January 17, 2020

LifeScape Selects USD Discovery District as Future Home for Hospital, School, Rehabilitation Center

VERMILLION, S.D. – LifeScape has selected the USD Discovery District for its future hospital, school and rehabilitation center, officials announced Thursday.

Steve Watkins
Steve Watkins, LifeScape CEO

LifeScape CEO Steve Watkins said at a press conference held at the Community College for Sioux Falls that the nonprofit has executed a letter of intent to lease 31.6 acres from the Discovery District, a strategic step in making the new campus a reality.

LifeScape is an independent, non-profit organization, serving adults and children in Sioux Falls, Rapid City and Sioux City. The organization supports more than 5,500 children and adults annually and employs more than 1,100 staff members. It is the only private intermediate care facility in South Dakota and the only agency of its kind in the state serving children and adults across their lifespan.

The new facilities will replace LifeScape’s current 26th Street children’s specialty hospital, residential and school location. The new rehabilitation center will replace its current outpatient center located on 18th Street in Sioux Falls and will provide additional capacity to serve its patients. The total cost of the project is expected to total a $62 million investment.

“The location has many exciting features, including good accessibility, a great campus setting and opportunities to collaborate with the state’s university system,” said Steve Watkins, LifeScape CEO. “Our higher education partnerships will focus on growing our professional workforce, developing adaptive technologies for those with disabilities and participating in various research projects designed to enhance the lives of those we support.”

“LifeScape’s development at the USD Discovery District will catalyze training, education and research collaborations between USD, LifeScape and the Community College for Sioux Falls,” said USD President Sheila K. Gestring. “Through this partnership, USD’s researchers and health care educators will work side-by-side with the expert providers at LifeScape to make a tremendous impact in the lives of so many South Dakotans.”

Microsoft Teams image 11
(From left to right) Erica Beck- Chief of Staff to the Mayor’s Office, Sheila Gestring- President of the University of South Dakota, Steve Watkins- LifeScape CEO, Mark Brown- President of the USD Discovery District and Haifa AbouSamra, Dean of the USD School of Health Sciences

“We are delighted to partner with LifeScape as we continue to build upon the strong foundation that the USD Discovery District has established,” said new USD Discovery District President Mark Brown. “The presence of LifeScape in the Discovery District will facilitate collaboration among clinicians, rehabilitation specialists, and a major research institution. From innovations in technology to medical devices, USD is poised to make great contributions to the mission of LifeScape and other organizations of its kind throughout the world. I am particularly excited about the opportunities for USD students to be a part of these global impacts.”

LifeScape is the third tenant and partner to enter into an agreement with the USD Discovery District, an 111.6-acre innovation community under development in northwest Sioux Falls. Construction on the first two Discovery District building projects – a multi-tenant corporate headquarters and adjacent manufacturing building – is scheduled to begin in 2020.

The USD Discovery District is a public-private partnership effort between USD, the City of Sioux Falls, the South Dakota Board of Regents, the Governor’s Office of Economic Development and the business community through Forward Sioux Falls. When fully developed, it will include an estimated 26 privately developed buildings with nearly 2,800 people working for companies in the district.


Founded in 1862 and the first university in the Dakotas, the University of South Dakota is the only public liberal arts university in the state, with 202 undergraduate and 78 graduate programs in the College of Arts & Sciences, School of Education, School of Law, Sanford School of Medicine, School of Health Sciences, Beacom School of Business and College of Fine Arts. With an enrollment of nearly 10,000 students and more than 400 faculty, USD has a 16:1 student/faculty ratio, and it ranks among the best in academics and affordability. USD’s 18 athletic programs compete at the NCAA Division I level. 


Hailie Warren
USD News