Sioux Falls city officials announce plans to add a new sports and entertainment district to the city's map.
While the area itself isn't new, the plan to create new economic opportunity in the area is. The district is already home to the future events center, the Sanford Sports Complex and the Sioux Falls Regional airport.
In order to jump start development, the city has already started bringing business owners and developers together.
“Much of this is going to be private development and they need to do their thing. We just need to continue to bring them together, encourage development, facilitate those kinds of conversations and support it in any way we can,” Sioux Falls Director of Community Development Darrin Smith said.
The new name of the district is designed to give the city a new marketing tool that could have a multi-million dollar impact. As soon as voters approved the $100 million event center just off of Russell Street, city administrators started creating a plan that would not only support visitors coming to the event center and other sports and entertainment venues in the area, but also a long-term vision for the entire section of the city.
Construction crews are already hard at work building the Denny Sanford PREMIER Center. The next project on the list is widening Russell Street to a six-lane road. But those projects are really just the tip of the iceberg for what the city wants to call the Sioux Falls Sports and Entertainment District.
"You're going to see more economic development between now and fall 2014, by far, then you've seen over the last 10 to 15 years easily," Sioux Falls City Planner Mike Cooper said.
Designating the area as the sports and entertainment district is really about creating a marketing tool for the city to promote future business development. New hotels, restaurants, gas stations and convenience stores are all types of businesses the city, current land and business owners, and developers are looking to see in the area.
Just four blocks west of the new event center on Russell Street, you'll find the Arena Motel. Tim Nicolai has owned it for the past eight years and he's glad to see more emphasis being placed on the north side of town.
"It's bringing more people to the city that are going to call Sioux Falls home and they need places to work and be entertained just like they're saying and northwest Sioux Falls is the perfect place to be doing it," Nicolai said.
The city plans to jump start this project by the end of the year. They are sending out an RFP in December that's going to call for an 80 to 125 bed hotel located near the Elmwood Golf Course.
Cooper says there are more than 600 acres of land within the borders of the district to be developed. Several properties along Russell Street, one site near the Sanford Sports Complex and even land on the south end of the airport have been identified as possible sites for new hotels. Smith says new development in the district will add millions of dollars to the city's economy and projects are already starting to pop up.
"It's not going to take that long to starts seeing something. You're seeing that now with the Sanford Sports Complex. You're going to see it in the spring," Smith said.
An additional piece of the plan is a beautification project along Minnesota Avenue so when visitors fly into the airport and drive downtown there is a warmer, more welcoming feeling along the way.