Monday, November 14, 2011

The Future of Downtown Development - What's Next?

With the event center decision behind us, we can now look forward to the mayor's previously stated commitment to Downtown Sioux Falls with hopefully the same energy put forth in his event center campaign. The question is: What's Next, Mayor, for Downtown Sioux Falls?

The city's official website under the Community Development Department says this about Downtown Sioux Falls:

Downtown is the City’s center for business, finance, government, arts, culture, and historic architecture, offering a richly diverse range of dining, shopping, lodging, housing, education and entertainment opportunities. A prosperous, safe, attractive, well-maintained destination with easy access and convenient parking, downtown Sioux Falls is an especially inviting place to live, work and play.
Downtown is the heart of Sioux Falls, serving as the main element defining the City’s image. The number of jobs downtown are expanding, making it one of the city’s largest employment centers. New residential units are being added and are among the most sought-after housing in Sioux Falls. Downtown continues to serve as the governmental, business, and financial center of the city, and these roles continue to grow.
Continuing to thrive and prosper, Downtown is seeing new buildings constructed, underutilized properties redeveloped and historic buildings rehabilitated due, in part to the City of Sioux Falls offering incentives that effectively stimulate private reinvestment and ensure development is competitive to that of other areas within the city.
Due to its unique heritage, historic architecture and great diversity of culture, social, art, entertainment and educational opportunities, downtown is a popular destination for both residents and visitors alike. Parking is convenient and available, bike and pedestrian circulation is expanding, and the hub of the public transit system maintains its central location – all downtown.
Abundant parks, landscaping, continued integration with the Big Sioux River and Falls Park and the special consideration that developers give to utilizing quality materials and attractive building design all create a visually stimulating and aesthetically pleasing downtown. Additionally, investment and care are being devoted to maintaining and increasing sidewalks, streetscaping, outdoor art, and public spaces.
Downtown is increasingly known as a center of fun, festivals, activity and excitement, with a reputation as the place where something wonderful is always happening. It is the place to go to enjoy arts, culture and major performances.

Back in 2001, the City Council, by resolution, established an 11 member Downtown Plan Taskforce. The Taskforce was charged with the responsibility of preparing a long-range plan for the future growth and & development of the central business district.

Eleven citizens were appointed to the 2015 Downtown Plan Taskforce in early 2002. The eleven citizens were:
  • Jake Anderson
  • Paul Boerboom
  • Tom Bosch
  • Pam Breidenbach
  • Julie Choudek
  • Cathy Clark
  • Dick Dempster
  • James Echols
  • Craig Hagen
  • Susan Hainje Hauff
  • Marv Looby

Interesting to note - Darrin Smith, the current Director of Community Development/Public Parking Facilities was a member of that City Council at the time this taskforce was created.

This taskforce worked with the City Planning Department and the City Planning Commission and liaisons with the Minnehaha County Planning Director and the Executive Director of Main Street Sioux Falls. The result of their work was the Sioux Falls 2015 Downtown Plan. This plan needs updating. A new taskforce needs to be appointed to keep Downtown moving forward.

There are many things that have been accomplished since this plan was completed. There is much more to be done in terms of vision for the future, such as:

  • River Greenway Corridor
  • Public Parking Ramps ( first one to replace the River Ramp demolition)
  • Eastbank Redevelopment (east bank of the Big Sioux River between East 6th and East 10th Streets extending eastward to Weber Ave - an area of more than 45 acres.)
  • Northend Redevelopment (land adjoining both sides of North Main Avenue and extending eastward to include properties that front Phillips to the Falls extension of Phillips Avenue from 5th Street to about 1st Street.)
  • Southeast Redevelopment (Part of this area is within the established central business district while the rest lies just outside the current downtown boundaries - generally located between 11th & 14 Streets and between First and Third Avenues.)
  • Railroad Relocation
  • Uptown Project
  • Possible amphitheater

It's time for the mayor and city council to appoint a new downtown plan taskforce to complete the plan and vision for the Sioux Falls Downtown area. There are many leaders/citizens in the community who joined the Build It Downtown campaign in the early stages of the event center debate who would be more than willing to serve on a new Downtown Plan Task Force. The mayor could go a long way in reaching out to this group whose underlying philosophy is that a strong downtown makes the entire city of Sioux Falls healthy.  

After all, as the city's own website says, Downtown is the heart of Sioux Falls, serving as the main element defining the city's image.


  1. Isn't it said one's heart is where one spends their money?

  2. I read this and think of the Mayor's decision to build at the arena site and can only shake my head at the build it now money machine campaign. Dumb! What an incredibly lost opportunity.