Downtown property owners will share in $22 million in upgrades to downtown infrastructure in a plan approved by the Minot City Council Tuesday.
The contribution from a downtown special assessment district will serve as the city's match toward an $18 million federal grant that the city hopes to get.
Cindy Hemphill, Minot finance director, said officials with the Economic Development Administration like the city's plans for improving downtown, but the city needs to show that it can provide the required matching dollars.
The EDA-funded portion of the project would include reconstruction of water and sanitary sewer systems, streets and sidewalks. The special assessed portion would cover the cost of storm sewer improvements and new street lighting. The amount to be assessed is estimated at $3.2 million over 10 years.
Rough calculations at Tuesday's meeting, for an average 25-foot-wide property, showed an annual assessment of about $590.
City engineer Lance Meyer said most of the underground infrastructure dates to the 1920s.
"We have had maintenance issues with that infrastructure downtown. The streets are getting pretty rough and they are failing," he said. At some point, reconstruction of the infrastructure becomes unavoidable, he said.
"With this opportunity that is being presented here," he said, referring to the grant, "this would be the time to do it."
Meyer said engineering could take up to a year so the earliest he would expect work to begin is late next year. The project is expected to take about two years to complete and will involve some disruption of downtown activity when work is under way.
Downtown property owners had no comment on details of the plan, which they still are digesting.
"We need to do everything we can to help Minot grow and to help the downtown grow," said Bonny Kemper, president of the Downtown Business & Professionals Association. Businesses are willing to do a fair share, she said, but added, "One thing to keep in mind is these are small businesses. We don't want to cripple the businesses we have with more expenditures."