A development group with a vision to revitalize downtown Minot laid out its plan before the Minot Downtown Business & Professional Association Wednesday.
Cypress Development has created a concept for 10 project areas that would create housing for 2,000 new residents, establish a recreational park, upgrade medical office space and increase the retail base downtown over the next few years. The first project, a 90-unit apartment complex north of Minot High School's Central Campus, is scheduled to become a reality at the end of the summer in 2012.
Cypress is headed by Steve Larson, a Minot native and chief executive officer of Eid Passports, which recently opened a technology office by remodeling the former downtown YMCA building in Minot.
Looking southwest from the corner of First Avenue and Second Street Southeast, this conceptual drawing from V3 Studio shows an apartment complex to be built next summer.
Gary Reddick, president of V3 Studio in Portland, Ore., presented architectural plans that included a mix of housing, some up to four stories, for various income levels.
"There's going to be a very serious attempt to have these buildings fit into the urban fabric or existing feel of downtown," Reddick said.
Parking was one of the major concerns aired by those attending the meeting, especially since the concept largely proposes development on property that currently is parking lots.
The proposed design would create courtyard parking in each development to serve residents and the public. Reddick said multi-layer parking could accommodate residents without losing any of the existing public parking.
He said clearing blocks of land just for parking doesn't benefit downtowns over the long term. The streetscape eventually suffers.
"It's like an elephant landed in the middle of the room," he said. "All of us involved in the development know that the parking has to work."
By having retail, medical and housing in close proximity, the downtown would be designed as a walkable neighborhood. A suggestion to add underground tunnels or skyways was mentioned, but Reddick said that may be cost prohibitive.
Kim Albert with the steering committee helping draft a comprehensive plan for Minot, said the hot term in development is walkable neighborhoods. A walkable neighborhood adds about $3,000 to a property's value for every attraction within walking distance, he said.
The steering committee also has concluded that Minot may need to look at increasing its density from the current 14.2 people per acre, Albert said. Smaller homes and more multi-family dwellings will be required.
"That will change what Minot looks like right now. The question is, 'Are we receptive to the new look?'" Albert said.
Without creating greater density, Minot would need another 4,000 acres to accommodate the housing needed for a conservative growth rate of 14,000 people in the next 10 years, he said. A more realistic growth estimate is 50,000 people, which would require more than 12,000 acres, he said. He noted that type of urban sprawl is costly in terms of new infrastructure as compared to increasing density in areas where infrastructure already exists.
Reddick said infrastructure downtown would have to be enhanced, but not created from scratch as with sprawl development.