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Kilbourne Group: Downtown Fargo Is A Winter Wonderland

Photos by Hillary Ehlen and special to Fargo Monthly

The holiday lights are back on Broadway, and you can’t hardly help but get Bing Crosby stuck in your head.

City sidewalks, busy sidewalks

Dressed in holiday style

And on every street corner you hear…

The bells of the Salvation Army. Did you know that more than half of all funding donated to Fargo’s Salvation Army comes through a Red Kettle? Donated funds make possible the Salvation Army’s services like emergency assistance for rent, deposit, utilities, medicines, gas vouchers, photo ID’s and a vital hot meal program, which last year served more than 42,800 meals.

We are grateful to have the Salvation Army as a valued neighbor and thankful for all they do in our community. We look forward to feeding the kettles as we enjoy the cozy, dazzling holiday displays downtown this season.

The holiday transformation of downtown Fargo is the result of the efforts of so many. The Business Improvement District, which is funded through assessments on downtown property owners, is the force behind the dazzling tree lights. They also keep the streets safe, clean and maintained year-round. For more beauty, shop owners spend countless hours dressing their windows to delight you. They also create a steady stream of events as a continuous invitation to visit and enjoy your downtown.

Kilbourne Group’s role is to take care of a number of buildings that have been part of our community for a century and to build new spaces to accommodate the growing number of people who choose urban walkability as their preferred environment in which to live, work or shop. But beyond the buildings, we know that the magic happens when people take the leap and create something special that adds vibrancy to the neighborhood.

Take the Broadway Garage. Kilbourne Group purchased the site when Goodyear closed in 2015. We did so, knowing that it may be a couple years before we were ready to build a mixed-use, multi-story project, much like the one that existed on the site, the Fargo Mercantile Company, until it was torn down in 1966. Rather than turning out the lights and locking the doors, we invited the community to decide what it could be in the meantime. And the magic has happened. It’s been a brewery, a gallery, a painting studio, a theater and a farmers’ market… all created by local neighbors.

Another example is 225 4th Avenue North, the former home of a military entrance processing station. Nearly two years ago, we were fortunate to partner with The Arts Partnership to create a temporary project to activate the space for two and a half years. They immediately began working tirelessly and passionately to fill the space with artists and creatives of every medium you can imagine… visual arts, culinary, music, performance, healing and so much more. The result is APT, a creative incubator. It truly is magic what they’ve created, and you are invited to see it for yourself. The Holiday Art Market at APT runs from 5 to 8 p.m. December 6 and 13 and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. December 1, 8 and 13. It resumes after the holidays from 5 to 8 p.m. January 3 and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. January 5.

Kilbourne Group talks about downtown Fargo
Amber Parsons of Midwest Mud showing her wares at The Holiday Art Market at APT.

The Plains Art Museum has a wonderful program called the Art and Business Breakfast, which is designed to bring artists, business leaders and cultural leaders together to explore connections between art and business. In November, we heard from Peter Remes, founder of First & First, which is committed to reimagining historically significant sites within the Minneapolis and St. Paul urban landscape by facilitating creative and cultural experiences. After sharing that he thinks TEDxFargo is way more amazing than the Minneapolis event, he talked about the magic that happens inside their development projects.

“Buildings start to create their own life, their own energy, their own vitality,” Remes said. “Our goal is to create spaces that resonate with the community, filled with people and activity.”

Kilbourne Group talks about downtown Fargo
Zandbroz on Broadway dazzles with the holiday window display.

We see this happening all over downtown Fargo. And there’s no time like now to come check it out. Street re-construction season is ending. All lanes in and out of Roberts Garage are fully open. Construction activity is being contained within defined sites, and developers and contractors are doing their very best to manage change, including street sweepers, flagmen and barricades. Construction will not get in the way of enjoying a holiday stroll through downtown Fargo. Add The Red Silo’s horse-drawn carriage rides on Thursday nights, and downtown really is a winter wonderland.

Downtown Fargo is open for business, and the trees are lit for you.

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Written by Mike Allmendinger

Mike Allmendinger is the general manager of the Kilbourne Group, a company that strives to be a catalyst of inspiration and action for vibrant downtown communities by redeveloping and creating infill projects in Downtown Fargo.

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