HUD approves Minot’s gathering place amendment

File photo Buildings on the block at Second Street and First Avenue would be acquired and cleared for a downtown gathering place.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has approved the City of Minot’s substantial amendment request, allowing the city to use up to $2.5 million to acquire and demolish property plus complete site restoration for a downtown gathering space.

This is the first substantial amendment approved for the 13 grantees in the National Disaster Resilience Competition.

The city now can start the required environmental review and begin several other activities, including establishing property values in order to make offers to owners of property on the site and begin talks with the Minot Park District to establish its role in the design and construction of the project through a sub-recipient agreement.

Under HUD rules, no funds can be committed or decisions made limiting options until the environmental review is completed. The city will partially fund the environmental assessment through funds in an Environmental Protection Agency Brownfield environmental assessment grant received two years ago and the HUD National Disaster Resilience grant.

“HUD’s approval allows us to advance this project, starting by immediately launching the required environmental review, which kicked off today with a scoping session,” John Zakian, manager of Minot’s National Disaster Resilience Program, said Thursday. “HUD requires us to separate the budget for the gathering space between acquisition and construction, and we’ve accomplished that with the approval of this substantial amendment.”

As part of $74.3 million awarded to Minot in 2016 through the NDR program, $6 million was set aside to fund a downtown gathering place. The current preferred site for the gathering space is east of First Street Southeast, between Central Avenue and First Avenue Southeast.

Because acquiring property wasn’t specifically identified in Minot’s original approved NDR application and Action Plan, HUD required the city to amend its request to specifically identify acquisition for the Gathering Place as a new activity pursuant to HUD rules and identify the portion of the $6 million that will be used for acquisition.

The city identified $2.5 million for property acquisition, demolition and site restoration.