The city of Rapid City plans to settle two lengthy lawsuits

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RAPID CITY S.D. (KOTA TV) - The city of Rapid City is in the process of settling two lawsuits, including one that would put a formal end to the more than 10 year experiment with the Presidents Plaza project.

The big dreams of towering residential, retail and parking project downtown ended last year when the city terminated its agreement with the developer.

A lawsuit was then filed by Presidents Plaza LLC developers, Hani Shafai and Pat Hal, which said the city breached its contract by not acting in good faith.

In a letter the developer said a lack of support caused interested tenants to fail to commit, and destroyed their chances of getting a tax credit and private financing.

In the settlement proposal, the city agrees to pay a portion of President Plaza's out of pocket expenses.

"If this went to trial they wouldn't need to prove that they would've gotten the new market tax credits,” said city attorney, Joel Landeen. “All they would need to show is that the city acted in bad faith."

The developer blames former Mayor Sam Kooiker for breaching the contract and sinking the project.

"It's not for me to say whose fault it is but I will say if your read their letter, their claim focuses on former mayor Kooiker,” said Landeen. “That is their allegation that this really came down to his activities of what resulted in a breach of contract."

A settlement agreement is also in place with Outdoor Epic Advertising.

In 2012 the business filed a lawsuit against the city regarding its 'sign' ordinance.

In the settlement the city is agreeing to change their current ordinance, allowing an increase in the size and height of billboards along the interstate.

“"So we limited the change to along the interstates, so there won't be larger billboards anywhere in the city other than along the interstate,” said Landeen.

The City Council expects to make both settlement agreements final by June 19.