Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Rapid City City Council Votes Unanimously to Increase TIF for Presidential Plaza

Last night the Rapid City City Council voted 10-0 increase the TIF (Tax Increment Financing) from 5 million  dollars capped in 2009  to 23.4 million dollars (the amount approved in 2007) for the Presidential Plaza. The expansion of the TIF will help make the financing of the,41 million dollar to 48 million dollar, project possible.

The project will change the look, feel, and future planning of downtown. The building will have a 600 spot parking garage,seventeen story hotel condominium tower, and  80,000 square feet of retail space. A picture of the building posted with a Rapid City Journal article shows a similar style to the remodeled  building done by Main Street Square. The building would change the landscape of Downtown Rapid City. Compared to the tall buildings such as; Turnac Tower, the BHP building, the Radisson Hotel and the Historic Alex Johnson Hotel (which has been there since 1928). The proposed tower will dwarf them all. 

The project once finished should  bring  the city 800,000 dollars in tax revenue. Ward 4 city council member John Roberts quoted in the Rapid City Journal said, "We're taking a piece of property that hasn't had anything on it for 35 years, and we're going to put it back on the tax rolls."  Currently there is a city parking lot in the suggested location, and the revenue brought by the building through property taxes will dwarf revenue from the parking meters and parking fines that the city currently receives on the property.

If the building is completed, it would be a great addition to Downtown Rapid City, but there are possible problems if it is completed. One it will change the building style of downtown. Currently, many of the buildings are three stories or less. A higher building may seem out of place or destroy the "look" of downtown. Granted, changes of downtown could revitalize it, but the building would probably look out of place. 

Another problem is, will it be completed? This is the second time that this project has been attempted. The failure of the first time caused the TIF to be lowered to 5 million dollars. The city through the TIF is nearly putting up 50 percent of the building cost. Granted there are safeguards through the TIF process that will protect the tax payers, but it is a huge risk especially in a down economy.

Traffic will be another issue that the building will affect. The argument for this similar to the Main Street Square is that these buildings will do better with a slower traffic flow. Example of this would be Phillips Ave in Sioux Falls, SD.  Sioux Falls has made a nice downtown atmosphere. This is done by making the street pedestrian friendly. The problem with this is the roads downtown are major thoroughfares through the city. Without those roads,  might cause traffic more congestion in the city.  Granted it is a far out idea, but it could happen.

Overall, the building would be a great addition to downtown. It will probably help revive downtown by bringing  new businesses. Granted there are many questions that will need to be answered before full support should be given to the project. I am though optimistic that this project will revitalize downtown and help cut down the sprawl. Time will tell, and more post probably to come...


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