Passionate about Main Street Square: 'Along the Way'

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Today Main Street Square is a shining beacon in the heart of downtown Rapid City.
The idea came from a consultant.
Getting it built involved more hoops than a 3 ring circus.
And, It took a lot of people.
Now, we hear from the guy considered to be the passionate driving force, behind taking Main Street Square from concept to reality as we go Along the Way right here in Rapid City.

This time of year, Main Street Square is flourishing with figure skaters enjoying the great outdoors in the heart of downtown.
Gone are the memories of meetings, and votes, and opposition.

Destination Rapid City President and CEO Dan Senftner says, "I knew what it could do. I knew it was positive and I knew it was the right thing. Therefore I was gonna stand behind it and not back down."

Destination Rapid City President and CEO Dan Senftner spearheaded the effort to get the Square built, and it was not easy.
Part of the work involved asking downtown businesses to pay part of the cost of operating such a project.

Dan Senftner says "I door to doored. I basically went to every business with the concept of what we were going to do . Someone needed to spearhead it and that's what I did. I'd been a downtowner already 30 some years when we knew we need this. We gotta make it happen. I gotta spearhead it. I knew most everybody downtown because I'd been here so long.".

The Square was finished in 2010. In the Destination Rapid City offices there are pictures of the square everywhere. A square credited with bringing fresh new life downtown.
Before the square, Seftner says, downtown was not flourishing.

"No, absolutely not. Very level. There were businesses that I know of very well that were like, 'I don't know if we can make it another month. I don't know if we can make it another 6 months, if we can make another year," says Dan Senftner.

Senftner calls it 'the plaza that brought the people back downtown."

He says they now estimate about 600-thousand people visit Main Street Square each year. He says the square hosts almost 200 events per year, not including daily ice skating and running through the fountains on hot summer days.

Dan Senftner says, "How do you put a finger on the development? Oh, I'd say 50 million dollars in renovation in the last 7 years. That's how you put a finger on it. There's nothing for rent. We might have 1 property in the whole area of downtown that's for rent in downtown right now, and maybe 1 that's for sale."

That's a big change from the Pre Square days, and Senftner attributes that to the folks attracted downtown by Main Street Square.

Dan Senftner says, "Let's face it, the Alex Johnson Hotel was in peril. There was a lot of things going on there. We were afraid of losing the Alex Johnson, which would have been horrible for downtown Rapid City. Today, that's completely changed. Alex Johnson's been completely renovated, people have taken it over, local companies have got behind it."

Sort of like a Rapid City version of the movie Field of Dreams set in Iowa, "Build it and they will come".

"Success period. Success. A want to be there. A true destination for Rapid City and it's visitors. Right now, Main Street Square is a household word," says Senftner.

And a magnet to get folks to come downtown for fun, shopping; a bit like the beating heart of today's downtown.

Senftner says operating costs are paid for in part by the Business Improvement District assessments to downtown businesses, but also by other donations from businesses, and sponsorships.

If you've met someone cool 'Along the Way', please call or e-mail us to let us know.