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Downtown changes started seven years ago

Seven years later, we look back on May 15, 2015, as an important date in the history of downtown Minot.

Why? That’s the day construction began on the three-year, approximately $34.75 million Downtown Infrastructure Improvement Project. That’s the day concrete in part of the intersection of Third Street NE and East Central Avenue was removed to begin installation of new underground infrastructure. Of course, over the next three years, the work in that initial intersection expanded to some 26 City blocks, including everything from roads, curbs, gutters, storm sewers, sanitary sewer lines, sidewalks, benches, and trees.

The project’s numbers are impressive, and stand as a testament to the physical transformation of the infrastructure, both above ground and below, in that section of Minot:

— Approximately $34.75 million in funding

— 12,912 cubic yards of new concrete street (approx. 1,300 truckloads)

— 3,298 cubic yards of new concrete curb and gutter (approx. 330 truckloads)

— 3,311 cubic yards of new concrete sidewalk (approx. 335 truckloads)

— 12,974 linear feet of water main replaced

— 9,157 linear feet of sanitary sewer main replaced

— 10,827 linear feet of storm sewer main replaced

— 2.43 miles of roadway replaced

— 826 new road signs installed

— 157 LED street lights installed

And those numbers don’t include the new features in the project that helped improve the functionality, walkability, and overall aesthetics of downtown, such as new crosswalks, benches, flower beds, and trees. But the numbers alone simply do not tell the entire story of this generational project. Not by a long shot.

This three-year infrastructure project was about more than just the physical changes that occurred on those 26 blocks of downtown. The project was also about investing in the future of our community as a whole. It was about making improvements to help secure the growth of a key segment of our local business community. It was about solidifying vital, but often unseen, infrastructure components necessary to provide for the day-to-day sustainability of a business district that was ripe for growth.

If you build it, they will come (apologies to Field of Dreams).

The seeds of progress that were planted downtown seven years ago are now bearing fruit. The investment made through this project by the City of Minot and its partners is paying dividends for not only the downtown business owners, but for the customers who visit the stores, restaurants, and other businesses in that section of our community.

Downtown Minot is growing and prospering, just as was envisioned in 2015 when the infrastructure project began, and again when the project celebrated its ribbon cutting in October 2017. The new and improved infrastructure literally laid the groundwork to help facilitate the changes we’re now seeing in downtown Minot. Then, private investment took over and led the charge to even more change.

Those physical changes have been very visible in the years since the project was conceived, constructed, and completed. New uses have been found for previously unused buildings. Existing businesses have expanded. New businesses have opened. A program to create streateries and parklets was created and is being used. A program to extend financial support for businesses to improve the façade on their buildings saw a major approval at this past City Council meeting.

Perhaps more importantly, the atmosphere in downtown has changed for the better. With new and expanded local businesses, the vibe in downtown Minot has improved in the past few years. Positive things continue to happen in downtown, through private investments and public/private partnerships that are working together to restore the charm and significance of what was already a beautiful and historic business district.

Certainly, the three-year project brought with it inconveniences and challenges for business owners and customers alike. It wasn’t easy. The everyday struggles of managing a small business were exacerbated by heavy machinery, temporary water systems and walkways, and the general frustrations that come with such a massive construction project. But we believe it was worth it.

At the City, we’re proud to be part of the changes happening downtown, and we’re anxious to move into our new City Hall when renovations on the former Wells Fargo building are complete in the next year or so. We’re proud to have played a role in downtown’s transformation through the Downtown Infrastructure Improvement Project. And to think it all started with a little digging in an intersection seven years ago.

Sincerely, City Hall

You can find more about what’s happening at the City of Minot at minotnd.org, or find us on Facebook and Twitter. We’d also encourage you to sign up for our monthly electronic newsletter on our website.

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