Sioux Falls has one of the top ten downtown areas for a city its size.
That’s according to a national development expert who was in Sioux Falls Friday.
On a nice winter day business is hot in downtown Sioux Falls.
“When I first opened, there weren’t very many retail shops,” Nancy Savage said.
Savage opened up Child’s Play Toys seven years ago. Since then, dozens of other businesses have followed suit.
“There’s a lot more retail than we normally find in a town of this size,” Urban Planner Bob Gibbs said.
Gibbs’ expertise has been sought by some of the most respected mayors, architects and real estate developers in the country.
“I’ve worked in 48 states and in over 600 downtowns. Sioux Falls would be in the top ten,” Gibbs said.
Gibbs is impressed with the variety of stores, the artwork in downtown Sioux Falls, and the number of people living here.
“Somebody is building luxury condominiums, for example. They’re preselling at a very brisk rate. That’s unheard of for a town of this size in the Midwest,” Gibb said.
However, Gibbs says there are a couple of ways we can improve the downtown area, including adding more parking.
“Your parking meters may need to be in effect until 7 or 8:00 at night, rather than 5:00. They should probably be in effect on Saturday. This is the only city I’ve ever seen where you have free parking on Saturday,” Gibbs said.
Gibbs also thinks the streets should be narrower, and the traffic should go slower.
“I was almost hit by cars two times,” Gibbs said.
He believes the city should eliminate the one-way streets in the downtown area.
“The traffic is out of hand here. Your streets are really highways,” Gibbs said.
These are changes that Savage agrees with, as she looks forward to even more development downtown.
“With the railyard redevelopment, we’re all excited about that too. There’s so much to look forward to down here,” Savage said.
Gibbs says the downtown area could be three or four times the size it currently is.
He’d like to see more businesses along Main Avenue and northern Phillips Avenue.