It is one of the most notable buildings in downtown Flandreau - The St. Vincent Hotel. It was built back in the late 1800’s and is a comforting sight to those that have both lived a lifetime in this rural South Dakota town and as well as for visitors on their first trip through.
The building itself has stood the test of time. But the unique, beloved mainstay that serves as an entrance to the city’s downtown business district is doing little more than standing anymore. And what to do about that is now a question before the City Council and the current owner, Jose Perez, who took the building on as a project, little more than a year ago.
“The issue came up at a council meeting about a month ago, it was just the disrepair, the piles of junk outside the buildings, things that need to be cleaned up and looking better,” said City Administrator Don Whitman.
The city recently sent nuisance violations to the owners of both the St. Vincent hotel and the old Flandreau Cafe. There is concern over not only the exterior state of both buildings, but as well, the interior structural integrity.
They are concerns Shawn Jaacks echoes, as the building he owns and has sunk a great deal of money into, lies in-between the two. Jaacks formally went to the council two weeks ago, asking what the policy and procedures for inspection of downtown commercial buildings might be. It follows his own insurance company telling him they were dropping him due to the adjoining buildings being liabilities.
“The issue is of concern to me because while the outlying development is important, the economic stability of Flandreau lays heavily in the downtown area. And I do have property there so it’s obviously of concern to me,” said Jaacks.
“A couple of the buildings next to me have been tagged as a nuisance. I think they should be fixed structurally and have an inspection process or they should be condemned.”
Jaacks says the two buildings in question obviously aren’t the only ones downtown that need to be looked at. There are a number of commercial storefronts and buildings right now, that could be viable businesses, if the buildings don’t fall into further disrepair.
He’s hoping the City, City Council and the Flandreau Development Corporation, of which he is a board member, start looking at the downtown again as a place of potential and a great place to do business moving forward versus letting it fall further into a memory of what once used to be.
“I think the downtown area is an economic stability for the entire city. I think if we keep people coming into the downtown area, it’s beneficial for everyone. Every business in town,” said Jaacks.
The issue has prompted a request to have City Attorney Paul Lewis look into what jurisdiction the city has to enforce building codes or even inspect local buildings. Currently, city ordinances don’t allow for inside inspection or entry.
While that gets sorted out, the two building owners have been given 30 days to take care of the nuisance violations or be at this week’s Flandreau City Council meeting to appeal.
“I think making them look better, more presentable, not to be eyesores...and if they’re in a state of major disrepair, then maybe they need to come down. I don’t know. But the other part of what we told him (Perez) he needs to do, is fix up the front facade and pick up the junk in the back of building. It just needs to be cleaned up,” said Whitman.