'This was not a planted question.'

After last week’s media presentation regarding the new Sioux Falls Sports and Entertainment District Mayor Mike Huether was the first in the audience to ask a question.

He first told Community Development Director Darrin Smith that he used the word “excited” about “10 times in the last 60 seconds,” and then asked him to elaborate on potential hotel sites near the Denny Sanford Premier Center.

Smith responded:

"That was not a planted question, I swear," he said. "His questions make me more nervous than the media."

Smith said officials are working on determining the most suitable sites for redevelopment and talking with property owners and developers. A map outlines potential sites.

Though no plans are solid, Smith said Sioux Falls Regional Airport could be a great location for a future hotel development. He also said airport officials have expressed interest in seeing a hotel that could provide service for airlines, pilots and customers. Later in the week, airport executive director Dan Letellier called that “fairly new information to us” and said building a hotel would take extra effort to ensure it doesn’t affect airspace or runways for take-off and landing.

Smith also said the Ramada Hotel could see a potential remodel or expansion. Perhaps the Sheraton Hotel could too, he said.

Minnehaha County work release center on Russell Street would also be a good spot for a future hotel site, Smith said, adding that county commissioners say it’s an aging facility.

Elmwood Golf course - city owned property - is another site that Smith hopes to see built on soon, and says the city is working on that one first.

The former Oaks Hotel site is another good location, which Smith said developers have interest in.

But, that site has been vacant for years, and in May the city of Sioux Falls sued the owner of that site, hoping to force him to clean up the property. The lawsuit, filed in Minnehaha County Circuit Court, asked a judge to make David Graham clear the land of nuisances and city code violations, or allow the city to hire a contractor to do the job and bill Graham. The hotel closed in 2008 and was demolished in 2010.