Imagining The Future: Plans Being Developed For Historic HSC Buildings

Sometimes it’s hard to look at an old building and imagine it has a future.

As many who read this blog will recall, it’s hard to look at an old bridge and imagine it has a future, too. There was a lot of disbelief that Yankton’s Meridian Bridge could ever be anything more than a rusty skeleton traversing the Missouri River. Now, it’s a center piece of the community’s downtown, utilized by countless pedestrians and bicyclists.

With the majority of the buildings on the historic South Dakota Human Services Center (HSC) campus slated for demolition within a year, a story I did with a developer working on a plan for three of the buildings generated some positive feedback this week.

When I speak to many people in the community about the buildings on the HSC campus, I am often reminded of the discussions I used to have about the Meridian Bridge.

How could anyone possibly utilize those hulking, decrepit old buildings?

But now that the Foutch Brothers of Kansas City are looking at three of the structures and pointing out that they’ve done projects with similarly neglected buildings across the region, it’s flicking on some light bulbs: Here is a developer that not only thinks something could be done with these old buildings, but has done something with similar old buildings in the past!

Personally, I’m very happy about this. Many of the buildings on the HSC campus have historical and architectural significance. They make Yankton unique. Plus, they could play a vital role in the community’s future if they are transformed into residential space.

(I would also be remiss if I didn’t mention the effort under way by the Yankton County Historical Society, for which I serve as a board member, to renovate the Mead Building on the campus into a museum and cultural center.)

To get caught up on the current situation with the HSC campus and the tentative plans the Foutch Brothers are putting together, please read this story.

Take a look at the buildings the Foutch Brothers are developing a proposal for:

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The Herreid Building was built in 1903 and has been vacant since 1996. (Photo by Kelly Hertz.)

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The Mellette Building was built in 1905 and has been vacant since 1996. (Photo by Kelly Hertz.)

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The Ordway Building was built in 1915 and has been vacant since 1980. (Photo by Kelly Hertz.)

Take another good look at those buildings.

Now, I want you to go to the Foutch Brothers website. Watch the slide show that starts automatically. You’ll sit through 10 pictures of very nice buildings that have been redeveloped.

But the following slides are the ones I really want you to pay the most attention. They have a picture of the structure before it was renovated and afterward. Tell me that some of those buildings don’t look similar to the HSC structures above.

After looking through those photos (which I would post here if I could save them), I think you’ll find it much easier to imagine a future for the old buildings on the HSC campus.

2 thoughts on “Imagining The Future: Plans Being Developed For Historic HSC Buildings

  1. Housing is in definite need in Yankton. I loved those photos and I would only hope they’d go for a reasonable price if developed where residents could live in awesome apartments with their families and pets!

  2. I am a South Dakotan living in St. Paul, MN. The re-development proposal is very similar to the hottest construction happening in metro areas. Rehabbing beautiful old buildings into lofts or apartments makes up a significant part of current construction. The only major difference I see is Fautch Bros resistance to retail. With very few exceptions, new or rehabbed housing has a ground floor, street side retail component. They are small shops like cafes, coffee, beauty/barber, convenience type. The shops do well because they have a built-in customer base. People like the ease of taking the elevator down a couple floors to have lunch, get a haircut, meet a friend for mocha, etc.

    Is there reason to believe such an arrangement would not work in Yankton? (It’s been 10-15 yrs since I’ve been in Y. I’ll have to check out the old bridge/new bike-ped path.)

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