The date hasn’t been set yet for the arrival of the B-21 Raider, but the preparation in Box Elder is well underway. Perhaps the most notable undertaking in the works is the creation of the city’s first-ever downtown, Liberty Plaza. The 110-acre mixed-use development project involves Dream Design, the city, county, Ellsworth Development Authority, the state, U.S. State Department, and many others in the private sector. If you’ve driven on I-90 between Wall and Rapid City lately, you’ve probably noticed the visible progress as homes and buildings start to pop up.
Here are the six latest things you should know about the project:
1. The first phase of infrastructure is now complete.
With infrastructure’s first phase now in the books, Phase I on the apartments and homes at Liberty Plaza is well underway. Over the last few months, the team has scraped over half a million dollars worth of dirt from the site. Because soil conditions were not 100% for building, Dream Design brought a company from Denver to do soil injection to ensure quality. In 2023, we will finish up stormwater facilities and add three road connections to increase the access points to the subdivision.
2. You can now get a gym membership at Liberty Center.
Liberty Center, the city’s brand-new rec center, is now open to members of the military, military families, and the public. Liberty Center includes an indoor track, state-of-the-art exercise equipment, two basketball courts, group instruction rooms, and space for community and military events. The facility even provides free drop-in childcare for members.
3. Construction is about to start on the new hotel.
Plans are in place for a hotel at Liberty Plaza, with construction expected to begin early this summer. The hotel will include extended stay rooms for service members who move to the community and don’t have a place to live initially.
In addition to the hotel, a Boston’s Restaurant, Monument Health Clinic, a bank, a convenience store, the Black Hills Children’s Museum, and mixed-use buildings with more space for offices and retailers are planned.
4. Liberty Plaza will help address the housing shortage.
With the B-21 expected to bring 1,500 service members to the area, housing is a significant piece of the Liberty Plaza development. Around 800 residential units are planned, including apartments, townhomes, and single-family homes. Construction is underway on the Union apartments and single-family homes – some of which are move-in ready.
5. We’re overcoming budget challenges.
Liberty Plaza has not been immune to the cost increases that projects across the country are experiencing. Inflation has changed prices substantially since the initial budget was set two years ago, with infrastructure 30% more expensive than anticipated. Together with our public sector and private sector partners, Dream Design has been working to overcome inflationary challenges without cutting corners, compromising quality, or lessening the size of the project.
Dream Design President Hani Shafai doesn’t shy away from the problem but keeps the public entities involved up to date on the changes. “Openness is important. There is no reason to duck from the issues, it’s better to face them head-on and have full transparency,” Hani says.
6. Box Elder’s new downtown will be a game-changer.
Once it’s complete, Liberty Plaza will be one of the most incredible developments in western South Dakota. Box Elder’s new downtown will enhance the quality of life and catalyze economic development. Along with all the growth we’re going to see in the military population, more non-military folks are going to want to make their way here to put down roots in this up-and-coming community.