Developers plan major renovation, expansion of downtown Huey building

July 20, 2018

The downtown Huey Apartments building will become a mix of renovated loft apartments, and restaurant, event and rooftop space if a development plan can clear city hurdles.

Green Acre Cos., which has an office in downtown’s Shriver Square, has an agreement to buy the Huey building at 112 N. Phillips Ave. in January 2019.

The prospective owners are hoping to make a $13 million investment in the almost 40-year-old building, doubling it in size to 90,000 square feet.

All renderings by Koch Hazard Architects

“It’s one of the only buildings in downtown Sioux Falls with Phillips Avenue and riverfront views, and the only residential property that has Phillips and riverfront views. Every single view and every floor will be floor-to-ceiling windows,” partner Josh Aberson said.

There are 62 one-bedroom lofts planned that will all include patios or balconies and feature exposed concrete and beams with modern amenities and “an incredible level of quality and character.”

The first floor will include space that’s being envisioned as a bar and restaurant and an event space. The developers are talking to tenants who would operate each and have access to significant rooftop space.

“I think it’s safe to say this is probably the largest amount of patio space in downtown Sioux Falls,” Aberson said.

There would be enclosed space on the roof that could be used for events and dining all year, he said, as well as space just for residents.

The building is set between the recently renovated Equity Square building on the southeast corner of Eighth Street and Phillips Avenue and the historic former Great Western building at Ninth and Phillips, which is being renovated into the boutique Hotel Phillips.

“It’s an incredible opportunity for downtown Sioux Falls,” Aberson said. “We see it as the cherry on top, not just for that block in particular but downtown as a whole – a way to bring together Uptown, downtown and the East Bank.”

Green Acre was formed in 2010 by Aberson and Byron Schafersman. It started with residential real estate, which is still a business line, but a newer addition, Green Acre Development, focuses on infill development, Aberson said.

The company acquired its first Iowa project earlier this year with a historic building in downtown Des Moines.

The Huey Apartments were built in 1979 and are rented by income-qualified residents. There are 46 units and the property has a contract with HUD to rent based on tenant incomes.

The building is not fully occupied, and the agreement to buy it calls for the property to be vacant in early 2019.

To move forward, though, Aberson and Schafersman are asking the city to declare a portion of property behind the building surplus. It’s 35 feet by 100 feet and 12.5 feet high, and they say they need to purchase it so their project can be built large enough that it works financially.

The City Council deferred a vote on the resolution to declare the property surplus this week after neighboring tenants opposed it.

The owners of Equity Square, which is located to the north, and several tenants in that building contend that the property shouldn’t be considered surplus because it is still “necessary, useful and suitable,” which is the criteria under state law for determining surplus property.

Property owner Riverview Square LLC “believes and has taken a position that this area absolutely remains ‘necessary, useful and suitable’ as it provides the only access to underground parking at Equity Square and its loading dock. This loading dock is critical for trash removal and also for deliveries to long-standing tenants and for the planned restaurant space along the river,” according to a statement from the group’s attorney, John Quaintance.

“Therefore, we strongly oppose a proposal contrary to the law and designed to increase the value of a property that is not yet developed while decreasing the value and utility of a property that is already developed and occupied by many tenants, some of whom were actively recruited to establish their business in the state.”

Another vote is scheduled Aug. 7.

“This project cannot and will not happen without the city having the ability to declare the ground surplus,” Aberson said, adding a perpetual easement ensures his neighbors will have access to their parking area.

“We cannot and would not ever be able to build anything that would take away from the building owner being able to access their parking structure.”

The Riverview owners believe the structural requirements for a project of that size will require elements on the easement area that would obstruct and interfere with the space as it currently is used, Quaintance said.

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Developers plan major renovation, expansion of downtown Huey building

The downtown Huey Apartments building will become a mix of renovated loft apartments and restaurant, event and rooftop space if a development plan can clear city hurdles.

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