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Oaks Hotel Still Not Down, City Could Step In

August 31, 2010, 5:52 PM by Shawn Neisteadt

Oaks Hotel Still Not Down, City Could Step In
SIOUX FALLS, SD - The building was supposed to be gone by now, making way for a new upscale hotel and convention center. But the former Oaks Hotel in Sioux Falls is still there.

It's now been more than two months since city leaders celebrated the developer's plans for the site. Those plans have yet to be put into action.

It is no longer a celebration for city leaders. In fact, their patience is starting to run thin as they wait for progress with the old Oaks Hotel. But one way or another, the building will likely see work and soon.

Time has not been kind to the Oaks Hotel. Vacant since 2008, the building is showing its issues including busted windows and a leaking ceiling.

"As a community that takes pride in its appearance, it’s embarrassing to us," Assistant Director of Planning and Building Services Kevin Smith said.

Now the city planning office wants the owner of the Oaks to fulfill his promise to remove asbestos from the building and tear it down, something the owner had planned to do a month ago.

"It is something we have talked with him about personally and expressed our frustration and passed along the frustration of the neighboring property owners. We want to see the same thing the public does, that the building is demolished as soon as possible," Smith said.

The property owner, David Graham, said he did not have time for an on camera interview Tuesday. However, over the phone, he told KELOLAND News he has taken bids to get the asbestos removed and a contractor has been selected. But no timeline for that work has been set.

"We really do need to see some work out there very soon," Smith said.

If that doesn't happen, the city could step in, have the work done and then charge Graham for the work.  Smith says that could soon be an option for the city, but he wants to make sure Graham is given every opportunity before the city makes a move.

"We do value personal property rights, but we also value the health and safety of our citizens. If something gets to be a nuisance to where we have to step in, which we have done in other instances, we're prepared to go that route," Smith said.

In June, Graham said when the work is done, the new development will include a pair of hotels, bar, restaurant, convention space and a water park.

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