Can we ever make the Events Center campus ‘Walkable’?

I know people already accuse me of being a Debbie Downer, but I am afraid we can never make the EC campus an entertainment district.

I moved to Sioux Falls in 1991, and always have lived close to the Downtown area and have lived by the Avera campus for the past 17 years. In this time, I have watched downtown evolve. There was only a handful of restaurants and businesses downtown in 1991, it has taken almost 28 years to make it to what it is today. I’m afraid to say, you are not going to create that kind of atmosphere around the EC campus overnight if ever.

The Washington Pavilion was the gamechanger downtown. It helped to bring in other eateries to the area. The EC and CC just hasn’t had the same impact.

The new EC and Convention Center before that should have NEVER been built in their current locations. Like the bunker ramp downtown, the city continues to polish a turd in the EC campus area.

While I agree we need another hotel in the area, turning it into a ‘walkable area’ is a stretch. I saw this on Sunday afternoon. I planned on riding the entire bike trail until I got to Russell Avenue where the trail was blockaded for the air show, so I had to ride my bike along Russell to downtown. While the sidewalk was nice and wide from the bike trail to about the Sheraton, it was a different story once I got past West Avenue. There is NO sidewalk, only a concrete angled embankment that you can’t ride a bike on, let alone walk on. The service road along Russell is in bad shape and riddled with potholes.

Along my ride on the sidewalk past the campus I noticed that NOT only is there nothing but parking lots there is NOTHING inviting about the area. Between Elmwood Park on Kiwanis and West Avenue it is literally a barren wasteland.

Besides adding onto the convention center by demolishing the Arena and tearing down the baseball stadium for a hotel, I’m not sure what we can do to totally change the area. Sometimes mistakes of the past just can’t be fixed, and if they can, it won’t happen overnight. I still think that a wiser use of taxpayer dollars would be rebuilding our core neighborhoods with a redirection of TIF money and other rebate programs. It would have a greater economic impact then anything we do at the cursed EC campus location. Enough of the corporate welfare and private/public partnerships that only benefit the top.