Transforming a 1905 grocery store into a coffee shop & restaurant near Sioux Falls historic residential district

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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The Sioux Falls City Council is considering a unique rezoning proposal for a 120-year-old building just a few blocks away from the Cathedral Historic District.

“I have driven by this property for years and years, oh that’s such a neat little building. I wonder what its history is, why does it look like that,” developer Alex Halbach said.

As the chair of Sioux Falls’ Board of Historic Preservation, Halbach has a passion for historic buildings.

“I started doing more research and learned that the building was built as a grocery store, at or around 1905. It served as a grocery store until the 1950s,” Halbach said.

Like many homes in the neighborhood, the former grocery store on the corner of 9th Street and Grange Avenue was converted to apartments in the 1960s.

“When we became a historic district, and we were the first historic district in South Dakota, they changed our zoning back to single family and decided that it really wasn’t going to be a neighborhood of apartments,” Cathedral Historic District homeowner Mary Glenski said.

Just up the street, Mary Glenski and her family spent years getting their 1885 home back to its former glory.

“It had four apartments and had a slum landlord, and he was gonna take the porch off because it needed repairs,” Glenski said.

She says she’s grateful to see others joining in the restoration of this historic neighborhood.

“I think anyone who buys one of the properties in the area, a historic property and restores it, is certainly appreciated, needs to be commended and will probably spend a lot of money,” Glenski said.

That’s exactly what Halbach intends to do with this unique piece of history.

“It will probably be close to a million dollars will get put into this corner, but you know its an investment not only in the building, it’s an investment in this neighborhood,” Halbach said.

He plans to replace the building’s crumbling brick façade and then begin transforming the property into a neighborhood coffee shop and restaurant, with an office space on the second floor and adding a rooftop patio for the coffee shop patrons to enjoy.

“I wish there was a building like this in my neighborhood so we could have a little gathering place,” Halbach said. “That’s what I envision this being again, a taste of light commercial in the middle of residential, really walkable, with lots of bike racks, again just a neighborhood gathering place.”

While there are some concerns about increased traffic and parking in the residential neighborhood, it’s a revitalization project many people in the neighborhood are excited to see.

“I think there are people who are looking forward to having a coffee shop,” Glenski said. “It was originally a grocery store, that building, so it’s actually being historical to turn it back into commercial.”

Halbach hopes his investment in the neighborhood will help inspire more future improvements in this historic part of town.

“My hope is that it helps to increase property values and helps lead to improved care in the neighborhood. You’ve got to put time and money back into them and hopefully by me saying, I’m going to do this here, will encourage others to do the same,” Halbach said. “I think this neighborhood deserves it.”

The city council will vote on the zoning changes over the next few weeks. If approved, Halbach expects construction to happen in early spring with the hopes of opening the coffee shop and restaurant by the end of May.

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