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Sioux City plans to invest $2.5M in trio of historic renovation projects

SIOUX CITY | The city of Sioux City could pitch in about $2.5 million to assist a trio of historic redevelopment projects downtown. 

Tax rebates, a grant and a low-interest loan from the city could assist J. Development -- the real estate firm planning to invest nearly $35 million to renovate the former Hatch Furniture Building, Commerce Building and former Methodist Hospital -- according to a development and minimum assessment agreement on Monday's City Council agenda.

Ian Richardson, Sioux City Journal file 

Omaha-based J. Development Co. has purchased the former Hatch Furniture Building at 413 Pierce St. and plans to convert the structure into commercial space and 30 market-rate apartments.

Omaha-based J. Development in October announced its plans to renovate the three buildings into mixed-use space. 

At 413 Pierce St., the former Hatch Furniture building, the developer plans to redevelop the three-story structure into commercial space and 30 apartments, as well as add a fourth floor, for an investment of $5.95 million. The project's commercial space would need to carry a minimum assessment of $412,600 under the agreement with the city. 

At 520 Nebraska St., where J. Development plans to take ownership at the beginning of next year, it plans to redevelop the property into 22,000 square feet of first-floor commercial space and 77 market-rate apartments on floors two through five, for an investment of $16.25 million. The commercial space will need a minimum assessment of $1.185 million, according to the agreement. 

At 2825 Douglas St., at the site of the former Methodist Hospital, J. Development is finalizing the purchase from UnityPoint Health -- St. Luke's. The developer intends to completely redevelop the property into 69 market-rate apartments, an investment of $12.4 million. No minimum assessment is required on the currently tax-exempt property. 

According to city documents, the city will recoup its investment for the three projects through new property taxes and loan payments in about eight years. 

In addition to the financial assistance, the city will provide parking stalls in city-owned parking ramps for the two downtown projects at the lowest bulk rate allowable: $32 per stall per month.

The agreement will include 100 stalls in the Martin Luther King Jr. parking ramp at the corner of Sixth and Nebraska streets for the Commerce Building and 55 stalls in the River's Landing ramp at 419 Douglas St. for the Hatch Building project. 

Spectra contract

In other action Monday, the council will vote whether to finalize a five-year agreement with Pennsylvania-based Spectra for management of the Tyson Events Center and Orpheum Theatre. 

If approved Monday, the agreement would go into effect Jan. 1. 

Spectra would receive a $110,000 yearly management fee and a fee equal to 25 percent of any reduction in the annual operating deficit at the Tyson Events Center. Spectra also may receive a $25,000 "qualitative incentive" based on customer service scores, achievement of goals and other criteria. 

In addition, the company will receive a 2.5 percent commission on revenue from existing sponsorships and 17.5 percent for new or increased sales and sponsorship revenue. Spectra also is required to maintain one employee as a city employee until Dec. 31, 2018. 

New fireworks dates

Monday's council meeting will also bring the second and possibly third and final reading of an ordinance that would dramatically shorten the number of days Sioux Cityans can discharge fireworks within city limits on holidays. 

The change would shorten the current 10-day window for Fourth of July fireworks discharge to two days -- July 3 and 4 -- from 1 p.m. to 11 p.m. and shorten the current three-day window surrounding New Year's to 11½ hours: from 1 p.m. on Dec. 31 to 12:30 a.m. on Jan. 1.

The council passed the first reading of the ordinance 5-0 last week but delayed passing second and third readings to allow for more public input.

Siouxland Paramedics agreement

The council will also vote on an amendment to its contract with Siouxland Paramedics Inc. that will terminate the contract, effective 8 a.m. Jan. 1. 

Siouxland Paramedics, a 37-year-old nonprofit ambulance service, informed the city in mid-August that it would no longer offer 911 services in Sioux City or North Sioux City after the year's end, prompting the City Council in mid-September to vote 3-1 to take over ambulance services in Sioux City limits as a civilian division under Sioux City Fire Rescue.

Sioux City currently owns the Siouxland Paramedics ambulances, and under the contract agreement on Monday's agenda, Siouxland Paramedics will return eight ambulances and supervisors' car to the city but will be allowed to retain one ambulance. Sioux City will retain all equipment included in the ambulances. 

Preparing to remove a tumor
Family raising funds for teen daughter's spinal surgery

ELK POINT, S.D. | When Ryan Shearer enrolled at the University of South Dakota as a theater major this fall, she had aspirations of becoming a star of stage and screen like her idol Audra McDonald.

Unfortunately, the 18-year-old had to withdraw from college after doctors discovered, in November, that her L5 vertebra was fractured and the bone was rapidly disintegrating.

The normally energetic 2017 Elk Point-Jefferson High School graduate had been experiencing back pain a good six months prior to her diagnosis.


An MRI image of Ryan Shearer's giant cell tumor between her fourth and fifth lumbar vertebrae is shown in this image provided by the Shearer family. Doctors plan to remove the vertebrae with the tumor. They will use a piece of Ryan's fibula to rebuild her spine.

It flared up when Ryan got a part-time job as a grocery store cashier, last summer. 

"I chalked it up to being on my feet for an extended period of time," she remembered. 

Ryan's pain truly became unbearable during an August practice session when she was a color guard member with the USD marching band. 

"At first, everyone thought it was a pulled muscle that could be helped with (ibuprofen) and, maybe, some physical therapy," she said.

However, Ryan's pain continued and she ended up in the emergency room at Sanford Medical Center in Vermillion, South Dakota.

That's when she received an X-ray and an MRI on her spine.

"My doctors told me there was a giant cell tumor between my fourth and fifth vertebrae," Ryan said. "That was causing all of the trouble."

The news terrified Ryan's mom, Jessica Shearer.

"When you hear about a tumor, you think of lymphoma or leukemia," she said.

Luckily, the tumor wasn't cancerous. However, it was pressing against Ryan's spinal cord and causing her enormous pain.

Sometime in January 2018, doctors will need to remove Ryan's vertebrae with the tumor. They will use a piece of bone in her fibula -- a bone in her lower leg -- to rebuild her spine.

Until then, Ryan spends most of her time lying down. She's currently on medication that will help solidify her spine before she's able to undergo surgery for her condition.

The medication, according to Ryan's dad, Mark Shearer, is very expensive. So, too, will be the surgery. In addition, Ryan will likely be in recovery six to eight months after her surgery.

A Dec. 3 fundraiser, held at Sioux City's The Marquis, helped to defray some of Ryan's medical bills.

Ryan's family has also created an online fundraising campaign through, an Omaha-based web-based, crowdfunding nonprofit 501(c)(3) public charity.

Mark Shearer said they hope to raise $20,000 now through Jan. 14.

"Ryan has been taking it like a champ," Mark, a Hard Rock Hotel & Casino shift manager, said. "Her biggest concern was the financial burden her medical bills would put on her mom and me."

Luckily, the family is taking Ryan's condition in stride.

"You have to keep a sense of humor," Jessica Shearer said. "It helps when your 18-year-old daughter needs to walk around like an 80-year-old."

Indeed, Ryan's sardonic wit was apparent when she christened her tumor with the nickname "Steve," or when she helped to design a t-shirt with the inscription: "I Grew A Tumor In My Spine and All I Got Was This T-Shirt."

"This t-shirt always gets some attention," Mark Shearer said, modeling his daughter's design. "We take Ryan's condition more seriously than we take ourselves."

That's fine by Ryan, who said she loves video games and the works of such writers as Edgar Allen Poe and Emily Bronte.

Ryan knows she has a long road of recovery ahead of her. She has a lot of faith in the medical teams at both Sanford Health, in Sioux Falls, and the Mayo Clinic, in Rochester, Minnesota, who have been treating her.

But Ryan also has faith in her own strength.

"When I was younger, I wanted to become a star of stage and screen," she said with a mischievous grin. "Nowadays, I'd be happy to be a stage star or a screen star."