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.
Here are some takeaways from last night’s meeting (it only took 12 hours this time to get the video up, still don’t know why they don’t live stream);
• Several complaints about the mismanagement of Dudley House, the way they are treating clients, not taking care of situations, working with clients, interviewing them, etc.
• The public (city, county) is not properly funding the management of homelessness and there needs to be more police foot patrols.
• Panhandlers have taken over the neighborhood (Before the signs went up about not giving to panhandlers, my SIGN idea was to make it clear that GIVING to panhandlers out of the window of your vehicle while in traffic is ILLEGAL. There is NO purpose in giving violations or shaming panhandlers, it won’t stop them from asking, not to mention they have a 1st Amendment right to ask for money. The solution is making it clear to motorists that you can be fined for obstructing traffic. The only way we can get panhandling under control is shutting off the tap, that means cracking down on the contributors).
• The Dudley house is in a bad location. I suggested when they picked this location that there is plenty of space just north of the jail. Not only would it be close to law enforcement it would be within a few blocks of Falls Community Health and The Link. The Dudley house needs to close its current location and move.
• The 9th Street Alley that runs along the south side of the Dudley needs to be closed and fenced off.
• The clients need to participate in their recovery.
While nobody brought this up during the meeting, I know that there is a lack of transitional housing in Sioux Falls. The legislative/policy body of the city, the council, could write ordinances that require developers to provide so many efficiency, felon friendly, transitional units for every regular unit they build. They could also require rent control in these units that only have their rent increased with inflation.
Besides the fact that there was NO public call for membership to this group they have NO one from the neighborhood (residents or business owners) serving the on the group.
While we could certainly wait to see what this group accomplishes, it’s hard for me to have much confidence when the selection of the task force was done in secret and lacking transparency.
While some of the members of the board do work in affordable housing and social work, I’m not sure athletes, realtors and directors of business organizations really have a grasp of what is going on in this neighborhood. Where is the director of one of the homeless shelters like the Mission or Dudley house on the board? Or a rep from the Banquet? What about a pastor or deacon? A business owner or homeowner in this neighborhood would have been an excellent addition to the group. It is pretty much a group of bureaucrats that are going to craft policies that uphold the bureaucracy instead of fixing the problem.
The SFPD really needs a group of officers dedicated to outreach to the homeless. That would be a great first step. Instead of reacting to the problem, a proactive approach.
I live in the Nelson Park neighborhood, and to be quite honest with you I have never seen so many homeless people before, the problem has exploded.
I do wish them luck and I want to thank Chair Merkouris for wanting to take this on. I also think it is wonderful the meetings will be open to the public, and WILL be recored. Nothing can be accomplished in the dark.
That was my argument all along with Cole’s candidacy. A person who hasn’t bothered to vote in a local election the entire time she has lived here (another story our incredibly inept local media never touched). It’s one thing for the mayor to endorse a candidate running against an incumbent, it’s whole other ball of wax to dump this amount of money (after the final financial disclosure before the election) towards the challenger.
You have to be one major bitter, vengeful, vindictive person to go above and beyond to eliminate an incumbent, who ironically voted for almost 99% of the mayor’s policies.
You will also notice that Cole spent almost $23K on advertising and over $5k on consulting. Ironically, Rich Merkouris almost spent the exact same amount on advertising. Cole never voted in a municipal election before. She never raised her own campaign funds and it appears she had little to do with running the campaign.
UPDATE: I did find the PAC’s filings on the SOS website. The original filing was in May and an amended one in June. It is pretty clear that the entities and individuals who gave to the PAC knew exactly where the money was going;
At the Tuesday’s Informational meeting during open discussion councilor Rich Merkouris proposed a resolution to form a Homeless Task force that focuses on east 8th street downtown.
This of course is long overdue and I applaud Rich for taking the initiative to tackle this at his 3rd meeting.
One of his fellow new councilors, Sarah Cole decided to skip her 3rd and 4th meeting of the council. Of course, councilors only have to attend one meeting a month, but it doesn’t look real good skipping your 3rd and 4th meeting after just being newly elected and not even phoning it in. I do understand she is a medical doctor and emergencies do happen . . . one of the reasons I didn’t think she had the time to dedicate to the job. Nothing against her personally or her profession, I just don’t think they work well together.
*Sorry I was out this past week on a little R & R, so I am a little late on this stuff.