Sioux Steel is Doing Downtown Development Right Way [OPINION]
We’ve been waiting for this news for a long time.
It’s been clear for years that Sioux Steel would eventually move out of the spot just above Falls Park along the Big Sioux River, though they don’t necessarily have to.
This is not only a prime location for development, it’s also a historic site for our community. It’s where Seney Island once hosted residents for picnics and weekend getaways. It was a recreational center just above the Falls at the turn of the 19th century. Then industrial development around the Falls took over and much of the area turned to manufacturing and other gritty business.
With the years-long conclusion of Phillips to the Falls, the area is again greenspace and mixed-use urban development. It’s been a long road back. I’m old enough to remember Pitts Salvage Yard -- where Levitt Pavilion will soon host outdoor concerts -- when the entire Falls Park neighborhood was a collection of ramshackle buildings and bums curled up in the corners on Sunday morning.
It’s been miraculous for sure.
That’s why this moment is so important. Sioux Steel is a private business that has quietly operated on the site for 100 years. The company has taken steps to mitigate the visual and sensory effect on the area, covering areas of the yard with shelters and generally keeping the place tidy.
That’s been much appreciated by folks who enjoy taking in the Falls.
Now they need to decide what to do. According to our friend Jodi Schwan at SiouxFalls.Business, the company will maintain ownership of the land and guide the next phase of development on the site.
In this case, I believe that to be a good thing. I wouldn’t say that about every private entity, but Sioux Steel President and CEO Scott Rysdon says the first phase of the project is envisioned to include development along the river to tie in with other nearby park and greenway improvements, according to Jodi.
“There will be greenway development and walking and biking development,” Rysdon said. “And you’d have a great view of the falls.”
That’s wonderful to hear. It means Sioux Steel has an interest in the legacy of the company in downtown for decades to come.
There are some great elements of the site that I hope they’ll maintain including a warehouse and very cool old signage. It could be, and I believe it will be, another destination point for our blooming downtown.
They are taking public input on ideas. Also impressive for a private company. And they seem intent on making the best decisions for the community.
That’s very good news.
You can give your ideas at the first public meeting on Thursday (March 22). An open house starts at 4:30 p.m. and ends at 7 p.m. at Josiah’s Coffeehouse & Cafe. There will be a presentation starting at 5:30 p.m. Sioux Steel will offer several other meetings, and construction could start next spring, Rysdon said.