Entries Tagged 'TIFs' ↓

$200 a day rent for Downtown Sioux Falls Loft Apartment

Yes, that is the daily rent, for the month it will cost you $5,950. I purchased my home 20 years ago, before I bought the house the rent I paid for a nice 1-bedroom behind U-Haul in Pettigrew Heights was $350 a month which included gas and garbage service. For $5,950 a month you could pay a mortgage on a 1 million dollar home. You can rent a decent hotel room in Sioux Falls for about $100 a night. Heck even Hotel Phillips only 2 blocks from this loft charges between $140-$220 a night. An VRBO or Air BNB is even cheaper. This 3 bedroom short term rental in McKennan Park will run you about $162 a night. Even if you had 3 people renting the loft, they would still have to pay $2,000 a month in rent. In fact what you would pay for rent in a year for this place ($70K+) was more then the original purchase price of my home.

Normally I wouldn’t give two rips about what a wealthy property owner/developer in DTSF charges for rent, I’m a free market person and if they can get that kind of ‘rent’ money, good for you. Where I take issue is that this building received a facade easement grant* (basically the city gives private developers money to fix up their historical facades with little oversight). I asked a councilor recently if the half-Inch faux brick that they glued on the front of Lucky’s facade was considered historic? Faux brick has been a trend lately, but I still think it looks fake. I thought one of the requirements of historic restoration was for it to be actually historic, you know, like the fiberglass bulstrades on the Pavilion’s new roof.

Besides the atrocious monthly rent, this really doesn’t make the city look very good when they are handing out TIFs for condo parking ramps and facade grants DTSF but on the other hand are promoting(?) affordable and accessible housing.

*The facade easement program was mysteriously and suddenly re-instated by the urging of Central District Councilor Curt Soehl. No surprise the 1st recipients for the grants were the former campaign treasurer for Soehl (for the 9th and Grange coffee shop that he is restoring) and the investment group that owns the Lucky’s loft who has given thousands of dollars in campaign contributions to Mayor TenHaken and his various supported candidates. The program is nothing but a pay to play payback to these campaign contributors. The program was originally ended because there really is NO need for taxpayers to be propping up these private developers.

The city really needs to get out of the wealthy developer welfare program business and start incentivizing affordable housing DTSF with programs that help build housing density while focusing on the individual property and small rental owners. Instead the city’s solution is to build slab on grade tract homes in a cornfield in Southern Brandon. Even a chicken playing tic-tac-toe is smarter than that.

UPDATE: In 2017 Rapid City used a very small TIF to support affordable housing (H/T Mike Zitterich). It was 5 years ago, but for a $26,500 TIF the developer was able to build 5 Town Homes – the cheapest with the price tag of $109K. Even with inflationary adjustments, that same place would only be about $130-150K today. It was built on a blighted empty lot.

We could legally do this in the core of the city, and we could do it for multiple properties.

Here is a video of the project;

Does the City of Sioux Falls vet credit when handing out goodies and TIFs?

Well we know the answer to that question when it came to the Bunker Ramp, but have we learned from that experience? Apparently not;

A planned housing development backed by a first-of-its-kind tax break from Sioux Falls City Hall is on track despite market uncertainty placing challenges on the project developer.

The Sioux Falls City Council in mid-October awarded a $2.1 million tax increment financing package to Nielson Construction in support of a 65-unit residential development. In exchange, the company promised to sell the home at “accessible” pricing that reflects first-time homebuyer levels.

But an email sent days later by the company to dozens of its vendors and subcontractors alerting them of cash flow issues raised questions about whether the project would happen.

“Unfortunately, with that, cash flow is short and there is going to be some delays on being paid for invoicing,” the correspondence read. “We promise that we will pay you for work completed but getting that payment in a timely manner like you are accustomed to won’t be the same.”

I was made aware of this email over a week ago and was also aware that Joe and Jon were digging around on it. While all businesses seem to endure some cash flow issues from time to time, you wonder what kind of financial vetting the city did? If any? Maybe the director of finance is too busy running multiple departments?

Mayor Paul TenHaken’s chief of staff, Erica Beck, said Tuesday that City Hall isn’t concerned that Nielson won’t be able to deliver on the project. The city is not on the hook if it doesn’t happen though, either, she said.

“We have no reason at this time to be concerned with Mr. (Kelly) Nielson’s ability to advance the project in which he was approved for tax increment financing,” she said. “Additionally, it is important to note that this is a developer funded TIF, meaning he is using private financing to fund the project.  There is no financial risk to the city.”  

Yes there is! If the city is using the TIF to build up infrastructure in the affected development, and the developer bails after the infrastructure is in place and before a house is built, we would be on the hook as taxpayers for it, just like the unfinished Bunker Ramp.

With all the six figure+ staff we have working for the city, you would think we could get at least one of them to do credit checks for these projects.

Besides being tipped off about the email, I was also told that Nielson construction was the ONLY developer willing to do this project. It wasn’t a matter of the city vetting multiple construction companies and multiple ideas and sites (like building density in the core) but a matter of picking the cheapest beer on the lowest shelf.

It would be enlightening to see if any councilors ask the planning department if anyone else bid on this project.

Sioux Falls City Councilor Neitzert lone vote against SW Brandon housing development

Greg decided to vote against the project because he questions the state legality of the TIF,

Sioux Falls attorney Brendan Reilly, retained by the city as independent counsel to advise it on TIF legalities, told the Council that its members have “wide discretion” about what qualifies for a TIF. And though state law prohibits TIF funds from directly paying for the construction of housing structures, the tax incentive program can be used for infrastructure directly related to housing.

Councilor Greg Neitzert, the lone dissenting vote, said he struggled to square state law that prohibits TIFs from being used to subsidize housing with the request coming from the mayor’s office.

I think the bigger question is NOT legality, I think it is legal, but TIF definitions are so wide that this would have given the council the authority to deny it. I just don’t see this benefitting lower income people in housing. Will it help people? Sure. But it does nothing to build density and bring the core back up to snuff and address our housing crisis. We can do this thru community development loans and federal grants and don’t have to issue ONE SINGLE TIF.

While I support Greg’s NO vote, his reasoning misses the mark.

Top Down approach to affordable housing is a ruse

Ever since the Reagan administration introduced trickle-down economics governments across our country have experimented with it. It simply doesn’t work. The concept is that if you give tax breaks to the very top it somehow will help the ones below in better jobs and housing. In fact it has done the opposite, expanding the wealth gap.

The cat was let out of the bag during this interview yesterday that the TIF sponsored housing development in SW Brandon was depending on the tired old broken system of trickle-down;

Meanwhile, Karl Fulmer, the executive director of Affordable Housing Solutions in Sioux Falls, told DNN that these TIF-paid city developments are an effective way of addressing affordable housing.

“The benefit of just building more houses in the $250,000 to $400,000 range still provides the unit, and you can see the transition out of more affordable units from those who might make enough to buy homes in that price range”, Fulmer said.

In other words, these new houses in new “accessible housing” developments actually are not for those most struggling to find affordable housing the most. They are far those who bought smaller, older “starter houses” in town that cost less than $250,000 and are ready to move out of them.

The true affordable housing comes in those starter houses. And the more new “accessible” houses funded by city TIFs that are built, the more those older, smaller houses become available to lower income people.

[insert laughter]

If you speak with anyone in the real estate business they will tell you that these homes are usually owned by lower income people, families, retired folks or rental property, they are not the Jeffersons moving on up. And even if what he was saying was true, most of the homes being sold in this development will go to NEW homeowners not people looking for a step up. In fact, I have argued that many of the starter homes in the lower price range (mostly in the core of the city) have more square feet and bigger yards (and basements) than what these new homes will have.

A better approach would be addressing the housing crisis we have with the people who are having the crisis;

Pat Starr, who represents the northeast district, also told Dakota News Now on Monday that city government is continuing to “dig a hole” by continuing to dig literal holes to build homes partly funded in part by Tax Increment Financing (TIFs).

“We need to talk about the real causes of the housing issues in our city rather than trying to put a band-aid and build 65 houses, which is what this program will do.” Starr said.”

“It’s not the program I’m concerned as much about as as I am figuring out who we’re trying to help. And, it seems to me we have a wage issue more than we have a housing issue.”

We must be giving a helping hand to those who are at the bottom first to lift the other boats. The city has decades long programs in place including low interest Community Development loans and grants. We also need to upgrade the existing infrastructure in our core such as streets and lighting. We can do all this using existing money in our 2nd penny and Federal dollars.

The president of Sioux Metro Growth Alliance, which helps people with payment on houses in rural and suburban communities surrounding Sioux Falls, disagrees.

“If you look at wage growth around the country and in the Sioux Falls market in the last three years, it’s been astronomical,” Jesse Fonkert said.

While wages have increased in SF, inflation and housing costs have been beyond astronomical and have wiped away any wage increases.

But Fonkert does agree with Starr’s assessment that continuing these city-funded housing projects is not solving the affordable housing crisis.

“It’s a challenging situation, because if you spend too much money on government programming, you’ll have companies that will just hike their prices up,” Fonkert said.

Notice the Sioux Steel District and Cherapa II projects didn’t announce they were building hundreds of units of affordable housing after receiving a combined TIF payout of $50 million. Developers will always go where the money is, and that is how a FREE market system works. But tax rebates for parking ramps attached to condos isn’t fixing anything it’s just making that wealth gap larger.

UPDATE III: Your Dream Home Awaits in Southwest Brandon

UPDATE III: I wanted to make a correction to some of the things being said about how the homeowners will be paying back the TIF. While I have surmised from Mr. Powers testimony last night that the repayment would go back to the developer, SF Simplified was told this from the city’s planning office;

The $2.14 million would help with the costs of getting the site ready for homes, designing, etc., and it’d be paid back to the city over the next 20 years via property taxes.

Which makes more sense since the city is footing the bill for the infrastructure, but it still puts into question what was said at the meeting last night.

Does the developer take on the $2 million in debt or the City? Is it a 15 or 20 year TIF? I’m not sure who is in charge of talking points for this project, but it gets more confusing by the day.

A city official told me today that the payback to the TIF will actually go to the bank who is giving the loan for the development, which makes sense. Oh, and guess who that bank is 🙁

UPDATE II: Finally! At the planning commission meeting tonight, commissioner Larry Luetke asks how the TIF works when it comes to the eventual purchaser. Planning staffer, Dustin Powers explained that as people purchase the homes they will have to pay their FULL property taxes then the county will pay part of those tax funds back to the developer until they hit the $2 million amount. In other words the developer is paying the full cost of the development and the homeowners will be paying back the developer thru their taxes over the next 15 years. So essentially, like Starr said last night, this is just a $2 million dollar break on the development itself, for the developer, and gives the eventual homeowner NO tax savings.

On top of that, there are NO guarantees the pricing will come in where they would like them to. The developer has already warned those prices could fluctuate (in other words go up) and there is no contractual agreement to keep the price where promised. Good for the developer, not so good for the homeowner.

*on a separate note, one of the newer commissioners called roads in a development ‘artillery roads’ instead of ‘arterial roads’. I’m not sure what an artillery road is, but if you drive around some central neighborhoods you can certainly see some streets that look like they got hit by artillery.

UPDATE: Tonight at the city council informational meeting they did a presentation on the TIF and it’s hard not to come to the conclusion that developer, not the future homeowner is benefitting from the TIF. Councilor Starr said it best when he suggested that maybe the city should just pay for the $2 million in TIF expenses (infrastructure) out of the general fund and not mess around with the TIF.

Either way, the half ass promise made from the administration, planning and the council before the last election is we were going to target affordable housing in our core, building density while cleaning up our central neighborhoods. Instead we got a ham and cheese sandwich made from Spam and Velveeta.

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The Sioux Falls Planning Commission will be mulling over TIF #26 (Items 5C & D) this next Wednesday. As you can see from the drawings below these are pretty tiny houses. I was also surprised by the floor plan in which the bedrooms were not placed next to each other with one bedroom next to the front entry.

What is curious is there is NO mention in the agenda documents about who will be getting the 15 year tax break. The developer or the new homeowner? There is also the infamous recommendation from un-elected paid planning staff;

Both staff and the development team believe this amount of TIF support is appropriate and adequate for the project to move forward, and that without TIF in this amount, this project as presented would be unable to move forward.

The classic ‘We can’t do this without the TIF.’ But again, I ask, who will be getting the tax break? How do you give a 15 year tax break to a developer who will be selling the homes? Will the new owners be getting a 15 year tax break? I’m puzzled how this will work. It appears to me that the developer will be getting a $2 million dollar tax break up front and the new homeowner will have to pay the normal taxes.

Hopefully we will hear an explanation at the meeting.

*You will also notice that the planning agenda is NOT using the annotated agenda like the city council is using now. Not sure why transparency is so hard for these folks?

Downtown Sioux Falls organization wants to increase the bid tax

Thank goodness we have a new media source in Sioux Falls covering City Hall, otherwise I would not have had any idea DTSF was planning this;

Downtown Sioux Falls, Inc. (DTSF) this month will ask the Sioux Falls City Council to get behind a proposal to get rid of a decades-old cap on the amount of revenue it can collect on parcels within the boundaries of what’s known as the Main Street Business Improvement District (BID). 

However, not everyone is on board. 

Duff Robinson, owner of a pair of properties in the northern end of downtown, said he’s not opposed to lifting the cap. But he said DTSF could capture additional revenues with a more modest change to the special assessment.

Rather than leaving the base rate of the special assessment at $1.50 per $1,000 of valuation for downtown buildings and adding a 50-cent tax on valuation beyond the $1 million value, Robinson said DTSF could capture additional dollars by lowering the base rate and relying on the overall valuation increases assessed on downtown properties by the county equalization office and a reduced base rate for the BID.

“With an 18 percent increase in valuations, they’re going to get an increase anyway even if they don’t approve this,” Robinson said, referring to average assessment increases placed on downtown properties in 2021. “I’ve come to terms with removing the cap, but I just think they should flatten it out.”

Here’s a better idea, STOP HANDING OUT $50 MILLION DOLLAR TIFS FOR PARKING RAMPS DOWNTOWN.

Isn’t it ironic that DTSF is the first to hit the podium at Carnegie talking about all the TIFilicious benefits of Tax Increment Financing then turns around and asks for a tax increase to fund its organization. Make the organization DTSF and its employees a division of the city and fund it thru the general fund and parking fund.

When disgruntled, angry developers and bondsters look me straight in the face and tell me I am lying when I point out TIFs only raise taxes on the rest of us I gladly point to this proposed increase which is a prime example of how we give massive tax cuts to very top developments downtown then turn around and increase taxes on everyone else.

Duff is correct, the increase in valuations on properties over $1 million could cover the spread, if only they were paying 100% of property taxes on day one instead of 20 years down the road.

Just further proof that TIFs don’t spur true economic development just higher taxes for the rest of us.

City of Sioux Falls planning affordable housing development in Southwest Brandon

Well not quite Brandon, but almost. (FF 1:30)

As I understand it the development is in between Washington HS and the city of Brandon on a current empty lot. They will use a TIF to help pay for the roads and utilities. The most affordable houses will be slab on grade (NO basements, not even unfinished), 1,000 sq ft, single stall garage, $250K.

I think a better approach would be building NO attached garage and putting in unfinished basements with egress windows so the basements could be finished later and a garage.

What is silly about this is that when we have talked about building density in our core and providing more affordable housing this was NOT what people were asking for. But it should be NO surprise since the public had ZERO input and the councilors were met with privately about the plan. This video is the first time anyone from the public has heard about it.

I think doing a pilot program in central Sioux Falls would have been a better way to go. You pick a 8 block area that needs some help. The city could use a TIF to rebuild the roads, sewer, water, sidewalks, curb and gutter and street lighting. Community Development could provide loans to fix up the homes in the affected area and Affordable Housing Solutions could demo and buy up empty lots for new housing in the area. Building slab on grade houses next to Brandon with no apparent public transit service will do little to solve our affordable housing issues in the core of Sioux Falls.

Mayor TenHaken’s Budget Address

During his address today there were a couple of interesting tidbits;

• He is proposing hiring an Art Specialist. He didn’t give many details but it sounded like a full time position. While I am somewhat supportive, (I think this idea has been floated by Mayor Huether and maybe even Mayor Munson) as someone said to me tonight, it seems like more of an authoritarian move to control the arts advancement in Sioux Falls (tourism). Not sure if I see that, so I will keep an open mind about the job duties. I think this will be a controversial addition and there may be dissenters on the council. I remember when TenHaken asked for a cultural officer and she quit. He may have a fight on his hands.

• Paul said there will be an announcement soon about a TIF being granted for an affordable housing project. Like the Art Specialist there were few details. I have felt that TIFs for affordable housing is a reasonable use of them, but I want to see if the TIF will benefit the dwellers or the developers.

While the meeting WAS posted in advanced on the city website, the PPT was not included. When the meeting started there was NO link to the live feed on the city website for at least 10 minutes at the beginning. Fortunately, Dakotanews was streaming the meeting on FB with their own cameras. I just find it ironic that Mr. TechNology was so concerned about his PPT being posted in advance they had to delay the live feed so it would NOT appear until after the meeting started.

The Tifilicious Welfare Downtown Developers want to buy up the homeless shelters

I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry when I read this article about the DTSF developers behind Cherapa XXX;

And concerns about Cherapa Place colliding with Bishop Dudley Hospitality House or Union Gospel Men’s Center have not made developers wary. Although there might be the possibility that rising values could cause the shelters to sell, overall Pendar Properties hopes to work on a solution that works for all parties.

“I think what we do is we make this work together. There is a division, but it can be something we make positive,” Scherschligt told the Argus Leader.

Gee, like putting them somewhere else to begin with? It reminds me of the quiet zones. This stuff should have been negotiated to begin with, now we are going to throw even more tax dollars at the problems (that is who is paying for the quiet zones and eventually the relocation of the shelters).

I don’t expect our leaders to have a ton of vision, well maybe I do, but common sense would be nice.

Failures of the RR Redevelopment negotiations rear their head again

And here we go, throwing more Federal money at the project and it’s an EMERGENCY even though the trains have tooting their horns through SF for over 100 years!

While I don’t oppose creating quiet zones throughout the city (even though we know this is probably for DTSF exclusively) it is pretty obvious we have to do this because we failed to remove the RR tracks from downtown during the negotiations. While it will make DTSF safer with the crossbars, the only noise it eliminates is the sirens from the trains, you will continue to hear them barrel down the track and cause traffic interruptions.

I have NO DOUBT the Feds will probably reimburse the state, but you have to admit since we didn’t successfully remove the tracks from this area to begin with, we are just playing a game of whack a mole and this is the latest.

So far the developer in this area has received millions in improvements to the River Greenway, a significant discount on the land, multiple TIFs (to build condos) and now another $5 million to create quiet zones next to those condos.

Here’s a concept DON’T BUILD CONDOS AND APARTMENTS NEXT TO A RAILROAD TRACK, or better yet work with our Washington delegates to get the tracks torn out. Nope, let’s just keep throwing tax dollars at small bandaids that doesn’t fix the bigger problem TRAINS RUMBLING THROUGH DOWNTOWN FOR NO DAMN GOOD REASON!