Ho Chunk Inc. Multi-family Investment Properties.
Ho Chunk Inc., the economic development corporation for the Winnebago Tribe, has acquired several properties in Sioux City, Iowa, as part of its investment in the local community. Photo © Jerry L Mennenga, Courtesy Ho-Chunk Inc.
Tribal corporation expands on investment in historic district
Wednesday, March 10, 2021

The latest feather in the cap of a thriving tribal corporation is an eclectic collection of historic buildings near downtown Sioux City, Iowa, a crossroads for Indian nations in the region.

Ho-Chunk Capital – a division of Ho-Chunk, Inc., the Winnebago Tribe’s economic development corporation – recently purchased several buildings in a district called Historic Fourth Street. The purchase includes 78,527 square feet of properties that feature a vibrant mix of tenants, including bars, offices, shops and restaurants.

The tribal corporation bought the properties from the Aalfs family, and the properties include the former Aalfs Manufacturing building, which now serves as an office building.

The deal closed March 5.

“We look forward to preserving and revitalizing these historic downtown properties,” said Dennis Johnson, CEO of Ho-Chunk Capital. “This purchase symbolizes Ho-Chunk Capital’s growing investment in the future of Sioux City. We are honored to work with the Aalfs family to continue local ownership.”

Ho Chunk Inc. Multi-family Investment Properties.
A property housing the SoHo American Kitchen & Bar in downtown Sioux City, Iowa, is one of the latest acquisitions for Ho Chunk Inc., the economic development corporation of the Winnebago Tribe. Photo © Jerry L Mennenga, Courtesy Ho-Chunk Inc.

Ho-Chunk Capital has emerged as the region’s leading real estate developer in recent years, including major investments in downtown Sioux City and the Flatwater Crossing master-planned community in South Sioux City.

The Aalfs family were central figures in helping revitalize the downtown area previously known as “Lower Fourth” into what is now Historic Fourth Street. Jack Aalfs said they wanted to preserve the historic integrity of the area while also offering an opportunity for small business development.

“We are grateful we had the privilege to participate in its transformation to ‘Historic Fourth,’” Aalfs said. “The decision to sell our properties was not an easy one, so it was important to us to find a buyer that shared our commitment to Sioux City and its history. We believe that Ho-Chunk Capital has demonstrated that commitment, and we are excited for the future of Historic Fourth in their hands.”

In addition to the five-story Aalfs building at 1005 Fourth St., the purchase includes adjacent parcels of 1019-23 Fourth St., 1014 Fourth St., 1016-24 Fourth St. and 1010-12 Fourth St. Some commercial tenants at these properties include Buffalo Alice, Antiques on Historic Fourth, M’s on 4th and SoHo American Kitchen & Bar.

Ho-Chunk Capital will develop long-term plans to preserve and renovate the buildings to historic standards and create new opportunity for commercial and residential tenants. The oldest building dates back to 1885.

Ho Chunk Inc. Multi-family Investment Properties.
Ho Chunk Inc. Multi-family Investment Properties.
Properties acquired by Ho Chunk Inc., the economic development corporation of the Winnebago Tribe, in downtown Sioux City, Iowa. Photo © Jerry L Mennenga, Courtesy Ho-Chunk Inc.

Ho-Chunk Capital’s real estate investments help generate long-term revenue for Ho-Chunk, Inc.’s mission. The company reinvests in the Winnebago Tribe among shared priorities of housing, employment, youth, education and elders.

The purchase caps a multi-year effort by Ho-Chunk, Inc. to redevelop historic areas in Sioux City.

In recent years, the tribal corporation has purchased Ho-Chunk Centre, a 10-story office building near downtown, spent $22 million redeveloping three historic buildings in an area known as Virginia Square into condos, apartments and commercial space and redeveloped the Pearl Street Historic District, which consists of two historic buildings in downtown Sioux City.

The company also has spent $75 million redeveloping an area along the Missouri River in South Sioux City, Nebraska, into residential, retail and commercial buildings. Flatwater Crossing features 1,000 housing units along with green space, riverfront estates and parks.

Its other projects include casino developments in Omaha, South Sioux City and Lincoln, Nebraska, where the tribal corporation is partnering with the Nebraska Horsemen’s Benevolent & Protective Association to construct a 165,000-square-foot hotel and casino complex called WarHorse Casino.

Sioux City falls in the homelands of several Indian nations, including the Omaha Tribe. About 2.1 percent of the population in the city American Indian or Alaska Native, many from tribes in Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota.

Ho-Chunk Inc. owns Indianz.Com but the website operates independently and is not involved in the corporation’s business activities