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Slow Mansion Builders Allege Sioux Falls Hates Ukrainians

Convicted grand thief Vitaliy “Vick” Strizheus and his wife Nataliya started building a 3,982-square-foot, four-bed, five-bath mansion on three lots at 6800 S. Westfield Trail in Sioux Falls’ swanky Prairie Hills neighborhood ten years ago. But evidently building something real and valuable is a lot harder for Vick than tricking people into buying his online marketing training, and the three-lot house has sat unfinished and abandoned for much of the past decade. The City of Sioux Falls has tried to relieve the Strizheuses’ well-to-do neighbors of this dangerous eyesore for years, and a South Dakota Supreme Court ruling last December cleared the way for the city to finally roll the bulldozers.

But now the Strizheuses are crying to federal court that the city is discriminating against them because they are Ukrainian. In a suit filed Friday in the U.S. District Court of South Dakota, the Strizheuses say city attorney Stacy Kooistra and building inspection chief Neil King have conspired to violate their Fifth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights and that the Strizheuses’ national origin “was a substantial motivating factor in Defendants’ drive to demolish the Plaintiffs’ home.” The Strizheuses assert that Kooistra and King have referred to their national origin and the “Russian Mafia” in meetings with their lawyers, suggested that some neighbors don’t want Ukrainians in the neighborhood, and engaged neighbors in lying to the state circuit court. The complaint also alleges that the city more frequently cites and demolishes structures owned or occupied by “persons within constitutionally protected classes.”

So check that out: millionaires who can’t keep the finances flowing to build a giant second house are trying to turn their fight against the city’s enforcement of building codes into a massive civil rights scandal, saying that not just they but numerous other property-owning members of minorities are being discriminated against by the City of Sioux Falls.

In an affidavit accompanying Friday’s complaint, contractor Ben Harvey says he’s been working for the Strizheuses to complete the house since December 1, 2021, under seven approved permits. Harvey says the Strizheuses have invested $2.3 million in his work so far, which has included finishing the exterior. Harvey says he can finish the interior by the end of this year.

In another affidavit, realtor Shelley Glaser estimates the house could sell for $2.75 million.

The plaintiffs claim demolition of the home is an excessive fine (8th Amendment) and unjust taking without compensation (5th Amendment). They also claim that the home doesn’t meet the definition of “deteriorated, dilapidated, or out of repair” in the city code that justifies demolition. Alas, as appears to have been the case in the Strizheuses’ lazy responses to the city’s winning arguments to the South Dakota Supreme Court, city code also allows demolition of projects where there is a “cessation of construction… for a period of more than 18 months”. Senior assistant city attorney Ryan Sage (who is not named in this federal lawsuit) explained that point to SDPB last month:

“If there’s a cessation of normal construction for a period of more than 18 months, then the code official should order that the structure be demolished and remove the structure,” said Ryan Sage, senior assistant city attorney. “So that’s not necessarily under the dilapidated portion (of the ordinance), but it’s that construction has ceased, and so we moved forward with enforcing the ordinance at that point.”

…Even though construction has resumed, Sage said the city still has the right to demolish the structure according to the court ruling.

“Once the building was in violation and the city moved forward to demolish and initiate the legal proceedings, future construction did not cure the violation,” he said [Jordan Rusche, “Ruling Paves Way for Demolition of Unfinished Sioux Falls Mansion,” SDPB Radio, 2023.01.23].

Absent a preliminary injunction, the Strizheuses say the city plans to start whacking the house on February 27. Of course, if the Strizheuses had worked as fast on their house as they are this week with their lawyers, they wouldn’t be facing bulldozers. They’d be facing a nice yard with growing trees and and neighbors happy to no longer have a construction site cluttering their fancy neighborhood.

Maybe Vick should call Chad Haber and get him to help flip the house.


  1. Mark Anderson 2023-02-21 07:22

    The 10 or so acre property behind our house has been under construction for five years with no end in site. They tore down the five year old mansion on the corner and have built several structures again with no end in site. It’s walled in, they took over the alley. They are Pepsi heirs. Money talks but the workers can’t. Beepbeep,beepbeep.

  2. Richard Schriever 2023-02-21 09:30

    Comes down to whether that zoning ordinance says the city “may” or “shall” demolish.

  3. Arlo Blundt 2023-02-21 14:06

    The wealthy have their own set of problems. Ironic that in Sioux Falls, we have a substantial homeless population and we’re tearing down mansions.

  4. Donald Pay 2023-02-21 14:50

    Arlo is correct. It’s the problems of the rich and white. Welcome to Trump World. I’m not sure why the city allows rich people to combine lots and build a monstrosity on the combined lots. Can a poor person reduce lots to a third of the original size, and build a tiny house in the same area? Ha, like hell they can. The rich get special favors all the time, and then if they don’t get an automatic cave from the city, they file as many Trump-like suits against the city as they can. If I were Mayor I’d borrow Noem’s flamethrower and take care of the problem, pronto.

  5. grudznick 2023-02-21 18:03

    The fellow in the music movie at the blue link blogged by Mr. bat, from bear creek, is very entertaining. I do like his hair cut. Mr. Yankovic, apparently, is making a mockery of these people with the gaudy house that is to be torn down in Sioux Falls, and I can appreciate that. Those people, who coincidentally have a name similar to Mr. Yankovic, need to clean up their act pronto or I hope their house gets bulldozed.

  6. Mark Anderson 2023-02-21 18:53

    You know Sioux Falls is a nice place. Chris Browne who I knew, moved from Sarasota to Sioux Falls because it an earlier Sarasota. He died recently the day before my birthday and I would just like people to remember him. He was a good friend of Mike Peter’s and I had two children of Mike’s as my students and a husband of one of them who did Mike’s Grimm text. I met Chris because he always came to their shows. He was at the yearly party Mr. Peter’s threw for the kids too. Always a very nice and extremely funny man.

  7. Scott Ehrisman 2023-02-22 03:16

    Probably did not help he showed up to the city council meeting last night complaining of his plight with a Gold Rolex watch on. Reminds me of the lady who used to come to the council meetings begging for disability money right after putting her $1,000+ smart phone on the podium. I think instead of demolishing the property they should convert it into a homeless shelter.

  8. chris 2023-02-22 11:24

    Why did the city issue the bulding permits if they didn’t want him out there? Maybe if his last name was Wholestone he’d get a pass.

  9. Mark Anderson 2023-02-22 13:42

    Down here the letter of the law allows you to tear down a building but if you leave one wall you can build it back without applying for a new build.. renovation is the word. Why didn’t they just drive a few nails in every month?
    It’s hard to feel sorry for them but the “officials” using their power would be the villains in any disney movie. This was before DeSantis of course.

  10. chris 2023-02-22 14:23

    Kind of weird the city attorney Kooistra is moving on to a new position right now, if he said this guy Strizheus was “russian mafia”? That is an ugly thing to say if it’s not true. I’m not a fan of the house due to its size and since it’s design is passe Winterfell-revival style, but that is a matter of personal taste. All of our townie McMansions will have their own quirks. I would think this guy’s federal case is a hill that local city-government critic libertarians would line up to die on.

  11. jjstorm 2023-09-16 07:14

    The thing is is that the owner can’t finish the building of the mansion because he probably doesn’t have the money to do so. What he does is he sells unfinished business opportunities and marketing products, and promotion funnels to his “affiliates” in order to get a quick fix of money, just to drag out the delivery of these products for years. But these scams of his take time to come up with and time to collect enough money to pay for his lifestyle. He right now owes affiliates refunds from a 2018 deal that he “invested in on their behalf” with their money of course that never panned out.

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