Guest Post; Seney Island & the Sioux Steel TIF proposal

As we embark on this massive re-development of the Sioux Steel Property, let me take you back in time to when this chunk of property was like no other in this city.

Prior to 1930 – this land area was once a proud picnic area situated on the west bank of the Big Sioux River. Once known as “Seney Island” or Brookings Island prior, people used to walk along 4th Avenue, cross a little foot bridge, thuis crossing the West Channel that helped form the boundaries of the island. This was once a wooded area, with a two smaller islands off the northeastern side, a swimming beach on the southeastern side, while children once ran thru and played in the massive wooded area of Pine Trees, Elm’s, and Cottonwoods, Evergreens, and Oak Trees.

During the 1930’s, Sioux Steel, the St Paul and Omaha Railroad Companies purchased the land closing off the “West Channel” while turning the land into a massive Railroad Yard, Dumping Grounds, Steel & Lumber Yard, while on the northern portion of the property along Phillips you had Pitt’s Steel a steel recycling center.

There is really no evidence let of the West Channel unless you know where to look and find the markers, all you need to do is find the boulders on the north end of the property, follow the water pipeline around the fence line, while 4th Street marks the apex of the West Side of the Island. This island was a “D Shaped” island.

This current development project may not be the greatest, it may not always be supported by those of us whom adore nature, but lets be honest here shall we, this is the perfect compliment to returning a piece of property back to the people. Gone is the West Channel, the Sand Beach, the Forest of Trees. That part of our history is lost in time, it exists only in our memories today. But – any project that attempts to the return the once proud property back to its glorious past, is a win in my park. Gone may be the beautiful island park, but in its place today we will have a wonderful Hotel, Retail, and Convention Complex, along with a beautiful river walk along the river. As I ponder this new found development, I wish to share a few pictures from our past, below – I provide you a few pictures that include a zoning map of the area, and an old news article of the island. In it – the dream by many was to establish a wonderful and beautiful City Park. Who knew, that nearly a century later, that dream would actually happen, just not in the way it was intended all those years ago. Instead of a nature resort as the article stated; we have a commercialized form of a resort. I present to you – Seney Island.

Sincerely, Mike Zitterich
(Sioux Falls)
Link to TIF presentation



4 comments ↓

#1 Bring Back Brookings Island Prior! on 01.27.20 at 9:36 pm

Why can’t this “wonderful Hotel, Retail, and Convention Complex” just be built by the Bunker Ramp, and then we can reclaim Seney Island to its once “massive wooded area of Pine Trees, Elm’s, Cottonwoods, Evergreens, and Oak Trees?”…. And give it that “D Shaped” look again, too.

Our environment could use these trees to offset tornado losses and climate change challenges as well. And if we rename it Brookings Island Prior, then maybe the fine folks at Premier could make it happen.

( – and Woodstock adds: “‘D-Shaped?'”…..”I recently had a dream, that I was on a remote island with a date that had…..”)

#2 Mike Lee Zitterich on 01.28.20 at 8:47 pm

You like that ….. D-Shaped Island. That is what it did appear to be if you look at maps.

What would be nice to see them add to the development, is restoring part of the West Channel on the west side along Phillips. Create a little duck pond about in that general area in the grass section there. That would be neat if they could add that.
M.Z

#3 "Very Stable Genius" on 01.29.20 at 3:26 pm

Here’s the thing, we all hate it, when a neighbor starts a project, then starts an other project with the first one still not done…. (Hey, I have been guilty of that one.)

That said, shouldn’t this convention center/hotel/retail idea for Brookings Island be placed at the Bunker Ramp location, instead? I realize it is different developers and investors, but isn’t it the same city planning department?

Plus, do we really need an other convention center right now, when the EC Campus Study crowd wants to tear down the Arena and enhance the current convention center, that we have there?

And do we really want to give a TIF to a downtown convention center, which will then be in direct competition with the enhanced EC convention center, which would be enhanced with tax dollars, while the absence of tax dollars being paid would allow its newest competitor to exist?

So, if we really need this proposal, then let’s integrate it into the Bunker Ramp location, then reclaim Seney or Brookings, or whatever you want to call it, as it once was and in true “D-Shaped” format.

( – and Woodstock adds: “I think it looks more like a bell”… “So, let freedom ring with an island, where one can authentically stroll around it before heading back to their suite at the Bunker Hotel & Ramp”….)

#4 scott on 01.29.20 at 5:56 pm

the fact that no other developer hasn’t stepped up to propose something for the bunker ramp tells you what a turd that project was to begin with.

Leave a Comment