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Downtown Parking

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An ambitious plan to revitalize Minot's downtown is ready to become reality.

But the first step of construction got a bit of a jolt this week when bids for two new buildings came in much higher than expected.

Jim Olson reports on the process of beginning the downtown project.

The plan envisions spending tens of millions of dollars over the next several years to add several buildings and revamp streets and underground infrastructure.

But construction on the first two buildings - large retail, apartment, and parking structures - won't get going in July as thought.

(Mary Helen Hasby, Downtown Association) "We're looking at pushing that back by maybe a month or two."

The reason for the delay? Bids on the two structures were too high and rejected. Now, engineers are reworking the requirements, hoping to get better prices from contractors so the construction can begin.

(Mary Helen Hasby, Downtown Association) "It's parking as usual in the downtown area right now until we get to the point where we need to block off one of the lots and prepare the lot for building."

The first two buildings in the plan will gobble up two major parking lots downtown - one near Wells Fargo and one near Bremer Bank. Both new buildings will end up increasing the available parking - while adding new retail shops and a total of 240 apartments. But for the year or more of construction, parking downtown could be a bit hairy.

(Mary Helen Hasby, Downtown Association) "We want to keep our customers coming downtown. We don't want them to be afraid of the construction and just not come down for two years, so we really feel like we need to do some aggressive marketing, some aggressive specials."

Mary Helen Hasby runs Cookies for You - and is on the downtown association board. She says the downtown revitalization is something that may cause short term pain, but will be a long term positive.

(Mary Helen Hasby, Downtown Association) "It's certainly progress for the downtown. We know it's going to be a little challenging in the next probably two years, but in the end it'll be well worth it."

She says in her two decades of owning a downtown business, she's found that customers soon realize that, even if they can't park right in front of the store, they are walking about the same distance as they might at a mall or large store.

(Mary Helen Hasby, Downtown Association) "It just seems like if you don't have, right up front in front of your store, it's an oh my gosh I had to walk around the block kind of thing. So we're also promoting healthy living (laughs)."

She's hoping that healthy living will include shopping trips downtown - even while the construction projects are going on. Jim Olson, KX News.

The complete downtown revitalization project includes construction or major remodeling of about a dozen buildings.

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