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Rail Yard In SF Transitioning For City Redevelopment

Erin Mairose

A railroad company in Sioux Falls is constructing two new tracks as they transition out of the downtown area. Last fall the city purchased the rail yard for $27 million using federal funds.

Mayor of Sioux Falls Mike Huether says redevelopment in downtown Sioux Falls is going to take patience. The purchasing agreement the city signed with the railroad company last fall gives Burlington Northern two years to construct new assets and move operations.

“It’s going to be about another two years or so, where we’re going to take these ten acres of land and get it  ready for redevelopment. And I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, ok the mayor wants to get these 10 acres of land redeveloped before he’s done being mayor. And the answer is no,” says Huether.

Once BNSF makes their transition, two side tracks will remain for rail yard storage, and for interchange between trains. Mike Cooper is Director of Planning and Building Services. He says the city is responsible for preparing the land for redevelopment, including removing the tracks, demolishing a warehouse, and constructing a fence.  He says the estimated cost for the design and preparation project is about $2.5 million. 

Credit Erin Mairose
City officials share plans for the rail yard and development expected to start in 2018.

“Probably the question we’re getting asked the most is, ok now once the tracks are taken out and all the city work is getting on, what will this eventually look like? And the real answer is, we’re still working on what that vision will be,” says Cooper.

Cooper says the city is working to hire a consultant to help create a development concept. 

“We have a chance of doing it one time right, as the mayor would say,” says Cooper.

This fall city officials are planning to start requesting proposals for the redevelopment. Breaking ground on the first phase of the project could start in spring of 2018