NDSU architecture students unveil plan for Moorhead’s Center Avenue – InForum

MOORHEAD – Ten architecture students from North Dakota State University have spent the past semester developing their vision for a revitalized Central Avenue in downtown Moorhead.

In a video presentation to a group of around 50 city residents at the Hjemkomst Center on Thursday afternoon, they unveiled the plan which includes demolishing the mall and replacing it with storefronts along the street similar to its heyday of the 1920s.

NDSU Professor Paul Gleye, whose fourth-year students presented, said it was a “student voice” in the effort to improve the city’s downtown, realizing that further professional plans are underway for Moorhead’s main town-wide objective of improving and stimulating new development. downtown.

Currently, JLG architects and Stantec planners are developing this vision and plan for the mall area with the company that plans to work on the development – Roers Companies of Fargo.

In about a month to six weeks, the three plan to announce the results of their work so far, according to Downtown Moorhead Inc. CEO Derrick LaPoint, who noted that residents have also provided numerous contributions in the part of the recently completed Downtown Master Plan.

LaPointe said a major announcement event is expected when the mall’s new plan is released.

It is not yet known whether the nearly 50-year-old mall built in 1973 will continue to feature in their plan.

The city also awarded a contract to rebuild four blocks of Center Avenue, the area the students focused on in their work. This $5.4 million project is scheduled to begin in June with additional landscaping, a new three-lane concrete roadway, new and expanded sidewalks, parallel parking, a bike path and new street lighting.

For now, however, the students have had a chance to air their visions after student Andrew Wangler said they “spent a lot of time” meeting the project early on with LaPointe, Mayor Shelly Carlson, City Manager Dan Mahli and others.

In their presentation, the students said they looked at historic photos, researched strategies and design details, and looked at other downtowns, including taking a class trip to downtown Chicago, before conferring. to develop the final plan.

Wangler called Center Avenue “the backbone of downtown.”

They explained that after the golden age of the first decades of the last century, people started to leave the city center in the 1950s for the “suburbs”. Then, in the 1970s, as urban renewal unfolded across the country, the aging Center Avenue buildings that were falling into disrepair were torn down and the mall was built.

Besides a mall-free vision, other highlights of their plan to provide a “vibrant, walkable” focal point for the city of 45,000 people were:

  • Added a hotel near the riverfront with a view of the winding Red River.
  • Build a sleek new science center that is proposed for the metropolitan area in the block where the mall currently stands. They didn’t mention that city voters will also decide in the November sales tax election to build a new library and community center for downtown.
  • Replace the mall with storefronts facing Center Avenue that could include retail stores and restaurants.
  • Addition of a corner car park along the avenue, although the current road project provides for parallel parking at certain places along the avenue.
  • Keeping the City Hall portion of the mall standing upright in the middle, noting that it is currently visually buried.
  • Have a “Welcome to Moorhead” sign above the avenue by the river.
  • Adding more housing above storefronts, and possibly in the area behind where the mall currently sits.
  • Have a movie theater along the avenue to attract visitors and residents.
  • Bringing back the “Tree Top” restaurant that was once on the top floor of the current US Bank building by the river.
  • Improved bus stops along the avenue.
  • Addition of “pocket parks” and a larger park along the avenue to provide space where people can gather and enjoy the outdoors.
  • Development of a four-season fenced “park” with citrus trees along the avenue to give residents an outlet in the winter.
  • Have unique crosswalk designs, like the one featuring pizza paintings they saw in Chicago, to improve pedestrian safety, as studies have shown people will use them more often if they have different designs .

The students said they realized that other plans had already been made or were in the works, but they hoped that at least some of their ideas could be incorporated into the new downtown focal point.
They noted that their website with the video showing their ideas will still be available, even if their semester is over.

Other students involved in the month-long project were Sophie Hollander, Ian Foster, Hailey O’Connor, David Pringle, Danyan Blazek, Camille Becker, Tyler Fahrendorf, Jack Clark and Ellie Lucas.

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