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Uptown: The Diamond From The Rough

October 17, 2012, 10:00 PM by Peggy Moyer

Uptown: The Diamond From The Rough

In most cities you can find an area referred to as downtown or uptown, but not too many cities have both.

Here in Sioux Falls, you have to go downtown to find the uptown district.

Between Phillips and Main and from 5th Street to 2nd Street, you'll find a few acres on the north end of downtown Sioux Falls known as the uptown district. And with a name like uptown, as you might imagine, there's a little bit of activity in the area.

While dump trucks and construction tools are making a lot of that noise now, by the end of next year, developers plan to have an additional 194 apartments and condos ready for people to call uptown Sioux Falls home.

"You have to have rooftops before you can get retailers interested in going into any area," Lloyd companies developer Craig Lloyd said.

Lloyd is one of four investors in the area. Just five years ago, the City of Sioux Falls asked developers to help turn an area that was once a junk-yard, to use Lloyd's words, into a place where people want to live, work and play.

This new housing unit replaces a building that was structurally unsound. Lloyd says the Museum of Visual Arts at the corner of 5th and Main is a great example of development that brings people and progress to the area.

"You take the corner lot where Standard Oil was. It was just a storage yard. Nobody was employed there. Nobody was there. They just put their stuff there. So that was a non-productive area," Lloyd said.

Once called the stop light building because of its unique paint scheme, the Larson Square building now has 20 loft apartments on the top floors, commercial office space on the main level and underground parking in the basement.

Five years ago the Tri-State Creamery building in uptown Sioux Falls had just one employee. Now, Oh My Cupcakes has just 1,000 square feet of the building and more than 20 employees.

Four other businesses have joined Oh My Cupcakes owner Melissa Johnson in the old Creamery building.

"Five years ago, I don't think many people would have thought to come down here, but uptown has really increased. It's grown and it's so much fun down here. I just love the building and the area," Johnson said.

Johnson says the number of walk-in customers increases each month. And with all of the development, she's even considering expanding her business.

"It is very exciting. We're looking at some things like even re-doing our business model a tiny bit and adding like a coffee bar and some things like that because of more traffic and more living space down here. I think everything will increase," Johnson said.

By the end of 2013, Lloyd says uptown Sioux Falls will consist of nearly two square blocks worth of new apartments, retail and office space. While he can't place a dollar value on the amount of economic return the city will receive from the improvements, he does say construction over the past five years has changed more than just the landscape.

"All I know is when you've got people with disposable incomes because rents aren't cheap down here and they can be entertained, they have over a 200 acre park across the street, that it's a lot better than it was 20 years ago when it was a junk yard," Lloyd said.

So when you talk about development and progress in a city, uptown Sioux Falls is looking more like a diamond from the rough everyday.

Lloyd says it's taken longer to develop the area than he originally planned because the recession hit about a year into the project. He now expects to finish developing uptown Sioux Falls within a little more than a year.

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