They're good for the environment and they bring a little nature into urban areas. Rooftop gardens used to just be a "big city thing."
If you're walking around downtown Sioux Falls you're probably focused on the things in front of you or around you, like shops and sculptures, but take a look up and you'll see the latest trend to take flight in Sioux Falls.
“The temperatures is always nice up here. You always get a breeze and I've never met a mosquito up here and even those turkey vultures that everyone has been screaming about are marvelous to watch," Westhoff said.
That right, from this vantage point--not here on the ground where they leave this mess--even the turkey vultures that land on the KELO-TV tower are beautiful. At least according to 82-year-old Dick Westhoff. Westhoff and his wife moved to this penthouse on top of the restored Boyce-Greeley building on Phillips Avenue just three months ago, from just east of town.
“I'd been out there 25 years, that was enough so I came back here, which is only two blocks from my office, and want to be part of making this thing work again. It's really better than ever," Westhoff said.
Westhoff worked downtown at 9th and Phillips as a CPA for more than 60 years. Now he and Lawana are enjoying spending their retirement years up on the roof.
“It's everything you'd have suburban, but it's just nicer and plain better," Westhoff said.
“Everybody that's moving downtown, that's the one thing I was hearing: they wish they had some outdoor space where they could grill or hang out on a nice day. That was a big goal of mine, to get this building where I could get this building to a level where I could potentially do rooftop," Dandar said.
Boyce-Greeley building owner Dave Dandar is constructing his own rooftop garden on the penthouse he'll live in, next door to the Westhoffs. He's spent millions of dollars and eight years restoring this building and rooftop gardens were part of his vision for it.
"Oh man, it kind of gives me goose bumps. I've waited so long for this and pretty soon the curtain will rise and it will be one awesome feeling just to know I've been able to accomplish this," Dandar said.
It's not just older buildings being outfitted with rooftop gardens.
These seven townhomes going in by Signature Companies in downtown Sioux Falls will be complete later this summer. They're all available with rooftop gardens that can run anywhere from $4,000 to $15,000 depending on how elaborate they are.
“It's really an inspiring view up here for one,” Hugh Dodson of Raven said.
Businesses are also seeing the value in roofscapes. Raven Industries included a large 4,000 square foot rooftop garden in its recent $24-million renovation of its corporate headquarters. Having a green roof also helps the company meet energy efficient standards.
"It was really designed as an alternate space, for both work and fun," Dodson said.
That work includes checking out the sun's effect on new Raven products, such as computer screens for farmers in the field.
While rooftop gardens are mostly a place to relax, they're a trend that's bound to keep blooming as more people live and work downtown.