Our Work

Downtown River Greenway

Sioux Falls, South Dakota

The City of Sioux Falls selected Confluence to update and prepare a feasibility study of the downtown section of the city’s Greenway & Riverfront Master Plan. As part of this planning process, we worked with public and private stakeholders, including three major redevelopment projects, to identify issues and build consensus. An extensive permitting process, including a FEMA Conditional Letter of Map Revision, was facilitated by Confluence to assure the project would not have a negative flood impact on property in the area.

The goal of this plan was to increase pedestrian access to the Sioux River and enhance the riverfront by incorporating upper and lower trails. Also included in the plan are an amphitheater, plazas for public and private use, a new pedestrian bridge, and interpretive opportunities. Once all phases are complete, the project will create a complete riverfront trail loop between Falls Park and Fawick Park on both sides of the river. This vision will create important infrastructure for downtown and riverfront redevelopment to support entertainment, recreation, and economic development opportunities.

Upon acceptance of the refined master plan, Confluence was retained to begin Phase One design implementation. This phase of the Downtown River Greenway project creates an urban river walk on the east bank. A small gathering space is the focal point of the project and consists of an arc shaped stone wall projecting into the river and an amphitheater for small events. It is flanked on both sides by a stepped river edge to allow easy access to the water while also providing an informal sitting area. Interpretive light piers create night interest and include panels to educate users about the history of downtown and the river.

A new 200-foot single span pedestrian bridge replaced an old railroad bridge that impeded river flow during flood events. This new bridge completes a pathway from the emerging East Bank shopping district to Falls Park West and also serves as a bypass trail during large events that may impede trail use. Access to the bike trail was improved through two new ADA compliant ramps and two new stairways. As many boaters use this site, a canoe and kayak landing was also incorporated in response to requests made during the community involvement process. Local quartzite stone was used to construct the center amphitheater and incorporated as an accent throughout the project. This material is an important element to relate to the historic downtown context while also complementing the natural stone outcroppings visible on the site. Phase One was completed in June 2012.

Confluence’s involvement continues with Phase Two of the project which began construction in July 2012. This $3.5 million construction project will be located just to the south of Phase One on a site where an existing parking garage was built over the river in the 1960’s. The parking garage was recently removed to open up the river views and create a redevelopment opportunity for a new hotel. Phase Two is expected to be complete in July 2013 and will include a new access point from Eighth Street to the greenway, a wider trail, lighting, landscaping, and a plaza space with an interactive water feature.

The public has been very receptive to the redevelopment of downtown Sioux Falls over the past 10 years. The Downtown River Greenway is an investment that builds on recent successes. Through continued public support and funding and cooperation with adjacent private development, this completed vision will become a vital asset for the community for years to come.