SIOUX FALLS, SD (KELO) — A longtime critic of the Village on the River development says the city failed taxpayers when it came to approving the project in the first place.
On Tuesday, we learned that the city ended its agreement with the Village River Group to build a 15-story hotel and retail complex on top of the publicly-funded parking ramp under construction in downtown Sioux Falls. A city council member says the inability of the private developers to follow through on their end of the deal means taxpayers will be left holding the bag.
The City of Sioux Falls says this $21-million parking ramp will move forward as a stand-alone project. But it’s also not ruling out another private mixed-use development at this site in the future. City council member Theresa Stehly says the Village on the River was likely doomed from the beginning.
She’s stopping short of saying “I told you so,” but Theresa Stehly had problems with how the city signed-off on the Village on the River Project from the get-go.
“I hate to be vindicated in this instance, but I will say that I have been trying to alert the public,” Stehly said.
Stehly says the city failed to properly vet the investors behind the Village on the River project, while approving what she calls an overpriced parking ramp.
“This was just ram-rodded through. They just had this idea, public-private partnership, it was go, go, go,” Stehly said.
Stehly says the burden of paying for the $21-million parking ramp now falls solely on city residents since there will be no private revenue coming in to offset the costs.
“The worst-case scenario is rates go up for the parking users and the second-penny is used, that’s the worst-case,” Stehly said.
Stehly says she would like to see some type of private development go on top of this parking ramp, just so long as the city does its due diligence in finding the right investors.
“At the end of the day, we gotta make sure we’re protecting taxpayers, so whatever it takes,” Stehly said.
Stehly says if new private investors do step forward each step of the approval process must be made open to the public.
KELOLAND News reached out to other members of the city council for comment, but they referred our questions to the Sioux Falls city attorney.