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Published September 04 2012

Fargo OKs downtown business improvement district

FARGO – A collaboration between downtown business owners and the city was formalized Tuesday, with the approval of a downtown business improvement district.

The public-private partnership allows both entities to share in the cost of improvement projects that will aim to keep downtown Fargo “clean, safe and maintained.” Specific details as to what those projects might be will be decided in upcoming weeks.

City commissioners voiced enthusiasm Tuesday when unanimously approving the creation of the business improvement district.

Fargo leaders specifically applauded business owners for the progress made in improving downtown Fargo so far.

“We just want to make it better,” Fargo Mayor Dennis Walaker said.

The first-year cost to the city is $193,500, which finance officials are working to factor in to the preliminary 2013 budget.

Businesses within the improvement district will also contribute $193,000 toward the effort. Each business will be specially assessed depending on their location within the district. The cumulative special assessments across each of the four tiers range from $45,600 to $88,000 per year.

“We want to run this city as a business, and there are costs,” Walaker added, praising the business owners for their willingness to share in that cost.

About 30 downtown-area stakeholders were present at Tuesday’s meeting, but none spoke prior to the commission’s vote.

The business improvement district is generally bounded by University Drive North on the west, Seventh and Ninth avenues on the north, Second Street North and the Red River on the east and First Avenue South on the south.

The area is divided into four “tiers,” each of which has its own priorities, desires and special assessments to properties that will help pay for improvements.

City leaders said the business improvement district is the first of its kind in North Dakota.

Also Tuesday, Fargo city commissioners:

The proposal was sparked after Fargo police received numerous complaints about the volume of outdoor concerts held at JT Cigarros, which is located on 45th Street South near a residential area. City attorneys said the revised ordinance, if adopted, would also apply to events like the annual RibFest.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Kristen Daum at (701) 241-5541

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