Saturday, January 22, 2011

Laying a Foundation for the Future

I don't know who Tom Savage is but the KELO interview with the South Dakota native was interesting.  Here is an NBA consultant who seems to get the importance of building an event center downtown and why.

Planning and building an event center is a major economic project that will impact this area for 50 years to come. Even the mayor said that very thing earlier this week when he announced the selection of his construction at risk manager. It is hard to understand why the mayor continues to pursue building an event center in an area that is not the economic engine for the future of this city. 

Picking the Arena site is the easy way solution to trying to get it done. The mayor says he is a strong advocate for "Downtown." Yet, he continues to pursue a venue for the biggest project this city will ever undertake in an area that has seen no real economic development in spite of building the Arena and a Convention Center there.

There are 3 camps of thoughts in this community. The camp of absolutely No to an event center, period. The camp of the Arena/Convention Center site, and the camp of  Downtown. I think Downtown is getting a bad rap. First of all, people who never go downtown view downtown as narrow streets with expensive shops for the "elite." For all you naysayers of "downtown," think in terms of the Falls area of Sioux Falls. There is more to "downtown" than Phillips and Main.

The article in the ARGUS LEADER regarding Councilor Jamison's Plan B alternative was interesting in that the consensus from viewers seemed to be to look at all alternatives. All of the comments were insightful. I actually think Jamison's Plan B has merit. Why not build a convention center in the Falls area of Sioux Falls as well. Dave Syverson hit it on the head with his comments. He is right when he says the Arena site is not pedestrian friendly. People who go to conventions like the idea that they can walk to shopping and restaurant venues without having to take a taxi. Where can you walk to at the Arena/Convention Center? Ever wonder why the Convention Center sits empty the majority of the time?  This idea that people will drive in and drive out after an event so it needs to be near the interstate is an idea that is the death to the economic health of any city.

I wish the mayor would adopt the slogan, "Laying the foundation for building the future." What future? The economic future that will impact this city for 50 years or more. The Falls area of Sioux Falls is the heart of this city. It is the foundation of this city. The city has already invested in this area with the total redevelopment of Falls Park, Phillips to the Falls and continues with the River Greenway Master Plan.

The future has already begun in the city's heart. The excitement of seeing the possibilities is in the investment already made there by people who get the concept of economic development and stability for this city and took the investment leap to start building the foundation for the future. They are not building at the Arena/Convention Center area. Shops and restaurants are not locating in that area.

Come on Mayor. You are the leader of this city. Changing your mind is not the sign of a weak man. The strength of a leader lies in one's ability to continue to study and entertain all possibilities and the guts to change direction when the facts presented to you indicate a change of direction. Laying the foundation for the future is in the heart of this city. It is the Falls area of Sioux Falls.

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