WATCH NOW: Land deals put North Sioux on the line for major development | Local News


The land is shown north of the intersection of Rickenbacker and Waters Highways in North Sioux City, South Dakota. The city is working on a project to develop a business park on what is now farmland to the north and east of the city’s Flynn Business Park.

NORTH SIOUX CITY – In recent years, North Sioux City has had to hand over certain commercial and industrial development projects.

With the city’s Flynn Business Park nearing full, there just weren’t any plots of land available large enough for some of the companies interested in locating here.

Graham Airfield in North Sioux City is preparing for a major expansion project. Graham Aviation owner Stephen F. Jones plans to expand the runway and develop land owned by the airport for commercial and residential use.

Tim Hynds, Sioux City Journal

This shouldn’t be a problem for long.

North Sioux City executives hope to embark on what they call a unique opportunity next spring to develop hundreds of acres of vacant land on the city’s north side in South Dakota. Plans include industrial and commercial development, some essential affordable housing, and the relocation of a flood barrier.

Not a single shovelful of dirt has been turned yet, but all of those available acres are already attracting potential developers.

“I have my first site visit this week,” North Sioux City Economic Development Corporation executive director Andrew Nilges said on Thursday. “Clearly there is good interest.”

North Sioux City Council last month approved two deals to buy approximately 439 acres of land from Graham Aviation, which operates Graham’s private airport, for more than $ 13 million.

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The sale will facilitate the plans of Graham Aviation owner Stephen F. Jones to expand the airport and put even more land in the area on the development table. Its Graham Airpark Development master plan includes the construction of commercial and residential properties with runway access on land owned by the airport.

“The city has big plans, and we have big plans, and together we’re going to be very successful,” Jones said.

It was a collaboration that happened almost by accident, said city administrator Eric Christensen.

As Christensen recounts, when he arrived in North Sioux City in June 2020, he was told that Jones was looking to expand. Christensen reached out to Jones to see how the city could help. Discussions evolved into a deal in which the city will buy land east and west of the airport that Jones himself had planned to develop.

“We made an offer to buy it because we had the capacity,” Christensen said. “It became clear that this was something we could get involved in.”

It was also perfect timing. Nilges said the city only has 7 acres of land available, plus 8 acres of private property, left in the Flynn Business Park, which is not enough for some of the developers asking about North Sioux City.

Andrew Nilges


“There have been a lot of projects that have come about that we haven’t been able to toss our hat into the ring,” Nilges said.

Almost overnight, the city has an abundance of land available.

“This is the perfect opportunity,” Nilges said. “We were looking for land and the airport was looking for an opportunity to grow. It’s not often that something like this goes together so well.

“We had a common goal to see North Sioux City develop in the right way.”

Surveying of the site has started and Nilges said engineering work such as soil sampling could still be done this fall. If the funding is in place, the city will begin installing utilities and infrastructure on the first 94-acre lot in the spring.

The city will also seek permission from the US Army Corps of Engineers to remove three miles of flood barrier that crosses the property and rebuild it closer to the Big Sioux River. Cost estimates have yet to be developed, Christensen said, but the city will continue to fund and fund the dike relocation. The land to be developed is between the dike and the river, but Christensen said it is accessible and the current location of the dike will not hinder development.

“This will not stop us from developing what we are going to develop,” Christensen said.

Purchases represent two phases of development:

– In the first phase, the city plans to close the 94 acres north of Waters Road and Flynn Business Park by the end of the year. The purchase price is $ 3 million. Like Flynn Park, the flyer is located near South Dakota Highway 105, Interstate 29, and rail access.

Nilges said the city has asked the South Dakota Governor’s Office of Economic Development for $ 15 million in aid, which could take the form of grants and / or loans, to help with land acquisition and development. infrastructure costs. The state’s decision on the request is expected in early November.

Christensen said a city budget surplus would allow easy repayment of loans, and the city’s water and sewer reserves could also help pay for expanding utilities at the site.

– The second purchase, which is expected to close in January 2023, includes approximately 345 acres for approximately $ 10.35 million, totals that will be finalized once the surveys are completed. Part of the land is located to the west and northwest of the 94-acre site. The remainder extends east and northeast from the airport to the Big Sioux River.

The land will be the second phase of development, and there are no immediate plans to expand infrastructure in this area unless a buyer is interested, Christensen said.

About 125 acres are planned for the housing, which will be developed separately from the industrial property and built to the west and northwest of the 94-acre site. Nilges said a housing study is currently identifying the city’s most urgent needs. The results are expected in early 2022, he said, when the city can start developing a housing master plan to build affordable housing, which is currently scarce. It is hoped that by the time the city closes the property, plans will be in place to begin housing construction in 2023.

Nilges said the city is not limiting the types of businesses that could set up at either site. With the amount of land soon available, North Sioux City could accommodate projects of any size.

“It can attract a large user or industry, or it can be a number of medium or smaller users,” Nilges said.

Graham Airfield

A windsock and taxiway are shown at Graham Airfield in North Sioux City. An airport expansion project provides for a runway extension and the addition of hangars and taxiways to accommodate commercial and residential development near the airport.

Tim Hynds, Sioux City Journal

Jones’s Graham Airpark development, separate from the city’s, would turn the airport into an executive airport, Jones said. Plans call for the runway to be enlarged and enlarged, making it large enough to accommodate “large corporate aircraft” in addition to the current general aviation and smaller aircraft at the airport, which goes back in 1916, was South Dakota’s second airport and the first with an asphalt runway.

A master plan posted on the project website,, shows new hangars and taxiways and the lengthening of the runway from 5,300 feet to 8,690 feet. The plans include 31 commercial hangars to the east of the runway, providing businesses with an aircraft hangar and runway access. Other commercial lots without runway access are planned east of the airport.

Also in the plans, 24 residential airpark lots southwest of the runway will have private hangars from which owners can ride to the runway. No such property currently exists in the Sioux City metro, said Jones, who manages the airport.

“We had a lot of interest in that,” he said of the property accessible to the track. “A lot of people have asked me about this.”

The master plan also shows residential development east of I-29 and adjacent to the city’s planned real estate development, as well as another real estate development north of the Dakota Valley Schools to the west of the city. ‘I-29.

Jones, who is also managing director of Claussen Group, a property management company, said he was not ready to disclose the cost of the project and that it is too early to say when construction could begin. He said he plans to collaborate with the city in its development efforts.

“We are going to work in unison and be good stewards of the community,” Jones said. “The goal of the airfield is to help the community grow.

Rather than viewing the airpark’s planned expansion as a competing development, Nilges said it complements the city’s plans. Commercial and residential development, on land owned by the city or on private property, benefits the entire city.

“Overall, we want to see development in our community, whether it’s on the airport development site or the city development site,” Nilges said.

Christensen said the two developments – hundreds of acres with the potential for several new businesses and dozens of homes – are the kind of opportunity that rarely presents itself.

“It’s a project that will probably define the city for the next 20 years,” he said. “We really think this is a game changer for us.”

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