Downtown focus for new city hall is consistent, not perfect

Assuming the City of Minot continues to pursue a new city hall downtown, which remains the focus today, $3.75 million in National Disaster Resilience grant funds will be available.

There are certain caveats that come with the grant money, including a downtown location and rehabilitation of an existing building as opposed to new build.

Obviously $3.75 million isn’t going to cover the cost of a “new” city hall. It is, however, a start.

The grant money isn’t the primary reason the city council and administration should remain focused on downtown. Instead, the reason is consistency.

The City of Minot has invested heavily in downtown, with the parking ramps, street improvements, plans for unified branding that would benefit the area, the envisioned downtown gathering space and other elements of the NDR plan still on track.

With that kind of effort in the past and planned for the future, a downtown site only makes sense.

However, it is not a perfect plan. According to city officials, the only existing buildings available sizable enough for the city hall plans could cost a considerable amount of money to rehabilitate, and it is frequently very challenging to determine an exact cost of such rehabilitation in advance.

City officials do have other options. At its retreat at the end of July, the city council was presented concept plans for expansion of the existing city hall or construction of a new city hall, which would be south of the existing structure, at the corner of Burdick Expressway and Sixth Street Southwest.

Even with the available grant money for a downtown site, perhaps these alternatives would be less costly.

Certainly, developing the facility it needs with the greatest concern for the value to residents should be the City of Minot’s top priority. At some point, all possible plans should be presented to the public with cost estimates.

Still, city officials continuing their focus on downtown is consistent.