Deadlines set for Rapid City downtown development

December 17, 2013 • Business

FILE – This Nov. 7, 2011, file photo, shows a model of the proposed Presidents Plaza to be built in Rapdi City, S.D. The Rapid City Council voted on Monday, Dec. 16, 2013, to allow until 2016 before construction has to start on the proposed $50 million President’s Plaza project. (AP Photo/Rapid City Journal, Ryan Soderlin, File)

RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) — Rapid City Council members have set deadlines for a proposed $50 million downtown development but say they still support the project that was first proposed seven years [auth] ago.

The President’s Plaza project is to include a mix of retail shops, a hotel, a convention center, condominiums and a 500-stall parking garage. More time is needed to secure financing, according to Hani Shafai, president of developer Dream Design International.

“Some folks were worried about the project dragging along too long, and we share their concerns,” he said. “We don’t want to drag it on any longer than what it should take, because we have actually more invested in it than anybody else.”

The deadlines for President’s Plaza include having a contract secured by the end of 2015 and having construction under way within the first six months of 2016. If the $50 million design isn’t achievable, the developers are required to either move forward with a scaled-down design or abandon the project by Jan. 31, 2015. If the deadlines aren’t met, the project could lose a city tax incentive, economic development money and land aid.

Mayor Sam Kooiker had pushed for a Dec. 1, 2014, contract deadline and a construction start by the spring of 2015 on either the current design or a scaled-down version, saying the project has been given enough breaks.

Councilman Chad Lewis said the council needs to fully support a project that promises to transform the city’s downtown.

“It takes a lot of patience, a lot of ability to overcome adversity,” Lewis said of developing large projects. “You can’t be overly controlling, you can’t be overly anxious, you have to sit back and deal with a thousand and one things that go wrong, and they do.”

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