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Phillips to the Falls: City puts out call for creativity
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May 24, 2006

The city of Sioux Falls has officially kicked off its bid to redevelop part of northern downtown.

The city is asking developers to submit proposals for 4.725 acres of vacant land on Phillips Avenue between Fifth and Second streets. The land, appraised at $2.5 million, will be distributed in three pieces. Those with a creative idea for what should be built there have until July 21 to submit proposals.

The area includes three city blocks opened up by the completion of the Phillips-to-the-Falls project.
City officials already have framed their vision for what they want, according to their request for proposals.

"The city envisions redevelopment on this site becoming a landmark for downtown with high-quality design, mixed-use development that brings activity and energy to downtown!" the proposal says.
By mixed-use, officials hope to see office, retail, residential and restaurants all contained in a pedestrian-friendly setting.

"We're hoping that the proposals we receive will contain numerous uses," said Erica Beck, an urban planner with the city.

Sioux Falls' guidelines also recommend that developers submit proposals with "high-quality exterior materials" including brick, glazed block, tile, stone and other materials. And developers are "highly encouraged" to submit plans with rooftop gardens and "sustainable design."

While city officials and downtown boosters envision the project as an extension of the downtown business district, it's also clear that the area could have unique characteristics.

For example, Beck said, city officials are "open to proposals that suggest taller structures."

A group of seven people, including city staff, a Planning Commission member and representatives from Main Street Sioux Falls - a downtown business organization - will judge the proposals.

Daniel Statema, executive director of Main Street Sioux Falls, is one person who will review proposals.

Statema said there's a need for more retail in the area. At the same time, there is a growing residential population living downtown that could serve as an anchor for shops and restaurants.

"Downtown is evolving at a rapid pace right now," Statema said. "What you see today could be very different than what you see in two or three years."

Doug Brockhouse, a principal with Bender Commercial Real Estate Services, predicts the city will receive six to 10 proposals. He called it a "nice piece of property."

He said the area is better suited for office development, and he suggests it could be a good location for a specialty restaurant.

But retail is another matter. The area is far away from the city's main retail corridor near The Empire Mall, and there isn't much property there to support a strong retail center.

"I struggle with the idea of retail being down there," he said.

Potential does exist for more residential units - lofts, condos - but Brockhouse said that market might be softening.

Beck said a number of developers have inquired about the property, including out-of-town firms from Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska and Illinois.

"I think we'll get some very serious proposals," she said.

Two of the three pieces were appraised at $11 a square foot, and the third is $13. Because the project encompasses three portions, officials say developers will have to cooperate to ensure their proposals complement each other.

"We've encouraged developers and people making proposals to really work together," Beck said.

Reach Jonathan Ellis at 605-575-3629.
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