- Real Estate
- Food & Drink
Nov. 19, 2020
This paid piece is sponsored by Journey Group.
At Remedy Brewing Co., they’re definitely ready to raise a glass to this: Downtown’s Eighth Street bridge is reopening better than ever.
“We are very excited for the bridge to be completed and for the entire East Bank neighborhood to be reconnected to the Phillips Avenue corridor,” president and CEO Matt Hastad said.
While the brewery at 8th & Railroad Center was able to take advantage of the nice summer weather to hold safe outdoor events, the bridge reopening couldn’t come at a better time.
With the critical holiday season looming, the many locally owned small businesses along East Eighth Street are ready to take advantage of easier travel ahead for customers.
“It’s had a huge impact on retailers and restaurants,” said Steve Tinklenberg, general manager of 8th & Railroad.
“But I think COVID had a bigger impact, I really do.”
While it could be seen as a double whammy, many businesses owners in the area called it a bit of a mixed blessing. The bridge needed to be closed for improvements anyway, and it happened at a time when fewer potential customers likely were in the area anyway.
“I’m still thrilled it’s over,” Tinklenberg said. “And I like it. I went down to the edge of it and looked at it from both sides. I think it’s going to be classy.”
There has been a bridge there across the Big Sioux River since 1912, with multiple structures constructed at the site.
An in-depth bridge inspection was conducted to itemize deterioration and identify concerns.
“Rehabilitation was determined to be a viable option for extending the design life of 75 years to this structure,” said Dena Knutson, who served as project manager for the city of Sioux Falls.
Journey Group’s SFC Civil Constructors division was selected for the project, which included removal of the deteriorated concrete along all surfaces, removal of the existing soil/granular fill, applying a waterproofing membrane to the surface, replacing the fill with a new, clean, granular fill and paving a new concrete surface.
The balustrades were updated to meet code height requirements for a pedestrian path.
Improvements to the street section included eliminating the center turn lane and adding a widened pedestrian area along both the north and south sides of the bridge.
“Everything went together really well,” said Josh Dede, SFC Civil’s project manager. “Our subcontractors stepped up and were great to work with. The city and engineer IDG and everyone involved worked together well, and if any unknowns came up, everybody collaborated quickly and provided new solutions.”
Journey also managed the project through the pandemic, which included enhancing site safety and adjusting meetings to be virtual and outdoors.
“We were really fortunate on this job to keep going and not have to shut down. We practiced social distancing the best we could, and all work was outside. We separated break times, and if there was more than one person in the job trailer, we wore masks the entire time,” Dede said.
“Some extra work came up through Xcel to avoid having to shut the road down in the future, but we stayed on schedule. Avoiding a future road closure was key.”
Even with the road opening, there are some finishing touches to come. New street lighting will be installed, along with accent lights under the new balustrade and up-lighting under each archway.
“SFC Civil has been a great partner in this historic project,” Knutson said. “The team has prevailed through multiple challenges to get us to where we are today.”
Bob Mundt, president and CEO of the Sioux Falls Development Foundation, had a front-row seat to the work from his office at the Commerce Center at Eighth Street and Phillips Avenue.
“I am so impressed with the skills and knowledge these workers have that did this project,” Mundt said.
“I watched them do their jobs, and it just made me appreciate every day the skilled professions and what they do and being able to do it with such skills and accuracy from start to finish. I was just so impressed with it.”
The reopening and restoration both are welcome additions to downtown, he added.
“I’m so happy we were able to preserve the integrity of the bridge and improve upon it,” Mundt said.
“It’s a historical bridge that blends in so well with what we have downtown, with the Arc of Dreams and walkway and what’s planned for Sioux Steel. It’s indicative of the vision I think Sioux Falls has for downtown, trying to maintain the integrity of our history but at the same time modernizing what we have. It’s really impressive.”
At Remedy, customers returning over the bridge will discover their favorites are still there – including live music every weekend, bingo and trivia during the week – with some new additions.
“As always, we strive to keep a clean, safe, socially distanced experience for everyone. And our big push will be private events this year,” Hastad said.
Remedy leased a suite next door that used to be Studio Blu Photography and turned it into a space for events that normally can comfortably fit up to 75 people.
“This is a great space for families and small gatherings who still want to meet but want to do so in a way that is responsible and fun for everyone,” Hastad said.
At Sticks & Steel, customers have continued to support the store throughout the events of 2020, owner Terri Schuver said.
“We have been pleased with our business since we opened back up in May. Our customers have been amazing,” she said. “They shop with us online, they shop with us in person with masks on, they shop over the phone, and we try to be where they are.”
Customers also have formed new habits to get to the store, she said.
“It’s been a long project, which it had to be, but I don’t think it’s an obstacle. It’s not daunting anymore. But without a doubt, for people who don’t come downtown often, it is daunting, so we’re happy getting around is now that much easier.”
Sticks & Steel continues to receive new products daily and will host some special events this month.
Former store manager Dianna Linnemeyer will be a featured artist on Small Business Saturday on Nov. 28, and popular jewelry artist Saundra Messinger will have a trunk show Dec. 4-6.
The store’s Spunky Fluff line of wall art has some customer favorites, too, including some signature sayings from the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
“They have been super popular online and in store, and we have some really fun COVID sayings that will be appropriate for years to come, like ‘one day at a time.’ So we just have some timely gifts,” Schuver said.
Her neighbor on the boardwalk, Simply Perfect, also is ready for the holidays and to have the bridge back open.
“We’re very, very anxious,” owner Penny Klinedinst said. “Everyone has stayed positive, and our team has worked really hard together. Our space is sprawled out enough we feel like we have a safe environment, and we’ve moved our mask-wearing to mandatory.”
The store also shifted its approach from an annual holiday open house, which always included food, to doing special giveaways for loyal customers instead.
“Everyone came out super early for holidays because they feel if they’re going to be home, they want the home pretty for the holidays, so that’s been as strong as ever,” Klinedinst said, adding her team of decorators has been busy helping customers deck out their homes after reservations for the service started coming in a year ago.
She also owns Plum’s Cooking Co. at 8th & Railroad and said it, too, has seen strong demand heading into the holiday season.
“I think a lot of it is people looking for simple things, comfort things,” she said. “Plum’s was stronger last month than last year because people are cooking more at home and being more conscientious about what they’re eating.”
And speaking of eating, Sanaa’s 8th Street Gourmet is more than ready to welcome diners who now have an easier drive.
“It’s no one’s fault but it was like a double pain,” owner Sanaa Abourezk said.
But the bridge reopening is just in time for the biggest food holiday of all.
“We are going to offer a special unique Thanksgiving menu suitable for couples who are staying home,” she said. “I am going to offer plant-based main dishes for Thanksgiving too.”
Across Eighth Street, other businesses are ready to welcome more customers.
“For us, thankfully, we have a loyal following, so the bridge closure was more of an inconvenience to our guests,” said Ricardo Tarabelsi, owner of R Wine Bar & Kitchen. “They found ways to get here. We can’t wait for it to open again to make it a little easier. But luckily, we’ve become a destination of sorts, and people know where to find us, and there’s plenty of parking.”
Customers will find special food features each Thursday through Saturday, a free wine tasting every Tuesday, live jazz on Thursday and live music on Saturday.
“And we have two event spaces where people can host private parties,” Tarabelsi said.
Neighboring business Covert Cellars, the taproom for Covert Artisan Ales, might be the most excited of all for the bridge opening.
It opened in June in the East Bank Depot and has never known business without the bridge closed.
“We are very excited,” co-owner Stacey Berry said.
“We have had construction literally on all sides of Covert Cellars. We definitely think the bridge being closed has impacted businesses on the East Bank, but everyone has tried to make the best of a year that has just been full of challenges. Between COVID and construction, it has been quite a year. We are definitely looking forward to positive changes for next year.”
She encourages visitors to participate in the NeighBEERhood promotion when they come back to the East Bank. Collect a punch with a purchase at Covert, R Wine Bar, Remedy, Monk’s Ale House and Books n Brewz Pizzeria to be entered in a monthly drawing.
“We want to thank all the businesses along East Eighth Street for their patience and partnership as we worked on the bridge,” Dede said.
“Construction is never easy for businesses, but we’re grateful they innovated and improvised and now have a bridge leading to their businesses that’s better than ever and will last for years to come. We wish them the most successful holiday season yet and a wonderful 2021.”
The Eighth Street bridge is reopening, newly improved and ready for the holiday season.