SIOUX FALLS, SD -
If the city of Sioux Falls decides to build an events center downtown, it will stand just feet from the Big Sioux River.
The architectural firm hired to study potential sites announced Thursday that a 12,000 seat arena would fit best on the east side of the Cherapa Place building. It's the site of the old Zip Feed building
Sink Combs Dethlefs is the lead architectural firm on this project. It's also the company that studied a downtown events center in 2005. Thursday, the firm came to the same conclusion on where to potentially put the facility, but came up with a different number when it came to parking. The firm says that will be a key issue in the success of the new building.
"This is a step of progress," Sioux Falls Mayor Mike Huether said.
After comparing three downtown sites Sink Combs Dethlefs decided the parking lot just to the east of Cherapa Place is where it should go.
The events center would be 100 feet tall and if the downtown site is picked Cherapa Place would actually share a wall with the building.
"The idea is we would literally attach the building to the Cherapa building," Don Dethlefs of Sink Combs Dethlefs said.
The key would be parking. Thursday, the architectural firm said there would be 3,500 parking spots available within five blocks of the downtown site. Back in 2005 they said there were 5,100 spots in the area. They need more than 4,000 spots for the events center to work.
The difference is this year they drew lines within actual walking distance. In 2005, they drew a radius around the proposed arena.
"If an events center opens in Sioux Falls it is viewed as a major success by the people if it's easy to get to, wonderful to visit and attracts a lot of events. Access both from their house to the parking lot and from the parking lot to the front door is a key part of it," Dethlefs said.
The arena and convention center site also falls short of the parking spots needed. So regardless of where the events center is built, the architects say they'd need to add more spots.
"So you're going to have to add parking and the question is where and at what cost," Dethlefs said.
The group that wants a downtown events center, Build It Downtown, says they are happy and excited with the selection of the site, but they are concerned about the difference in the parking numbers.
"My biggest concern is they are playing games with the parking numbers. When a city task force led by the same architecture team counts parking spots one way one year, and then turns around and counts them another way another year to show there's a disadvantage, you have to wonder what's going on there and why they are doing that," co-founder of 'Build It Downtown' Steve Hildebrand said.
Back in 2005 downtown actually had more parking spots than the arena location.
Now, the city will do a side-by-side economic analysis of both sites to see which spot would have the bigger impact on businesses in the city. That's expected to be done in mid-April.
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