Protect, Connect, And Beautify Downtowns And Riverfront

Creating a beautiful river connection while protecting downtown has been a long time coming. Being a small part of the 2001 – 2002 Downtown Framework plan as a citizen was fun and that plan, in tangent with the private/public investments in the Renaissance Zone, has been the basis for projects that have helped with our Downtown revitalization that’s been underway for over a decade.

Riverfront plan

These are both quick reads and the blueprint for projects in the planning stage
The Downtown Framework plan of 2001 – 2002 has been the blueprint for all the completed projects that along with establishment of the Renaissance Zone, have helped increase the downtown value from $190 million to over $560 million since 2003 :  Here’s an interview by Joel Heitkamp on these exciting opportunities to protect, connect, and beautify our downtown and riverfront.

The goals identified in these plans were reaffirmed by engaging over 8,000 people in ongoing Fargo GO 2030 comprehensive plans where the top 5 key initiatives are:

  1. Permanent flood protection
  2. Infill and strong neighborhoods
  3. Arts and culture
  4. Bike and Pedestrian focus
  5. Quality design standards
Here’s a chart that shows how these combined efforts and investments have resulted in huge increase in value downtown over the past decade
The following projects are all complete or underway and were described and depicted as goals and strategies in the Downtown Framework and Riverfront plans:
  • the reconstruction of Broadway complete in 2004 (depicted in 2002 plan)
  • New Main Ave Bridge (depicted in 2002 plan)
  • Island Park parking ramp 2003
  • Entry gateway at SE corner of main (depicted in 2003 Riverfront plan)
  • Dike East (Depicted in 2003 riverfront plan)
  • New library downtown 2009, S branch 2008, and N satelitte 2006 (sited as priority in 2002 Framework)
  • Wildflower park 2007 
  • Integrated private parking facilities in Renaissance projects (cited as strategy in Framework plan 2002 several renovated buildings have integrated parking and will continue)
  • Two way conversion of NP and 1st
  • Bike lanes on 4th St, 4th Ave and sharros on Broadway
  • Increase of Transit from about 800,000 riders in 2004 to 2.1 million riders today
City projects coming forward for design are cited and depicted in renderings in 2002 Framework plan:
  • NP and 1st conversion is complete with construction underground and streetscape 2014 for NP and 2015 1st Ave.
  • Downtown flood protection construction beginning next year 2014,
  • City Hall on Civic Quad the following year 2015,
  • Connecting 2nd Ave with a Gateway to the Riverfront with expanded greenway to give the river more room and for year round recreation 

City projects being analyzed:

  • feasibility study is being done now for possible convention center either downtown or at dome)

Some of the projects described and drawn in the 2002 Framework plan that have not been completed are:

Downtowns are transforming/revitalizing all over the state and country. The recent Bismarck plan is very similar to our Downtown Framework plans, Riverfront plans, and Fargo 2030 concepts

We have a good playbook and a 10 year head start, with several of the projects in the plans in place.  That said, there’s much more to do as we work to fulfill our downtowns great potential.
Our Downtown is only half developed with lots galore underutilized and ripe for multiuse development and creating beautiful public places.

The next phase of the plans are coming to fruition with NP and 1st reconstruction and all east/west downtown corridors, downtown flood protection, city hall, integrating parking ramps into multiuse value added buildings,  all give us an opportunity to add value and move downtown to the next level.  
Let’s use this flood protection and river connection project to include a gateway to and across the river into expanded greenspace for year round public use and making 2nd Ave a signature street connecting people to and across the river.