Dustin Powers is the city's business development coordinator, and he's the main man behind-the-scenes of Sioux Falls' downtown 2035 plan. We caught up with him to talk about what's next for downtown and learn about that one time folks almost tore down the Old Courthouse Museum to put up a parking lot.

Answers are direct quotes from Powers and have been edited for length and clarity.

How did you ‘get smart’ about city planning/development? – i.e. what in your background or in your own research/activities prepared you for your job today?

My college degree is in community and regional planning which prepared me with the foundation to effectively plan for a community.

  • Every community is different. Living and working in Sioux Falls, learning the historic context of the city, being observant and listening to the community has given me the knowledge and vast background to support the community’s planning and development efforts.

We’re all about simplicity here. Can you describe what the goal of the Downtown 2035 plan is in 10 words or less?

To set the community’s 2035 vision for downtown.

What’s something people most often misunderstand about downtown planning in the city? (And, if you could politely correct them, what would you say?)

Our downtown plans are not just plans for city government, but are plans that reflect the aspirations of the community members who get involved through the engagement processes.

  • These plans not only guide future public decisions but private investment as well.

If you could personally pick one new feature to bring to downtown, what would it be?

I would love to see a year-round indoor public market.

What’s your favorite tidbit of downtown history?

One of my favorite tidbits about downtown history is that the Old Courthouse Museum was slated for demolition to build a parking lot in the 70s, but a group of concerned residents campaigned to save it. And they were successful.

  • It’s a great example of how past decisions have impacted and shaped the look of our downtown.

What’s your advice for someone who wants to learn more about the future of downtown?

To follow our current downtown planning process, follow updates on our website, or reach out to me and we can have a conversation.

What’s next for the Downtown 2035 plan?

Our online survey is still available at www.siouxfalls.org/downtown until August 22nd.

On October 13th, we will be hosting our next public workshop which will include results from our public engagement process and market analysis.

How do you spend your time when you’re not focused on downtown or city development?

Enjoying the simple things in life with my wonderful wife and our two black labs. I enjoy doing anything outdoors – walking, hiking, camping, hunting and fishing.

Anything else you want the people of Sioux Falls to know about downtown planning?

Downtown has seen significant transformation and growth in the last two decades, and community participation during the previous planning efforts has been instrumental to the success we have seen.

  • These important planning efforts set a vision for the future of our downtown, which drives both public and private investments that ensure the heartbeat of our city continues to thrive and is a welcoming place for resident and visitors alike.