SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO)– Millions of your tax dollars are going to the largest public-private development in Sioux Falls history.
But Friday night, the $70 million Village on the River project, at least the private development part of it, is on hold after developers failed to meet payment deadlines.
KELOLAND Investigates has been looking into what’s causing the stall amid the controversial history of the developers in the city partnership.
$21 million is the taxpayer share of the Village on the River City parking ramp. It cost the City an extra $6 million to make the ramp fit a multi-use project. The ramp is going up, but construction on the 15 story building which will include a hotel won’t get underway as planned this month.
You may remember Jeff Lamont joined forces with Paul Cink, Norm Drake and Larry Canfield all of Legacy Development and Consulting LLC to form Village River Group LLC and it got the city’s bid on the project. Now Village River Group LLC is proposing changes and we don’t know at what cost to you the taxpayer.
Ever since it was announced, Village on the River has been under heavy scrutiny because of the involvement of some of the partners from Legacy Development and Consulting, LLC. It is among the companies facing civil lawsuits following the Deadly Copper Lounge building collapse.
But Jeff Lamont told KELOLAND News in August that he is the one making the decisions for Village River Group, not those affiliated with Legacy Development and Consulting LLC.
“They’re a small partner in this project and have no control at all. I’ve never done any projects with them ever in the past no ties, they can’t make any decisions on this project,” Lamont said on August 1, 2018.
According the city of Sioux Falls, while Legacy Development and Consulting LLC, paid the first $150,000 in a check signed by Norm Drake, a second payment of $350,000 in order for construction work to begin on the hotel has not been paid. The city says Village River Group must make a third payment for a total of $1 million to the city.
“What’s alarming is that the project is on hold. We’ve missed some deadlines. Where I’m concerned is that there are contractors and subcontractors and people who are involve in this project moving forward have had to change their schedules,” City Councilman Pat Starr said.
Back in August Mayor Paul TenHaken spoke out in confidence of the project’s developer and in his Chief of Staff Erica Beck.
It’s easy to be an arm chair attorney as a lot of us are and look from the outside. But once I got in, met with my city legal office, my chief of staff is one of their leading experts in this region, on public/private partnerships in development; she’s vetted this thoroughly,” Sioux Falls Mayor Paul TenHaken said on August 1, 2018
Friday Erica Beck issued us a statement saying that the city is reviewing the changes to determine the financial impact:
Beck said, “We are reviewing proposed changes in the project scope that were brought to the city by the developer to determine the financial impact to the city. Our top priorities are complying with the existing agreement and avoiding financial burdens to the taxpayers as a results of any proposed changes.”
We were told no one from City Hall was available Friday for an interview.
“I think the public has a right to know what those changes are as we are considering them, because we had a deal and if there are changes to the deal, as part of open and transparent government, we should have that,” Pat Starr said.