Though never built, the Cultural Bridge project was a bridge to the future

It’s fun to reflect on some of the projects that didn’t come to fruition, but still provided inspiration and impetus for wonderful derivative projects.0324-n-downtowndreams-graves

I spoke to Michael Graves back in 2000 and he was still passionate about the beautiful Cultural Bridge project that won him national recognition and helped spark his career though it was never built. He was eager to hear our plans for Fargo and I’m sad I didn’t invite him before his recent passing.

While we know there’s much room for improvement (we’ve added value in the Renaissance Zone from $150 m in 2003 to now $600 m in improvements and new development), the article missed some of the progress and highlights of what’s making downtown better everyday. Here’s just a few that come to mind, there’s a ton more, and if you ask people they’ll have many more examples for you.  It’s also fun and worthwhile to point out several successes for a more complete reflection and context of the incremental and sustained progress over time.

During the 2001 Framework plan our committee and participants recognized that it would be better to not just wait or plan for a huge homerun project for a vibrant downtown and community. For sustained growth and entrepreneurial spirit, a compilation of several quality projects and ventures that add to our quality of life and value more everyday is a proven strategy with positive results.

Here’s to helping Fargo grow better everyday!

RZ ppt 4
RZ Graph

 Here’s a quick review of just a few projects that come to mind, there are lots more. Our resurgent Downtown is a work in progress and the success to date is a result of lot of good work by many, many people over the years:

  • First large infill project? 1985 Radisson Hotel office tower
  • Old Broadway repurposed retail 1976 revamped continuously
  • Repurposing/art: 1997 Plains Art Museum
    Plains art
  • 2004-5 Dike East and West
  •  2003 Hotel Donaldson repurpose:
  • 2004 Renaissance Hall repurpose brought first NDSU students downtown:
Renaissance hall
  • 2003-2008 Broadway  reconstruction from Framework plan:Broadway recon
  • 2004 – 2009 Voters approve 18month 1/2 cent sales tax to fund two new libraries and a branch. The projects were completed in 2009 on time, on the $15.6 million budget ($13 m sales tax and $2.6 m donations) and paid before they were finished. Over 45,000 people voted with 61% approval in 2004
new library

  • Downtown library completed 2009 has over 500,000 visitors annually, that’s even more than the fabulous Fargodome
Carlson library

Carlson Library on 32nd Ave S

  •  2008 Broadway becomes a shared roadway for bikes to share the lane
  • 300 Broadway
  • 300 Broadway Kilbourne/Burgum mixed use infill


  • 2009 Barry Hall completed now with Klai Hall, Renaissance, and Barry Hall over 4,000 students in Downtown campus
NDSUBarry 1_300_220_c1
NDSUKlai 1_300_220_c1
  • 2010 Fargo’s first on street bike lanes on 4th Ave, now over 33 miles on street lanes
Bike lane Istock
  • 2011 Cityscapes mixed use infill
    Cityscapes 1
  • 2012 Change NP and 1st Ave back to two way traffic, over $30,000,000 in new investment on the corridor already
2004 – 2013 Matbus ridership rises from 700,000 riders to over 2,000,000 riders, over 1 million college age, 2011 first Hybrid buses
hybrid bus
2015 Great Rides Bikeshare begins

great rides kickoff
  • 2015 First protected bike lanes approved and will be built on NP Ave from University to 10th St.     Fargo ranked a as a top 50 city  for biking in Bicycling magazine, now awarded a Bronze for first bike friendly city in North DakotaNP+Avenue+Bike+Lane
We’ve still got a long way to go to reach our potential downtown, still lots of surface lots where vibrant mixed use buildings used to be. Let’s keep looking for ways to grow well, adding value and quality of life and great places for people. Working together, the best is yet to come!
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Tour de Art and Parking to Sioux Falls and Lincoln already paying off

It’s an exciting time to live in Fargo. It’s fun to see the rest of the nation finding out what we already know, our quality of life is high and it’s a nice place to live.

While its interesting to see our city rank well in so many economic and livability lists we know we can do better.

At this time when our community is making needed investments in key large scale projects already underway, there are wonderful possibilities. We heard from over 8,000 people in creating our Fargo GO 2030 plan, that it’s important to make the most of these opportunities to add value and create beautiful spaces for people to use and enjoy for generations within these projects:

  • Downtown flood protection
  • Moving 2nd Street west to more stable ground that provides an expanded greenway and river walk
  • New city hall
  • Incorporating more public art and functional art
  • Adding strategically placed mixed use parking facilities that keeps high value space on sidewalks for retail, commercial.

Our 37 hour whirlwind Tour de Art and Parking is already paying off. On Tuesdays Fargo commission agenda two items are:

1. Feasibility of converting Civic or another existing building to a 2,000 – 2,400 seat performing arts facility.

2. Thorough comparative analysis of use, size, siting for most overall community benefit of a possible conference/convention facility

It was very helpful to see some examples of these types of projects already in place in peer cities.

Thanks to wonderful leadership of Charley Johnson and the Fargo Visitors Center working with the city of Fargo, a group of 40 Fargo leaders took a two day bus trip to visit Sioux Falls South Dakota and Lincoln Nebraska. The tour group included artists, architects, developers, Fargo Visitor Center staff, Downtown Community Partnership, Fargodome staff and board members, NDSU, representatives from the FM Chamber and FMEDC, city planners and administration, media, and Fargo elected officials.

Our Fargo group for Tour de Art and Parking to Sioux Falls and Lincoln

During a portion of our travel time, some tour members shared what they or their organization are working on for goals, trends, challenges and opportunities.

The tour group met the people that helped bring these projects to fruition at the sites. Projects we visited and learned about in Sioux Falls were:

Falls Park and connection to downtown,

Falls Park in Sioux Falls

Sculpture Walk a defined area downtown exhibiting sculptures from around the globe

Forum reporter Erik Burgess took this nice picture while on our Tour de Art and Parking


Washington Pavilion a historic high school transformed into performing arts and science museum.

magnificent 1,800 seat performing arts space built into Washington Pavilion in Sioux Falls

Downtown riverfront a newly constructed River Greenway along the Big Sioux River

While in Lincoln:

New developments in the Haymarket a tired warehouse district converted to a vibrant entertainment and technology hub,

Haymarket/Railyard in Lincoln Nebraska is growing well

New Pinnacle Bank Arena and events center in Hay Market district is in the background and has been a catalyst for more fun and development.

New mixed use parking facilities that have retail, commercial and office on sidewalks and residences or hotels wrapped around, or on, parking structures that add value and spin off benefit for increased economic activity

Larson Building is mixed use with integrated parking

Panel sessions where people that helped with these developments shared various ways they’ve collaborated to plan and finance these successful community projects.

Here are a few links of news stories from our whirlwind Tour de Art and Parking:

Lincoln news 

Sioux Falls:


We’re doing well in Fargo but there’s lots of room for improvement. Working together, and continuing to engage people to implement the priorities of Fargo GO2030, the best is yet to come.

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Best city for recent grads? Boston, D.C., Madison, Austin, San Fran, with Fargo at the top

Several cool peer cities are in this list. Madison, D.C, Austin, San Francisco, Boston. Fun to see Fargo on top! The students learning, living, working, and playing downtown have helped drive the revitalization of Downtown and there are a ton of underdeveloped flat lots ripe for mixed use development.

 Continuing to target and prioritizing the core helps us recruit and retain talent. All these high rankings have a common denominator, it’s the vibrant core and opportunities to engage that differentiates us from the rest, not the anytown USA strip-malls and sparse segregated cul-de-sac developments.

 We have some new opportunities/offers to work with peer cities to leverage this further to continue to recruit and retain working and competing with some peer cities.

Let’s grow well and target areas where we get the most value and create the most interest for interesting people.

 Another example of becoming a more dynamic city is the unique student led bikeshare program announced May 16th 2014. It’s been so much fun working with them and Tom Smith for these past 3 years. This was a key initiative listed in Fargo GO2030Forum story on how Great Rides Bikeshare developed>

The Great Rides Bikeshare system will be installed in the fall. You’re all invited to learn more at:

 Let’s keep pedaling Fargo forward!

Here’s the article in Business Insider this week:

1. Fargo, ND

Fargo had the lowest unemployment of all of the cities we looked at, with a remarkably low 3.3% rate. Fargo also has a huge number of young adults, with 28.4% of the population falling between 20 and 34. Fargoans are also more likely to be single than others, with 37.6% of the population having never been married. The city is also quite well educated, with 37.1% of Fargoans having at least a bachelor’s degree. Housing is also quite affordable, with 67.5% of renting households paying less than 35% of their incomes on housing expenses.

North Dakota as a state has seen a renaissance in the past couple of years, largely powered by the oil boom in the Bakken formation in the western part of the state. While Fargo is in the east, as North Dakota’s largest city, the boom may have had some effect on Fargo’s economy. Fargo also is the home of North Dakota State University, and we have seen many college towns on this list.

The only measure where Fargo lags behind the other cities on this list is in income. Median worker earnings were just $30,104, slightly below the national median of $30,155.

 The 13 Best Cities For Brand-New College Grads

  • MAY 12, 2014, 12:20 PM
College Students Graduates GraduationOli Scarff/Getty Images


For people in their mid-20s to early 30s who have finished their education and are starting their careers, figuring out where to live can be difficult.

With local economies varying from place to place and recent grads potentially looking for a partner to start a family, it’s good to be around other people in your age range.

To try to figure out where newly minted young professionals should live, we evaluated the 200 largest metropolitan areas in the U.S. on a variety of measures that might be important to recent grads.

We used six measures to evaluate the 200 largest metropolitan areas in the U.S. From theCensus Bureau’s 2012 American Community Survey, we took the share of the population of each city that had young adults between the ages of 20 and 34, the percent of people who had never been married as a proxy for single people, the share of the population with a bachelor’s degree or higher, the median earnings for a worker in the city, and the percentage of rental households that paid less than 35% of monthly income on housing expenses as a measure of apartment affordability.

We also took the March 2014 unemployment figures for each from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Local Area Unemployment Statistics.

Each city was given a ranking score from 0 to 100 for each of these measures, and then those rankings were averaged together to find the final ranking.

12 (tie). Sioux Falls, SD

12 (tie). Sioux Falls, SD

Wikimedia Commons

Sioux Falls, South Dakota

Sioux Falls had an extremely low unemployment rate at 3.9% in March. Sioux Falls also, by one measure, has the most affordable apartment rent in the country: 71.1% of apartment households spent less than 35% of their monthly incomes on housing costs, a much higher proportion than in any of the other cities.

Something that might give a 20- or 30-something college graduate pause is that Sioux Falls has somewhat fewer highly educated people than the other cities on this list, with just 29.2% of its residents holding a bachelor’s degree or higher.

12 (tie). Omaha, NE

12 (tie). Omaha, NE

REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

Investor Warren Buffett

Similar to Sioux Falls, Omaha has very low unemployment, at 4.5%, and very affordable apartments, with 63.5% of renting households paying less than 35% of monthly income on gross rent.

Unfortunately, for single college grads trying to decide where to settle down, Omaha has fewer singles than the other cities on this list, with just 32% of its population having never been married.

11. Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN

11. Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN

Stuart Wilson/Getty Images

The Twin Cities are economically dynamic, home to Target and many other large employers. It’s not that surprising that Minneapolis and St. Paul are very well educated with 39.5% of residents having a bachelor’s or higher. Median worker earnings are solid at $36,358 a year, and unemployment is relatively low at 4.9%.

On the downside, there are fewer people in the earlier stages of their careers in Minneapolis, with just 21.1% of the population falling between 20 and 34.

10. San Francisco/Oakland, CA

10. San Francisco/Oakland, CA


Over the last decade, the Bay Area has become a natural destination for ambitious and highly educated people, being the heart of the tech industry. A full 45% of San Franciscans have at least a bachelor’s degree, and median earnings for workers are a very impressive $41,265.

9. Columbus, OH

9. Columbus, OH


Ohio State University’s marching band forms a man firing a cannon.

Columbus scored reasonably well on each of our measures. Unemployment was at 5.0%, the median worker earned $31,589, and 34.1% of residents had a bachelor’s degree or higher.

8. Seattle/Tacoma, WA

8. Seattle/Tacoma, WA

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman

Seattle has solid median worker earnings, at $36,864, and 37.7% of Seattleites hold bachelor’s degrees or advanced degrees. However, there are fewer singles than most of the other top-ranked cities, with just 32.8% of Seattleites having never been married.

7. Durham/Chapel Hill, NC

The research triangle is very well educated. A full 44.7% of the population of Durham/Chapel Hill holds at least a bachelor’s degree, as one might expect from the home of Duke and the University of North Carolina. There are also a fair number of single people in the area, with a better than average 36.3% of residents having never been married.

6. Lincoln, NE

6. Lincoln, NE

l’interdit via flickr Creative Commons

Over a quarter of the population of Lincoln falls in our young-adult age range: 25.2% are between the ages of 20 and 34. Unemployment is very low at 3.5%, but having a job is not as lucrative as in many of our other cities. Median worker earnings were just $27,100.

5. Boston, MA

5. Boston, MA


The 2014 Boston Marathon

Boston is home to a ridiculous number of colleges, and this is reflected by the 42.9% of Bostonians with bachelor’s or advanced degrees. Jobs in Boston also pay well, with median worker earnings at $37,954.

4. Madison, WI

4. Madison, WI

U. of Wisconsin

The law building at the University of Wisconsin, Madison

Like the other college-centered cities on this list, Madison is young and well educated. Young adults between the ages of 20 and 34 make up 24.7% of Madison’s population, and 42.6% of the adult population holds at least a bachelor’s. Madison has a fairly low unemployment rate of 4.7%.

3. Austin, TX

3. Austin, TX

Flickr / Visualist Images

People walking around at Austin’s South by Southwest festival

Austin looks a lot like Madison by our measures. Just over a quarter, 25.1%, of Austinites are between 20 and 34, and 40.5% of Austin’s population have bachelor’s or advance degrees. Austin had a solid unemployment rate of 4.4% in March.

2. Washington, DC

2. Washington, DC

AP Photo

Protestors gather for the 1963 March on Washington

The capital had the highest median worker earnings of any of the 200 cities we looked at, with the median worker making $44,452, much higher than the national median of $30,155. Washington attracts the educated, with 48.2% of the adult population holding at least a bachelor’s degree.

1. Fargo, ND

Fargo had the lowest unemployment of all of the cities we looked at, with a remarkably low 3.3% rate. Fargo also has a huge number of young adults, with 28.4% of the population falling between 20 and 34. Fargoans are also more likely to be single than others, with 37.6% of the population having never been married. The city is also quite well educated, with 37.1% of Fargoans having at least a bachelor’s degree. Housing is also quite affordable, with 67.5% of renting households paying less than 35% of their incomes on housing expenses.

North Dakota as a state has seen a renaissance in the past couple of years, largely powered by the oil boom in the Bakken formation in the western part of the state. While Fargo is in the east, as North Dakota’s largest city, the boom may have had some effect on Fargo’s economy. Fargo also is the home of North Dakota State University, and we have seen many college towns on this list.

The only measure where Fargo lags behind the other cities on this list is in income. Median worker earnings were just $30,104, slightly below the national median of $30,155.

Read more:

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Growing well matters, let’s do the math‏

Fargo’s in a fantastic situation and we’ve been growing for years thanks to a lot of good work by many. In the past 15 years we’ve seen a bit over 1% population growth a year, but recently Fargo’s population is accelerating three times that. How and where we grow matters.

Here’s an apt cartoon from Trygve Olson in today’s Forum:

Maybe we’re gaining some traction on improving land use? It’s hard to change the status quo but the math shows we have to do better with planning and land use if we’re going to reach Fargo’s great potential.

Here’s some of this weeks articles and interviews on our need to improve land use to grow well:

KVLY Planning/Commission piece 4-25-14

Forum “We want to make sure we grow well” 4-25-14

KFGO Joel Heitkamp interview on growing well: 4-28-14

 Some basic math shows why we need to improve our density and land use in Fargo

Fargo’s been growing for years and we’re in a fantastic situation thanks to a lot of good work by many. In the past 15 years we’ve seen a bit over 1% population growth a year, but recently Fargo’s population is accelerating three times that.

The current footprint of land in Fargo’s annexed area is just over 48 square miles with a population of about 112,000.

48 square miles = 30,720 acres divided into 112,000 pop = 3.6 people per acre.

In Fargo’s comprehensive plan there is a goal of 9 people per acre, this is the density we currently have in our popular mature existing neighborhoods like Hawthorne, Clara Barton, Horace Mann and others.

Planning Director Jim Gilmour recently informed us the that Fargo’s growth by 2040 is 154,170 and metro’s growth is projected population growth by 2040 is 259,950 people.

When we do the math, we find we currently have enough land to accommodate our  population estimate and more if we achieve our 9 people per acre density goal.

30,720 acres X 9 people per acre = 276,480 population in our current footprint. Even if we only add two people per acre in the next 25 years would be 61,440 more people added to our current 115,000 = 175,440 people, far more than the 154,170 that is projected.

Conversely, if we continue to grow at 3.6 people per acre, we would need to more than double our current footprint of 48 sections.

259,950 pop est by 2040 divided by 3.6 people per acre = 72,208 acres needed.

30,720 acres to 72,208 acres or 112 sections compared to our current 48 sections.

The vast majority if not all new development areas south of 52nd Ave are lower than the new FEMA 100 year flood levels. While we’re working diligently to build the diversion, even if we started today, it wouldn’t be complete for 10 years. Even with the diversion, we need in town protection to accommodate flows through town during a 500 year event.

We’re working to protect Fargo with dikes and floodwalls to a level of 42′.5″ to avoid higher cost of flood insurance. We can complete this sooner if we don’t expand our boundaries into low lying land south of 70th Ave.

How do we accomplish this? First we have to acknowledge that we have to improve our land use and work to meet our goals for density. It would be helpful to follow the key priorities set out with over 8,000 people engaged. Prioritize and develop a work plan with measures to implement the goals of Fargo GO2030. The top 5 are:

#1. Flood protection

#2. Infill/strong neighborhoods

#3. Arts and Culture

#4. Bike and pedestrian facilities

#5. Quality design standards

What are some ideas on ways to achieve these? Here are a few of mine:

Leave agricultural zoning in place on perimeter until it fits to reach our density goals.

Be more selective on where to apply incentives and planning focus. Target new home tax incentives and city financing of infrastructure for new development to closer in areas and infill areas that have existing infrastructure and are already covered by city services of Fire, Police, Garbage, Street cleaning/snow removal, Forestry.

Increase incentives on mixed use and affordable housing infill and redevelopment projects in under utilized areas with existing infrastructure and services.

Continue to improve areas to encourage walking, biking, and transit and reduce need to drive. Our residents on average spend 27% of income on transportation, higher than 24% for housing. If a family has two cars instead of three by living in a area where the need for driving is reduced, they save about $9,000 annually.

Fargo’s a wonderful community. We do our best when we work and grow well together. Let’s make sure Fargo is growing well!

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Fargo on its way to the new American dream

People from all over the country are intrigued by what’s going on in Fargo. We’re consistently topping lists for quality of life and vibrant economy.

Perhaps some of the reason we’re attracting more attention is that we’re incrementally becoming a more diverse community demographically and economically with a focus on our greatest resource, our youth and students.

Many young people and others interested in more active and engaged lifestyles see the huge value in vibrant downtowns and close in neighborhoods. Some ways we’re doing that is by making areas more people friendly for walking, biking, and transit opportunities instead of just having to drive wherever you go.

Livability Magazine ranks Fargo #8 for best city for recent graduates for 2014.  Here’s a sample:

“The range of things to do in Fargo swings from cross-country skiing to attending food festivals, visiting art galleries and kayaking. Downtown Fargodraws a hip crowd, including students from North Dakota State University and four other colleges. The downtown area features a collection of bars, music venues, shops and restaurants located close to apartments and condos.


Number of 25- to 34-year-olds: 19,581

*Number of available jobs: 2,579

Hot jobs: Health care, software, farm/construction equipment

Top employers: Sanford Health, Essentia Health, CNH America, Microsoft”

~End quote from Livability~

We’ve got a lot of room for improvement, but we’re well on on our way to becoming America’s dream town.

Here’s an excellent article by Robert Stueteville of Better Cities and Towns:

Top 10 reasons for a new American Dream

Blog post by Robert Steuteville on 21 Apr 2014
Better! Cities & Towns

For three generations, the American Dream was largely defined by continual suburban expansion. The dream was based on exclusivity and “keeping up with the Joneses.” Driving was so essential that all other means of getting around became practically impossible. Privacy was everything.

A new America Dream has emerged in recent years. It is based on social and cultural diversity and the idea of community. This dream is more about great streets than highways. You can drive if you want, but you can also walk, ride a bike, take transit, or join carshare. In this dream, the things you are connected to are more important than who you are separated from.

The old American Dream has not gone away, but it has been eclipsed. Here are 10 reasons why the new dream is here to stay, in a countdown list:

10) Driving has been declining for 10 years. “Our national flower is the concrete cloverleaf,” wrote Lewis Mumford in 1961. Driving per person continued to rise steadily for 43 years after that, and then it stopped.Automobile miles per capita have declined every year since 2004. Also, those concrete cloverleaves have become expensive maintenance problems. One could say the national flower has begun to wilt.

9) Millennials want urban place.

Today’s young adults – the Millennials — were the first generation to be born and raised mostly in communities where the indoor mall was the main street and the parking lot was the town square. As adults, this generation rejected the isolation and generic character of drive-only suburbs. Millennials aren’t the only people today embracing compact, mixed-use neighborhoods — but a dramatic shift in youth preference points to a long-term trend.

8) Walkable places help you climb the ladder of success. The story of ambitious young people going to the city to make something of their lives appears again and again in our literature, movies, and theater. This story is not just a literary device, according to a 2013 study. Social mobility is higher in compact urban places, Arizona State University researchers found. The more walkable the census block — as measured by Walk Score— the more likely someone from the bottom fifth of income will reach the top fifth in their lives. It is no wonder then that New York City — America’s most walkable city — is a magnet for immigrants and other folks pursuing the American Dream.

7) Productivity and innovation thrive as density rises. Studies in recent years have shown that in compact places with good transit, economic activity rises due to more face-to-face contact with knowledgeable people (linklink).

6) You are more likely to be famous if you are born in an urban place. Tiger moms take note! If you want your children to be successful enough to be profiled in Wikipedia, the odds rise substantially if you raise them in a big city — or small city anchored by a university. The New York Times came to that conclusion in a geographical analysis of Wikipedia biographies. Ironically, for several generations, parents have moved to distant suburbs to give children a better chance of success. Notes the Times, “growing up near ideas is better than growing up near backyards.”

5) You are less likely to die in a pool of blood if you are raised in an urban place. Parents have long moved to quiet suburbs for safety. Some are questioning whether this quest for safety has gone too far. The entire culture of childhood has changed, according to a recentarticle in The Atlantic. Children no longer have their own places to roam and explore. Moreover, a 2013 University of Pennsylvania/Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) study challenges the entire notion that suburbs are safer. The study examines, for the first time comprehensively, all kinds of accidental and violent deaths in America. Contrary to conventional wisdom, urban streets are significantly safer than leafy suburbs and rural areas. While counterintuitive at first glance, the finding is not hard to fathom if you think about it. The number one US cause of death from ages 5 to 34 is automobile crashes, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Deadly automobile crashes are far less likely on lower-speed urban streets.

4) Bicycles: The new status symbol.

A generation ago, bicycles were considered to be a child’s toy. Now they are a status symbol for communities. As Jeff Speck writes in Walkable City, “A bold green stripe down the side of a street — or many streets — tells residents and potential residents that a city supports alternative transportation, healthy lifestyles and cycling culture, and that it welcomes the sort of people who get around on bikes. For the most part, those people are the millennials and creatives who will help a city thrive.”

3) McMansions are losing their luster.

In the 1990s, a McMansion was the ultimate symbol that the homeowner had “made it.” Inside, the house was luxurious. But the chief selling point was the message it sent from the curb: The owners, and all of their neighbors, have so much money that they can afford to be wasteful on lawn and landscaping, excessive architectural details, pointless variety in rooflines and materials, and general bloat. Today, we have endured a Great Recession and climate change is an ongoing concern. The McMansion’s underlying message of wasteful spending, poor taste, and big carbon footprint projects a less flattering image on the homeowners. As Billy Joel once said, “Is that all you get for your money?”

Photo by Lee Sobel

2) Downtown and in-town neighborhoods are home to the “creative class.” Coming up with this term has made the career of author, academic, and researcher Richard Florida. Whether urban or suburban, big city or small, communities want the educated people that provide the economic spark — known as the “creative class.” Seeking the creative class, businesses have begun moving back into town from suburban campuses.

And the number one reason why we have a new American Dream:

Would you rather have this?

Van Buren Street, Phoenix, today

Or this?

Van Buren transformed, by Steve Price of Urban Advantage

The first image, a commercial strip arterial, has one big advantage: It is legal.

The second image is not technically difficult to achieve. Most zoning codes and the automobile-oriented practices of departments of transportation stand in the way. This new American Dream has the market on its side, but will require coalitions in local communities to muster the political will for reform.

I could come up with 10 or 20 more reasons for the new American Dream. Could you?

~ End Article~

Fargo, we’re on our way!! 

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Fargo series debut piquing interest in the real Fargo story

There’s a new cable series based on the movie coming out on Tuesday (Fargo on FX channel). It likely won’t represent much of what really goes on here, but it does create awareness.

 Forbes Joel Kotkin sure likes Fargo, and says we’ve had incredible change in 10 years. He’s right. 10 years ago a majority of young people looked to move to other cities to build their lives. In a 180 degree turnaround, now according to Fargo Public School student surveys, over 65% want to stay and be engaged in our community, with another 10% wanting to stay in the region.

Fun events like “Chalk Fest”, “Streets Alive!”, and Fargo Marathon are just a few of many reasons why Fargo’s become a more fun and interesting community where people want to live, work, learn and play.


There’s a new cable series based on the movie coming out on Tuesday (Fargo on FX channel). It likely won’t represent much of what really goes on here, but it does create awareness. 

The upside is, the national awareness provides an opportunity to show folks how good we can really be. The way we grow matters, over the years more people, especially young people, are realizing that a strong downtown with strong walkable core neighborhoods provide a lot of value and a more interesting place to live, work, learn, and play.

Good stuff!


Below is an excerpt of Joel Kotkin’s recent article in Forbes Magazine:

Starting Tuesday, the coastal crowd will get another opportunity to laugh at the zany practices of those living in the frozen reaches of the Great Plains. The new television series “Fargo,” based on the 1996 Coen brothers movie, will no doubt be filled with fearsome violence mixed with the proper amount of Scandinavian reserve and wry humor — the very formula that made the original such as hit.

Yet how much will “Fargo” the series resemble the real places? Probably not much. For one thing the series only uses Fargo as a kind of marker; the action actually takes place in Bemidji, Minn., a small town of 12,000 over two hours away. I know distances are seen differently in the northern Plains, but the whole idea seems a bit of a stretch. Located in forest and lake country, many locals would not even consider the Minnesota town part of the Plains.

Less known to the sophistos who will watch the show is that Fargo, a metro area with over 200,000 people, and the state of North Dakota have been enjoying a sustained boom for a decade. This resurgence — in demographics, economics and real estate — follows decades of relative decline and an almost sullen sense of isolation that drove many people out of the state.

In a state where the unofficial motto seems to be “it could be worse” — not a bad notion given the often miserable weather — things couldn’t be much better. North Dakota leads the nation in virtually every indicator of prosperity: the lowest unemployment rate, and the highest rates of net in-migration, income growth and job creation. Last year North Dakota wagesrose a remarkable 8.9%, twice as much as Utah and Texas, which shared honors for second place, and many times the 1% rise experienced nationwide.

The once dreary predictions of demographic decline — epitomized by the proposal two New Jersey academics to turn the area into a “Buffalo Commons” — have been reversed. North Dakota now lures many college graduates from out of state and keeps more of its own as well. Today more than half of North Dakotans aged 25-44 have post-secondary degrees, among the highest percentages in the nation, and well above the roughly 40% number for the rest of the country.

Many will ascribe the state’s rise primarily to the energy boom. To be sure thefastest growth in North Dakota and other Plains states has been in the areas closest to the oil and gas finds. But over the past decade, the population of the Plains has expanded by 14%, well above the national average and far faster than the Midwest, the Northeast or California.

This Plains resurgence is taking place even in areas far from energy development. Fargo, for example, is six hours hard driving from Williston, the center of the Bakken range. Yet despite this the area’s population has been growing, up 20% in the last decade, twice the national average. Since 2010, over 8,000 more people have come to the Fargo metro area, which extends to the Minnesota city of Moorhead, than have left. In fact, the small cities of the Dakotas have been growing faster than the nation for well more than a decade, before the recent energy boom took off.

The growth in Fargo has come not so much from energy, but an expanding industrial and technology sector. STEM employment is up nearly 40% since 2001, compared to 3% nationally. It also leads all other U.S. metro areas in the growth in the number of mid-skilled jobs, providing good wages to people with two-year or certificate degrees. Between 2009 and 2011, mid-skilled employment grew 5%, roughly 10 times the national average. No surprise then that the population with BAs in Fargo has grown 50% in the last decade, well above the 40% rate for the rest of the country.

Yet perhaps nothing illustrates the dramatic changes in Fargo better than its downtown area. Twenty years ago, when I first visited the city, downtown was torpid on a good day. Storefronts were old, funky and often empty. The local hotels ranged between acceptable to sorry.

~End Excerpt~


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Congratulations to the history making Bison!

Thanks so much to the Bison for a historic and incredibly fun run!
The nation rightfully fell in love with these tough and fun loving overachievers that not only made the Big Dance, but had a blast being there.

They raised the bar from the great 2009 team and knocked off Oklahoma for NDSU’s first ever win in the NCAA tournament!

Here are some memories of this great week, and go BISON!!

North Dakota State Bison


The Bison came out strong and took an early lead in the San Diego State game. The Aztecs defense was spectacular as they’ve displayed all season, and they won the game 63 – 44. I hope they play as well and beat Arizona next.

Thanks to the Bison and coach Phillips and staff for a fantastic season and for making our March Madness a whole lot more fun!

You make Fargo, our community, North Dakota, our region, and March Madness watchers all over the country proud!


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Bison and Coach Phillips making it fun!

Great example of why it’s so much fun to cheer for the Bison and Saul. This quote in today’s NY Times : “On Friday, Phillips went to the spot on the Spokane Arena floor where Alexander released his shot. Phillips bent down and kissed it.

“Two big lip marks right there,” Phillips said.”
~End Quote~

I’m picking the mighty NDSU Bison to dunk the San Diego State Aztecs 71 – 65 tonight. Go BISON!!

Below is an excellent article in today’s New York Times. Thanks for the fun Bison and let’s all enjoy the Big Dance!



North Dakota State Thinks Big, Has Fun, Earns Attention




Lawrence Alexander of North Dakota State forced overtime on Thursday with a 3-pointer.CreditKirby Lee/USA Today Sports, via Reuters

SPOKANE, Wash. — The fun began long before North Dakota State Coach Saul Phillips, in the middle of a news conference Friday (the man has turned scripted drudgery into performance art), asked his boss for a raise. Phillips joked that he got the job in the first place because he “had pictures” of his boss, the athletic director, who just laughed.

“I can rip them up now,” Phillips said in the afterglow of the university’s first N.C.A.A. tournament victory, an 80-75 overtime win over Oklahoma on Thursday. “I’m safe.”

It truly began seven years ago, when Phillips was a North Dakota State assistant and the head coach, Tim Miles, left for Colorado State. (He now coaches Nebraska.) Phillips went to the office of the athletic director, Gene Taylor.

“ ‘Please, please, give me the chance,’ ” Taylor recalled Phillips saying. “He literally pounded on my desk.”



Every spring, it seems, a little-known team and a big personality emerge from the chaos of the N.C.A.A. tournament to capture more than an equal share of attention. This year, the first candidates are North Dakota State and Phillips, 41. The Bison, seeded 12th in the West Region, play the No. 4 seed San Diego State on Saturday.



“I could try to be ornery and negative, and that would be fake,” said Saul Phillips, whose Bison will play San Diego State.CreditSteve Dykes/Getty Images


No one, at least this side of Mercer, is having more fun than North Dakota State. And no collegiate athletic department is riding a bigger crest of momentum.

“About as good as it gets,” Taylor said.

The football team has won three consecutive national championships in the Division I Football Championship Subdivision — the one with the playoffs, not the bowls. The past four years, the Bison have beaten upper-division Kansas, Minnesota, Colorado State and Kansas State.

But Thursday’s basketball victory was bigger, Taylor said. Such things are hard to measure, but Taylor told the story of a friend who wore a North Dakota State jacket into a Washington, D.C., bar to watch Thursday’s game. The bar erupted in excitement when guard Lawrence Alexander made a 3-pointer to force overtime, and patrons cheered the Bison to victory, 3,000 miles from Spokane and a world away from the college’s campus in Fargo.

“He told me, ‘The next thing I know, I had 17 beers in front of me for free,’ ” Taylor said of his friend.

The victory gives North Dakota State unusual and unexpected attention. And no one handles attention better than Phillips.

“I mean, he’s goofy, crazy at times, but a great coach to play for,” Alexander said.

On Friday, Phillips went to the spot on the Spokane Arena floor where Alexander released his shot. Phillips bent down and kissed it.

“Two big lip marks right there,” Phillips said.

Phillips, married and the father of three, was raised in Wisconsin and played at Wisconsin-Platteville for Bo Ryan, now the head coach at Wisconsin. He spent two seasons as an assistant to Ryan and, later, three years as his operations manager. He came to North Dakota State in 2004 as an assistant to Miles.

What makes Phillips different is that he is the rare basketball coach who appears to have fun coaching. He credits that to his time with Miles, during lean years as North Dakota State transitioned from Division II to Division I. During one game, players were a bit out of control, and Phillips recommended they slow the tempo. Miles disagreed.

“We’re not very good right now,” Phillips recalled Miles’s saying. “But we’re not going to be bad and boring. Let’s have some fun.”

For Phillips, who said that he came out of the womb “with a smile on my face,” it has been a core coaching philosophy.

“I could try to be ornery and negative, and that would be fake,” Phillips said. “I can’t do that. In the very corporate, cold world of college basketball, that’s just not my personality. I get the fact there’s a business attached to it, but I don’t deal with that. They have athletic directors that deal with the money side of it. I deal with a bunch of kids running around in shorts. And that’s a pretty good place to be.”

It was one of his more serious responses on Friday. Phillips uses reporters like straight men (and women). Among his more notable responses to a string of serious questions:

■ On the San Diego State star guard Xavier Thames: “I’m hoping there’s an elevator malfunction, and he gets caught in the elevator.”

■ On the physical play against Oklahoma: “Last night, the locker room looked like Chuck Wepner after a fight.”

■ On the team’s battered faces, including that of Marshall Bjorklund: “Marshall’s got a nose; he can smell around corners, man.”

■ On competing against San Diego State Coach Steve Fisher: “He gets to recruit to San Diego — beaches, weather. It’s just not fair. I mean, they should spot us 10 points. We’re in Fargo. We have got beaches, but the lake’s frozen over the whole time, so it doesn’t make any difference.”

(Later, he extolled the virtues of Fargo, with its young population and energy. “Now, it’s cold,” he said. “Bring a jacket. You can take it off when you get inside.”)

The humor is contagious among the players, none of whom had scholarship offers from bigger, better-known basketball programs. (“We’re the great unwashed,” Phillips said.) After the game, when Phillips said of Alexander, “I love him and he’s a winner,” Alexander replied, “I love you, too, Saul.”

Guard Taylor Braun, the Summit League player of the year, joked that the game was no big deal. “Honestly, I don’t know what all the hype is about,” he said. (He quickly conceded that it was “unbelievable” and that “the atmosphere was 100 times greater than expected.”)

Bjorklund, whom Phillips takes great pride in announcing is a pig farmer, was asked about the rough play against Oklahoma.

“I guess down low it was almost like a bar fight,” Bjorklund said.

“So you hear,” Phillips said. “So you hear.”

Taylor, the athletic director, knows that bigger programs may soon be trying to lure Phillips. North Dakota State’s football coach, Craig Bohl, recently left for a bigger opportunity.

“We re-upped Saul last year,” Taylor said, referring to Phillips’s contract. “But I just re-upped my football coach last year, too, and he went to Wyoming.”

~End Article~

Let’s go Bison!….. Let’s go BISON!!….. Let’s GO BISON!!………LET’S GO BISON!!!

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Bison tough out win in OT! Bye, bye Sooners, hello Aztecs

What a game! The Bison proved their physical and mental toughness and came through in the clutch with poise and key free throws to defeat the #5 seed Oklahoma in overtime.

While my pick for the Bison to advance to the Sweet 16 is looking great, I won’t be a billionaire as Harvard and Dayton blew my chance early. Hope they both advance too!

Can hardly wait to for Saturday to see the Bison take on the #4 seed San Diego State Aztecs. GO BISON!!!

The Bison upset deserves the AP’s “Big Story” classification by Tim Booth:


— Mar. 21, 2014 12:11 AM EDT

Home » Lawrence Alexander » NDSU pulls 12th-seed stunner beating Oklahoma


Here’s a synopsis of the Bison victory by ESPN:

SPOKANE, WA – MARCH 20: Lawrence Alexander #12 of the North Dakota State Bison drives the ball..

(Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)

Around The NCAA Tournament

Deciding factor: North Dakota State needed an extra session to get it done, but the Bison picked up their first NCAA tournament win.

Player of the game: Lawrence Alexander. He went 10-for-15 from the field and hit 4-for-7 on 3-pointers for a game-high 28 points.

Key stat: Oklahoma tried to live by the 3. It made 12, but it also took 30. The Bison, meanwhile, did their damage at the foul line, where they went 20-for-22.

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Bison will be flying high tonight! Go BISON!!

Bison are DANCING!! It’s fun to see folks around the nation rooting for our high flying Bison.

Here’s a fun article in the Dallas Morning News about it:


National analysts nearly unanimous: North Dakota State will beat Oklahoma

Basketball analyst Dick Vitale answers questions from the media after filling out his March Madness bracket against Joel the longhorn at the Fort Worth Stockyards in Fort Worth, on Tuesday, March 18, 2014. If Vitale loses to Joel, he will become Joel’s personal wrangler. (Vernon Bryant/The Dallas Morning News)

On ESPN’s Selection Sunday special, every analyst picked Michigan State to win the National Championship in Arlington. Rarely is there consensus on any sports topic. However, analysts have found one more thing they agree on.

North Dakota State will upset the Oklahoma Sooners in the first round. All but two ESPN/CBS analysts believe the Sooners will bow out of the tournament on Thursday when they face the Bison.

Many are pointing to the defense of the Sooners as the reason they are vulnerable. The Sooners rank 302nd nationally in scoring defense, and they will face the 20th most efficient offense in the nation when they face the Bison.

Even the President of the United States, Barack Obama, believes the Sooners will stumble to NDSU.

Below is the prediction of all ESPN and CBS analysts for the Sooners:

  • Barack Obama: Lose in round of 64 to North Dakota State
  • Nate Silver: Oklahoma will win 63.8 percent of the time
  • Jay Bilas: Lose in round of 64 to North Dakota State
  • Dick Vitale: Lose in round of 32 to San Diego State
  • Jay Williams: Lose in round of 64 to North Dakota State
  • Gary Parrish: Lose in round of 64 to North Dakota State
  • Matt Norlander: Lose in round of 64 to North Dakota State
  • Greg Doyel: Lose in round of 64 to North Dakota State
  • Jerry Palm: Lose in round of 64 to North Dakota State
  • Jeff Borzello: Lose in round of 64 to North Dakota State
  • Dennis Dodd: Lose in round of 32 to San Diego State
  • Timothy Rapp: Lose in round of 32 to San Diego State

Oklahoma and North Dakota State tip off in Spokane, Washington, Thursday at 6:27 central time; truTV will televise the game.

~You can follow Alex Apple on Twitter @AlexAppleDFW.~



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