Charting a future for retail in downtown Sioux City 


Retail No one is more outspoken on City policy than Rudy Salem. Organizer of the late '80's citizen's revolt, he always has a point of view - and others listen. With a longtime business located on the west end of downtown, here's his take on the situation.

By Russ Gifford
(Originally published in The Weekender, 04/03/03)

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Photo by Mike Northrup

An outspoken critic of city planning, Rudy Salem says Downtown Partners hasn't done enough to help the west end of Fourth and Fifth streets.

West, as seen from Rudy Salem's office on Douglas Street, and Cliff Tufty's office in the Motor Parts Central Building.
"I don't think there is a plan," says Rudy Salem, a long time Sioux Citian and outspoken critic of the city. "There's a lot of talk from Downtown Partners, but they seem to limit their actions to Lower Fourth Street. I have a hard time calling it historic Fourth Street," says Salem. "I'd love to say good things about the downtown, because I love this town," he adds, but "Walk the skywalk - there's nobody there!" Salem feels Downtown Partners has abandoned the west end of Fourth and Fifth streets. "The Williges building has been vacant a long time, and the old Toller Drug location - there is no one there," notes Salem. New things are not coming downtown, "except they replaced a shoe store with a shoe store, and added a couple of coffee shops."

"I'd rather go downtown - it is more convenient to me. But they haven't given me any reason to do that," he says.

Cliff Tufty, a long time business leader in Sioux City, agrees. "I'm not so naive to think you can do nothing, and everything will be fine. But I have a problem with the money we are spending to achieve nothing anyway."  Tufty points to the Downtown Partners' budget, and asks, "If the point is to advertise the downtown, why don't we take $50,000 a year and give it to a professional ad agency, like Lawrence and Schiller, or Bass, or one of the others, and let them make media buys. If we want to fill up the empty places, or lease space, we can do that other ways."

Tufty notes that a savings of $150,000 a year is $750,000 in the next five years that Downtown Partners is requesting. "I have a problem paying salaries with money from a SMID," he says, and questioned the rent paid on the storefront office for Downtown Partners, as well.

"This isn't the 1950's. The way people shop has changed, and we are not going to change that. They go to malls. They've spent how much in the last 10 years, and how many businesses are gone? They've abandoned the businesses on Pearl and Water Street. Everything is focused on historic Fourth Street."

"My point is, as the old saying goes, 'if we were a football team, would you say we've got a winning season going?' - No! No way!"

Salem agrees. "If there is a plan for downtown, somebody is hiding that plan."

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