SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – After making the motion to pass a series of new zoning ordinances, Greg Neitzert reflected on seven years serving on the city council and predicted tough votes ahead. 

“Once we hit three stories, the height really is an issue for people. Particularly when it’s close to their homes, which I totally get,” Neitzert told KELOLAND News. “I have seen a number of proposals come forward that faced major opposition and, in some cases, went down because they were more than two stories.” 

There’s no specific project in the works yet but with last week’s vote, city councilors have approved three types of mixed-use building in zoning areas considered in Sioux Falls “urban core.” The “urban core” makes up most of the area in between 41st Street to the south, Russell Street to the north, Western Avenue to the west and Cliff Avenue to the east.  

Mixed-use buildings use commercial space on the first floor and residential space on the floors above it that range from three stories tall to seven stories tall. You can see renderings and the zoning details for the three types in the pictures below. 

Neitzert, a city councilor representing northwest Sioux Falls, said no project should be rubber stamped, but a large number of complaints shouldn’t doom a project when the rules are followed and the proposed project makes sense. 

In a way, Neitzert said future development in Sioux Falls needs to go up, instead of outward. 

Minnesota Avenue, in particular, is an area Neitzert said he believed the mixed-use buildings could thrive in bringing more density and affordability around downtown. He pointed out many buildings along Minnesota Avenue in the center of Sioux Falls are “revolving doors of little restaurants and strip malls.” 

“We’re spending millions reconstructing Minnesota Avenue and this would provide an ability to do kind of a downtown-feel where you’d have a building right up to the street,” Neitzert said. “Urban sprawl is a real issue. Our city is growing very big, it’s very hard to maintain. Using the land that we already have, in the best, most advantageous manner, is something we need to do.” 

Neizert said being sensitive to neighborhoods and the people who already live there is a key part of making midtown mixed-use buildings work. 

“It’s not going to require just bravery of a developer to be visionary. But it’s also going to require some political bravery when the project is the right project,” Neizert said.

Parking and traffic concerns 

With this zoning change, the burden of parking has been relieved by city ordinance to developers. Neitzart said zoning would call for developments like the three to seven story buildings to provide parking – either in a ramp or with underground parking. 

With the midtown mixed-use zoning, there’s a shared parking utilization ratio capitalizing on spots for commercial during the day and residential at night. 

“Parking and traffic are two things that come up all the time,” Neitzert said. “Parking kills projects all the time, simply because we can’t provide enough land. Using land for parking is a very, very bad use of space. It wastes lots of resources and it makes a project not be able to work.” 

Neitzert said parking, height, density and traffic follow any development, but those concerns can be addressed. 

“Anywhere we can use the land better than we have now, instead of simply sprawling, is better for the taxpayer,” Neitzert said. 

He said for the midtown mixed-use buildings, a first example will ease future concerns. 

“We do need to be context-sensitive,” Neitzert said. “The closer residential zoning is to the building, it potentially needs to be not as tall.”