SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The discussion surrounding the seven-story parking ramp located on East 10th Street in downtown Sioux Falls is picking up. 

On Tuesday, Erica Beck, chief of staff for Mayor Paul TenHaken, returned to the city council informational meeting to lay out a timeline for what city council members can expect as the city looks at options on what to do with the former Village on the River site.  

This was Beck’s second presentation to the city council on the project and she stressed the mayor’s office wants to be as transparent as possible over discussions on finding partners or developers for the site.   

Ahead of a future September 13 meeting, Beck said there will be a lot of information gathering of the existing parking ramp and the adjunct lot including drone footage of the lot, architectural details, a review of a downtown market analysis, input from industry leaders and input from the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, Sioux Falls Development Foundation, Downtown Sioux Falls, the planning commission and parking board. 

Another informational meeting between the mayor’s office and city council is scheduled for October 11.

While that work happens, the city will proceed with improvements at the ramp and the empty lot adjacent to the parking ramp. The plan includes a temporary mural and a plaza for walking, sitting and informal games to be on the site instead of an undeveloped patch of land.

A rendering of a mural and plaza at the parking ramp on 10th Street. Photo from city of Sioux Falls.

Beck said she wants the city council to set development expectations for the site which was first proposed as a one-of-kind development 15 stories tall with a hotel, restaurants and shops all built on top of a city parking garage. 

“What types of activity might it bring to our downtown and the types of taxable revenues that would come along with that,” Beck said. “When we do go out for solicitation of interest in this site, we’re very clear of what our expectations as a whole are for that site. That’s the type of information the development community wants and expects us to provide.”      

City council members Greg Neitzert and Marshall Selberg both praised Beck’s open engagement with involving the city council in the process. 

Lease, sale of entire site or just air rights 

One of the first points the city will have to decide when looking for further development at the site is whether to sell the parking ramp as part of an entire package, build on top of the parking ramp and lease that space or sell the air rights or lease the air rights above the parking ramp. 

City council member Selberg asked Beck to define air rights and added he immediately thinks of developers in New York City.  In legal real estate terms, air rights refers to the ability to occupy the vertical air space above a plot of real estate. 

Beck agreed air rights are not common for Sioux Falls and they need to be factored in for the appraisal of the parking ramp. 

“We’re talking about the lease or sale of the air rights on top of the ramp,” Beck said, adding the adjacent property would have air rights as well that could be sold along with those above the parking ramp or separately. 

Beck said because air rights are so uncommon, that’s why developers have reached out about the possibility of the city selling the entire property as it exists today. Beck said the unknown adds some fear to thinking about what could happen in the future. 

The timeline for reaching out to possible developers is for late October or early November, Beck said. 

Neitzert asked whether a new parking study would be helpful when weighing whether to possibly sell the parking ramp to a private entity and wondered what’s the wisest move from a city perspective for the site. 

Beck responded she hopes some of the parking study will be answered in the downtown 2035 plan market analysis. She said the city has reached out to parking consultants about how parking ramp shares have worked in other cities.