Three proposed casinos set for upcoming city vote

Aug. 1, 2019

Three video lottery casinos that have drawn opposition from neighbors are scheduled to be voted on at the same City Planning Commission meeting next week.

While it’s coincidental they all ended up on the same Aug. 7 agenda, it’s also because two were deferred at July’s meeting as they try to work through concerns voiced by the city and by neighbors.

Dale Dachtler is proposing to open Dakota Star Casino in the former Bob’s Cafe at 1312 W. 12th St. and include 10 video lottery machines.

“There are a lot of casinos that are 1,000 square feet, and that’s what we are. We thought about other businesses too, and the building just isn’t right for that,” he said.

He ruled out returning the space to a restaurant.

“We actually gave it (opening a restaurant) a lot of thought. … There’s just not a lot of area there to make a living out of selling food.”

He plans to hire a manager for the casino but would like to work there about 20 hours a week, taking care of tasks such as inventory.

Dachtler’s application was deferred from the July meeting, and he was encouraged to hold a neighborhood meeting. The city planning staff is recommending denying the application at the Aug. 7 meeting.

Dachtler doesn’t know what will happen with the iconic Bob’s Cafe sign.

“It’s really kind of a sad deal to be honest with you,” he said. “Everyone would like to have it, but no one wants it. It is a big sign.”

Taking it down would be a big expense, he said.

“I’m going to talk to the city to see if they want it, to see if I could donate it.” He said he plans to wait with that offer until after the conditional use permit for the property is approved, so it doesn’t appear he’s trying to “buy” approval from city officials.

Another proposed casino also gets a second hearing Aug. 7.

Belay Abebe, who owns Mercado convenience store at 631 W. 11th St., wants to move the business to 5503 N. Cliff Ave.

That’s the vacant former Tc’s Mini Mart just north of Interstate 90.

Abebe’s plan, which includes putting video lottery machines in the business, was deferred so he could meet with neighbors and work through the city’s concerns about his site plan.

City officials recommended denying the application, saying Abebe’s concept plan wasn’t engineered to scale and his proposed 39 parking spaces didn’t meet engineering and design standards.

Urban planner Adam Roach also said adding video lottery presented a conflict to existing land uses.

“Although the majority of North Cliff Avenue has retail uses, the nature of the area … is predominantly single-family residential,” he said.

Abebe said he views it primarily as a request to move his existing business and that he has a vision to create a more attractive space that would include outdoor seating.

“I have a family. I know what the families like and what they don’t like,” he said, adding that he has had a package liquor license for 15 years without a violation.

“My record shows how I can handle it. … I will meet all requirements.”

The newest application is for a casino at Lake Lorraine. Kimberly Ngo is proposing to open Fun Casino in a retail center at 2400 S. Marion Road.

It’s a sublease being proposed through the former tenant, Sioux Falls Cryo, which closed earlier this year. Other neighboring retailers are expected to voice opposition to the plan.

A sublease for the 1,200-square-foot space has not been finalized, said Mike Van Buskirk, co-developer of Lake Lorraine.

If the city approves the conditional use application, Van Buskirk would move ahead with negotiations. City staff recommends approving the application.

“There are quality casinos around, and we thought if that was the case, it could be a fit here,” Van Buskirk said. “But we want assurances that will be the case, and that would be part of the lease negotiations.”

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Three proposed casinos set for upcoming city vote

Three video lottery casinos that have drawn opposition from neighbors are scheduled to be voted on at the same City Planning Commission meeting next week.

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