'Food desert' an added economic problem downtown Rapid City

RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - Two grocery stores closed and one business is moving away from the downtown area. That's in addition to the vacant office spaces around downtown.

So what's next for this prime downtown real estate?

President for the Rapid City Economic Development Partnership, Benjamin Snow, says “We have plans we can talk about and we have plans that we can't talk about."

Even though Prairie Market and Family Thrift shut down and there is an abundance of empty office space scattered around Rapid City, Snow remains optimistic.

With the grocery stores closed, there's no immediate solution.

“The first thing I would say to everybody in the community is just to be patient and some of these things take a little bit of time for there to re-inhabit some of these old spaces," Snow said. "But rest assured we have talked, not only to existing grocers here in town, but also grocers that aren't in Rapid City. This is a great opportunity and great entry point for them to come into our community and service what we see as being a little bit of a food desert in the downtown area," explains Snow.

With the help of the city, Snow believes they can entice a buyer to take over these empty spaces.

"We as the Economic Development Partnership have separate tools. For example, we have a revolving loan fund; we've got a grant fund. We have the ability to work with the city, going back to one of the city tools, and helping to create kind of an incentive package that will help sweeten it enough to get someone who's thinking about it, but they're close to kind of push them over the edge to get them to come in," states Snow.

He thinks once the east of Fifth District is revitalized, more people will move downtown; making the demand for groceries in that area even higher.

As for the office spaces, Snow couldn't tell us everything except there are a lot of moving pieces for the Black Hills Corporation building.