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Downtown Sioux Falls today: living, working and playing in the city core

Published: Aug. 4, 2021 at 5:33 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - What could be better than going to an event, seeing a movie, stopping for a drink, or shopping downtown? The energy we enjoy today is a testament to many people working together.

Building a better downtown has taken a lot of collaboration. Ron Nelson has volunteered on city committees and help set the goals we enjoy now.

“We talked about some of these ideas and like you know: ‘Wouldn’t it be great? Yeah well, lots of things would be great.’ Some of this stuff is we’re shooting for the moon. but you know if we get halfway there, we’re still better off. We get to the moon, and more,” said Nelson.

If you want to impress a business client or visitors from out of town, there’s a lot to show off. Mayor Paul TenHaken hosts those visiting the city by showing off our city center.

“We show them the Pavillion. We show them the State Theater. We show them, Falls Park. We show them everything that downtown has to offer,” said Mayor TenHaken. “And quite honestly, the response typically, if they haven’t been here before and haven’t seen our Downtown is: they’re blown away.”

City developer Jeff Eckhoff describes how a shift from business-only has created stability.

“What I think was the catalyst for the development that we see today because people, it was a whole live, work, play, mindset, and providing those three pieces that would revitalize and keep, and sustain downtown,” said Eckhoff.

And the variety of things to do and see keeps tourists and locals coming back. The Downtown First Friday Block Parties are organized by Downtown Sioux Falls Inc. Joe Batcheller is the President and CEO.

“It created a destination for visitors,” said Batcheller. “It’s created a destination for people that live in Sioux Falls to get reacquainted with the heart of their city.”

Everybody has their favorite part of downtown. Photographer Bill Pay has captured images of the city since the 1940s.

“That sculpture promotion is pretty nice,” said Pay. “That’s very interesting and it brings a lot of people downtown, particularly I noticed on the weekends.”

The success of downtown is a result of partnerships.

“Absolutely, it would never have happened without the city’s support,” said Eckhoff. “It would never happen without the private sector investment, and everybody doing their part and what’s been beautiful about it is all entities coming together realizing this is what we do and this is what you do and this is how we work together to make this happen.”

“Companies have made commitments to downtown, and that has encouraged other companies to do the same other businesses do the same so it really only takes one or two of those businesses to say hey we’re invested in downtown and we’re making a multi-million dollar investment to help others come alongside them,” said Mayor TenHaken.

It’s ok to have pride in what visionaries have accomplished. Like the connection, you may feel with the crowd at the Levitt. Eckhoff recently to his two adult sons to a concert at the Levitt while they were back home for a visit.

“And we went down and they were just like, it was like 4000 people down there and it was just wild,” said Eckhoff.

Lloyd Company President and CEO Chris Thorkelson enjoys the connection to nature in the midst of Downtown.

“The River Greenway. I love the river,” said Thorkelson. “To have that through your community is big. We’re more on the south end down here, but you can make your way and walk to Falls Park.”

The majestic artwork is an inspiration. One of the first SculptureWalk pieces was the inspiration to name a new development. Jeff Scherschligt bought the sculpture and saved it for Cherapa place.

“Cherapa is the name of that sculpture, which was in sculpture one and Cherapa is the Cherokee term for Buffalo,” said Scherschligt.

There are plenty of options from dining, entertainment, to living in the heart of the city.

“People will come down without a plan, and just let the day or the evening unfold, and people just have a great time, said Batcheller. “And so it’s a wonderful time to be a part of downtown Sioux Falls.”

One particular name was mentioned every time an interview shared stories of downtown. The late Steve Metli was appointed as a city planner in the 70s. He shared his vision of what Sioux Falls could be. Others captured his dream and helped bring it to life, for us to enjoy today.

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