from the River Greenway upgrades.

• Sioux Steel is moving all of their operations out of Sioux Falls to Lennox and replacing those good manufacturing jobs with low paying hospitality jobs.

• TIFs have yet to be proven they improve the overall economy of Sioux Falls. Oh, sure, they help the bottom line of the developer, but NO comprehensive study has ever been done in Sioux Falls showing TIFs pay for themselves in economic impact or workforce development. All they really do is raise taxes on the rest of us.

It will be interesting to hear the arguments as to why they need this TIF. It also will be interesting to hear how they are building a parking ramp twice the size of the bunker ramp for the same price.

The rumors were true, the Sioux Steel development is asking for $21.5 million in a TIF for their project they are coordinating with Lloyd Companies. They say it will be used to offset the costs of an 8 story parking ramp with over 900 stalls. Interesting they can build a parking ramp twice the size of our bunker ramp for the same price.

This is the area we should have put the bunker ramp to begin with. So now they want a tax rebate to build a parking ramp when we will have an empty one sitting downtown.

And isn’t the timing of this project also interesting? Suddenly the city didn’t want to work with Lamont so they breached the contract and now ‘another’ hotel is being announced DTSF that wants a tax rebate to build a parking ramp. And isn’t it interesting that the Mayor’s COS used to work for the developer who is working on the project and is considered an expert in writing TIFs?

As for the TIF, you know my feelings on them. They have yet to prove that the TIFs that already exist in Sioux Falls or ones we may grant have ever helped our economy. They have certainly done one thing, raised property taxes on the rest of us. And every time I have asked to show evidence all I hear is crickets. Even if I was for TIFs, I would certainly question why this development needs one? We are already going to invest $10 million in the river greenway along this development (essentially paying for their riverside landscaping and curb appeal, walkways and bike trail upgrades).

But the biggest reason we should oppose the TIF is that Sioux Steel will probably be moving all of their Sioux Falls operations to Lennox and NOT relocating in Sioux Falls. Why would we reward them with a TIF as they are taking their manufacturing business elsewhere and replacing it with low paying hospitality jobs?

Of course, most of the council will support this, and probably will give us NO evidence that TIFs work. That’s because the evidence doesn’t exist.

Sioux Falls Bunker Ramp, the gift that keeps giving

I think I have already written that headline . . . a couple of times. Yes folks, the lawsuits keep adding up. Now a neighbor is pissed about this unsightly project;

The owners of a neighboring building just east of the Sioux Falls parking ramp, which was supposed to become a mixed-use facility, are serving notice to the City that they may sue because the project fell through.

River Centre at 200 E. 10th Street has several owners. Earthbend Properties, LLC and Riverview Holdings, LLC, which both have interest in the building, claim the City’s failure to complete the mixed-use portion of the project has caused them a loss in business and the value of their property to go down.

This is the building to the east. I think they are suing because the bunker ramp is uglier then their building, that’s my guess anyway.

I can’t even write angry rants about this anymore because it is turning into the worst decision city elected officials (and unelected officials) ever made, and when they had an opportunity to fix it, they made more bad decisions. And get this, no one has apologized yet. Not only is Trump running our healthcare institutions in Sioux Falls, apparently he is running city government to. I’m just waiting for one of the RS5 councilors to come out and say, “My vote on the Bunker Ramp was PERFECT!”.

Sioux Falls Planning Commission Agenda, Aug 7, 2019, 6PM

A real mixed bag next Wednesday.

Item#2, A-C, The city plans on some rezones to create a bunch of detention ponds.

Item#2D, okay, I’m no home designer, but in order to qualify as a ‘Twin Home’ shouldn’t the houses be attached to each other? Just look at the plans, only the garages share a wall. Weird.

Item#2E, I guess Lloyd Companies bought the old Bowden Youth Center and are going to covert into apartments and offices.

Item#5B, A property owner is trying to convert the old Bob’s Café building into a Casino. Not only is it a bad location next to neighborhood homes, we don’t need anymore casinos in this town. When is the state legislature finally going to repeal this scourge on our society?

Item#5D, you know the house across from Avera that Avera said needed be torn down? John Koch is converting into apartments for temporary nurses for Avera, and Avera is loaning 3 parking spots to the complex. Funny how these things work out.

Item#5F, another casino, this time at Lake Lorraine. What retail mega-plex in Sioux Falls wouldn’t be complete without a casino! This one the planning department says is OK. Besides, it’s close to an assisted living center, they shouldn’t have to take an Uber or Paratransit to gamble.

Item#5G, the old Shopko on East 10th is becoming a car lot. I know, shocking!

Item#7, The Planning Department came up with a new flowchart to let us know how redevelopment works.

Covering up the Bunker Ramp mistake with a mural is insulting

As a fine artist and graphic artist I have been asked to do some unusual projects. Most of the time, you are asked to sell something. I told a frequent SculptureWalk artist last year that was kind of the purpose of SW, to promote Downtown and sell more beer and pizza. He didn’t take kindly to my words. I’ve gotten to do some fun projects like creating logos and t-shirt art for Jazzfest or designing posters for ZombieWalk and the SF Roller Dollz. Most of the time, these projects are not only fun, but for the betterment of the community, then I read this;

Erica Beck, chief of staff in the mayor’s office, said the TenHaken administration is taking “more intentional focus” on culture and arts through all of downtown, including murals.

The south side of the city’s new parking ramp, which faces one of the busiest thoroughfares downtown and sits on the busiest corner in the neighborhood, is an ideal candidate for a mural, she said.

I have been very vocal for years that DTSF needs to implement a public art/mural program. I have even went so far to say that spending millions on one sculpture was shortsighted and the money could have been more wisely spent on implementing hundreds of small art projects and murals downtown. Where I draw the line is when government wants to use the talents of artists to essentially cover up a massive mistake. If we paint a mural on one the most incompetent decisions our city government has ever made, what kind of message are we sending to the public and artists? When government screws the pooch, we’ll just paint over it?

If the city chooses to spend a large chunk of money on a mural for the bunker ramp (something that could cost between $30-60K) we are sending the wrong message to taxpayers. What’s next? A mural on the Denty to cover up the bad siding?

I think we should leave the ugly Southside of the bunker ramp ‘as is’ for a constant reminder of how badly things can get when our supposed leaders are not paying attention. In fact, I think we should paint the names of the city councilors, mayors, and city employees responsible for this huge mistake.

A more appropriate solution would be a temporary large scale banner wrap, you could even make it cost neutral by selling advertising on it or to put out important public service announcements, historical images or even just artistic in nature. While they used to be quite expensive, they are very reasonable these days.

Redevelopment of the Core should have started a decade ago

I have been a follower of Strongtowns for almost 10 years now, and tried to bring Chuck into speak about 7 years ago but couldn’t scrounge up a sponsorship. I’m happy to see people trying to embrace their thinking, but I think we need to play some serious catchup.

Jodi makes a good point in her Sunday column today;

But I think a renewed focus on improving existing housing stock, redeveloping core neighborhoods and investing in infrastructure and amenities that draw people to those neighborhoods could help.

Help?! I have been pleading with city councilors for over a decade to implement a core neighborhood revitalization program through re-allocating TIF rebates to individual homeowners and small apartment owners in our core neighborhoods. It could be a multi-tier program that gives property tax rebates for certain kinds of upgrades as well as using federal grants and community development loans. While we are in the middle of a crisis right now in SF when it comes to affordable housing because we have allowed realtors and developers artificially inflate the market. We can’t cry over what we should have done, we need to implement these programs ASAP to save our core neighborhoods while creating abundant affordable housing.

What’s happening with the apartments by Sunshine GS Downtown?

As you may or may not know, the apartments are being built by Legacy Development, the same business involved with the Parking Ramp Debacle and collapse of Copper Lounge.

I do believe the project also got some Federal tax incentives(?)

Almost every night I ride my bike through DTSF to look at how progress is going on various projects. This week Raven tore down the old building by their parking lot and they have been working on the donor wall at the Arc of Dreams (which is funny because they built a concrete block wall a single block wide, then attached cut quartzite to the concrete block. Why not just use solid quartzite? Weird.

But the one thing I have noticed is the Legacy apartment project has been hardly touched for several weeks. In fact the plywood and studs that are exposed are starting to dis-color with all the rain and heat.

I have a city official looking into the progress and hope to give an update.

The Signage is up?