Flood-plain update: Developers, planners anticipate construction boom

Sioux Falls’ $65 million investment in a new and improved flood levee system is about to pay dividends.

Southwest Sioux Falls is on the cusp of a construction boom with new retail, restaurants and possibly hotels set to spring up in areas that have been off-limits to developers for years.

The projects – around 40 have been submitted to City Hall – are moving forward because of a major and long anticipated update of federal flood risk maps.

“The construction that is going to take place out there in the next two years is going to be incredible,” said Jeff Schmitt, chief zoning official for Sioux Falls.

Schmitt and local developers expects tens, if not hundreds, of millions worth of construction in the coming years as a direct result of the new flood risk maps, including a 28,000-square foot Tires, Tires, Tires retail store and parking lot north of Lowe’s Home Improvement. The planned location – near 26th Street and St. Michaels Circle – is among about 1,700 Sioux Falls properties set to come out of the flood plain when the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s new maps are adopted.

And though that’s still a few months away, Schmitt said his office is currently reviewing up to 40 building project plans and processing dozens of rezone applications from property owners and developers anticipating the adoption of the new maps.

“I had two calls this morning about projects on the Empire Mall site,” he said.

Developers are still waiting for the all clear to commence construction on their planned projects, though. While the maps won’t officially take effect until early 2017, Schmitt said when the city receives what’s called a “letter of final determination” from FEMA in August, builders will be able to move ahead with their projects.

“(Developers) can get their plans in here now and they can get a (building) permit once we get the letter of final determination,” Schmitt said.

Among the first projects set to go in August is a new McDonald’s restaurant at the franchise’s 4000 W. 41st St. location, which has been held up for years because of federal flood-related restrictions on building there. When finished, that store will be modernized and similar to the size and design of the 57th Street and Louise Avenue location.

Just to the southwest, Hegg Companies is planning a multi-million retail center between the mall and Old Chicago. Paul Hegg, president and CEO of Hegg Companies, said without the new maps, building on that site wouldn’t be possible without clearing a lot of red tape and additional construction costs.

“We would have had to raise the site five feet, which kind of renders it undevelopable. It would have looked like an ant hill,” he said. “We are in design stages right now on some building options for some retail there … so we will be ready to roll as soon as that gets approved by FEMA.”

Being partially in the flood zone has held up work along Lake Lorraine where a senior living center, retail and restaurants are going up. Steve Van Buskirk with Van Buskirk Companies said the  northeast corner of the development where a 180,000 square-foot, $18 million retail center slated to go is in limbo until the city gives the go-ahead. But aside from directly benefiting his company’s projects, the new maps will have far-reaching benefits for the entire community.

“There’s a limit of how much improvement dollars you can put into an existing building if it’s in the flood plain. The improvement dollars that are possible after this thing gets done is staggering,” he said. “This is a nice global solution that really puts the whole issue to bed for lots of property and really opens things up.”

EXPECTED PROJECTS

McDonald’s – The new flood-risk maps will allow the McDonald’s franchise to raze and rebuild its 4000 W. 41st St. location to mirror other Sioux Falls locations.

Culver’s – The Louise Avenue location has long had ambitions to expand and upgrade, and city planners expect that to happen when new flood maps take effect.

Granite City – The brewery and restaurant will be able to expand and upgrade its Louise Avenue location.

Caribou Coffee – The coffee shop is expected to open next to Five Guys at 49th Street and Louise Avenue after building restrictions are loosened when the new maps take effect.

Retail center – Hegg Companies plans to build a multi-million dollar retail center south of Old Chicago in the coming months.

Hotel – City planners say a new hotel near Club House Hotel and Suites and Johnny Carino’s on Louise Avenue will be built thanks to the new flood plain boundaries.

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See the original article at ArgusLeader.com