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May 14, 2017 10:00 PM

Avoiding Inner City Problems In Sioux Falls

Take a look around Sioux Falls, and you'll notice a lot of construction.

 As cities grow, one of the problems officials often face is making sure the downtown area is still maintained.

In just four years Chelsea Tracy has noticed a lot of changes in downtown Sioux Falls.
"I think we were one of two boutiques at the time," Chelsea's Boutique Owner Chelsea Tracy said.

When she moved her boutique to the area, there were a lot of vacant buildings.
"There was not as much foot traffic. I remember there were times where I was, 'Oh my gosh. Are we going to survive down here,'" Tracy said.

Not only has she survived, but she has flourished, along with the downtown area.
"Downtown is as safe as its ever been. We have the fewest amount of vacancies that
we've had I think ever," Joe Batcheller said.

Joe Batcheller is the President of Downtown Sioux Falls, Inc.

"There's a trend nationwide about the reinvestment of urban cores," Batcheller said.
Batcheller says 12 years ago there were around 1000 people living in downtown Sioux Falls. Now it's more than twice that.

"I think the key is going to be with the millennials as they age and get married and start having kids that we're able to keep them downtown," Batcheller said.

That's why he's focused on bringing more quality public spaces downtown, such as a music-themed playground in Falls Park West.

"The Aquarium and Butterfly House wants to locate downtown. I think we'll probably have a couple more museums downtown," Batcheller said.

The Sioux Falls Police Department is also working to make sure the downtown area doesn't see more crime as the city grows. This summer officers will be reaching out to area business owners with crime prevention tips.

"What to do in certain situations, and what they can do to keep their businesses safe," Sioux Falls Police Officer Sam Clemens said.

Officers have also worked to clean up downtown parks that have seen troubles in the past. In 2014 the city increased patrols at Van Eps Park and did the same at Heritage Park the following year.

"We want to stay on top of things. We know that there's some crime downtown. We want to make sure it doesn't increase and become a big problem, like in some of the bigger cities," Clemens said.

You'll also see more officers in areas just outside of downtown, such as the Pettigrew Heights neighborhood. Batcheller says he would like to see more renovations in those areas.

"There's an opportunity with these core neighborhoods to really create a nice strategy for economic development moving forward," Batcheller said.

That's where Tracy has her eyes now. She's opening another business this year, just outside of downtown on Minnesota Avenue. Conversation Place will be a new home decor and accent furniture store, which she hopes will spur more conversation about growing a vibrant downtown.

"I think we've gone as far as we can lengthwise, so we have to start expanding outwards. I think that will be really cool to see the downtown continue to expand," Tracy said.

An expanding downtown that's part of a growing city.

Batcheller says in 20 years he thinks the city will see slower growth outward and more growth going upward.

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