Vacancies present revitalization opportunity for downtown Rapid City

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RAPID CITY, S.D. -

Empty lots in a city might not be seen positively, but on Omaha Street, it's a sign of success. Several businesses have relocated from Omaha Street to the east side of Rapid City, near Rushmore Mall.

One reason for the move? More traffic. "They've seen the opportunity that if they move out to the interstate where the traffic is even better and is even stronger from a regional perspective, that their sales will continue to grow," says President of the Rapid City Economic Development Partnership, Benjamin Snow.

Snow says the vacancies could be an opportunity for smaller businesses to come in and impact neighborhoods. Sarah Hanzel with the Rapid City Community Planning and Development Services calls Omaha Street a revitalization corridor to promote economic activity.

"We want to prioritize areas for infill, redevelopment and investment where the city already has services; infrastructure is already in place," said Hanzel.

With City Council poised to implement the Downtown Master Plan in the next few years, the Omaha corridor could potentially tie into the downtown area.

Snow believes it’s just the beginning. "The downtown core area is about one-square mile that's in the plan. And then there's about 10-square miles that surround that plan. And that area is just as important from my perspective and what kind of uses start to emerge that end up supporting the downtown but are not necessarily right in the core of downtown."

Meanwhile, the South Dakota Department of Transportation, Pennington County, and City of Box Elder reached an agreement recently to expand East Mall Drive and the new commercial corridor all the way to exit 63 along Interstate-90.

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