HUD keeps gathering space plan moving

Thank goodness HUD has shown some reason and flexibility when it comes to National Disaster Resilience Program spending. 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. 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.

While officials were fairly confident the HUD wouldn’t balk, considering all of the factors, it did add time to the process and nothing was certain – until winning this approval.

A thumbs-down from HUD would have meant disaster for the centerpiece of the city’s Resilience program.

John Zakian, manager of Minot’s National Disaster Resilience Program, continues to ably lead the program ahead.

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.

Minot could have been facing a much more challenging problem.