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Tim Hynds, Sioux City Journal 

Priests, students and staff cross Grandview Boulevard during a Eucharistic procession at Bishop Heelan Catholic High School Monday morning. Students and staff held a procession to move the "Blessed Sacrament" from the old high school across the street to the new academic wing, which will host its first classes when students return from the Christmas break.


Tim Hynds, Sioux City Journal 

Bruce Wichman, Pender Community Center board member, lowers the shades on a window in the center's veterans room that overlooks the city's veterans memorial. The center was built on the site of the former American Legion Hall, which was nearly 100 years old and hosted hundreds of wedding receptions and other celebrations.


Tim Hynds, Sioux City Journal 

Director Katie Gutzmann talks about the Pender Community Center's gymnasium as Derwin Roberts, president of Pender Community Development Inc., left, and community center board member Bruce Wichman listen. The center, which will house city offices, a gym, meeting rooms and banquet spaces, a stage, a commercial fitness center, a child development center and meeting rooms for veterans organizations, will open in early January.


Justin Wan, Sioux City Journal 

From left, Amy Sellers, Joseph Kruse, Tyler Kruse, and Kristin Beswick of Kruse Financial Group pose for a photo in Dakota Dunes on Dec. 8. Kruse Financial has donated to the Journal's Mr. Goodfellow charity.


Govt-and-politics
Sioux City seals deal with Spectra for Tyson, Orpheum management

SIOUX CITY | For the first time in its life, the Tyson Events Center will fall under private management beginning next year. 

Starting Jan. 1, day-to-day operations at the 10,000-seat venue will fall under the Philadelphia-based management firm Spectra, according to an agreement passed 4-1 by the Sioux City Council Monday. Under the agreement, Spectra will also manage the independently-owned Orpheum Theatre downtown.

Monday's vote on the finalized contract with Spectra follows an approximately six-month process in which the city sought out proposals from private venue management companies to see if making the switch could save money on the subsidy it foots for the venue each year. The city in October voted to pursue negotiations with Spectra, which serves more than 150 clients, including the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines

It is estimated Spectra will reduce the subsidy of the facilities by $270,000 in its first year. 

Spectra will also manage food services at the Tyson, Sioux Gateway Airport and IBP Ice Center under a separate food and beverage contract approved by the council last week

Under the management contract, 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, suites and other existing ad revenues, plus 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, which will allow that employee to retire as a city employee. 

"That employee has identified they have less than one year until they will retire," said City Manager Bob Padmore. 

Sioux City will be responsible for some transition costs including relocation and travel expenses, estimated to amount to approximately $66,000. 

Spectra will make a $200,000 capital contribution to the city for improvements. 

Tourism will fall under Spectra for the time being, with the future of that bureau to eventually be more clearly defined. 

Ian Richardson / Provided 

Scott

Mayor Bob Scott -- who had abstained from the voting throughout the decision-making process due to his private sector position as managing partner of the Sioux City Bandits, an indoor football team that plays its home games at the Tyson -- did not abstain Monday, instead voting against the proposal.

Scott voiced skepticism of several aspects of the agreement, including the rapidity with which it was drafted and his concern that Spectra would gather sponsorships at the detriment of the Sioux City Musketeers' ability to do so.

But he said his decision boiled down to the fact that one employee would remain a city employee while the rest would go under Spectra's umbrella. 

"I said the day I took office .. I would never vote for an agreement where one employee or two were treated differently than the others," Scott said. "I think it's a bad precedent that we've set here today that will haunt us down the road."

Councilman Alex Watters said he hopes the "qualitative incentive" will be clearly defined so the city can make an adequate judgment of how much of the $25,000 to award Spectra each year. 

"I want to make sure there are actual data points and benchmarks and we can look at what the baseline is and what we want," he said. "Some of these are so vague."

Watters

Councilman Dan Moore said the transition will be a challenge but praised Spectra's responsiveness to the city's questions throughout the process and to the employees' transitions. 

Moore

"I just want to stress how helpful Spectra was with our employees," he said. 

With the agreement finalized, Spectra will continue preparations to assume management by Jan. 1. Erika Newton, who will serve as the Tyson's general manager under Spectra's leadership, said only one of the approximately one dozen full-time employees have opted not to join Spectra, and about 100 part-timers are in the process of on-boarding. 


Moore


Ian Richardson / Provided 

Scott


Watters


Local
Final tax bill version preserves historic tax credits, but Warrior developer remains wary

SIOUX CITY — Developers of $90 million of historic renovation projects in downtown Sioux City can breathe a slight sigh of relief.

A wide-ranging tax bill moving toward final approval in Congress this week spares the federal Historic Tax Credit program from the chopping block.

A House-passed bill had proposed eliminating the program, which allows developers to receive tax rebates of up to 20 percent on eligible projects, such as restoration of buildings on the National Register of Historic Places.

House and Senate negotiators released details of the agreement reconciling competing tax proposals last Friday. It maintains the 20 percent credit, but it will now be paid out over five years, rather than the current entire sum.

Dawn J. Sagert, Sioux City Journal 

Roger Caudron is shown in this March 25, 2014, photo.

“I wouldn’t necessarily call it a victory yet, not until everything is done,” said Roger Caudron, a spokesperson for local businessman Lew Weinberg, who has proposed a $56 million renovation of the historic Warrior Hotel and Davidson Building. “We are encouraged, but not out of the woods.”

Caudron said the change in how the credit is paid out may present an obstacle to the Warrior work and other projects. He noted developers typically use this program to help inject cash into their restoration work by selling the credits to larger companies.

“With the requirement, that credit actually cannot be used fully over the first year — it has to be used over a five-year period — and that diminishes the value of the credit by about 17 percent,” Caudron said.

Caudron said Weinberg and other developers have been lobbying Congress to include a provision that would allow projects that were started under the old tax credit rules to be grandfathered in.

“We’ve been trying to get a provision in the bill that would be a transition rule so that the projects like Davidson/Warrior that are in process would utilize the old rule and be able to finish their projects,” he said. “We don’t know at this point in time if that has been included or not.”

Weinberg

Weinberg and Restoration St. Louis, which specializes in historic restoration projects, plans to restore the Warrior's grand second-floor lobby and ballroom and the upper floors into a 146-room Marriott Autograph Collection hotel.

The project, which backers warned would fail without historic tax credits, also calls for transforming the vacant Warrior and Davidson spaces into luxury apartments, bars, restaurants and other retail outlets.

The loss of the Historic Tax Credit program also would have dealt a fatal blow to an Omaha developer's plan to renovate a trio of historic buildings in Sioux City.

J. Development, which specializes in restoring historic structures, has proposed to invest $16.25 million to convert the 105-year-old Commerce Building into 77 apartments and 18,000 feet of first-floor commercial space; $12.4 million to convert the 93-year-old former Methodist Hospital into 69 market-rate apartments; and another $5.95 million to build 30 market-rate apartments and establish 6,175 square feet of commercial space on the first floor of the former Hatch Furniture Building.

The City Council on Monday approved an agreement with J. Development that provides a series of property tax rebates and other incentives for the three projects.