Entries Tagged 'Legacy Developments' ↓

Stehly and Neitzert on Hultgren/Legacy debacle

Talk about a difference of opinion. One councilor is under some kind of delusional spell and one is so angry they could spit nails. You can figure it out.

First Neitzert puts on his best sombrero and gets to dancing;

But Neitzert would not have voted differently on the project even if he knew then what he knows now.

“The optics though – they are undeniably awful because of the perception and the ties of various individuals to both the project – if even fleetingly – and the entity involved in the terrible tragedy that occurred.” The terrible tragedy Neitzert mentions is, of course, the downtown building collapse. Hultgren was remodeling the old Copper Lounge building before it came down in a pile of rubble, killing a young construction worker.

It’s not just bad OPTICS it’s a bad DEAL. We should have not gone into business with these crooked clowns;

Neitzert says Council can’t really reverse its decision on the mixed- used parking ramp because the bonds have been sold and construction is ongoing.

Not so sure about that. He is basically trying to spin that the ‘train has left the station’. Actual construction HAS not started. The bonds could be put on hold and the a new RFP could be presented. As far as I see it, this is a breach of contract and gives the city the right to request a court order to stop construction. At the very least they could even nicely ask the construction company to HALT operations until they figure out the legality of the situation;

“Its just too bad this issue is hanging over this otherwise impressive project and will at least for the foreseeable future cast a cloud of controversy and doubt over it.”

There was NEVER anything ‘Impressive’ about this project. It was overpriced and underutilized. Even without the basket of snakes involved with the development, it’s NOT that good of a deal for the taxpayers.

Stehly sets it straight;

“This thing is being built on deceit and deception, in my opinion,” Stehly said. “It’s not what our citizens want from us as Council members or from City government.”

“This project has the second penny tied to it,” Stehly said. “This project is immensely expensive for a parking ramp. This project is going to raise fees for any person who is parking in a City-owned parking lot. It’s been problematic from the get-go.”

Like I said above, it wasn’t a good project to begin with, now add the deception and the already poor luster on this turd is beginning to fade even more. The city needs to put at least a temporary hold on it. The bonds will be fine in the bank collecting interest.

Some Sioux Falls City Councilors are saying they didn’t know Legacy lied to them

It’s hardly worth re-publishing, but according to the Argus, some councilors were unaware that Legacy was so closely tied to Hultgren construction.

Give me a F’ing Break!

It was blatantly obvious that they were two in the same when we saw the haggling over the LLC’s and the asbestos removal. Ignorance is NO excuse. Several in the public knew about the relationship between Legacy and Hultgren, and I find it extremely hard to believe that people on the council, people in the planning department and the mayor didn’t know the relationship was extremely cozy.

IMO, the lying is breach of contract and I would stop construction immediately. I would have it rebid to build a stand alone parking ramp (that we can actually use and has more spaces) and if someone with their OWN money wants to develop next to it and lease space (parking and land) so be it, but moving forward NOW after this has come to light is almost criminal towards the taxpayers. Doing nothing is unacceptable!

Legacy was being deceptive about connections to Hultgren Construction

The good folks over at the Argus Leader got the paperwork proving Legacy had over a 50% ownership in Hultgren Construction. Good Job.

I figured all along that was the case. I mean really, the writing was on the wall. 1) Aaron could not have financed this business by himself 2) A development company having it’s own construction company it could manipulate and break rules for them is a smart business move, unethical, but smart.

The public warned the city council before approving the Downtown parking ramp that this was likely the case, but they had this O’Shucks attitude that Norm Drake from Legacy was just stuck in a bad business situation while moving LLC’s around like it was a Chinese checkers board. Give me a break!

The sad part is there is probably little the city council can do now after signing the paperwork and breaking ground, they are stuck with their very, very, very, bad decision. To say they have mud on their faces is an understatement. They are chin deep in the hoopla, and it’s going to be entertaining to watch them spin this.

This was a bad deal for the taxpayers and it’s too bad we can’t pool our money and get a big city attorney to sue the city for misappropriation of bonds. Sadly, it would only cost us even more.

It’s hard to pinpoint if this is just government corruption or worse – blatant ignorance but when I watch our city council do things like this, I wonder why I even bother making a stink about it. It’s almost like we enjoy bad local government.

Copper Lounge Collapse; A Tragic Mess

I guess we saw the writing on the wall (no pun intended). Hultgren Construction is filing for bankruptcy after insurance companies paid out millions in claims. The sad part about this is that the insurance companies should have paid the victims first, which has included a myriad of people and businesses.

Of course all of this hinges on whether or not the insurance companies and victims can also pin this on Legacy Development. In a perfect justice world, since the insurance companies decided to pay off damaged property instead of victims first, if more money can be garnered from Legacy, the lion’s share should go to the victims first.

Secondly, if Legacy is found liable, what will that mean for them? They have millions tied up in projects across the city and region, including a dubious Public/Private partnership with the city. Could this also bankrupt them?

At the end of the day, NO ONE is a winner. Someone is dead, others have suffered emotionally, physically and financially and even others have had their businesses uprooted.

As I said to a friend the other day, “It amazes me that some of the players in this tragedy still show their face in this town. It’s despicable and disgusting!”

Is Legacy giving up a lot of opportunities by hiring Ketchum?

While Legacy maintains that Ketchum will not be involved with the DT Mixed Use PPP Parking Ramp, moving forward, what does his 2-Year conflict of interest agreement mean?

I have been asking different city officials this question, and awaiting some responses.

The way I see it, since Ketchum will be VP of Operations for Legacy that essentially means he will be directly or indirectly involved with ALL of their projects (even the DT parking ramp). Moving forward, could this mean for the next two years Legacy as a development company can’t be involved with city projects such as;

Street Vacations

TIF’s

Façade Programs

Public Private Partnerships

Infrastructure upgrades

Special Rezones

Of course Legacy will probably try to play some fancy tricks with LLC’s, as they have done in the past. If I were the city planning department/mayor’s office I would send a letter immediately to Legacy informing them of the two-year moratorium while Ketchum works for them. And trust me, if the city chooses to ignore the conflict rules, the media and others will be quick to remind them, because we already got hoodwinked on the asbestos dumping, the building collapse and the parking ramp.

Legacy doesn’t get another by, not this time.

UPDATE II: These are the kind of things Grand Juries investigate

UPDATE II: Daren is sooooo awesome and cool.

The AL reported last night that Ketchum was in negotiations with Legacy since April. Should this be any surprise? Let’s look at previous employees that pulled this;

Erica Beck left the planning office of the city after being forced to write the Sanford Sports Complex Mega-Tif that had nothing to do with blight, setting a precedent moving forward with TIFs. Beck was at least smart enough to bounce around at a couple of little known non-profit agencies before landing at Lloyd Companies. She did a full circle and returned to the city.

Kendra Siemonsma who was the project manager for the Events Center and the Midco Aquatic Center suddenly quit the city and went to work for Midco right after inking the sponsorship deal with them (which included two very ugly signs in Spellerberg Park advertising a Cable Company that has a virtual monopoly in Sioux Falls). Ironically, she is no longer with Midco, and works for Sanford now.

Kevin Smith (who I believe was forced to resign from the city after taking a demotion) took a job with AE2S who does consulting for the city.

While there isn’t much the city can do legally to stop the parking ramp from being built (the bonds have already been sold). They can refuse to do anymore PPPs with Legacy over the next two years as long as Ketchum is VP.  We’ll be watching.

Well, we have known it for a long time, Developers run our city and it’s planning office and it couldn’t get more blatantly obvious;

Daren Ketcham, the former Sioux Falls city official who was paramount in picking Legacy Developments to lead a $50 million parking ramp project in downtown Sioux Falls, began his role as vice president with that same company Monday.

UPDATE: This couldn’t get any richer;

Ketcham won’t be working on one of Legacy’s largest projects, however. The company is involved in the Village on the River mixed-use development under construction along 10th Street east of Phillips Avenue.

The city’s conflict-of-interest ordinance prohibits Ketcham from representing Legacy before the city or any public body for two years involving any project he worked on while employed there.

“It shouldn’t be an issue,” said Drake

LMAO. I’m sure he won’t be asked ANY questions behind closed corporate board room doors about the project. Hey Norm, I’m pretty sure the ‘conflict of interest’ refers to employment as well.

Besides the obvious conflict of interest of going to work immediately for Legacy after just handing them a $20 million dollar parking ramp with taxpayer money, some are questioning what Mayor TenHaken was told, when he was told it, and what he told us. The story goes that when Ketchum handed in his resignation he said who he was going to work for, or at least said it was a major developer in town. After that, he was NOT allowed access to any city computers/data, etc. Big whoop. Who knows what he took on thumb drives before his announcement. But according to the mayor’s office, Ketchum said he wouldn’t go to work for his new employer until late summer/early fall, after finishing up some Guard duties. So was Ketchum completely honest with Paul and his intentions and Paul wasn’t giving it to us straight? I don’t know. My guess is that both of them stretched the truth a bit.

The Erica Beck deal after just working for Lloyd Companies is just as shady. Supposedly she signed some kind of ‘financial disclosure’ yet I have not seen the document, and if it exists, it needs to be for public display on the city website. It should also include at least a 24 month waiting period before she can go back to work for any developer doing business with taxpayers after she quits the city (such as TIF’s or public/private partnerships).

I think it is time a Grand Jury get involved with investigating the DT parking ramp with Legacy. I also think that if TenHaken had at least one ounce of integrity, he would use his power to put the project on HOLD until the rats can be ferreted out.

This wreaks of corruption!

What’s up with the ‘white stained’ brick on the new building downtown?

Several people have commented to me that the white stained brick on the new building downtown going in the old Copper Lounge space doesn’t look that historical. Well join the club. A lot of the new construction downtown isn’t that historical. Just look at the condos across from Sunshine or the apartments and condos across from city hall and on Phillips to the Falls. They lack historical design.

But some are wondering how this brick facade got approved. Oh, the old ‘bait and switch’. I guess when the planning department was shown a sample of the brick that was going on that building, the developer, Legacy, showed them ONE brick that was the darkest from the crop with little white stain on it.

When the planning department was questioned about the relapse in judgement and what they were going to do about it they said moving forward they would require contractors to show a bigger cross section of the brick design.

But how does that solve this current problem?

You can’t make change stick unless you stick it to the original offender. I suggest the city informs Legacy they must paint the brick to come into historical compliance or tear it off. Once again, Legacy is given a free pass. Shocker!

New Hotel Downtown to include a Residence Inn

Funny, I got a call before the parking ramp hotel was approved from a foot soldier, he said this;

“The new hotel downtown is going to be a Residence Inn and ran by Lamont.”

What’s ironic about this is that this has been kept a secret for over 6 months (or longer), for what reason? What would have been the harm in telling the public this when they knew about it? There is no good reason. Secrecy serves no one, and sometimes oddly, doesn’t serve a purpose.

Downtown Parking Ramp Bonds sold in the dark of the night

So I guess the bonds sold last week at 3.5% interest rate. While the rate isn’t bad, I’m curious why there was NO announcement of the sale. Could it be with all the controversy surrounding Legacy and the pending lawsuits they didn’t want to draw anymore attention to it?

Also remember that the 2nd Penny, CIP road fund is being used as collateral. While they ‘claim’ they will never have to dip into this fund to make payments, some would speculate that is not the case, and the specific reason why that fund is being used as collateral. The enterprise fund for parking isn’t very big, and I can’t imagine they will be able to make that big of a mortgage payment and still be able to maintain salaries and maintenance without either dipping into the CIP or raising fess drastically.

We got duped on many levels with the DT Parking Ramp.

Judge Salter cuts through the BS

I have joked you could move this trial to Iceland and a jury would still find evidence of guilt;

But Salter said it was too early in the litigation to consider moving the trials. The cases are in their infancy and there wasn’t a record to validate Legacy’s argument.

“At this stage, I’m not considering the motion any further,” Salter said, leaving open the opportunity for Legacy to file a new motion to change the venue later in the case.

Dan Fritz, a lawyer representing Emily Fodness, who was trapped in the collapse, and Vince Roche, who represents the family of Ethan McMahon, the worker who died in the collapse, objected to the change of venue motion.

Fritz said that his case would include witnesses, such as fire personnel and Fodness’ treating doctors, who would have to drive three hours each way if the case were tried in Aberdeen.

“That prejudices my client, unrightfully,” he said. “There is no good reason for that.”

Roche argued that it would be impossible to determine the impact of social media posts on a county of 200,000 people. And he argued that media coverage of the Copper Lounge collapse was equally available to residents of Aberdeen, given the internet and the nature of media coverage in South Dakota.

“It’s going to be the same regardless of where we are,” he said.

The facts are the facts, no matter who sits on the jury. Salter did the right thing. It’s just to bad our city council can’t figure it out. Maybe we should have Aberdeen’s city council voting on our public/private partnerships in Sioux Falls instead.