Major development project plans taking shape in Tea

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TEA, S.D. (KSFY) - A 270 acre development just off I-29 is likely going to create some major changes in the city of Tea.

"We really feel that Tea is going to be connected to Sioux Falls here very, very shortly, so we wanted to be part of that," Dan Lemme, of Sundowner Investments Group said.

Lemme and Tea Mayor John Lawler both agree that soon the city limits between Sioux Falls and Tea will be as blurred as the lines between Bloomington and Minneapolis.

"It will be seamless," Lemme said.

He and partner Joel Ingle, both of Harr & Lemme, have been collecting land off the I-29 exit into Tea for awhile now.

"We started with property on 85th St. and that's where the new interchange is being planned," Lemme said. "And when the property south of that became available, we bought that."

Lawler has been part of Tea's city government for 20 years. Mayor for the last 16 and on the city council for four years before that. The whole time, he's been watching the city change.

"It's changed, you know, tremendous," Lawler said. "If you want to look at the census numbers back in 1990, we had a little over 700 people you take a look at now, we're over 5,000 residents. So we've seen a lot of growth"

The 270 acres of land is located just off the I-29 exit into Tea and will soon be the first thing people see as they're coming into the city. Right now, it's just a field, and down the street there are a few businesses -- a gas station, a restaurant and casino and a few other retailers.

"Whether you take a look at Highway 106 or the future expansion on 85th St. both of those are going to be the gateways coming into Tea so it's us being able to help what the city's going to look like," Lawler said.

The property is being zoned strictly as commercial and industrial. Lemme said it's being graded now and there won't be any homes built in the area. Construction can begin as early as this spring and the prime real estate is already drawing interest.

"We're expecting that, that's gonna be a higher caliber of development -- restaurants, motels, things like that," Lemme said.

Lemme said they're in discussions with one "big box" retailer they're hoping to land and believe once that happens, the rest of the businesses will follow. But that's not all ...

"There's some older buildings -- when we get down there -- that's gonna draw the value you up in those properties and then there will be redevelopment occurring at the same time," Lemme said.

And it will create local jobs.

"We're such a bedroom community like a lot of the communities around Sioux Falls where people are living in the city but not being able to work in the city," Lawler said. "So this creates a great opportunity to create jobs that will be right there."

Lemme said the project is called Bakker Crossing and they are hoping the project will become the "Lake Lorraine" of Tea.