Simplified: Sioux Falls exceeded $1 billion in building permits earlier this week. It's a record amount of construction for the city, and it's also causing backlogs in permit processing.

Why it matters

  • This $1 billion in construction valuation is just another metric of Sioux Falls' tremendous growth in recent years.
  • The fast growth also comes with challenges, Eckhoff said, adding that city staff are dealing with two- to three-times the normal number of permits at one time. That's causing a backlog, leaving about 70 permits in the processing queue.
  • To put it into context, in 2011, the total value of building permits was just over $291 million, which means the amount of construction happening annually in Sioux Falls has more than tripled in a decade.
  • This number also puts Sioux Falls on par with cities like Omaha, which hit $1 billion in annual building permits for the first time just a couple years ago, according to Jeff Eckhoff, director of planning and development services for the City of Sioux Falls.
"Just to give you a scale, (Omaha is) a community four times our size, and we're right up there with them," Eckhoff said.

Where is the growth happening?

The building permits were split about two-thirds commercial and one-third residential.

  • But since apartment buildings are counted on the commercial side, the numbers are closer to one-half for housing and one-half for businesses, Eckhoff said.

Some of the biggest projects include:

  • The nearly $61 million Amazon Fulfillment Center, known in city documents as "Project Stampede."
  • A $27 million building in Foundation Park slated to be a FedEx Ground facility.
  • A $24.1 million expansion to the Win Chill building at Foundation Park.
  • Two major Avera Health projects, including a new $23 million east-side clinic and a $21.6 million addition to Avera Behavioral Health on West 69th Street.

Mayor Paul TenHaken said the growth is happening in all areas of town.

"There's really not a side of Sioux Falls that's stagnant right now," TenHaken said.

What about the backlog?

The city planning department is adding a full-time plans examiner, which should help get through the permits waiting for review. And it's possible more positions will be added in the future as well, Eckhoff said.

The planning department has also found ways to be more efficient in the permitting process.

  • For example, those seeking permits have more options to submit plans online as of last year.
  • There are also small efficiencies, like a new way for inspectors to clock in so they don't have to drive all the way to City Center when they start their day.

What happens next?

It's too soon to know if this level of growth is sustainable long-term, TenHaken said, but for now, it's manageable.

As for the rest of this year, TenHaken added he's got some internal bets going with city staffers as to where the final total construction valuation lands.

"I won't tell you where I've got us," he added, "but we're going to see more growth through the end of this year."