Sanford Research draws global team

The team at the Sanford Children's Health Research Center.
The team at the Sanford Children’s Health Research Center.

A United Airlines flight leaves Sioux Falls at 6:25 p.m. each Friday headed to Chicago.

And nearly every time, Jill Weimer has a seat on it.

Weimer, 41, helps direct the Children’s Health Research Center at Sanford Health, is the senior director of therapeutic development and also leads a team of scientists working to cure rare childhood diseases.

Her husband, a nuclear engineer, works in Chicago. So at the end of each week, Weimer boards a plane. She will return on a flight that arrives Monday night. She works from Illinois one week out of every six.

“My lab jokes they hate it when I work off-site because they get 100 percent of my attention versus when I’m here I’m pulled into a hundred meetings,” Weimer said. “They get hundreds of emails from me.”

When she’s in Sioux Falls, Weimer rarely is far from the lab. She estimates she works 12-hour days, while quickly adding “but the mind of a scientist actually never turns off.”

The science in her lab received international recognition earlier this year, when Weimer and others from Sanford Health presented at an international stem cell conference in Vatican City. Three patients have been enrolled in a clinical trial for one type of Batten disease, and the Children’s Health Research Center also is using stem cells to pursue treatments for other rare diseases and neurological disorders.

Behind the scenes is a team of scientists with global reach. Most are scientists in their 20s and 30s who hail from places as diverse as Brazil, Kenya and Italy.

Other team members split time between Sioux Falls and New York or China.

To go behind the scenes at the lab, click here.

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Market heats up for high-end homes

A house for sale in the Prairie Hills neighborhood (Joe Ahlquist/Argus Leader)
A house for sale in the Prairie Hills neighborhood (Joe Ahlquist/Argus Leader)

It took business owner Penny Paclik about five years to design her house, traveling to both coasts for inspiration and even getting her own designer’s license.

The result was a property in Brandon that is so unique it’s hard to find anything comparable in the market.

It’s 11,000 square feet and European-inspired, with a kitchen that looks out into an indoor pool. A lower level with another kitchen and several bedrooms could function easily as its own residence.

It sits along the Brandon Golf Course and the Big Sioux River and offers several outdoor seating areas.

There’s even a treehouse.

“It’s hard to even think about leaving because it’s so beautiful,” Paclik said. “Our kids are grown. We could live here easily, but I feel like this house deserves a family.”

Pricing that type of property was a challenge. The house was on the market for about a year before it went under contract six months ago for just shy of $2 million. The plan is to close later this year.

“I’ve seen a lot of homes, and my jaw just kind of dropped,” said Tom Wegner, a Realtor with Keller Williams Realty Sioux Falls, who listed the house.

“There’s really nothing to compare it to. Usually, we’re able to pull comps, and with this one it was looking at what some of the higher-end homes were selling for per square foot and trying to be competitive, understanding the buyer pool for that price point is very limited in Sioux Falls.”

The pool of buyers for homes at the top end of the market, however, may be increasing.

To see more, click here.

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Health systems expand with new projects

The Sanford Imagenetics building under construction. Jay Pickthorn/Argus Leader Media
The Sanford Imagenetics building under construction. Jay Pickthorn/Argus Leader Media

Sioux Falls health systems are back to building.

After several years without many big-ticket construction projects, several now are in varying stages of completion.

“Health care traditionally has been a driver of building activity in our city,” said Mike Cooper, the city’s director of planning and building services. “There are a number of high-value projects underway, and we anticipate continued interest in new construction as well as larger-scale renovation projects.”

To see several projects in progress, click here.

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Downtown grocery opens with local focus

Keller's Green Grocery has opened downtown. (Jay Pickthorn/Argus Leader)
Keller’s Green Grocery has opened downtown. (Jay Pickthorn/Argus Leader)

An item on the wish list of many who live and work downtown can be crossed off.

Keller’s Green Grocery brings another grocery store option to downtown when it opens today inside the Carpenter Building at 221 S. Phillips Ave. It stocks a variety of items, including produce, grocery staple items, frozen foods and some household items including paper towels and vitamins.

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Parks Marina owners revive Okoboji’s Central Emporium

The Central Emporium
The Central Emporium

ARNOLDS PARK, Iowa – A century-old Okoboji-area landmark has a connection to Sioux Falls through its new owners.

Butch and Debbie Parks, who own Parks Marina in Okoboji and Sioux Falls, bought the Central Emporium in Arnolds Park earlier this year.

The Central Emporium has overlooked West Lake Okoboji for more than 100 years and includes more than two dozen shopping and dining venues.

Butch Parks, a native of the area, remembers hiding in the then-abandoned building when he was growing up in the 1950s. His parents danced there when it was a ballroom decades earlier. When it was offered for sale last year, other interested buyers would have turned it into condominiums. But Parks, who wanted it saved, prevailed.

For the rest of the story and a tour, click here.

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Okoboji’s Bridges Bay adds features, keeps building

Bridges Bay resort in Arnolds Park, Iowa.
Bridges Bay resort in Arnolds Park, Iowa.

ARNOLDS PARK, Iowa – A major expansion at Bridges Bay is drawing even more visitors to the Okoboji-area resort that is a partnership of several Sioux Falls businesses.

The Waterfront Event Center opened in late June, bringing two new restaurants and expanded venue space to the resort. Built on the shore of East Okoboji Lake, it is intended to turn the almost decade-old property into a true year-round destination.

“It’s gorgeous,” said Jon Broek of Equity Homes, the project’s builder and designer.

“The actual building itself has turned out a lot better than what we expected. It’s kind of hard to see how beautiful it’s going to end up until you put it right into the bank on the water like that.”

For more information and a complete tour of the project, click here.

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Austad’s Golf heads into third generation

Ryan and Dave Austad (Joe Ahlquist/Argus Leader Media)
Ryan and Dave Austad (Joe Ahlquist/Argus Leader Media)

Oscar Austad was a horrendous golfer.

He had little, if any, interest or passion for the game, according to his son, Dave.

At 41, he had been fired from three of his five previous jobs.

“His career had gone nowhere,” Austad said. “Five kids were going to be six.”

But Oscar Austad had an empty trunk in the car he used while traveling as an insurance claims adjuster, and it would lead him into a business – Austad’s Golf – that today ranks among the nation’s largest family-owned golf chains.

“It’s kind of mind-boggling,” Austad said. “The one-store guys are essentially gone. The ones that are here are the ones who are innovating and making things work.”

To read more of this family success story, click here.

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Lewis Drug planning downtown store

Rendering by RSArchitects.
Rendering by RSArchitects.

Lewis Drug is coming back to downtown.

A new store on the northeast corner of 10th Street and Phillips Avenue is planned for next spring, about a block from where the Sioux Falls retailer was founded 74 years ago.

“We like the concept of coming back to the future. That’s where it all started,” CEO Mark Griffin said.

“I like to think we were one of the reasons downtown is the way it is, starting in 1942, and we hope to help shape it 75 years later.”

To read more on the new store plans, click here.

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Builders see growing market for tiny houses

A tiny house in Madison, S.D. (Jodi Schwan/SFBJ)
A tiny house in Madison, S.D. (Jodi Schwan/SFBJ)

It’s just under 300 square feet, but touring this tiny house for sale in Vermillion takes some time.

The main floor at 240 square feet includes a living space, kitchen with fridge and stove, and a bathroom with a toilet and shower.

A table or desk can be converted into a window bench. One sink serves both the kitchen and bathroom. A sleeper sofa fits, but a Murphy bed would be an option, too.

A loft above adds room for storage or sleeping.

“We crammed a lot of stuff into 240 square feet,” said Nick Larson, vice president of Builders Choice USA, which manufactured the house. “We tried to make it a convertible space.”

To see more on the tiny house trend, click here.

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