Downtown Rapid City parking lot could get new life

By  | 

RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA TV) - A downtown parking lot could get a new life.

Presidents Plaza in downtown Rapid City could be getting a makeover. (KOTA TV)

Mayor Steve Allender is hoping to get the ball rolling once again on the property at the corner of Fifth Street and Saint Joseph Street. However, the city is outsourcing who picks what will go there to Elevate Rapid City.

The economic development organization is now in charge of the next phase of a million-dollar city property in the heart of downtown.

"There's been a lot of questions over the last several years about this lot and what it might hold for our future. I think this is going to be the cornerstone development for the new downtown Rapid City," said Rapid City Mayor Steve Allender.

Allender is passing the planning process to decide what will go in the city parking lot, known as Presidents Plaza, to Elevate Rapid City. It's a public/private economic development organization sponsored, in part by some Rapid City's biggest developers.

"We would not put an Elevate sponsor's proposed project at the top of the list without justification or some type of objective criteria. I don't see that as being a problem at all," said Allender.

Developing titan Hani Shafai attempted to build a 40 million dollar, 15- story structure on the site that was ultimately scuttled by the city council in 2016.

"The Presidents Plaza development failed and by my perspective, it failed primarily at the hands of the City of Rapid City. The council voted unanimously at that time to allow the RFP process, the vetting of projects, and all that first phase of the selection process to be completed without their involvement," said Allender.

Now, Elevate is accepting and reviewing project proposals and will choose one to submit to the city council. But until then the process will be kept from the public.

"I don't believe the initial letters of interest will be open to the public. We're not going submit the proposals to a public vote. I think we are going to keep that within the group for the vetting process when a proposal is selected then at that point it would start to become public," said Allender.

Letters of interest from qualified developers are due August 5th and complete proposals are due August 21st.