SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The former Badlands Pawn building across from the Denny Sanford PREMIER Center is roughly a week away from opening back up under a new name and mission. The South Dakota Military Heritage Alliance is taking over and the aim is to turn the massive structure into a community destination.
“It’s basically an entire strip mall, mini mall, all with a military theme open to everybody,” Phelps said.
The facilities inside the Alliance building are just about ready for the public. A rusty helicopter and gun turrets are getting traded in for dozens of eagles and American flags.
Alliance Executive Director Brian Phelps comes from a military family and is passionate about helping Veterans and their loved ones.
“It’s in my blood and serving this organization and what we’re doing with the Alliance is the right thing to do,” Phelps said.
On top of being the new home for the American Legion and the VFW in Sioux Falls and their events, there will also be space for recruiters, health professionals and the South Dakota Department of Veterans Affairs.
“All in all, we have about 35 office spaces that will be leased out to military and military-support organizations,” Phelps said.
Workers are putting in a full kitchen behind me. Once that’s ready to go, it will kick out food for lunch and dinner for anyone who wants to stop by after April 1st.
Phelps says the restaurant will be called the Patriot Cafe. Upstairs there is a full bar called Club Lobo. There will also be a coffee shop, family center and much more.
“Grabbing everybody by their bootstraps and lifting everybody up. Getting these younger kids involved. Bringing in the school kids from preschool age, busloads of school kids that will see our fully interactive museum that we’re going to be putting over the next year or two,” Phelps said.
Don’t forget the building still has a gun range too.
“We want this to be a true destination. We want them spending a minimum of four hours with us on this property,” Phelps said.
The potential here can be overwhelming and Phelps admits there’s a lot of pressure to make the Alliance nonprofit a successful venture.
“We’ve got people from out in Pierre, across the state, clear out to Washington, D.C. are watching to see how we make this happen. Hopefully it rolls out across the nation,” Phelps said.
“This facility is going to be a fresh start for all these service organizations and there’s a lot of them in Sioux Falls, a lot of them in South Dakota,” Phelps said.
A fresh start and a unique addition to the Sioux Falls community.
The opening ceremony takes place at the Alliance building on March 13th. There will be a welcome at 11:30 with a special video to follow. Local dignitaries will be on hand and the event is open to the public.