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Sioux City Aims To Boost Economic Growth Through Riverfront Development

Courtesy of Sioux City https://www.sioux-city.org/home/showdocument?id=17457
A screenshot of the Sioux City's March 2018 master plan for the riverfront.

Sioux City hopes to draw more people into the city by making part of its riverfront more fun and interesting.

Chris Larsen Park along the Missouri River sits next to a 15 acre lot that has been vacant ever since the Argosy Casino boat left the area four years ago. 

Sioux City Parks and Recreation Director Matt Salvatore says there is a lot of potential for the space that serves as a gateway into the city. The plan includes bringing in an interactive fountain, a yoga lawn and stockyard garden. The city, Salvatore said, has a “strong desire” for recreation.

“It helps economic development, it keeps the people here in Sioux City,” Salvatore said. “I think right now you have this vacant eyesore along the interstate and it kind of gives people the impression of Sioux City.”

Don “Skip” Meisner works on Missouri River issues for the regional planning group Siouxland Interstate Metropolitan Planning Council, known as SIMPCO. He calls the riverfront a “jewel for the area.” 

“To make that jewel even shine brighter is the things that are anticipated in this plan,” Meisner said. “I’m very excited about it.”

The city originally considered including a ferris wheel, but is now looking at other attractions like the interactive fountain. Salvatore said they want the riverfront to be unlike anywhere else.

“Davenport along the Mississippi River — they have a ferris wheel. We’ve talked to them. We’ve done some research,” Salvatore said. “But we’re really trying not to copy anyone else with this project. We want it to be something special and unique.”

Officials expect to start fundraising for the $14.5 million project in early 2019. Sioux City would pay about $6.5 million, which has yet to be approved in the budget, Salvatore said.

They’re are also asking Woodbury County to help leverage funds for development.

The city hopes to break ground on the project in spring 2020.

Katie Peikes was a reporter for Iowa Public Radio from 2018 to 2023. She joined IPR as its first-ever Western Iowa reporter, and then served as the agricultural reporter.