Sioux Falls developers often pick street names
By JEREMY FUGLEBERG
Sep. 03, 2018
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — There's a Panda Drive. Homerun Avenue. Man Cave Place. There's a corner on the west side of Sioux Falls that is the intersection of Grinn and Barret.
And then there's your street. Maybe you live on Pam Street or Donegal Avenue or Silverbell Street. Have you ever wondered how your street got its name?
Odds are your street wasn't named by anyone in city government. Odds are, unless you live in the city's core, it was named by the developer who built your neighborhood.
While the city of Sioux Falls reviews street names selections, only very rarely would they reject a name proposed by developers, who have broad powers to pick the names that define neighborhoods.
Street and development naming is something developers take seriously.
"It's actually not easy," said Steve Van Buskirk, president of land development for developer Van Buskirk Companies. "We actually spend a lot of time on it."
The first step? The current landowners may have a request. It doesn't happen all the time, but as part of the land purchase, some sellers want their family name, or, say, kids' names, enshrined forever in the name of a development or its streets, Van Buskirk said. It can be a personal business.
"They grew up on that land, they worked that land, they have a lot of connection to it," he told the Argus Leader .
But if they don't have any special requests, that's when the fun starts.
At developer Lloyd Companies, leaders will weigh options and pick a winner. They're looking for something that's a good fit. Maybe a name with a bit of an attractive edge to it.
"We tend to gravitate toward those that have some sort of community significance," said Luke Jessen, development project manager at Lloyd Cos.
If they're really stuck they'll send out a survey to employees and give a gift card if they choose a great submitted name.
Van Buskirk said those in the companies' office will bat around ideas and make a list of names, that play off the area. Maybe the way it looks, or the history of the place or notable people.
The basic goal is to name a development and its streets in a way that will attract people who want to live there.
"You try to bring it together and brainstorm names," Van Buskirk said. "Usually we put together a pretty long list of names and we'll look at it and say, 'Would I want to live on Jailbird Street? Nah, probably not."
(To clarify, that is just an example. Nobody would ever build a Jailbird Street. Or a Hell Street. Because who wants to live there?)
"You've got to come up with something new and inventive that gives you an idea that it's a nice place to live," Van Buskirk said.
There are other things to think about. Is it short? Meaningful? Easy to spell?
"You have to think about those things," Van Buskirk said. "If you have to spell 'Van Buskirk' your entire life, our family is somewhat sensitive about making it easy to spell."
If you're driving around looking at Sioux Falls developments, you're going to see a lot of Irish names. Llloyd Cos. frequently uses Irish names, respecting the ancestry of its founders, Craig and Pat Lloyd.
"If there's no other inspiration, it's Irish themed," said Christie Ernst, senior vice president of property management at Lloyd Cos.
Van Buskirk isn't exactly an Irish name, but even Van Buskirk Cos. got into the Irish moniker business.
The Heather Ridge development southeast of the corner of 69th Street and Western Avenue includes Heatheridge Avenue, Limerick Circle and Killarney Street. Van Buskirk said his mom and dad came back from a trip to Ireland and were talking about the heather they saw, inspiring the name.
"That's where the name Heather Ridge came from," he said. "I don't have a sister named Heather; I've been asked that more than once."
Once developers pick street names, they run them past city officials for review. They make sure the name doesn't duplicate an existing street name, increasingly a concern in a fast-growing city, isn't derogatory, doesn't sound too similar to an existing street name (i.e., there will never be a "Marian Road" in Sioux Falls since it would conflict with the current Marion Road) and has no more than 13 characters, to fit on street signs in a font large enough for traffic to see.
"It's really pretty simple," said Chuck Serbus, Subdivision/Site Plan Checker with the city of Sioux Falls Engineering Office.
Few proposed names are derogatory, Serbus said. City staff did once ponder whether a private road named "Man Cave Place" was problematic.
"We allowed it, but we did discuss it internally, to think, 'is there something derogatory with this?' And we said, 'no, it's allowed,'" he said, "I've been doing this for 25 years and that's the only example I can think of, off the top of my head."
How do you know when you've picked the perfect name? Buyers will tell you. It's only happened about half a dozen times over 26 years in the business, Van Buskirk said.
"You know you've hit it out of the park when they say, 'I need to live on that street,'" he said.
Have you seen those first name streets? Jim and Patrick, Pam and Judy? Yeah. Those aren't cool anymore.
"We really try to get away from that, the first-name streets," Van Buskirk said. "We've kind of drifted away from that over the years. You used to see a lot of it out there."
Picking a development name and street names can be a lot of fun, Van Buskirk said.
"It's kind of a fun thing to do as a developer and a development company. It's fun that you can drive down and say, 'Hey, I voted for that one and it's there," he said. "It's a lot of fun to go back and look at your work and see how it all came together when it's all done."
But development and its street names is something developers also take seriously. These are places where people will grow up, where parents will raise their kids. Where people will grow old.
"That's the great part about what we do. We're building neighborhoods. We're building places to build their memories up," he said. "It's all part of making a nice place."
Information from: Argus Leader, http://www.argusleader.com