City Council Votes To Move Forward With Parking Ramp Project

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – On Tuesday evening, Sioux Falls city council took up another vote regarding the controversial parking ramp project downtown.

City council already approved it a month ago– but Tuesday night– it was a closer vote to continue the project– with public funds contributing about $ 20 million of its $50 million price tag.

Emotions were high during the city council meeting. Five of the eight council members voted in support the parking project, but that wasn’t without public outcry.

The parking ramp will sit on East 10th Street and Mall Avenue, and could reach up to 14 stories tall.

Supporters say this could be big development for downtown Sioux Falls and would provide much-needed parking spaces.

Two city councilors spoke out against the multi-million dollar project. Councilors Theresa Stehly and Pat Starr put forth two measures Tuesday, but those ultimately failed.

One proposed ordinance concerned the usage of bonds to pay for the project.

The other measure would have de-authorized the agreement between the mayor and the construction companies to go ahead with the project.

“In light of the recent developments concerning the guarantors of legacy development and facing the possibility of criminal charges that many many questioned and we’ve heard people talk today, I want to say I’m deeply grateful,” said Stehly.

There’s another element of the project to consider: it was recently revealed that Hultgren Construction, a big player in the project, settled with the state over allegations of improper cancer-causing asbestos removal from the former Copper Lounge before it collapsed, allegedly violating OSHA and environmental regulations.

Hultgren construction has been dissolved, but Aaron Hultgren was initially one of four personal guarantors for the new parking ramp project.

For Mike Fodness, the parking project is personal. His daughter Emily was trapped during the Copper Lounge collapse in December 2016.

“That dreams turned into a nightmare for my family,” said Fodness. “Our family lost everything material and sentimental that we ever owned. Our lives were turned upside down. My daughter almost died.”

Emily is alive, but her father says she has physical challenges and PTSD from the incident in which another person– a construction worker– died.

Mike Fodness says he doesn’t want to risk this happening to another family.

He immediately stood up and left the meeting once city council voted to move forward with the parking project.

However, there was a twist. Marshall Selberg from city council, who voted in favor of the parking ramp, confirmed that Lamont Companies will now be a liability company in the project and not Hultgren Construction.

After Tuesday’s vote, the project should become a reality. Construction will begin in Spring of 2018. They expect the first full year of operation will be in 2020.