In the Nov. 21 editorial, Mayor Oepke "Ope" Niemeyer announced that the city (along with developer Ryan Companies) hopes to bring a grocery store to the Brookings Marketplace land. A grocery store is definitely needed in Brookings, but then comes the news that the city is selling the land for $1.40 per square foot after buying it 10 years ago for that very same price. There are rumors that the grocery store may be an Aldi.
Since Aldi came to Watertown last year, I looked into the Codington County land sale records and found out that Aldi paid $8.65 per square foot for the land they purchased on U.S. Highway 212 in Watertown. I also researched and found the city of Watertown paid zero subsidy to Aldi to support the new Aldi store coming to town. Aldi, acting on their own, came to Watertown and paid market price for the land they purchased, which is how free markets are supposed to work.
Maybe if the city reached out to Aldi, they could sell the land outright to Aldi and get them to pay that same price ($8.65 per square foot) which would yield an extra $3 million of revenue for the city from the land sale. Or maybe they end up with Aldi through the Ryan Companies at the $1.40 per square foot price. If that happens, who is getting the benefit of the extra $3 million that the city (and taxpayers) could have received? Ryan Companies was not needed to bring Aldi into Watertown. Why do we need Ryan in Brookings?
Aldi is estimated by CNBC as a $38 billion company in 2019.
Ryan Companies is estimated by Forbes to have $4 billion in annual revenue in 2023.
Brookings is no less of a place than Watertown, Aldi and Ryan Companies can easily pay fair market value for the land.
Jacob Mills, Mills Development, Brookings