It seemed a little far-fetched more than two decades ago
when city leaders started selling the concept of punching
Phillips Avenue through to Falls Park.
The area could be home to stores and apartments, they
said, leading a rejuvenation of the city's oldest area.
Standing in the way was a scrap-metal yard surrounded by
years of neglect that gave skeptics plenty of reason to
believe it was a potential trap for city money.
But the street opened in 2004 after bouts of legal and
political wrangling and a fair share of controversy.
Now the promise of "Uptown" is taking shape.
Several historic buildings have been renovated.
are leasing space and moving in. Nearly all of the initial
20 loft apartments in the Larson Square are rented.
And perhaps most significantly, a spring groundbreaking is
planned on the nearly $40 million Arches. The project's two
seven-story buildings will include 88 apartments and 60,000 square feet of retail and office space.
A consortium of six local developers is spurring the Uptown metamorphosis in a three-block area from Fifth to Second streets along Phillips.
Their splashy, long-range plans call for more than a $100
million mixed-use project during the next eight to 10 years.
"Any time there is reinvestment in downtown, that is a
very positive sign for the economy of Sioux Falls," said Dan
Statema, executive director of Downtown Sioux Falls.
The development group includes Neil Schmid of Cirrus
Commercial, Craig Lloyd and Roger Mack of Lloyd Cos., Jeff
Hazard of Koch Hazard Architects and Les Kinstad and Norm
Drake of Legacy Development.
Since unveiling their mega plan two years ago, the group
began by renovating the former Tri-State Creamery and Larson
Square buildings at the corner of Fourth Street and Main
Tri-State Creamery, which has more than 10,000 square
feet spread over two floors, is leased fully, with the
Artist Playhouse and Brian Clark & Associates among its
tenants, Schmid said.
Pizzeria to add flavor
And Larson Square, which has 30,000 square feet spread
over three floors, already has leased 18 of 20 loft
apartments. Meanwhile, A Taste of the Big Apple pizzeria is
expected to open soon, taking 2,500 square feet. Further,
the building's owners have a preliminary agreement to lease
6,000 square feet to a prospective office tenant, Schmid
"The Uptown at Falls Park group also is buying the former
DeKalb building, 522 N. Main Ave., which most recently has
been home to Youth Enrichment Services' Early Childhood and
Headstart offices, he said. The real estate sale for that
13,000 square foot building is expected to close next month.
YES expects to relocate to the old Sioux Falls Christian
School on the city's east side, he said.
Schmid said the Uptown investors group expects to restore
the historic facade of the DeKalb building and lease it for
office or retail use.
The Uptown at Falls Park partnership also is eying a
former railroad depot building at Fifth Street and Phillips
Avenue that is currently home to Southeastern Behavioral
Sioux Falls leaders consider the Uptown development
activity a boon for the city.
"They have improved the North Main area and, as they
continue with the Arches development, it really brings
interest and excitement," Mayor Dave Munson said.
Meanwhile, Mack, development director at Lloyd Cos.,
noted a growing interest across the nation in cities
redeveloping their downtowns with mixed-use projects.
Gas prices called factor
"I think the increased in gas prices has increased
interest in people being in urban areas where they can live,
work and play," Mack said.
Steve Metli, the city's former planning director who
first pitched the Phillips to the Falls idea in 1987, lives
in one of the Larson Square lofts. He moved two blocks down
the street to his new digs in May to take advantage of a
more updated apartment in a quieter location.
Metli said he likes the amenities of downtown living,
including being within walking distance of the Orpheum
Theater Center and enjoying a view of the Big Sioux River
and city skyline from his third-floor apartment window. "I
am anxious for the Italian restaurant to get completed so I
can have my own restaurant," he joked.
Metli is among the first wave of new downtown residents
that officials expect will swell in coming years. About
1,200 people live downtown. Eventually, the area could have
up to 12,000 residents, Schmid said.
The changing image of downtown's north end is perhaps
best illustrated by the recent arrival of ADwerks, an
advertising agency from a west-side location on Louise
Avenue to 512 N. Main Ave. in the Uptown district. The
rehabbed former Standard Oil garage building became
available when Group II Architects was bought by TSP Inc.
"We had an opportunity to get into a really incredible
building," Mathis said. "It is a great location. We are at
the edge of downtown development that is being brought to
Mathis said he is excited about developers' plans for the
Arches and subsequent new buildings.
"It has made what was an easily overloooked neighborhood
into very attractive real estate," he said. "I have wanted
to move my business to downtown for a long time."
Some see time to leave
Meanwhile, Crescent Electric district manager Pat Haschke
sees the metamorphosis of north downtown as time for his
business to head for new quarters. Since the early 1960s,
Crescent Electric has been at 700 N. Main Ave.
The company plans to move to a warehouse building at
Fourth Street and Benson Road in November.
"We need more space because of continued growth," Haschke
said. "But also our wholesale operation doesn't fit in with
upscale office, residential buildings and things that are
going on in downtown. Looking towards the future, we felt
this was a good time to exit the area."