Sioux City sees downtown growth upon completion of revitalization projects
Sioux City is seeing positive economic growth in its downtown area after the completion of four major city renovation and construction projects as a part of its “Reinvestment District” program.
The city has completed the development of two hotels, an expo center and a square of industrial buildings within the last four years in an effort to revitalize the city. While the coronavirus pandemic has slowed down some of the economic growth the projects were expected to bring, Economic and Community Development Director Marty Dougherty said they’ve spurred increased tourism and brought new business downtown.
“Success builds on success and you see investment in properties,” Dougherty said. “We’re seeing an investment in those areas and the assessed value of those properties increasing tremendously.”
One of the big ticket projects was the reopening of the Warrior Hotel in 2020. The historic hotel sat vacant for more than 40 years before its investors put upwards of $70 million into its redevelopment.
The hotel’s director of sales and marketing Lila Plambeck said the hotel struggled at first to get its footing while opening amid the coronavirus pandemic. But, it wasn’t long before the hotel’s space began to attract weddings, events and overnight guests.
“Our Monday through Friday business is really booked up solid with business travelers and then we usually see weekend leisure travelers come in that want to enjoy our rooftop bar or go bowling,” she said.
The hotel has attracted over 25,000 people for stays or events since it first opened its doors in November. Plambeck expects that number to grow as Sioux City’s downtown continues to grow, hoping to triple the numbers in 2022.
“We turned the lights back on in this building and all the sudden we saw the lights go on in Bluebird Flats across the way, down the street Copper Flats, so a lot of downtown living is happening,” she said.
"We see downtown as an opportunity to help drive the growth of the community."Marty Dougherty, economic development director in Sioux City
Since 2015, the downtown area has seen an 164 percent increase in residential housing. In 2020 alone, downtown Sioux City saw 13 new businesses open up. Much of this growth can be attributed to the reinvestment initiatives spearheaded by the city, said Ragen Cote, executive director of Downtown Partners.
“By creating the environment downtown, it lends itself to those developments and those developers to notice. That's where they need to start building or that's where they need to start investing,” Cote said.
City officials are committed to continue developing Sioux City’s downtown area. Dougherty said there are a number of projects in the works to make the downtown area more attractive to live in, including the Riverfront Development project and the redevelopment of the Badgerow building.
Dougherty said he hopes all of these projects help the city’s population grow. The 2020 census reflected some growth for the western Iowa city, but Dougherty said there’s more work to be done to fill workforce demands.
“Communities are either declining or increasing,” he said. “At the end of the day, we need people to move here. We have to grow. We have to attract people.”