SF City Council Discusses Next Chapter For Former Franklin Elementary Building

After sitting vacant for a couple years, the former Franklin Elementary School in northern Sioux Falls could soon serve a new purpose.

The Sioux Falls City Council is considering rezoning the building to be used as a retail center featuring stores run by immigrant business owners.

That plan will see another day with the vote passing 7 to 0.

But the councilors voiced that there will need to be some changes to it, in order for it to be approved a second time.

The owner, who bought the Joe Foss School or former Franklin Elementary, wants to use the first floor for retail and the second floor as office space.

He says there are a lot of immigrants living in the area near 3rd and Sherman Street, so he wants to make this vacant building a place for immigrants to work and shop.

However, the City Planning Commission says there is not enough parking nearby for a shopping center.

Based on a parking study, the site needs to have 163 spots.

Right now, it’s 33 percent short of that.

It would also require rezoning the 1.7 acre lot to commercial, which is typically only done on lots surrounded by busy streets.

“I really want to see this thing go through and find a way to get it done,” says Council Chair Rex Rolfing. “So I think that there are some other things that need to be looked at here before we just say no.”

One option the owner has is to not use all of the building’s square footage.

Meaning he could limit the office space to 13,000 sq. ft. instead of the available 15,000 sq. ft. to meet parking requirements.

However, this concerned some council members since that agreement would only apply to this owner.

They’re worried about future parking issues if someone else buys the building down the road for commercial purposes, and uses all of the square footage.

Councilors will vote on this ordinance for the second and final time on November first.

The owner was not present during tonight’s meeting for comment.