An unabashed visionary and risk-taker, Sioux Falls Mayor Mike Huether can barely contain his giddiness.
"You haven't seen anything yet," said Huether.
The future of downtown Sioux Falls is brighter than the sun's reflection off the Falls.
"Envision a cold winter night and people are out skating with their family in downtown Sioux Falls. Imagine it's a warm summer's day and we've got an outdoor music concert going on in the heart of our downtown. Imagine more and more people living and working and reflecting and playing in downtown Sioux Falls," said Huether. "It's going to happen. It's already happening, but it's going to happen at a higher level."
In order to continue downtown's recent success, adding 36 new businesses and watching five business expand, more housing is a must.
"The demand for downtown housing is so strong right now. It's old and it's senior. It's rich and it's poor. It's black and it's white," said Huether. "There is such a hunger to be in downtown Sioux Falls right now in terms of a place to live that we're going to have to find a way to meet all of those needs."
Lloyd Companies has three projects in the works just north of downtown in uptown. 30 units will be available in March at the Uptown Exchange Building. Just up the road on Main Avenue a residency for seniors called the City Centre Apartments, which will be owned and operated by the Good Samaritan Society, will have 44 units. And, 90 units will be available at the Phillips Avenue Lofts project.
The railroad relocation project is also on the Mayor's list of to-dos.
"When we finalize this railroad relocation project that's nine more acres of dream-making, becoming a reality that will take Sioux Falls and this state to an all new level," said Huether.
Huether's goal is to finalize the railroad relocation deal by December of this year. Then, the city would being a two to three year process of acquiring the land, removing the tracks, cleaning up the area, and then redeveloping it.
"(It will) push more development right along the river bank, create higher density, and then by doing that as you get back toward the rail yard we can use some of that property for things like parking or service areas," said City Planner Mike Cooper.
Cooper has been with the city since 1986. He believes downtown development is a sensitive equilibrium.
"Because, we don't want to make another mistake of not having that right balance so that it disrupts the potential future of all the great things and the successes we've had in recent years," said Cooper.
Mayor Huether also understands how crucial today's decisions are for tomorrow's future.
"That's one of the things that I'm maturing as a mayor. I'm beginning to realize more and more just how critical these decisions are not only for next year but 50, 100 years from now," said Huether. "We want to do this right. We want to plan it right. We want to zone it right."
From having enough true green space along the River Greenway to finally re-opening the State Theater's doors.
"I know people are going to come here just to look around and see this magnificent theater which is like the grand palace. It's unimaginable what's really going to happen," said KSOO/KSFY founder Sylvia Henkin.
Downtown Sioux Falls is looking like it will be the city's heartbeat for years to come.
For Huether that means another term in office.
"If I get five more years to serve these people, I think that's all we'll need."
From day to night, he dreams of what downtown could look like. And, each day those dreams are become more clear and tangible.
Sunday, April 20 2014 10:30 PM EDT2014-04-21 02:30:09 GMT
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