From the beginning, we have supported a plan by the city of Sioux City to use the state's Reinvestment District Program to revitalize three key areas.
Changes have been made to the plan since it first was introduced in 2014, but we believe those changes have, largely, strengthened the overall proposal.
As the city prepares for an Aug. 18 presentation to the Iowa Economic Development Authority Board in pursuit of $13.9 million in program funding, the plan today includes:
- An agriculture/recreation center at the former site of the John Morrell plant in the old stockyards area.
Changes to the ag center since the project was unveiled include the following: 1) To meet an expressed local need, additions were made of temporary turf and removable sports flooring for soccer, volleyball, basketball, baseball and softball practices and games, including camps and tournaments. 2) Reasonable reductions in square footage, arena seating and parking were made.
These changes make sense, will strengthen the project by broadening public support and, combined with a restated commitment to securing the final $2 million necessary to reach the private fund-raising goal for the project, give us optimism the ag center will become a reality and provide a needed boost to development of the former stockyards area.
In an Aug. 5 story, The Journal's Ian Richardson provided new details about the agriculture/recreation center proposal, including the fact the city's Parks and Recreation Department will manage it. This plan will work, we believe, so long as an individual with the proper background in agriculture is hired for purposes of scheduling and coordinating ag events.
The one concern we have relates to the proposed move of the Parks and Recreation Department from the Long Lines Family Recreation Center to the ag/recreation center.
Our question: What is the plan for future use of the Long Lines, including its popular climbing wall? After all, the city earlier this year spent $400,000 on seats and the gym floor inside Long Lines.
With interest, we await formal proposals from city leaders for future usage of this building.
- Redevelopment to residential and commercial use by Ho-Chunk Inc. of at least three former industrial buildings in the 100 block of Virginia Street.
Under consideration is addition to the overall reinvestment program proposal of a fourth building in the same block targeted for renovation by Ho-Chunk.
Inclusion of this fourth building will, we believe, strengthen the overall plan.
- Construction of a hotel and parking ramp next to the city's downtown Convention Center.
- A $56 million renovation, announced by local businessman Lew Weinberg last month, of the former Warrior Hotel building and Davidson Building in the 500 block of Sixth Street into a combination hotel and residential/commercial/retail complex.
As is the case with inclusion of the fourth Ho-Chunk building, inclusion of the Warrior/Davidson component will strengthen the overall reinvestment program plan because the hotel and sales taxes those developments generate will help the city recoup the $13.9 million in state funding more quickly.
Our hope is the state gets behind what we view as a dynamic package of local projects with the potential for a significant positive impact on the future of our community.