Rail Broken, Tracks Removed for Downtown Railyard Redevelopment Project

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – Redevelopment of the Downtown Sioux Falls Railyard has been a project 10 years in the making.

Today marks a big milestone in that project.

The city of Sioux Falls has officially taken possession of the land.

Trains were once an integral part of building the city of Sioux Falls to what it is today.

“With the railroad, Sioux Falls became a regional hub for warehousing, for distribution, for ag commodities,” said Mike Cooper, Director of Planning & Building Services for the City of Sioux Falls.

But now, the growing city is starting anew.

The rails that were once so vital are now being torn up.

“Communities never get an opportunity to redevelop 10 acres in their central business district. So when we talk about opportunity, this is the greatest opportunity Sioux Falls is going to have to redevelop our community,” said Daren Ketcham, Community Development Director for the City of Sioux Falls.

The ten acres of land at 8th and Railroad had served as a BNSF switching yard.

Before the city could claim it for redevelopment, a lot had to happen first.

In 2001, the city started the feasibility study.

Four years later congress approved a $40 million appropriation.

The purchase agreement was signed in 2015 and this month, the city finally took possession.

“It’s time for that last boxcar to finally leave this yard so we can go to the next chapter,” said Director of Public Works Mark Cotter.

What the next chapter – and the land – will eventually hold is still to be determined.

“We’re going to see some mid to high rise buildings here,” said Ketcham. “I don’t think it will be farfetched to start seeing more 6, 8, 10, 12 and beyond story buildings. This isn’t going to be limited to just office building. This is going to be a place for people to live, work, play, and have fun. Young , old, rich or poor, the downtown railyard is for everybody.”

BNSF will still operate two active lines through downtown.

However, their switchyard is moving to the northeast part of the city near Great Bear Recreation Park.

The first phase of development of the downtown railyard is expected to start Spring 2018.