Mixed emotions on downtown Sioux Falls parking ramp before Tuesday's vote

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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. Plans for the new mixed-use parking ramp in Sioux Falls are up for approval next week. It would include more than 500 public parking spaces, 120 hotel rooms and nearly 40,000 square feet of commercial space, but some city councilors have doubts about the project.

The new 13-story building downtown could appear right behind PAve. But, Sioux Falls City Council Member Theresa Stehly has some concerns and sent out more than 2,000 of these postcards to get the word out.

"It has turned into a mammoth $21 million parking ramp that will support a private developer's hotel," Stehly said.

One big concern for Stehly is who's investing in the project.

"They have revealed four front-men for the project that will be tied intimately to city money, but I have requested repeatedly to know who the other investors are, who will be partnering with us and they have refused to reveal those names," Stehly said.

Fellow Sioux Falls City Council Member Christine Erickson says the four main investors have already signed on 100%.

"There's always other investors in projects everywhere in the community. It's very common and I think that there's a risk to having every single name be out there as far as being these investors," Erickson said.

Another thing Erickson wants the people of Sioux Falls to know is that the project is a public-private partnership.

"We are not using sales tax dollars for this. We use the enterprise funds. You're paying for parking downtown. Those dollars will be going towards paying for this and so it's a self-funded project, which I think is really exciting," Erickson said.

Stehly wants to protect the taxpayers and supports downtown growth.

"We need to wait until the next administration after April, the next council. We're going to have a turnover and let's reevaluate this to make sure we're doing what's best for the whole community. We don't want to be putting the citizens in jeopardy in any way, shape or form," Stehly said.

Erickson points out that parking structures in downtown fill the need and are 99% fully leased and generate zero property taxes.

"When you put this mixed-used structure here, it will generate about $340,000 in property taxes benefiting the city, benefiting the schools and benefiting the county and I think that's the huge component that's being lost through this conversation and this debate. It's self-funded and the opportunity is just great for our community," Erickson said.

One of the developers will lease parking spaces in the mixed-use ramp and will pay around $75/space monthly.

One thing Erickson and Stehly hope Sioux Falls residents will do is to contact their city council members, all listed on the postcard Stehly sent out, and voice their concerns or ask any questions.

The Sioux Falls City Council will have a second reading on the mixed-use ramp on Tuesday. They'll also vote to approve the project, which could lead to construction starting this spring.

If you want any more information, previous stories on the project are linked next to the article.