Kenmare Downtown Project - KXNet.com - Bismarck/Minot/Williston/Dickinson-KXNEWS,ND

Kenmare Downtown Project

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A small town in North Dakota is continuing a multi-million dollar project to renovate a big part of its downtown.

Kenmare has been rebuilding an entire block along its unique city square.

It's a project that has already attracted new businesses - and there is room for a few more with the latest phase of work now going on.

Jim Olson reports from downtown Kenmare.

This is how downtown Kenmare looked in the fall of 2012 - as an ambitious project was starting to rebuild the west side of the town square in the middle of town. Space for the project was made possible by a local investor who bought up the buildings and then tore them down and rebuilt, with the idea of offering businesses new space at almost no cost.

(Jamie Livingston, Kenmare Community Development Corporation) "Because there would be no debt to service or profit to be made, it's just covering insurance and taxes and utilities."

Jamie Livingson is treasurer of the Kenmare Community Development Corporation. He says the plan - using all private money and no tax funds - worked out great in phase one where four spaces are now filled. First District Health Unit, Spin City Laundry, One Stop on the Square, and Kenmare Drug began operating in their new homes in mid-2013.

(Jennifer Nelson, Kenmare Economic Development Director) "It's great to have all these businesses that are able to come in and rent these spaces at a low cost and it's pretty attractive if you want to open a business here."

Jennifer Nelson is the new Ecomonic Development Director in Kenmare. She says with phase one now occupied, it's time to find tenants for the new phase two - the southern part of the block where three of four store spaces are still available. The idea of the project is pretty simple.

(Jamie Livingston, Kenmare Community Development Corporation) "If we can offer unique stores - which this is definitely one of them - we can attract people back to Kenmare for shopping."

(Jennifer Nelson, Kenmare Economic Development Director) "There is a lot of unique things here, it's pretty, Kenmare is pretty self sufficient."

(Jamie Livingston, Kenmare Community Development Corporation) "Yeah, that's the goal - to revitalize retail in Kenmare."

And while the winter is devoted to filling these developing retail spaces, the coming spring and summer will see upgrades in and around the town square.

(Jennifer Nelson, Kenmare Economic Development Director) "They're going to be re-doing the sidewalks, doing some decorative sidewalks and putting all new lighting around the square."

It's all part of freshening up downtown Kenmare to keep the town a vital part of northwest North Dakota. In Kenmare, Jim Olson, KX News.

Economic Development Director Jennifer Nelson says anyone interested in opening a business at a very low cost in downtown Kenmare should contact her or Jamie Livingston at the State Bank of Kenmare.

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