Entries Tagged 'Development' ↓

Washington Square Developer whines about the easement process

(FF 41:00)

Yes, folks, only in good old Sioux Falls would a developer complain about how he had to front a little money in legal fees and surveying (City Council Meeting, Items 16-17) after receiving some easements.

First the obvious, and replying to one of his main complaints, that while taxpayers are essentially giving him FREE land, that this gifting party should somehow also pay these fees?!

This same developer also received millions in a TIF (massive tax rebate) before the project was built. While I do complain sometimes when the council doesn’t discuss an item or answer constituent questions, I did chuckle a bit last night after this developer stood at the microphone and cried about how he had to spend a couple of grand (to receive FREE property). Their non-response to this unwarranted fit was completely appropriate. Not a single councilor, the mayor, the city attorney or any of the planning/environmental staff responded to his rant.

It reminds me of when I used to wait tables and people would want a free meal if I forgot to give them complimentary free bread. This developer has received free property and millions in tax breaks and has the nerve to complain about it?!

What are the Benefits of Amazon coming to Sioux Falls?

As we have known for several years, Amazon was looking to put a distribution site in our area, it was only a matter of time. We also know, like most businesses that move here, they want handouts, and if there is one thing we love in Sioux Falls and South Dakota is giving out massive amounts of corporate welfare. Flopdation Park has already received around $50 million for infrastructure from the taxpayers. Amazon has received a Federal Grant and now the SF Development Foundation pretty much wants an open ended TIF to attract more businesses. Their argument is always the same, growth for growth’s sake (which I have never understood, because growth only drives up the prices of affordable housing due to infrastructure and public education costs) and JOBS! JOBS! JOBS!

So let’s look at the kind of jobs Amazon supplies. Most workers will be pickers that make around $15 to start. So where will Amazon get these workers? I have argued that they will suck from other businesses in town that pay less (and there is quite a few of them) and once that bleeding is done, people will start moving here. I also believe many workers at Smithfield will try to move over to Amazon. So in essence, Amazon will not be depending solely on our current workforce, they will have to do a lot of transfers.

Another reason I think it will be hard for Amazon to fulfill their worker needs is because of a very difficult qualification process, like background checks, drug tests and physical fitness. It will also be interesting to hear what Amazon’s policy on marijuana use (outside of the work place) will be if it becomes legal in our state.

But all of those things aside I think there are a few benefits to bringing Amazon here. First off, they will support many other businesses in town, maybe even create some new ones. I also believe once they start stealing workers from local businesses, it may force some of them to raise their wages to keep people.

Amazon coming to town will have some benefits, but I often am confused by Sioux Falls’ mantra ‘Growth for Growth’s Sake’. Which just ends up costing taxpayers more in infrastructure and public safety and public education while the fat cats get their TIF’s, tax breaks and government grants. Let’s face it, Sioux Falls has just turned into a welfare state for the rich, which is no surprise when it is so cheap for them to buy the city council and mayor’s office.

City of Sioux Falls to give $350K interest free loan to developer

On the Sioux Falls city council agenda Tuesday night you will see a little tidbit in item #7, approval of contracts, sub-item #4;

Don’t be fooled by the title, this interest free loan is a pass through from the Feds for affordable housing to Lloyd Companies. I wonder if someone will ask exactly what the rents will be for this supposed affordable housing. Once again, developer welfare for a developer that doesn’t need it.

Just imagine if we gave interest free loans to people in the core of our city to help clean up their property? How far would this money go? Maybe we could clean up 50-100 properties with sidewalk repair, roof and siding repair, windows, landscaping? Let’s go even a step farther and give mini-TIFs to property owners in these affected neighborhoods in the form of property tax relief.

I truly believe the death of Tracy Saboe could have been avoided if we would have started cleaning up these neighborhoods over 12 years ago when first proposed by Mayor Munson. NOTHING has been done. So now crime increases while wealthy developers continue to cash in on projects that do nothing to prevent crime. But hey we have a $115 million dollar dented up events center (that sits empty while we pay a $10 million dollar a year mortgage on it). A $26 million dollar bunker ramp (that has yet to open) and a $20+ million dollar TIF to a project that is in flux while we go ahead with a $11 million dollar bond to build a greenway project around it (even with speculation if the project will ever happen). Why do we keep blowing the money on welfare for wealthy developers instead of helping hardworking Sioux Falls residents to clean up their properties and ultimately their neighborhoods? Because of the greedy fools we continue to elect.

So instead of using the money to clean up these existing neighborhoods we are using it to tear down a nature area and create more density where it is NOT needed.

You are going to see a lot of this over the next two years especially with a banker on the council and only two councilors left to ask the tough questions and a mayor who is more concerned about cashing in on his 5G investments(?) (That’s the rumor going around that our local media refuses to look into because the mayor has a tight grip you know where).

How Strong Towns Principles Relate to Sioux Falls — Municipal Ponzi Scheme

I was sent this article, that I found very interesting relating to the urban sprawl of our city;

Since 2010 the City of Sioux Falls has annexed 3996 acres of land into the city. That is almost 400 acres per year. How much tax revenue did that additional property bring in? How much did it cost to annex those areas? How much will it cost to replace all the associated infrastructure when it needs replacement? The answers to those questions are hard to piece together (maybe a good use of tax dollars would be to hire a company specializing in this kind of data to pull it together for us). In the meantime, we have some anecdotal data to look at.

So Detroit is a cautionary tale for cities caught up in a municipal Ponzi scheme. Here in River City things look pretty good . Sales tax revenue is floating our boat right now. We have money in the budget. Marohn refers to this as the illusion of wealth. It looks like we have money but the residential developments on the edge of town — which don’t generate sales tax directly — are new and don’t require replacement. When that infrastructure requires replacement the property tax revenue collected in those areas probably isn’t going to be enough to pay for it. Other areas of the city that are generating revenue will have to subsidize those areas — until they can’t. It happens slowly then all at once. Welcome to Detroit.

Ironically, several years ago when I got into Strongtowns, one of the main reasons I was drawn to it’s message was what they were saying about Urban Sprawl. It soon will be very expensive to live in Sioux Falls, if we are not already there.

Mayor TenHaken asking housing providers to embrace socialism

Don’t get me wrong, it is a nice sentiment on his official stationery, but there are a few issues with it. First off, while the bigger housing providers can probably float people for a few months, the little guys certainly cannot, and are in the same boat as the rest of us.

But what is even more glaring is the obvious hypocrisy. Isn’t it tragically funny how all these supposed free market conservatives are embracing socialism? Unlimited unemployment benefits, free virus testing and healthcare, deferred income taxes, deferred student loans, and sending checks to Americans (who might not even need them). Funny how socialism all of a sudden is the answer, while Dems vote for Biden over Sanders as the guy to beat Trump. What an incredible missed opportunity, TWICE! Sanders whole platform that NO ONE said he could accomplish as president is playing out before us in a matter of weeks! I watch this sometimes while imagining pig blood being splattered on me in the poor seats of the Globe Theatre.

The representation of private interests … abolishes all natural and spiritual distinctions by enthroning in their stead the immoral, irrational and soulless abstraction of a particular material object and a particular consciousness which is slavishly subordinated to this object.

Marx, On the Thefts of Wood, in Rheinische Zeitung (1842)

Like I said, I support helping my fellow brothers and sisters, but we would probably not be in this predicament if it weren’t for the greed of the few at the top. While the rich will argue they did not cause the virus or it’s spread, they are gravely mistaken. Global warming has caused disease and viruses to spread more rapidly. There is also the argument that by destroying the middle class (basically starting in 1980 by electing Ronald Reagan) most Americans live paycheck to paycheck, and cannot weather an economic crisis with savings. It’s not the virus that will kill us, it’s greed folks.

UPDATE II: What is happening at the School for the Deaf site?

UPDATE: I was told that the Ministry Center and Boys and Girls Club is still a go, but is taking longer than expected. There is also no word if the apartment complex will be built or planned. There is also some dual ownership of the property.

UPDATE II: I guess they are building some more apartments at the site, they bring it up in this Planning Preview. They are basically converting existing office space into apartments;

Previous Post;

First we heard a major church was moving there, than we heard it was going to be a ministry site. None of that panned out, and we have no idea why.

The latest rumor I have heard is that the developer that owns the site is now just converting into more apartments with a plan to build a larger apartment building on the old track field.

Not sure if any of that is true, but I would assume a plan like that would be for affordable housing units which of course come with tax credits, and potential TIFs. I’m also not sure if the City’s Planning Department is working with them on this project.

CHARGING FOR BACKGROUND CHECKS

I have been hearing from several people and from doing some online research that if you want to rent from this same company they have you fill out an application and do a credit and criminal background check. This of course is not unusual. What is strange is that they charge between $35-40 for this check that is non-refundable. It would be like being charged for an urinalysis while seeking new employment. Why would a company that is looking for potential clients want to charge you? It would be like paying a gate fee to get into the Mall. What makes this even more egregious is that it’s not like they are just a high-end condo renter, many of their units are for lower income folks, and on top of that this company has gotten millions of dollars (across the state and region) in taxpayer subsidies and tax credits. You would think they would just eat the cost? Yeah right.

We need to give credit where credit is due

Over $20 million spent, and they can’t even keep a fence from collapsing.

Seney Island, Sioux Steel Development Controversy

Guest Post Bruce Danielson

The recent story (Land ownership question hovers over $185 million Sioux Falls redevelopment plan) of Seney Island tripped a few issues long ago buried in the back of my mind. I have no dog in the show being presented in the Sioux Steel – Seney Island project, but I feel the history of the project needs to include a proper land title search being performed and then presented.

SEE ALL MAPS HERE.

Also, the interesting bit of data in the article claims 160 acres being granted but the original 1859 clearly shows the town lot company survey had the planned layout and 1865 – 1869 maps show the Fort Sod fortification lines of the new settlement. From my research of many years ago, there would not have been a granting of homestead rights in the 1860’s to land already committed to being a townsite.

The enclosed image of the original survey 1859 map of Sioux Falls, shows Seney Island and the village platting. These discrepancies have bugged me to the point where I matched the 1859 images over a current Google Earth image of Sioux Falls. Though not perfect, it does show the relationship of the Island and most of the Sioux Steel property being on Seney Island.

The 1881 drawing shows the relationship of Seney Island to the coffer dam rerouting the water for the mill.

For over 40 years I have heard from old-timers and read stories of how the west channel or oxbow of the Sioux River was used as the original community landfill until it closed it to navigation. The main channel of the Sioux had to be changed to allow for the dam to produce enough water for the mill and power plant.

The 1900 photo of the west channel shown in your story, was the result efforts to fill in the river channel. The old-timers I knew, used to tell stories of the smells coming from the rotting debris leeching to the surface until it was finally covered over. As the property is now being readied for a new purpose, opening up the land could bring back the environmental issues long ago covered up.

Not so TIFilicious?

Imagine my surprise when I read this article;

Questions about the ownership of a strip of land within the Sioux Steel Co. site in downtown Sioux Falls has created a new, unexpected hurdle for the proposed $185 million redevelopment of the property.

The land in question was once a channel of the Big Sioux River and has ownership origins that stretch back beyond South Dakota statehood all the way to the presidency of Abraham Lincoln.

Archived press clippings appear to indicate that the channel that separated Seney Island from the western bank of the Big Sioux River was filled in and, along with the former island, was turned into usable land in the early 1900s. Sioux Steel Co. has owned and operated on the site since 1918.

Officials in the state School and Public Lands and Attorney General’s offices are reviewing maps, historic documents and other information to determine whether the state may have a claim of ownership to the strip of land.

I’m not naive, I’m sure the State will probably come back and say they don’t have rights to it, or if they do, sell it for very little coin. I know how palms are greased in Pierre.

But what makes this story frustrating is with all of the people from the Sioux Steel Company, Lloyd Company and the city’s planning office, NO one came across this possible conflict? It took a hobbyist in history to find it?

Not to mention that around $3.5 million has already been spent on planning this project and NONE of these questions were asked before passing a $20 million dollar TIF.

Sometimes I think developers in this town just fly by the seat of their pants, cross their fingers and hope things turn out.

There is nothing ‘Gutzy’ about approving TIFs

Similar to Donny T’s touchdown victory dance this past week, the receivers of an unneeded TIF downtown for the Sioux Steel Development couldn’t resist their own little victory lap, via the paid media (I’m not sure if this piece is paid for or not, because it looks like Jodi’s weekly column);

It takes guts to decide to forego certain property tax revenue for 20 years. And to approve the largest incentive of its kind in the city’s history. And to tackle another parking ramp project – even though it’s significantly different – while many are probably still stinging from the last one.

Sorry folks, it takes zero courage to approve a 20 year tax rebate. ZERO. I have seen this travesty across the nation, developer welfare run amuck. Courage would have either been denying this all together, or as I have suggested, at least amending it so we gift them the greenway and limit the TIF to $10 million.

Leadership is Courageous, going along to get along is NOT leadership, it’s a mamby pamby pitty party at most.

“The City Council took it very seriously to sit down with us and talk through it,” said Jake Quasney, executive vice president for project development at Lloyd Cos.

Of course they did, everytime this company has asked for a TIF, the city council has rolled over like old dogs and gave it. Heck, the city even held onto to property for over a decade, tax free for the last Lloyd project and gave a TIF to boot. When this company asks, they receive, 100% of the time.

But these two votes really mattered, and it was reassuring to see the fairness and logic that all council members used in approaching them.

Let’s not kid ourselves, there was ZERO fairness and logic going on. 1.) Everytime this developer asks for a TIF they get it 2) There has been no hard evidence that ANY of the TIFs given to them have had significant economic impact, and no studies to this day to prove it. Sorry, but ‘logic’ is based on ‘Facts’ and ‘Fairness’ is based on making decisions based on those ‘Facts’. The only FACT here is that this developer has a perfect batting average when it comes to TIFs.

It’s another to stand up, vote on what could be a politically sensitive issue and thank the business for investing in the community.

There was NOTHING politically sensitive about this issue, this was just another walk in the park for the city council. They always approve this stuff, the public knows or cares little about it, the ink dries on the rubberstamps, and the developers smile all the way to the bank.

There are other developers and other businesses looking at investing in Sioux Falls.

Investing or bilking? Isn’t that the question here? When I think of the FREE enterprise system and investment, that investment is coming from them privately, and they get to reap and keep the rewards. In the TIF system we have set up, we require the taxpayers to pay more to invest in these schemes and get nothing back but higher taxes and mediocre jobs. If you make a great investment, and you do it all by your lonesome, you deserve the booty. If the taxpayers have to supplement you, and you make money, you should share. And that is the tragedy of a TIF, they never do.

They say all politics is local. In this case, some higher-ups could take a cue from Carnegie Town Hall last week.

I think I’m going to be ill.