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Association forms to discuss long-range downtown development

The city has a purchase agreement on a tract of land at 509-511 Main Ave., seen here in this 2011 photo, with plans to convert it into a park. File photo 1 / 2
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A group of downtown West Fargo business associates and property owners has begun an effort to develop and enhance the city’s Main Avenue/Sheyenne Street business corridor.

They have created the privately funded Downtown Business Association as a means to facilitate long-range planning discussions, said member Todd Zabel.

“It’s in such an early stage right now that there’s really nothing specific. I think there’s some exciting discussion going on,” said Zabel.

For decades, the Main Avenue/Sheyenne Street corridor has been West Fargo’s defined downtown business district.

In recent years, new business development has primarily shifted south and east on Sheyenne Street and 13th Avenue South.

“I don’t want people to get the impression that downtown is suffering,” said Matt Marshall, West Fargo economic development director.

“There’s lots of thriving businesses downtown that are doing just fine,” he said.

The DBA’s goal is to build on that success and take it to the next level, Marshall said.

Two years ago the city hired a consultant to study the area and make some recommendations, said West Fargo Mayor Rich Mattern.

An overlay district has been created to set building standards for the corridor, said Marshall.

An example is the recent remodeling of the Silver Dollar Flying Pig Bar and Grill, 221 Sheyenne St.

“When they remodeled downtown they followed those standards and did a good job,” Marshall said.

Mattern said he would like to see downtown development move forward. “I want to make it a focus of our city commission for awhile,” he said.

Mattern’s vision for West Fargo is similar to what has occurred in downtown Fargo, he said.

“I don’t know if we will ever be that. I think we can get close to that,” he said.

The city has a purchase agreement on a tract of land at 509-511 Main Ave., with plans to convert it to a park, Mattern said.

“We want to make that a start, in my mind, and start to do some things so people want to go there,” he said.

The city will take ownership after the current owner demolishes Riverside Apartments, consisting of a home and cabins built in the mid-1940s to early 1950s.

The plan includes realigning 2nd Ave. W. south of Main Ave., where Riverside Apartments is located, with 6th St. NW north of Main, near the Harley Davidson Motorcycle shop.

The DBA views its existence and direction as a long-term project that will benefit West Fargo in future years, Zabel said.

“It’s not going to happen overnight,” said Mattern. “But from what I’m hearing, I think we’re off to a good start.”