Entries Tagged 'Developers' ↓

Mayor TenHaken needs to stop mansplaining and take action in public view

It’s rare that I give Mayor Poops props, but he made some interesting comments about density and our core (FF 12:00). The only problem is that he has had more then 3 years to do something with the help of the do-nothing council. He mentions that we need to do a better job of building density in our core. DING! DING! DING! This wasn’t the first Mayor to try to mansplain this issue. Mayor Munson actually took a stab at it when he created the Pettigrew Heights neighborhood and started the rebuilding of Downtown. The problem was when Bucktooth & Bowlcut took the baton he just focused on the immediate Downtown. Fast forward to Paul and the story behind the scenes is that he has been talking to core property owners around the downtown area, the problem, as rumor would have it is that Paul wants to try to strong arm these owners into selling property to the city so he can bulldoze it and turn it around to his rich developer friends. This is what happens when you have a COS that used to be a developer executive. Most of those owners have told them they will redevelop on their own without the help of the city.

The bigger issue with this is that the public, the city council and these owners all need to come to the table and put together a strategy, and the process needs to be very open and transparent. Right now those meetings, like the MED MJ ordinance discussions are happening behind closed doors, and as I understand it are failing miserably.

I’m not sure what it will take to get this mayor to understand open government, he just doesn’t, and neither does the council or the city attorney’s office.

The only way we will will ever succeed with this core redevelopment is if we open the books, unfortunately I don’t think that will ever happen with the current administration.

Sioux Falls Rubberstamp City Council passes $25 Million Dollar Corporate Welfare TIF Tax Rebate to wealthy developer with ZERO discussion

While the almost 5 hour meeting last night had many fireworks from the Med MJ ordinance discussion (this was only 1st Reading) towards the beginning of the meeting they approved TIF #25 with almost zero discussion (they moved it up so the VIP wealthy developer getting a handout wouldn’t have to sit thru all the people’s REAL business).

Besides the same lame brain presentation from the Planning Director about the TIF itself only one speaker emerged to defend the TIF, and it wasn’t the developer. In fact the developer has said NOTHING about the TIF except when he made a presentation to the council at an informational meeting. His daughter did say a handful of words when the Planning Commission approved the TIF, but the developer himself has said NOTHING at the 2 readings of this ordinance. Not even a please and thank you for getting this handout that the rest of SF property tax payers will have to make up for. Of course, why should he? All of those negotiations were done in secret over the past several years, this is also why you didn’t hear a peep from the councilors either, just a gigantic sound of 7 whaps on the dais with a rubber stamp. (Marshall Selberg was absent)

Wouldn’t it be great if getting food stamps was that easy?

So who was the only defender last night? Joe Batcheller, Director of Downtown Sioux Falls. While Joe and I are on good terms, even if I disagree with him about bringing snakes to outdoor events (he thinks it is fine) 😊 we also disagree on TIFs. As a trained urban planner, Joe adamantly thinks they are good thing. He also even makes the tired old argument I hear councilors make ‘TIFs may not work well in other communities, but golly gee they work great here’. The problem with the argument is that we have NO economic or financial evidence of that, NO studies have been done on TIFs in SF or SD that shows an actual benefit to the public.

Which brings us to another point Joe made. He said this TIF was justified because we are getting a Return on Investment (ROI). I’m not sure a parking ramp (this is what most of the TIF will be spent on) that can only be used by the public on nights and weekends is much of an ROI when you consider that the Bunker Ramp is mostly empty at night and barely filled during the day, we will have another parking ramp sitting at the Sioux Steel Project and my long term argument is parking ramps really probably won’t be needed in the next decade. The irony of it all is that by the time this TIF runs out in approximately 20 years, it will probably NOT be a parking ramp.

The King of Sioux Falls TIFs himself (Stormland TV Screenshot)

Joe also made the argument that TIFs are not ‘Handouts’. I’m not sure what else you would call them. TIFs are essentially a tax rebate you get to use on your private property. The developer builds a parking ramp that they will be using during the day, and likely charge for access and they get that ramp paid for by getting a rebate on the $25 million dollar taxes they are supposed to be paying to the county, the school district and the city while raising taxes on the rest of us due to the total valuation of the project. It would be like you personally getting a $500 dollar property tax rebate to fix your front door. While that benefits YOUR property, it has very little benefit to the tax payers who have to pay their full tax bill, while also supplementing your rebate. Sure they throw us a few crumbs saying the TIF will also build roads (to their private project, to their benefit) and we get to use the parking for the Levitt (even though I have yet to see a parking issue at the concerts even when the lawn is packed) the true beneficiary of this REBATE is the developer and his investors, this is why it truly is a HANDOUT.

The most egregious part about the almost $200 million dollars in TIFs the city council has gleefully handed out this year is that this could ALL be done with private investment. The money is there. It has been proven by the past decade of record breaking building permits that have been issued to contractors in this city who have asked for ZERO tax breaks. Besides the public building permits, I think most of the private permits issued by the planning department are 100% privately funded. It would be a great presentation and study done by our Planning Department, but of course that would shoot holes in the whole NEEDING TIFs to succeed in Sioux Falls. Believe it or not, I think that is fantastic that private business, can invest privately while providing good jobs without a government HANDOUT.

Which brings us to Joe’s last point, that was so ridiculous when he said it, I laughed for about 5 minutes. Joe said it was important to remember that Cherapa II’s developer was taking on 100% of the risk for this approximately $350 million dollar project.

Really Joe?!!!  He should be commended for that after getting this handout from the city?

Isn’t that how the Free Market system is supposed to work? Oh never mind, in Sioux Falls it’s called Developer Socialism. You give us massive tax breaks and we will make sure we spend it on us and never present data that shows otherwise.

And lastly, Jeff, a Thank You would have been nice.

Are Sioux Falls Developers angling to push residents out of the zoning process?

The Argus did a story about how homeowners are not real keen on having apartments built next to them out in the burbs;

“This sentiment that apartment owners and apartment dwellers are scumbags has got to stop in this community,” said Councilor Christine Erickson. “It’s just not what it is.”

I guess it depends on the location and the condition of the apartment. There is also a difference between $1,100 dollar a month apartments and HUD subsidized housing. I agree with Erickson, apartment dwellers who pay their own rent are NOT scumbags, and this city should do everything in their power to encourage more apartment dwellings for working folks.

The problem here is NOT the homeowners complaining, the problem is the location of the apartments. The large developers want to make a quick buck, so they prefer to build next to homes in a cornfield instead of in the core of the city where we should be building up density. This is what happens when you allow a hospital to bulldoze an entire core neighborhood instead fixing up these core neighborhoods. I know, I sound like a broken record.

As for the neighbors complaining, some of their statements are pretty ignorant. I lived in 7 different apartments in Sioux Falls before I bought my home, there was nothing wrong with it, and there is nothing wrong with me living by apartments now in my home. The bigger issue with these ignorant (and sometimes racist) complaints is that it is helping the developers that are pushing to skip several steps in the zoning process;

There’s always been hesitation from neighbors when they hear an apartment could be going up nearby, said Jill Madsen, vice-chair of the South Dakota Multi-housing Association.

But once all the meetings and votes are done, the construction is completed and the tenants have moved in, she said, “most people don’t even … there aren’t any issues going forward.”

There has been a rumor going around that this organization along with developers are pushing to change city ordinances and state law so that developers no longer have to ask for permission from the neighbors and can just go directly to the planning office to rezone the property and get building permits. No notification and no neighborhood meetings. This of course goes against how things have always been done, but it also lacks transparency. The proponents of this supposed change will of course use all the dreadful comments from homeowners to plead their case for less transparency and essentially ruin the process for the rest of us.

I have felt the planning department has wanted to sidestep the commission and council on a whole host of things. Just look at TIFs, they used to be for only blight and affordable housing until the state legislature changed the law to pretty much make them for anything, and since then they have been handing them out like candy in Sioux Falls, raising the taxes on the rest of us while getting NO economic benefit from the projects. If we allow the state legislature to make these new guidelines you will see apartments go up on every street corner and rent go through the roof;

With a housing market that’s often pricing out even those lucky enough to actually find a home for sale and multiple companies touting the thousands of jobs they hope to bring to Sioux Falls in just the next five years, city staff say qualms about multi-family housing simply don’t mesh with the reality of what the city of nearly 200,000 people needs.

The city administration is getting nervous because they have enticed all these employers with ridiculous tax breaks and now they have no workers and no place for them to live, so they will try any desperate attempt to get up apartments as fast as possible. I have also felt that homebuilders and realtors have artificially inflated home prices, which is going on across the country. The value of my home went up around 37% in ONE YEAR!

I can almost guarantee the Amazon parking lot will be one big campground when it opens.

Slow, measured growth is way better than the fire sale we have been having. Growth for growth sakes never turns out well, and we are in for quite a ride over the next few years.

Fargo, ND developer still invests in project after City denies TIF

So you mean some cities still believe in the FREE Market and private investment;

Earlier this year, the Fargo City Commission declined Hyde’s request for $5 million in tax increment financing for site development for the project but he says he was able to negotiate both a lower price for the property and the bid for site work and was able to get the model to still work.

Pretty crazy how the developer could figure out a way to invest in the property even after the TIF was denied. Even this story from September 2020 shows how Amazon turned down incentives in Fargo;

Amazon has reportedly not asked for any local tax breaks.

While Amazon technically didn’t get direct TIFs or tax breaks from the City of Sioux Falls either, the park they are at has gotten millions in infrastructure upgrades from taxpayers and will continue to benefit from the $94 million dollar TIF recently given to the park. I have argued for a long time that the developers in this community have plenty of private investment without needing TIFs. But when you turn on the candy trough, they all come to feed. If I were the mayor or a city councilor I would have ended TIFs a long time ago in this city, the welfare program for the super rich.

Sioux Falls Parks Director brags about the Snowjob pulled on the City Council

(FF 12:10)

Don basically talks about how the city attorney’s office did an outstanding job getting the Sioux Steel easement pushed through. Pretty crazy to hear a city director brag about getting the city council to possibly violate open meeting laws by voting on an agenda item without giving the public the whole story. We still have NO idea how this suddenly became park land or what that process was.

Also note that if you watched the council meeting the assistant city attorney said the council could vote to release that information, but guess when they were told they could vote to release the information? Five minutes before the 2nd reading. Yeah, now that’s transparency.

Also note that the first phase of the project will be the residential portion and not the hotel and entertainment part. Go figure.

Is Hultgren Construction’s Aaron Hultgren now trying to do business in Hawaii?

A few weeks ago a little birdy asked me if I knew where Aaron was, you know the guy involved with collapsing the Copper Lounge, dragging asbestos through our town and being a part of the Bunker Ramp. I said I hadn’t really thought about it but last I heard his former(?) partner set him up in Texas.

Well, apparently his past must have caught up with him in Texas so he went all the way to Hawaii to ‘try’ to escape. I guess he has never heard of the googles on the interwebs. As someone said to me while discussing this story with them, ‘A lot of people try to hide from their past in Hawaii.’

He has two LLCs that have names that likely have nothing to do with what he is doing; LLC1 & LLC2

I guess he has been trying to develop affordable housing in Honolulu and has been pitching his bill of goods to different organizations. I guess one of these organizations found lots of interesting stories about Aaron’s troubled past in Sioux Falls and started getting references about him, and he wasn’t getting too many positive ones, if any. Like I said above, Google works in Hawaii also.

I’m not sure what happened with the project he pitched, but whether he lives in Texas, Hawaii or Greenland I have a feeling the Copper Lounge will follow him around for the rest of his life.

Locally Owned Pork Producers building Plant without Government handouts?

Shocker, I guess LOCAL business folks have figured out the FREE Market system and are not asking for a handout from the City of Sioux Falls like communist foreign investors;

Wholestone Farms, an entity owned by regional pork producers, plans to build a more than $500 million pork processing facility in Sioux Falls.


Wholestone has exercised an option to purchase 170 acres in northeast Sioux Falls near Benson Road and Interstate 229, near the new Gage Brothers Concrete Materials location.

Yes, that’s right folks, they didn’t buy the land in Flopdation Park and they are not asking for any TIFs or other handouts from the city, which got a very strange response from Mayor Stoneless;

The city, however, voiced reservations about the project.


“To be frank, we are facing historic housing challenges right now,” Mayor Paul TenHaken said in a statement provided to SiouxFalls.Business.

“In this unique environment, our employers are also facing critical hiring challenges as we have strategically added thousands of new jobs in recent months. Under normal circumstances, the addition of 1,000 more jobs would be an enormous win for the city of Sioux Falls, yet these are not normal circumstances. While I have been and continue to be supportive of value-added agriculture investments in our region, I have a duty to note the challenges currently being faced within our community at this time.”

Instead trying to help this plant find workers, it seems Paul is trying to defend his welfare queens from Communist China, international companies like Amazon (who pay no federal taxes) and South Korean investors. What is Paul afraid of? That this locally owned business will pay better than his foreign welfare friends? Or that more immigrants will come to town to work there? How can you brag about growth then poo poo it when local producers are doing it and not asking for handouts?

Because the plant is still years from opening, Wholestone has not set wages but said they will be competitive and include a full benefits package.


“All the robotic technology that’s available will be employed,” Webb said. “There will be some traditional knife work because there are no robots to do that, but the ergonomically difficult jobs will be done by robots.”

Imagine that, they actually care about the working conditions of their employees, don’t want any government handouts, and are locally owned and Paul is concerned?!! Isn’t this the kind of business we want in Sioux Falls? While I am not wild about another packing plant, at least it isn’t stinking up our namesake. I have told the council and mayor on several occasions that handing out all this candy would eventually bite us in the ass. Plenty of taxpayer subsidized jobs, nobody to work them.

Heck the company even wants to help with housing;

How might Wholestone Farms support community housing initiatives?


Wholestone Farms will be a significant, new employer. We’re sensitive to the housing needs of the community and our future employees. With a minimum of three years to plan for our project, we’re prepared to help the community leverage the increased tax base that will be realized as a result of our project to help provide for additional housing support. There are a multitude of ways to support the housing needs in the community, and our team is open to those ways as determined best by the Sioux Falls community. We want to be part of the solution and would challenge other major employers in Sioux Falls and the region to join us in this effort.

While having another packing plant in Sioux Falls may not be ideal, it just might be so successful it will close down the communist owned stinkhole downtown. Still baffled by Paul’s resistance. Maybe it has something to do with his mysterious trip to China a couple of years ago? Things that make you go Hmmmm . . . .

Erickson & Jensen want to talk to you about housing, if you can make it

The only problem is you will have to be late for work to have that conversation with them;

Public Invited to Discuss Strategies to Expand Homeownership in Sioux Falls 
Councilors Alex Jensen and Christine Erickson will hear from citizens on how the city can make homeownership more accessible in Sioux Falls. Ideas gained from this outreach effort could be used for future legislative efforts intended to tackle the lack of homeownership opportunities. 
When: Thursday, May 20th 
Where: HyVee at 37th and Minnesota 
Time: 7:30am to 9:00am 


I have often noticed that if city councilors really want to hear from constituents they have these kind of meetings on a Saturday or after 5 PM. The Vice-CountCilor and Errackticson have ZERO interest in talking to constituents about these issues, that is why they are doing it on a Thursday morning when most working class stiffs are at work. Jensen even said in the meeting yesterday something like, “We would like to discuss these ideas with developers and contractors, oh, and I guess the public can come to.” You can’t make this stuff up, even if you tried.

Cherapa Developers ask for ludicrous $25 million dollar TIF for luxury retail, office and housing

I have never seen so much groveling in my life at the Sioux Falls City Council informational meeting, and it wasn’t from the developer of this project, it was from the city councilors supporting this, almost falling over each other to thank, yes, thank, the developer for asking for this tax break.

This isn’t about affordable housing or blight, it is what it is, developer welfare while raising taxes on the rest of us. And while the developer and councilors talked about the economic impact, there still has yet to be an independent study proving TIFs work in Sioux Falls, or provide any impact to the rest of us paying higher taxes to supplement their whims. The reason why? Because they know the answer.

The Bancorp Inc. will anchor the next phase of the development, bringing its 175 employees downtown and serving as the catalyst for Cherapa’s envisioned mix of retail, luxury condominiums, additional office, parking and community gathering and event space.

The planned Cherapa development will require support from the city of Sioux Falls, including $25 million in tax increment financing for the construction of the parking and related infrastructure, such as the extension of Reid Street. The city also is assisting in helping create a quiet zone around the rail line.

I actually got a good laugh at the beginning of the developer’s TIFilicious presentation when he talked about how the city’s accomplishment in removing rail travel from Downtown. LOL. Not only is it still there, running along this development, it has gotten more intense in the neighborhoods less then a mile south of it.

The lack of leadership, economic ignorance, little historic knowledge of TIF’s and this incredibly huge hand-out to wealthy developers on this project shows just how out of touch this mayor and city council is with the real needs of our community. I keep going back to just imaging how much of our core neighborhoods we could clean up with $25 million dollars but instead our council has turned into corporate socialists who don’t even want to do their homework on TIFs.

The saddest part is that this project, Flopdation Park and the Sioux Steel project could all develop 100% with private investment and pay their full property taxes on day one, and they all know it. But hey, they got it covered, the rest of us working stiffs will pick up the slack for these destitute folks and the city council will gladly oblige, because that’s just what they do. What a bunch of goofs.

UPDATE: Sioux Falls City CountCilor Jensen recuses himself on controversial apartment zoning

UPDATE: Supposedly Councilor Selberg should have recused himself from this vote also since the developer he is working for is considering investing in this project also. It’s hard to keep track of all the conflicts these councilors have.

Don’t get me wrong, he probably did the right thing, but he gave little explanation why he recused himself. He did site this city code;

30.017  VOTING PROCEDURE.   City council members may not abstain from voting, but may absent themselves from the meeting by physically leaving the meeting at the time an item is called by the clerk. Members with a financial interest in a matter shall disclose that interest and shall absent themselves from the meeting by physically leaving the meeting while the matter is considered.

In item #48 tonight at the city council meeting there was a controversial apartment zoning, the applicants are Cresten Capital Holdings. Without mentioning specific names, individuals investors in this group gave heavily to Jenson’s council campaign. Jensen also works for a bank that could be helping to fund this project.

Two great reasons to recuse himself.

The remaining seven councilors voted to move it to 2nd reading.

My only concern is the influence Jensen may have behind the scenes with planning staff and other councilors and one of the biggest reasons I opposed him on the council because of all the conflicts of interest he has financially with the city not only because of the bank he works for but deals like this.

Like I said, he did the right thing by recusing himself, but I would sure like an explanation from a councilor who bought his seat on this council with the very money he received from the investors in this project.