SIOUX FALLS, SD -
If history is any indication, after last week's announcement of two new Walmarts, growth is sure to follow in the northwest and southern parts of town. The two existing Walmarts in the city already transformed the areas they chose into retail meccas.
Walmart's first store arrived in Sioux Falls in 1990 on the city's west side.
You'd never know by driving through the area today that Meadows on the River along Louise was a soybean field and undeveloped farmland.
"You had the Empire Mall out there as the big magnet that we knew was going to attract other retail; so we looked at how we could extend Louise Avenue. At the time the new 26th street interchange was the impetus for that to happen; but that started out as an agricultural field and now it's one of the major retail centers of the city," City Planner Mike Cooper said.
All that retail came after Walmart and continues to grow to the west along Louise past Lowes.
"It's not just the Walmart. But it's that whole meadows on the River and the Empire Mall, you put those together, that's become more than a regional trade area for Sioux Falls," Cooper said.
"Walmart starts a lot of development and it seems like wherever they put up a store, it brings in more business and then everybody wants to be in that area," Paul Scharonbroch of HOM Furniture said.
Just two years ago, HOM Furniture made the move to Meadows on the River about a mile and a half from its location on 41st Street.
"In retail, they always say it's all about location, location, location and as things build up in an area, more services come in. More people want to do business in that area. They can get everything done in one place," Scharonbroch said.
And it worked, HOM says it has gone from 15 to 50 employees and business has tripled.
Across town business is sizzling at the HuHot Mongolian Grill across from the east side Walmart. The story echoes what happened on the west side of town-- with rural farmland making way for urban development.
"This property was all part of a big farm, the Dawley Farm, which is where the name came from and so when the Dawley family agreed to let Walmart come in and develop their property, that really was the beginning point of developing this side of town as a major commercial center," Cooper said.
When Walmart came into the east side in 2002, it acquired enough land to develop these "out-lots," space for retailers to come in and it's filled up fast.
"Walmart is really the catalyst for bringing in other retail development. Retail developers say Walmart is going to attract a base of customers. We want to be next to them, close by them because that is going to help our business too," Cooper said.
District Manager Roger Knievel says Walmart brings the traffic restaurants like HuHot count on to make a profit.
"Anywhere where a Walmart goes up, that's going to be a good location because they do a lot of research as well, so finding out where the bigger box stores are like Walmart and such. That definitely helps bring traffic out to the area," Knievel said.
Knievel says over the last four years, business has improved from year to year. Both areas surrounding the city's east and west side Walmarts have about 200 acres for economic development, with the most future growth potential at the Dawley Farms Village.
City leaders say it's all helping to fill a request they've heard for years.
"Get more commercial development on the east side of town. Get retail, get restaurants, get movie theatres and now all that is starting to happen," Cooper said.
Back in August of 2011, Sam's Club announced it would be breaking ground for a second Sioux Falls location north of the Kohl's site at Dawley Farm. Then it was approved for a site north of Menards. Now it's looking at a third site at Dawley Farm South of the Century Theatres. The city says it doesn't know when it may break ground or on which site yet.
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