The City of Fargo embraced the Downtown InFocus planning process as a means of coordinating and informing budget decisions, guiding the investments and activities of key Downtown partners such as the business improvement district, leveraging private investment dollars by clearly signaling where improvements will be made Downtown, and empowering residents with a central voice in the plan.
Strategies included land use, zoning, and housing recommendations to help grow the Downtown population; strategies to increase the number and type of jobs Downtown; designs to enhance the public realm with new trees, parks and green infrastructure and; a complete Downtown Street Design Manual to guide investments to streets, bike lanes and infrastructure.
Brrr... but a warming tent with a Johnny Cash cover band made it all worth it.
Like many cities across the country, both large and small, Downtown Fargo has weathered booms and busts, but today, much momentum exists. Downtown is a growing residential neighborhood, home to innovative businesses and a collection of locally-owned stores and restaurants that rivals that of cities with much larger populations. Some issues nonetheless persist, however, and new challenges have emerged.
Downtown suffers from too many surface parking lots that were once occupied by stores or housing. It can be hard to find basic services and goods, and the infrastructure along and under many streets – the oldest in the City – is in need of major improvements. With growth and increased buzz, Downtown Fargo now faces the challenge of ensuring that the Downtown experience is positive one for everyone – that visitors can find their way to destinations and feel safe doing so, that long-term businesses and cultural organizations are not priced out, that the historic fabric is not over-written by new development.
Our team needed to understand programming and the impact of specific events on Downtown businesses. Some events negatively impact businesses and few are organized at times when Downtown retailers really need a marketing push. Close coordination with Downtown retailers revealed that the majority of their sales occur during just a few critical months.