What’s Historic In Sioux Falls?

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Over the past few months, KELOLAND News has told you about several debates on whether to save old homes in Sioux Falls.

Some of you may think tearing down the houses is no big deal, but the city takes it seriously with the Board of Historic Preservation.

Here’s a look at the board’s overall plan, and how they decide what is considered historic.

Meet the so-called Mayor of Main. George Hamilton owns seven properties on or near Main Avenue in Sioux Falls and is buying two more. 

The houses are usually in disrepair. Hamilton buys them, fixes them up, and then rents them out.

“In 2006 I was driving a truck. At that time my wife was watching ‘Flip This House.’ She thought I was wasting time driving a truck. She said, ‘Let’s get into real estate.’ I had a background in construction, and what did I get myself into,” Hamilton said.

While it may sound like fun, it’s also a lot of hard work… to say the least. 

“When you’re dealing with an older house, if you don’t redo everything from the plumbing and electrical and the roof and the siding and secure it from the elements, it’s going to continue to deteriorate,” Hamilton said.

Hamilton faces even more regulations than most homeowners when remodeling. Why? Many of his properties are in a historic district. There are seven historic districts in Sioux Falls.

“If you go into other communities, you love those historic areas and historic buildings. If you don’t preserve them, you’ll lose them,” Chief Planning and Zoning Official Jeff Schmitt said.

The Sioux Falls Board of Historic Preservation follows the Secretary of Interior’s standards that are required once an area becomes a historic district.

“Interior and exterior structures still have to remain historic character,” Schmitt said.

That means when homeowners are remodeling they need to follow historic guidelines with everything from the roof to the windows.

“Same thing with garage doors. If the garage door falls off the hinges, you can’t just grab any garage door. You need a historic character garage door,” Schmitt said.

The Sioux Falls Board of Historic Preservation also looks at building projects in the seven neighborhoods. For example, a developer would like to tear down four homes along Dakota Avenue to build a commercial building. The Board decided that would quote “have an adverse effect on the Sherman Historic District.” 

“It really comes down to, ‘Are you maintaining historic nature of the structures in the neighborhood,'” Schmitt said.

“Just the uniqueness of every single home. I love that, and I feel like people want that,” Catherine Holland said.

30-year-old Holland lives in the All Saints Neighborhood. Millennials are the fastest-growing market for these old homes.

“They’re always striving for something unique in their lives… if you can have a home that has wood paneling from the 1900s and things like creaks in the floor,” Holland said.

In Sioux Falls not only is there renewed interest in old homes, but also the city’s old area–downtown.

“It’s just the cool place to be,” Holland said.

A cool area that’s led to a hot business for this unelected mayor.

“It has taken on a life of it’s own with this neighborhood trying to rebound and come up,” Hamilton said.

If you would like to take a closer look at the seven historic districts in Sioux Falls, you can find a map here.

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