SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - Tuesday night the Sioux Falls City Council voted down two ordinances to repeal the council's decision to move forward with a $50 million mixed-use parking ramp project. They also revealed a big change coming to the project.
Councilors Theresa Stehly and Pat Starr brought these ordinances forward after learning one of the projects guarantors, Aaron Hultgren, was under a federal criminal investigation for Copper Lounge building collapse.
Hultgren is also an employee of Legacy Development, the project's developer.
But at the meeting it was revealed that a new developer is planning to take over the project and they will be taking Hultgren's place as a guarantor.
The meeting began with Mike Fodness addressing the council during the public comment period.
His family lived above the Copper Lounge and his daughter Emily was trapped inside the rubble when the building fell.
“We have been silent publicly during this past year regarding the horrific and preventable collapse of the Copper Lounge building. We have done so at deference to the McMahon family's loss of Ethan,” Fodness said.
He expressed his disappointment with the council's vote to work with Aaron Hultgren and Legacy Development.
“When this body voted to partner with Aaron Hultgren and Legacy Development on a $50 million parking ramp and hotel project we were bewildered, angry, and frustrated,” he said.
And asked them to reconsider.
“I strongly encourage the council to reconsider getting further involved in a developer who is associated with criminal and OSHA investigations, illegal dumping of asbestos, failure to pay fines assessed by the state, and a complete failure to address the harm caused by victims of the building collapse,” he said.
Before the council could vote on the ordinances it was revealed that a new developer is planning to take over the project.
“We have received an assignment request from the developer that would assign this development agreement from Legacy Development to Village River Group which would be managed by Mr. Jeff Lamont,” Sioux Falls Community Development Director Daren Ketcham said.
Jeff Lamont is the CEO of Lamont Companies from Aberdeen.
He would replace Aaron Hultgren as a guarantor on this project and become the manager of the company completing the development.
This transfer is called an assignment and assumption agreement.
It has been signed and will be final when the city approves the agreement.