Ag Expo and Learning Center

Dennis Gann, a board member of the Bomgaars Ag Expo and Learning Center, is shown July 15 at the proposed site for the center in Sioux City. The ag center is one of a series of big-ticket projects that moved closer in 2016 to landing $14 million in state tax credits.

Tim Hynds, Sioux City Journal

SIOUX CITY | More details on a project that could change the face of Sioux City's downtown came into focus throughout 2016, as city leadership continued work toward receiving millions of dollars of tax credits from the state of Iowa. 

Sioux City's push to receive $13.9 million in future sales and hotel taxes from the Iowa Economic Development Authority's Reinvestment District program began in 2015, when Sioux City received preliminary approval through the state board for $8 million of the requested amount. 

The city's application includes three main pieces reflecting a more than $70 million in total investments:

  • Redevelopment of 1910s-era industrial buildings in the 100 block of Virginia Street into loft-style apartments and commercial space.
  • A 150-room downtown hotel convention center likely to be built on the parking lot adjacent to the city-owned Convention Center.
  • An ag expo & learning enter in Sioux City's former stockyards area.

More funding came within Sioux City's grasp in February of this year when the city of Davenport forfeited the $10.75 million the IEDA had tentatively awarded for a proposed $73.8 million sports complex, making more funding available.

Throughout 2016, Sioux City economic development workers continued to put together the pieces for the project, updating the board on the progress along the way. 

City economic development director Marty Dougherty said he now expects the project to go before the IEDA Board for final approval at its January meeting. 

As officials continued to push toward finalizing the city's application, Ho-Chunk Inc. is moving closer to completion on the renovation of two abandoned industrial buildings in the 100 block of Virginia Street. Ho-Chunk, the economic development corporation for the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska, also recently acquired another former industrial building in that area to redevelop. 

Details on the Ag Expo & Learning Center have also come into focus. Earlier this year, Woodbury County pitched in $1.5 million in support to the project, joining the city of Sioux City ($2 million plus the 12-acre plot of land) and Missouri River Historical Development ($1 million) for a partnership that supporters believe will showcase the area's agricultural legacy. 

Organizers have since raised nearly $4 million in private funding, with a goal to raise $1 million more. Preliminary designs released last week showed a proposed floor plan and layout.

Still under wraps are the developer and brand of the proposed convention center hotel, as well as the possibility of a second hotel to be either built or renovated near the ag center.

More details will likely come into focus in the early weeks of 2017 as officials build toward final approval of the application.

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