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Appendix: Case Study Profiles

8. Fargo, North Dakota - Downtown Redevelopment

Funding Sources and Amounts: Redevelopment Program: More than $100 million in public/private investment since 1999, including $10 million for Broadway Streetscape.

Years: 1999–present

Agencies/Organizations Involved: City of Fargo, North Dakota, Renaissance Zone Authority, North Dakota State University, Downtown Community Partnership, city of Moorhead.

Geographic Area: Bound by Red River to the east, 7th and 9th Avenues North to the north, University Drive to the west, and 3rd and 6th Avenues South to the south.

Problem to Be Addressed

Need to revitalize and restore downtown through brownfields redevelopment to attract businesses and housing to the area.

Objectives of Project

Summary of Project

Roughly 100 blocks, the downtown Fargo brownfields redevelopment initiative included multiple strategies to improve the livability of its community,
accumulating over $100 million in public and private investment since 1999.

Type of Funding Used for Project / Plan

Population Served and ModesServed

Fargo area residents; pedestrians and bicyclists.

Project Details

Downtown Fargo Redevelopment Initiative Details

The downtown Fargo redevelopment initiative is a combination of multiple projects, laid out in the Downtown Fargo Redevelopment Framework Plan of 2002 (updated 2007). In collaboration with neighboring Moorhead, MN, the principles of the updated plan include:

Collaborate on a mutually beneficial plan that improves the physical ties between both cities, maximizes the potential for complementary growth, reinforces connections between both cities, and reestablished the Red River as a valuable asset and amenity.

Build on the strength of both Fargo's and Moorhead's histories, relation to the Red River, and urban forms to foster a genuine identity and sense of place.

Focus improvement in strategic areas to foster market synergy, compact growth, and urban vitality.

The city of Fargo achieved part of this redevelopment through multiple mechanisms/ programs, including the Renaissance Zone, Broadway Streetscape, multimodal enhancements, and other qualify-of-life activities.

Renaissance Zone

Started in 1999, the Renaissance Zone is a 39-block zone (236.6 acres and 10.3 million square feet) in downtown Fargo that exempts new development from property and income taxes for 5 years and exempts commercial tenants from State income taxes for 5 years. The zone is the foundation for the Downtown Fargo Redevelopment Framework Plan. That program has spurred more than 180 projects, including several mixed-use developments. Building values in the zone have risen 110 percent - from $103 million in 2000 to some $218 million in 2009. Among the $93 million in these projects is an $18 million Cityscapes Plaza, a newly opened retail and student housing project. More than 60 condos and apartment projects (infill and adaptive reuse) have been completed as part of this, expanding housing options. The local housing authority is also leveraging affordable housing programs, such as the Federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program, and has built 559 units of affordable housing. A smaller historic preservation zone is within the Renaissance Zone, which leverages State income tax credits for renovations. Fargo's storefront and downtown rehabilitation program uses CDBG funds to provide 50 percent matching grants.

Broadway Streetscape and Multimodal Enhancements

One major project has been the Broadway Streetscape enhancement, a $10 million facelift of the main commercial and retail corridor of downtown Fargo. Completed in 2004, the project included more pedestrian-friendly street design, decorative pavers in streets and sidewalks, ornate light poles, iron street furniture, bicycle racks, trees, planting beds, and a road diet. Street designs were implemented to slow down traffic and promote walkability. Now Broadway is the official bicycle/pedestrian safety zone. It features a share-path and on-street bike racks and bike lockers. Sidewalks and tree-lined streets welcome pedestrians. Most buildings are low-rise and human in scale, and many feature ground-floor retail with commercial and owner-occupied residential above. The street designs have made it possible for pedestrians, bicycles, transit buses, and motor vehicles to blend well together. Walking has increased due not only to streetscape design that accommodates pedestrians, but also street and sidewalk activities that attract walking visitors. Transit is conveniently available from downtown to other points in the area and increased following transit programs implemented by North Dakota State University (NDSU). A downtown circulator has been proposed in the 2010 budget. Lessons learned from this project are being applied to a one-way conversion project on another city street and a larger State roadway.


  • How does the city continue its successes outside of the downtown area? Do they expand the concept of downtown or start promoting different neighborhood identifies and types?
  • How to re-engage with the river? They are currently planning to implement the new River redevelopment plan, but it is a challenge to do while successfully addressing flood control issues.
  • How does the City or the University plan to accommodate the increase traffic from the new NDSU residential facility?


  • Working with NDSU to help it grow inward toward downtown. In 2001, NDSU acquired a 52,000 square foot building in downtown, the first of many university buildings downtown. This commitment from NDSU has helped downtown become a lively place. Along with the transit system, the university has created the UPass cooperative, a bus pass for students from the main campus to downtown. This has helped Metro Area Transit ridership double in the past 5 years, to nearly 1.7 million. There is a new downtown circulator in the 2010 proposed budget.
  • Partnerships within the city government - the redevelopment initiative established a partnership with a maintenance district to help keep downtown Fargo clean, as well as a partnership with the police department to help keep the downtown area safe.
  • Utilizing nontraditional funds to support the redevelopment process.

Other Related Smaller Initiatives

Livability Principles Promoted by Project

Promotion Livability Principles
P Increase transportation choices
P Promote affordable housing
F Enhance economic competitiveness
F Support existing communities
P Coordinate Federal policies and leverage investment
F Value communities and neighborhoods

P: Partly Supports
F: Fully Supports

Perspectives on Implementing the Project and Its Impacts

Project Status

As of early 2010, the status of the project is as follows:

Applicability of Lessons Learned to Other Projects or Challenges

Roles of MPOs / DOTs and Policy / Plan Outcomes

The MPO was involved in creating the framework plan for redevelopment of downtown Fargo and Moorhead.

For More Information

Sources and Other Resources:

HUD-DOT-EPA Interagency Partnership | DOT Livability | FTA Livable & Sustainable Communities
Updated: 10/20/2015
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