Tea taking off with major development planned

Jan. 29, 2018

This piece is presented by the Lincoln County Economic Development Association.

It’s called Bakker Landing, and it’s likely going to play a big role in how Tea develops next.

Sundowner Investments Group, which includes Dan Lemme and Joel Ingle, has been watching, waiting and adding land between Sioux Falls and Tea for more than a decade.

“We put part of it under contract 15 years ago, basically bought it as a farm and future investment,” Ingle said.

Late last year, the group added 144 acres, giving them a total of 270 acres from 85th Street to County Road 106 between Sundowner Avenue and Interstate 29.

“We’re thinking we’ve really got an opportunity to do about anything there,” Ingle said.

Others also are seeing significant opportunity in Tea, which saw its population cross the 5,000 mark in the past two years.

“We hope we’re poised to have some of the right things happening,” Mayor John Lawler said. “It’s been steady, consistent growth on the residential side. We’re hoping for more activity on the commercial side.”

Laurie Belle’s Boutique is doing its part. Owner Laurie Karlson is building a larger store about 10 blocks away from her current boutique. The new store is 6,000 square feet and located next to the GrandStay Hotel & Suites.

“We’ll be able to bring in a lot more product,” Karlson said. “And we wanted to make the storefront exactly what we wanted and offer clients a really unique shopping experience and a destination.”

She’s so encouraged by the growth in Tea, though, that she’s keeping her former storefront and turning it into another business. She’s also building a separate warehouse in town for her products.

“So it’s going to be busy,” she said. “I lived here when I started the business, so it just made sense. When we talked about building, everyone thought we’d move to Sioux Falls, but we just like how easy it is for people to get to us from all areas. We’re so close to the interstate you don’t have to deal with traffic.”

For Karlson, who started the business in her basement in the fall of 2013, community support has been key in her success.

“You have the small-town support big time. It’s really fun to watch the business grow and have the locals support us because they’ve been with us since I was in my basement. When we talked about building, there was no question we would stay in Tea.”

Her plan is to open the new store about the end of February.

The timeline at Bakker Landing is longer, but the march is on.

“We’ve got a plan in place to get a route annexed from Tea to our property, and Tea will be able to deliver sanitary sewer to us this year, and we’ll be served by Lincoln County Rural Water and pay through Tea,” Ingle said. “We’ll also put design restrictions and convenents in place, so hopefully it will be an improved gateway.”

The area along County Road 106 will have some retail use, he said.

“We’ve got interest from a convenience store, as you’d expect. A truck stop is a possibility. A fast-food user is interested and some storefront retail.”

There also are 10 acres along I-29 under contract “and most of that we anticipate being more highway commerce – dealerships, implement equipment, possibly a manufacturer. Working through zoning will tell us a lot.”

The developers “will protect the highway 106 corridor with retail uses,” he added, “and we want to see more upper-end users on I-29. It won’t be contractor shops and storage units. But it’s too much property for all of it to be corporate campus or shopping center development. There’s not enough demand. So there’s going to be some light industry and some manufacturing and assembly uses.”

The hope is to start grading this fall.

“I think it’s huge,” Lawler said. “It’s going to be a great opportunity to expand on the commercial side of things. The group is actively out there looking and getting it ready to go for development, so I think the potential is tremendous.”

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Tea taking off with major development planned

There’s a major development planned for Tea, a boutique getting a lot bigger and more growth envisioned.

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