Since the Lavallees were married, they’ve moved often, living everywhere from New England to the Midwest to the South. About 20 years ago, they found themselves back in South Dakota.
“We’ve really stuck around in Sioux Falls. I still have my mom and a couple siblings here, so after moving 14 times, I was ready to stay home,” said Michelle Lavallee.
In Huron, the couple owns an acreage, and they once lived in a large home in Riverview Heights.
“My husband was retiring, and we got tired of taking care of a big house,” said Lavallee. “I thought it’d be fun to live downtown.”
The couple found a two-bedroom apartment in the Carpenter Building in downtown Sioux Falls, cutting their living space into a fraction of the room in their previous five-bedroom house.
Lavallee says her son, Kris, lives with his wife and two children in the oldest house in Beadle County.
“It was fun with the pool and wonderful things in the yard, but we were at that point when we wanted to do something different,” said Lavallee.
With the apartment in Sioux Falls, they also decided to make her husband’s dream of owning a home on the beach come true, too.
“At the same time, we bought a big place in Costa Rica,” said Lavallee. “We have that combination of thinking it’d be fun to have a home in a warmer climate and then being tired of too much maintenance.”
One of the pieces Lavallee misses most is a chandelier that she decided would not fit the apartment space. She acquired it on her honeymoon in Venice.
When they downsized, the couple also had to get rid of nearly three-fourths of their furniture before moving everything into the apartment downtown.
“We bought the table and chairs when we were first married and lived right outside of New York City,” she said.
Another staple piece she couldn’t part with was her piano, which she got from Steinway Hall in New York City. The large black instrument sits to the left of the front door, greeting anyone who enters.
“Some people have much more contemporary lofts, and this could be too, but we just kind of gathered stuff. My place in Costa Rica is more contemporary, so you get that fun part and then the farmer’s traditional here,” explained Lavallee.
With access to countless restaurants and shops, Lavallee keeps busy when she isn’t working as the CEO of Children’s Home Society of South Dakota.
“Somebody said I’d be great at Children’s Home Society. They had an opening for a new CEO. I’ve been there for two and a half years, and it’s been a blast.” -Michelle Lavallee about work
She loves to visit various locations within walking distance or even in her own building for some food and entertainment.
“We laughingly call Carpenter Bar our living room,” she explained.
For a bite, her favorite restaurants include Parker’s Bistro, Minervas, and Crawford’s.
“boutique bars like The treasury, Highball, and Carpenter Bar, gave us something high quality to enjoy.” – Michelle Lavallee
“So much of downtown is great. You can’t do better than the bike trails. It’s such a walkable city. I often walk to work—about 2.5 miles,” said Lavallee.
When her grandkids are in town, she loves taking them downstairs to EightyOne Arcade Bar to try their hands at some competitive Pac-Man Battle Royale or Pump It Up, a dancing game.
“The Hello Hi could be in my top two because the pizza is so good,” insisted Lavallee. “If I don’t feel like cooking and I’m not dieting, I will zip in there and get a piece of pizza in two minutes.”
But her favorite place to spend time is right outside of her building on Carpenter’s patio on Phillips Avenue.
“It’s a blast to just sit downtown on the weekends when it’s nice out. You walk by the Carpenter, and you know everybody,” said Lavallee.