City dwellers relocating to Hartford, town near Sioux Falls
HARTFORD, S.D. (AP) — As Anthony and Kristin Blaine stood with their three children outside their home on a cold afternoon in November, their voices provided the only sounds.
Their single-family house is just one of two in the new development of Kelly Point in Hartford, and they have no backyard neighbors.
The Blaines are Sioux Falls natives who have owned the Hartford Steakhouse Tavern for years. Although they previously lived near McKennan Park, they knew they wanted their children to grow up in a smaller town than Sioux Falls.
After looking at several acreages and properties, they purchased a lot in the Kelly Point development and made the move in March, accomplishing their family-friendly goal.
“It’s nice to raise kids in, compared to the big-city feel,” Anthony Blaine said of Hartford. “It just was a good fit for us.”
The Blaines are not the only former city dwellers to relocate to Hartford, a community of about 3,300 residents 11 miles northwest of Sioux Falls. In fact, so many are moving there that Hartford has six residential developments in the works, with a total of 629 residential lots in various stages of development, the Argus Leader reported.
Many of the new residents are “young families looking to escape the big city,” according to Jesse Fonkert, Hartford’s chamber and economic development director.
“Most folks move into Hartford from Sioux Falls,” said Fonkert, who moved from the town of Mobridge to attend Augustana University before eventually settling in Hartford.
Some transplants are looking for better employment opportunities, Fonkert said. As they start families and look to settle down, they begin to pine for the smaller communities they had growing up.
“Hartford is a clean town that’s very safe,” Fonkert said. “Our community still feels very close together.”
Dave Larson is a Sioux Falls-based realtor who recently opened a new office in Hartford, largely because of the influx of new homes and residents.
“I feel like (Hartford is) going to be the next Brandon or Tea or Harrisburg,” Larson said. “It’s our turn to grow.”
Unlike other Sioux Falls suburbs like Harrisburg, Hartford’s growth has not been a meteoric rise. Instead, the small city has been experiencing steady growth over the past few decades.
In 2000, the population sat at 1,844, climbing to 2,534 by 2010. As of July 2018, Hartford’s population is now estimated to be 3,364. That averages out to a 2 to 3% growth each year.
For Fonkert, that gradual pace is preferable to a population boom.
“It allows a city to plan better and allows our schools to accommodate more (students),” he said.
However, the pace is expected to pick up in coming years as more people come to Hartford.
“I see our population growing past the 3 percent mark,” Fonkert said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if it was 3 to 5 percent.”
One of the bigger developments coming to Hartford is the Turtle Creek Highlands Addition along Highway 38. While the majority of its 151 residential lots are designed for single-family homes, others are intended to be villas, or detached townhouses, according to Larson.
Several of the lots are already spoken for, he said, and building will begin in the spring.
More affordable land was a draw for families like the Blaines, who paid about $72,000 for their lot.
“The lot size and price is really nice, compared to what we would get in Sioux Falls,” Anthony Blaine said. “This lot in Sioux Falls would have probably been over $100,000.”
‘Investing in infrastructure’
Another factor in Hartford’s housing growth is the revitalization of the city’s downtown district. Since 2018, Hartford’s Main Avenue has seen the addition of a coffee shop, a brewery, a flower shop and a community mural.
Elsewhere in town, the Hartford Building Center says it is doubling its retail space in anticipation of more people moving to town.
“Hartford continues to grow and we feel there is an opportunity for us to meet the increased demand for hardware, home goods and building supplies,” Hartford Building Center president Lisa Hellvig said in a statement.
City leaders also hope a $6 million upgrade to Mickelson Road, the largest in Hartford’s history, will help connect new developments with the rest of the town.
Hartford’s focus on connecting its community has been key to its growth, said Nick Fosheim, executive director of the Lincoln and Minnehaha County Economic Development Associations.
“They’re investing in infrastructure,” Fosheim said. “I think all of that is helping to fuel that momentum.”
While single-family homes are the most common residences being built, they are not the only ones. Rather than seeing families buy a starter home in Hartford and move to Sioux Falls for a bigger, nicer house, developers are building properties that are targeted toward buyers in every stage of life.
“There’s more emphasis on creating move-up opportunities,” Fosheim said. “You’re seeing all the levels of construction.”
Although the Blaines have only lived in Hartford a short time, they can already see the city increasing in popularity. While its residents relish the small-town feel that has made Hartford a great place to live, it may not always be such a small town.
“I think there’s a lot of new families coming out,” Kristin Blaine said. “The growth is starting, and it’s just right around the corner.”
Information from: Argus Leader, http://www.argusleader.com