SIOUX CITY -- Two pieces of the square are already in place, with two more pieces slated to soon be completed.

Is Dennis Johnson putting together the pieces of an elaborate real-life jigsaw puzzle? Well, that's one way of looking at it. 

Johnson, the chief investment officer for Ho-Chuck Inc., the economic development corporation for the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska, said the mixed-used project called Virginia Square, is now at the halfway point.

A renovated building at 100 Virginia St. -- a former home of a creamery --- now houses modern, industrial-style condos, office space in addition to the upscale Table 32 restaurant.

Across the street at 103 Virginia St. -- a former home of a furniture manufacturer -- now houses the Keller Williams real estate firm, condos and commercial space.

Both buildings are at or near full-capacity, Johnson said.

To the north of 103 Virginia St. will be new building. Construction for the 45,000-square-foot complex, that will contain ample retail space, is slated to begin in April 2019. It is expected to be completed by early 2020.

April 2019 is also the start date for construction of a new hotel that will sit north of 100 Virginia St.

The Omaha-based Hart Family Hotels will be developing and managing the 87-room hotel. 

"My dad grew up in Correctionville and Sioux City has always been a focal point," Hart Family Hotels' Troy Hart said. "For the past 25 years, we have looked at building a new hotel in Sioux City but the timing was never right."

However, Hart said the timing is right for a downtown Avid by InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), which is slated to open in early 2020.

"IHG is the same corporation that owns Holiday Inn Holiday Inn Express," Hart  said. "Introduced in 2017, Avid is their newest brand (and) there are 10 new Avids under construction."

Targeted for the every day traveler, Avid is designed for guests who want quality at a good price.

"Avid won't be a luxury hotel (like the nearby, under construction) Courtyard by Marriott," Hart said, "but it will have many of the same amenities."

Johnson said Ho-Chunk Inc. will be a partner in the development of the hotel, along with Hart Family Hotels.

"I knew Troy's family was looking at other locations in Sioux City but chose the downtown area in anticipation of future growth," Johnson said. "Once the Interstate project is complete, the downtown are will be teeming with activity."

Which is good news for Hart, who suggests the vibrancy of a city can seen in its downtown area.

"You can see how well a community is doing by how downtown development is coming along," he said.

Johnson nodded his head in agreement but admitted Sioux City has been late to the game.

"Other communities like Sioux Falls and Omaha may have had a head start," he said. "Now, Sioux City is finally getting into the fray."

Luckily, Sioux City's downtown has plenty of history going for it.

"I love the that Virginia Square mixes both commercial properties with residential space," Johnson said. "I also love that older building are getting a second life while standing next to new construction."

"24 months from now, I think it is fair to say that downtown Sioux City will be a very different place," he added. "I can't wait."

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