Kelly Family Properties buys ‘Mercato block’ while the future of the building remains unknown

Kelly Family Properties buys ‘Mercato block’ while the future of the building remains unknown
Published: Oct. 19, 2023 at 4:05 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - The 600 block of West 11th Street in Sioux Falls has been sold to Kelly Family Properties for over $3 million. The block is home to the Mercato store, which has failed alcohol compliance checks and was facing pushback from the city to shut down. The plans of the new ownership for this area is still largely unknown.

The Mercato block is notorious for police calls and a lot of crime. Since the Lucky Lady Casino closed its doors, crime numbers have gone down, but things are still not perfect. The recent sale of the block is raising questions about what the future might hold and how new ownership can continue the momentum to revitalize the neighborhood.

The buyer of the property is Rory Kelly, the former CEO and owner of CellOnly. The purchase is a sign that progress being made in the area is getting recognized. Mayor Paul TenHaken agrees. In a statement to Dakota News Now, he said the following:

“Our administration has put extra attention on this area in recent years, and we are excited to see the private sector noticing that and ready to make investments in this neighborhood. We look forward to meeting with the new owners on their plans and vision.”

Those plans and vision for the building are what current tenants are concerned about. Rumors are swirling about the potential of the building being knocked down. Theresa Farmer has lived here with her family for six years and the thought of being forced to leave has her feeling anxious.

“I’ll tell you I was a little scared because I take care of a lot of my family who have medical conditions,” Farmer explained. “I got a call late last night saying that eventually, they’re going to knock this area down. What does that do for us tenants up here? Where do we go?”

The only reasons why Farmer said her family chose to live there are the lower rent prices and the close proximity to Sanford. Of the family members she lives with and helps care for, health issues include cancer, congestive heart failure, epilepsy and more. Farmer said that tenants have known of the potential sale for a couple of weeks, but only a few have heard from the new owner. Their neighborhood association says that nothing is confirmed, but rent prices are not expected to rise and the new owner will work with residents once Mercato’s closes.

“All of us up here work,” said Farmer. “So for them to sell it, I mean, I get it. They lost businesses up front, but what does that hold for us back here?”

We did speak with the owner of Mercato’s. He said that they are planning on closing, packing everything up and moving out on Sunday. Early next week, likely on Tuesday, a meeting will take place to share the future plans for the block and for Kelly to meet with residents.