The SF Business Journal just released an article on the investment predictability at the Event Center site at the Arena/Convention Center. If you haven't read this article in the SF Business Journal, take a moment and read it here.
Good grief! Where were all these developers when the debate on the Event Center was going on? The one thing people may not have understood in the massive campaign to "sell" the Event Center was that all the information was just "estimates and assumptions." There were no real hard facts to support all those figures of generating revenue. Now that the citizens have voted, we hear from the very people who will develop those investment spin offs from the Event Center.
“I think the new events center will add a whole new dynamic to the area because of its massiveness and newness,” said developer Craig Lloyd of Lloyd Cos. “Will that attract development and entrepreneurs to go out there? I don’t know."
AECOM estimated the events center could attract $6.7 million in new investment, which would result in $30,000 in additional property taxes. “The existing visitor-serving facilities within the complex have had little impact on business attraction to the area,” the report concluded, noting that financing projects might be difficult because the area has not shown a record of many successful developments.
“It’s all true,” Lloyd said. “You’re not surrounded by residential. Rooftops drive restaurants, retail and offices. It’s just going to be tough to go out there. The first couple people are going to have to be real pioneers.”
Developer Jim Dunham of The Dunham Co. agreed. “I think the events center, long term, will be good for Sioux Falls and good for the economy,” he said. “But it’s unfortunate that due to the location it will not drive other development. It will have no impact on the immediate area. It’s not an area where you’d go build a spec strip mall or office building because you’re not going to get anybody to move out there.” The former Oaks hotel site along Russell Street might be redeveloped, but other opportunities are minimal, Dunham said. “It’s just an area nobody drives on a daily basis,” he said. “I can’t imagine what you would build out there, maybe a convenience store, maybe a liquor store. I can’t imagine what you can add that would survive on just the events center alone.”
Councilor Entenman is optimistic. Let's hope he can put on his developer hat and help Darrin Smith and Mike Cooper in encouraging developers, hotel and restaurant owners to build or expand out there. No one has wanted to even after the Convention Center was built out there decades ago.
The City is committing a lot of taxpayer dollars to this enterprise. Without their success in transforming that area into an economic and commercial success, it will just become another building in an area of economic desolation. That would be very disappointing and would be a BIG broken promise to the tax paying public who will be paying for it for the next 22 years. Let's hope the Mayor, Smith and Cooper are up to the task. They got the people to vote yes. Now, get to work and transform that area so it will bring in the revenue necessary to pay for it. That would be exciting!