Simplified: From new events to paid helpers to pulling weeds, there's a lot of work going into making sure downtown is a destination year-round. Here's a look at why that's especially important as downtown grows.
Why it matters
- Downtown is in the midst of massive expansion, between the Steel District, Jacobson Plaza, and an expanded Cherapa Place. Not to mention projects in recent years like Washington Square and the Cascade Building that have made it possible for more people to live downtown.
- But, shop owners say they still see a dip in traffic when the weather gets cold – a trend various groups are working to combat with winter-specific activities like the new Winter Weekends events.
- It's also all in line with a broader long-term plan to make downtown more desirable, from increasing walkability to ensuring visitors feel safe to ensuring businesses have what they need to survive.
"We don't want to build all of these things and then say, 'Oh that's nice,' and then not show up and enjoy them," DTSF, Inc. Marketing Director Tenley Schwartz said.
What are some of the goals for downtown?
DTSF Inc. President Joe Batcheller outlined some opportunities for downtown during a City Council meeting Tuesday. Those include:
- Improving access to public restrooms,
- Improving the experience for pedestrians,
- Educating the public on parking,
- Do more to market downtown,
- Activate public spaces,
- And strengthen relationships with downtown residents.
DTSF has already expanded its ambassador program, with people who are around to greet people, answer questions, assist unhoused folks, and generally do whatever is needed to be helpful.
Some more specifics include plans to pilot a temporary street closure to promote walkability, post more about downtown on social media, and implementing a safety plan in coordination with the Sioux Falls Police Department.
From the city's standpoint, getting people to live, work and play downtown supports a hub of economic development in Sioux Falls, said Dustin Powers, the city's business development coordinator.
"One of the things in really successful cities is that you have a really strong downtown," Powers said. "More and more people want to live, work and play downtown, and activating and continuing to improve what downtown has to offer is very important."
What happens next?
DTSF, Inc. is meticulously tracking the interactions downtown – from how many minutes the average person spends downtown to how many weeds are pulled by downtown ambassadors.
- The goal is to be able to track what works and what doesn't, as well as being accountable to downtown business owners, especially those who are paying higher taxes this year through the business improvement district.