Sioux Steel’s neighbors: We want to collaborate

March 29, 2018

This much is clear: There’s a lot of interest in what will happen to the current Sioux Steel site and a lot of people who recognize the opportunity it presents.

That was evident last week, when an initial open house drew a packed crowd.

“We were really happy with the turnout and the amount of feedback we received,” said Jon Jacobson, who leads the Sioux Falls office of Confluence and is helping Sioux Steel through its city rezoning.

There were dozens of images shared showing what could be – from urban marketplaces to walking paths and green space.

“I was really happy with the energy and excitement,” Jacobson said. “We’ll continue to categorize and receive all this feedback and information and review it with the ownership group and continue to explore potential for the site and what sort of market possibilities there are. They don’t have their minds made up about what exactly to do with the site.”

One element has been determined, though.

“The last thing we want to do is create a development that ignores the falls or ignores the Levitt Shell,” Jacobson said. “What I heard from the public is they don’t want it developed in a suburban way. They want it reflective of the history of the site and to look like it belongs downtown. And that’s one of the things we’ll work toward.”

Neighboring properties weigh in

While much of the almost 11-acre property is surrounded by city park land, neighboring commercial property owners said the Sioux Steel redevelopment presents an opportunity for creating a vision together.

The headquarters for Raven Industries is across Sixth Street from Sioux Steel. Raven CEO Dan Rykhus can relate to running a manufacturing company that realizes it needs to modernize its space.

While Sioux Steel plans to move its operation out of downtown, Raven substantially renovated its downtown headquarters in 2010.

“Ultimately, we decided to renovate because it was in our best interest, but we also believed it helped with the revitalization that has been going on downtown for some time,” Rykhus said. “I’m sure any decision that Sioux Steel makes will be what is right for their business as well as the community. It’s our hope that whatever goes into that space will spur economic growth and development.”

Continued development in the Uptown area could present opportunities for Raven. The company owns property next to Sioux Steel on the north side of Sixth Street as well as on the southeast corner of Sixth and Phillips Avenue, for instance. It’s also connected through the greenway and in the past has envisioned a more developed riverfront on its property.

There “are always opportunities to collaborate,” Rykhus said.

“It’s what good businesses and neighbors do. In this section of downtown, we have several community-minded folks who understand the importance of economic development and its role for ensuring future economic success. Beyond being just neighbors, it’s that vision that ties all of us together. If the opportunity was right, we would certainly get involved in any project that would further enhance the economic development of this area.”

Rick Gourley, who owns the Harvester building south of Sioux Steel, will have an up-close view of whatever occurs there. His building is almost fully occupied with residents and businesses.

“Downtown over the last 20 years has just gone through this great metamorphosis,” he said. “It’s like that little village that needs everybody to do their part. It’s so important that downtown keeps a vibrant feel, and the residential is a part of that.”

He’d like to see a wide range of housing options in the area.

“I can imagine high-end condos, who knows how big that market is, to a concept for tiny houses,” he said.

The area of Uptown west of Sioux Steel and Falls Park will help boost the resident population. The Cascade will begin filling up about 200 apartments next spring, and demand already has created a wait list for when leasing starts.

“We finally have an opportunity to build upon the whole concept of Uptown and the Falls Park neighborhood like was envisioned many, many years ago,” said Erica Beck, vice president of development for Cascade developer Lloyd Cos.

“The Sioux Steel redevelopment will help further define the north end of downtown as its open neighborhood. There’s a lot of opportunity for property owners and the public sector to collaborate and help define that.”

Connecting to the Sioux Steel property through Fourth Street, for instance, will allow Uptown residents easier access to the riverfront and the other development that will occur there.

“This is going to be a small neighborhood in and of itself, so all the density we can grow in the area will support commercial uses and retail that’s opening up,” Beck said.

What’s next

Sioux Steel plans to offer additional chances for people to weigh in on the property.

A survey can be taken here and already has gathered dozens of responses.

Environmental testing also is being done, and Sioux Steel is working with a number of consultants on how to develop a plan, Jacobson said.

He anticipates two or three additional public meetings this spring to update “things we heard and things we’re considering and what kind of issues have come to the table.”

The city election presents an additional wild card. Several candidates for mayor and City Council were at the initial open house and gave input.

The enthusiasm for the site’s potential, though, exists across the public and private sectors.

At Raven, Rykhus notes the broader impact of the area’s momentum: It’s helping him attract and retain a workforce.

“It’s great to see a downtown that’s embracing a growing population and urbanization. People want to be around restaurants, entertainment and the energy of a downtown. We’re using our location to our advantage in our recruitment process,” he said.

“In my 27 years with Raven, I’ve seen a lot of changes to this area. Nothing as exciting, though, as the time we are in now.”

Sioux Steel’s neighbors: We want to collaborate

This much is clear: There’s a lot of interest in what will happen to the current Sioux Steel site and a lot of people who recognize the opportunity it presents.

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