An empty lot south of Alumni Street is in the process of becoming the new Dakota Commons Development District to feature residential student housing and commercial building space.
Eagle Construction Inc., a Sioux Falls construction company, is planning to develop a 210-bed mix-use student housing complex and a separate 5,000 square foot commercial building, along with 232 parking spaces known as “The Heights.”
The facility will also include a coffee shop open to the public, along with amenities including computer labs, meeting spaces, fitness facility, a game room and building security.
Dakota Commons Development District
During the fall of 2017, Steve Boote, Eagle Construction Inc. president, approached the City of Vermillion with a plan to develop the 5,000 square foot lot according to the City Council Agenda Memo.
John Prescott, Vermillion city manager, said Boote is spearheading the new development project with business partner, Ryan Pidde. If approved, the new development would become the Dakota Commons Development District, or “The Heights.”
“Steve is more of the builder, while Ryan is primarily the organizer and planner of the development,” Prescott said.
Prescott said it’s been a pleasure working with this entity throughout the proposal process.
“They did a really nice job of learning what the situation was before they presented plans for consideration of this project,” Prescott said. “They also offered to meet one-on-one with city council members and planning commission members prior to the proposal meeting.”
The approval process
For a large development like the Dakota Commons Development District is proposing, approval is a complex and detailed process that involves the Vermillion City Council, a planning commission and community member input.
“The group (Eagle Construction Inc.) approached the city council for a Planned Development District (PDD), which is basically a zoning ordinance specifically written for a section of the community that allows for a mix-use development,” Prescott said.
The approved PDD, titled Ordinance 1368 essentially re-zoned the development area with a 7-0 vote during the planning commission meeting on January 8.
Prescott said the PDD ordinance was officially adopted after the group successfully went through two city council meetings, which became effective March 8.
The next step is the final development plan that will go to the planning commission on March 26 at City Hall. If approved, the group can move further by getting building permits, Prescott said.
Prescott said Eagle Construction hopes to have units available for rent by fall of 2019, if approved.
José Domínguez, Vermillion city engineer, said the new development will be a great addition for the community, which could spur growth for Vermillion.
“I think it’s going to be great for Vermillion, it will offer different renting and housing options for students and families,” Jose said. “This would also help more students have the option of living close to campus.”
Although The Heights will be a public housing option, Jake Losinki, assistant to the city manager, said the 210-bed mix-use housing complex is marketed more toward students.
“As a former college student, I understand some people have a bit of difficulty living next to college kids, but this development will help keep students living near or with each other and free up more housing for families and residents,” Losinki said.
According to the Council Agenda Memo, the lot is currently zoned as General Business (GB), but the planned development proposal calls for a mix of residential and commercial uses.
Along with a national chain coffee shop inside the complex, the exterior will feature green space and attractive landscaping features, and will include a courtyard, rooftop patio, outdoor games and large outdoor TV screens.
“This development is a great transitional site from having the university uses like the Dome and arena near a residential site with a business inside,” Prescott said. “This is a great opportunity for the city of Vermillion and USD.”