New SDSU housing to break ground this summer

South Dakota State is set to break ground this summer on a new housing complex. The $20 million southeast housing project is set to open Fall 2019.

Bonds for $18 million are already issued, and the rest will come from residential life, dining services, The Union and Wellness Center revenue.

Although enrollment numbers have been stagnant, Vice President of Student Affairs Michaela Willis said about 1,000 students surveyed last year showed a high demand for this style of housing.

“We’re really excited for this opportunity,” Willis said. “We wanted to better serve our juniors, seniors and graduate students and hopefully phase one will go well and if we see a demand we can do a phase two.”

While Willis considers the timeline “aggressive” for the facilities to be open by 2019, both she and Associate Vice President for Student Affairs Doug Wermedal agree it is doable.

The complex will likely be two buildings, housing approximately 220 beds for upper-level and graduate students, Willis said. Right now, a three-story apartment complex and maximum two-story townhouse complex are planned.

Units will be a mix of one and four-bedroom, including in-unit laundry and off-street parking. The estimated costs will be between $500 to $700 a month, according to Wermedal.

After conducting architect interviews in January, the university selected Architecture Inc. from Sioux Falls to design the structures. So far, one planning meeting has been held, Willis said.

According to Wermedal, the university will hold a design charrette in March, which will include sessions for campus groups and students to provide feedback on the designs over the course of two days.

The housing project has been in the works for almost 10 years, first starting in 2009. After debating whether to work with a private contractor, the university chose to move forward on its own.

“We decided the best option was for us to build it,” Wermedal said. “We knew, this way, we could offer more budget-friendly rental rates for students, and hold the cost down for students, as well as influence management a little more directly.”

The university was originally looking at the northwest side of campus, but through student feedback, decided on the southeast area for its closeness to The Union, Wellness Center, athletics facilities and the Performing Arts Center.

The new complexes will replace State Court family housing and State Village. State Village was closed in early 2017, and State Court will be removed this summer.

The university has been relocating those residents, Willis said. Many chose their own new housing options, or graduated and moved on from Brookings. Only about a third are coordinating with the university.

The project is considered the first phase of potentially more housing for upper-level students over the next five or more years.

Lucky Eagle Tattoo lands in Brookings

Nestled right between Party Depot and Main Street Pub is Brookings’ newest hidden gem: Lucky Eagle Tattoo Company.

Lucky Eagle moved to Brookings a few months ago from Watertown, setting up shop at 408 Main Ave.

Co-owners Josh Birrittieri and Dustin ‘DJ’ Eckman only met a few weeks before becoming business partners and opening shop.

“Josh wanted to expand and I was looking to start a new business, so we were both actually looking at this building for a shop and the landlord connected us,” Eckman said.

Birrittieri, originally from San Antonio, first opened Lucky Eagle two years ago in Watertown, where he not only worked, but lived — sleeping on an air mattress at night after closing.

Eckman, from Columbus, Ohio, also has experience operating a tattoo shop, having owned one himself in Sioux Falls prior. He also has a business degree from Lake Area Technical Institute.

“He’s the business one, I’m the free spirit,” Birrittieri said.

Since opening in Brookings, Watertown’s Lucky Eagle had to close its doors when the artist overseeing operations moved out of state.

The pair said it only took about three weeks from deciding to go into business together to opening their doors. Both have owned and operated tattoo shops in the past and had much of their own equipment, furniture and know-how to get a shop up and running.

While still working to build their clientele base in Brookings, Birrittieri said clients have followed them from Sioux Falls, Watertown and surrounding areas because of the shop’s time in Watertown and participation in regional conventions.

It only took four days after their soft opening at the end of January for their first customer to walk in the doors, Eckman said, and interest has been steadily growing ever since.

Junior sports management major Aristarchus Payton stumbled upon Lucky Eagle while eating downtown and decided to check it out. He ended up getting a tattoo from Eckman.

“He is very light handed and pays attention to detail,” Payton said. “My tattoo only took about 30 minutes and I am greatly satisfied. I truly trust him as an artist now.”

Despite its downtown location, Lucky Eagle isn’t in the business of tattooing drunk patrons, which is part of why they close their doors at 8 p.m.

Although they’ve only just opened shop in Brookings, Birrittieri and Eckman have their sights set on expanding.

“We want to be a company, Lucky Eagle Tattoo Company, not just a shop,” Eckman said. “We want to potentially be the first tattoo chain in this area.”

Lucky Eagle is the second tattoo shop in Brookings, and Payton is happy to see more tattooists come to town.

“Brookings is a college town, so each year freshmen come with aspirations to get piercings and hidden tattoos,” Payton said. “Having a local tattoo parlor with reliable artists is a big deal.”

Both artists specialize in traditional Americana style, characterized by bold lining, and harsh colors and dimensions.

Eckman leans toward neo-traditional, saying he has a “more modern flair” in his work.

He started out tattooing in gray and black, but wanted to dabble in color-mixing palettes. Lately, Eckman said, his passion has been oriental style tattoos, which he doesn’t get to do often.

“Oriental style tattoos are unrealistic realism — richer color palettes, accent with brighter tones and bring elements of nature into the tattoo,” he said.

Birrittieri’s gift in traditional tattoos is something Eckman said he can mimic, but not fully replicate.

Birrittieri’s inclination toward traditional styles is evident not only in his portfolio, but also his supplies.

Eckman, like many artists, uses disposable, one-time use supplies, while Birrittieri prefers to clean his in a steam autoclave. It takes a lot of extra effort and time, but Birrittieri enjoys what is becoming an “old-school” practice and being “self-sufficient.”

Innovation and technology have evolved tattooing in many ways beyond tattooing supplies, both Eckman and Birrittieri said.

“TV brought good tattoos into people’s homes,” Eckman said. “With shows like ‘Ink Master’ and ‘LA Ink,’ tattoos became more common and accepted.”

Technique has changed with technological innovation over the years Eckman and Birrittieri have been in the business.

“A lot of the artistry is being lost,” Birrittieri said. “It’s more of a printing business than artistry these days.”

Digital technology and design has made the tattoo industry much quicker, Eckman said. This is another area where Eckman and Birrittieri differ slightly in the way they work. Eckman can draw things by hand, but he also creates designs in computer programs, while Birrittieri prefers to do it all by hand.

An unique trait of Lucky Eagle is how they price tattoos. Their minimum charge is $50, and about $10 per square inch — they charge by the size and complexity of the piece, whereas most shops have a $100 minimum per hour, Eckman said.

“Regardless of my financial situation, I’m not going to take money from a customer,” Eckman said. He said artists could potentially abuse the by-hour rule to make more money. “That’s not how we operate. We do it for the customers.”