this is a great article from the Forum

Saturday, December 27, 2008

The rebirth of downtown: Renaissance Zone helping revitalize old city center

Helmut Schmidt, The Forum
Published Saturday, December 27, 2008

Sometime in the past 10 years, downtown Fargo was reborn.

An old city center that once saw plunging property values and merchants fleeing for malls is now witnessing rundown buildings being refurbished and new buildings being built. Opportunity is once again in the air.

Much of that can be tied to a 1999 state law that allowed Fargo and other cities to create downtown renaissance zones.

“There’s a visible, discernable improvement in downtown,” said Fargo Senior Planner Bob Stein. “The cumulative effect of the investment has been to upgrade the entire area in terms of safety, appearance and value.”

Stein estimates $93 million in private investment has been made downtown.

The city put more than $8 million into infrastructure improvements on Broadway, he said. Another $2.5 million in railroad quiet zone work makes it possible to sell housing downtown, he said.

Nonprofit entities also invested, Stein said. MeritCare Hospital spent $55 million to expand its downtown campus, and North Dakota State University has spent $15 million to buy, expand and remodel two buildings to house its College of Business (Barry Hall) and for architecture (Klai Hall).

Dave Anderson, president of the Downtown Community Partnership, said the results have been transformative.

“I think culturally and socially, for the community, it’s provided a gathering place that we just didn’t have,” he said. “You can come downtown and live. You can be entertained. You can go to school, and shop and work.”

Vital tax base

The changes have also rebuilt a tax base vital to the city and Fargo School District, Anderson said.

Several blocks in the Renaissance Zone have had building values increase 300, 400 and 500 percent since 2000, city records show.

The block holding NDSU’s Renaissance Hall (the former Northern School Supply), the Old Broadway entertainment complex, the 12 Broadway condominiums and other improvements had an 852 percent increase in value on buildings, city records show, rising from $1.88 million in 2000 to $17.9 million for 2009.

The block holding the 300 NP condominiums, the Vogel Law Firm and Keifer’s Big Value store posted a 495 percent increase in value on its buildings, records show, going from $1.8 million in 2000 to $10.7 million in 2009.

In all, building values in the Renaissance Zone rose from $103 million in 2000 to

$218.5 million for 2009, records show, an increase of 111 percent.

Property tax receipts for Renaissance Zone projects that were at $400,000 in 1999 should be nearly $2.2 million by 2014, when the latest projects return to the tax rolls, records show.

Extension sought

The Legislature created renaissance zones in 1999, setting aside $2.5 million in tax credits to spur revitalization statewide, Stein said.

Another $2.5 million in credits were later added to the pool, Stein said.

There are also income tax credits for people who buy condominiums or apartments for use as residences.

More than 40 communities now use renaissance zone funds, Stein and Anderson said. They said they’d like to see the next Legislature:

E Expand the program from its original 15-year limit, which will end in five years.

E Increase the pool of tax credits.

E Offer tax credits to utility companies to bury power lines.

E Let cities move renaissance zones from fully developed blocks to blocks that need the incentive program.

Kevin Bartram, owner of Mutschler Bartram Architects and an owner of Sterling Companies, both of Fargo, took on the 300 NP Avenue and the Historic Ford Building retail, office and condominium projects.

“I just hope it keeps going,” Bartram said of the program. “It’s definitely helped the more marginal projects.”

Two recent eye-grabbing Fargo projects were both spurred by Renaissance Zone incentives: the $5.4 million 300 Broadway retail and condo project by the Kilbourne Group, and developer Mike Bullinger’s $18 million Cityscapes Plaza, retail and student housing project.

Without the benefits from the state, “This kind of investment wouldn’t have been possible,” Anderson said. “The state and the community have benefited in a growth in tax valuations. But the whole community has benefited because we have a place that didn’t exist 10 years ago.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Helmut Schmidt at (701) 241-5583

The old Ford plant on Broadway is one of the downtown Fargo properties that was improved by participating in the Fargo Renaissance Zone. Dave Wallis / The Forum
The old Ford plant on Broadway is one of the downtown Fargo properties that was improved by participating in the Fargo Renaissance Zone. Dave Wallis / The Forum
Foundation forms are beginning to appear around the edges as machinery digs out the lower level of what will be a planned five-story retail and housing complex to serve North Dakota State University’s growth in downtown Fargo. The complex is in the Fargo Renaissance Zone. Dave Wallis / The Forum
Foundation forms are beginning to appear around the edges as machinery digs out the lower level of what will be a planned five-story retail and housing complex to serve North Dakota State University’s growth in downtown Fargo. The complex is in the Fargo Renaissance Zone. Dave Wallis / The Forum

Check it out

Friday, December 26, 2008
This is a very thought provoking piece and one that would probably be echoed with a lot of people. Check it out here

"and Happy Holidays"

We have had a great time spending the holidays here. We have missed our families in KY and TN but we are confident that we are n the right place. I have had 2 blizzards and over 24 in of snow this month and if the snow comes tonight like it should than we will be at an all time high for December.
The snow has been an adjustment but really and truly it doesn't stop life at all A no travel advisory during a bad blizzard does stop life but everything else is just stuff you deal with, like humidity in Nashville or tornadoes in KY every place has something. We drive slower leave earlier and wear better shoes. We have loved being here this holiday season the people have been welcoming and we have had some great opportunities to get to know people better since staying here this season.

we miss everyone a lot and have been overwhelmed by your generosity and kindness while we have been here thanks everyone.

what we are doing

Thursday, December 18, 2008
I really enjoy teaching people about what we are doing. We have learned a lot over the years about good practices and bad practices. We have seen far to many CP fail and because of that it compels up to do things differently. I want to teach people on different ways that people CP. I see some major flaws in this timeline. I think there is good in laying out goals, but there is a huge problem in moving to fast, making moves before understanding, and also treating every situation as if they were the same. Check this out and lets learn together different ways people starting Churches.
Check it here

Let it snow (no forreal really snow)

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Check this, and this out....

I wish abby weren't out of town this is no fun without your wife.

Needless to say this has become a inside work day.

This is the Local News Paper

Needless to say it is hard to get around today.

I tried walking to the grocery store today but it's not happening.

one of the many reason why we are here.

Saturday, December 13, 2008
At any given time there are 85 Churches in the DBC in North and South Dakota with a population of 1.4Million. Now this is not saying that the DBC is the most important group or that we have all the answers but we are a group that loves Jesus, wants to be apart of Jesus changing peoples lives and we love the Bible.

To put the need in perspective Warren, Simpson and Logan counties in Kentucky (all three of these are neighboring counties) have more affiliated Churches (92) and a population of 135,000.

So to recap 3 neighboring counties in South Central KY with a population of 135,000 there are more Baptist affiliated Churches than in both North and South Dakota combines and a population of 1.4 Million.

Facts compiled by and

Dual Employment

Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Disclaimer: The following could be considered a little rant and may be more for those church folk that read.

Ya know I was reminded this week why we are so intentional about being bi-vocational/dually employed, whatever you would want to call it. I had a friend tell me about another church plant that has disbanded and the different groups of people have gone their separate ways. Hear me now and don't forget that I said this.
The Lord can realign passions, change paths, direct people in different directions. Here is what I am saying: it is often that a change of direction is accompanied by a change in a money situation. Once again, this is not an indictment, but a severe flaw in the way we do things. Being a leader in the Church is so tied to a full time vocation and there are flaws to that line of thinking. I spoke to a pastor friend of mine that was telling me about a time in his pastoral ministry where his church couldn't pay him, in fact he told them not to pay him but rather concentrate on the bills and they would figure it out later. Now the Lord worked through it and brought the funds needed to pay him and pay the bills and it turns out to be a tremendous story of the Lord working in situations. (Some members who had moved away were led by the Lord to give an offering to their former church as a way of continuing to show faithfulness to those who had loved them)
But think about this: when a church comes to the point of deciding between paying the pastor or keeping the lights on, that is a tough spot to be in and the ministry of the Church is severely hurt. The first Church in question has been doing some great things, I have been in awe of the direction they are going and many of their ideas I have applied to what we are doing. So this hits me pretty hard because I have seen such camaraderie with this crew.

But we do what we do (being bi-vocational) for these reasons:

1. We meet and impact more people, hands down, this way rather than being full-time and trying to find ways to be with people.

2. Financially, it frees us up to be able to use funds raised to minister and not pay our bills.

3. When times are lean (like now) or people aren't giving then we can still continue on the task to starting Biblically faithful/culturally relevant churches in the Dakotas.

4. Whenever anyone asks me if I wish I could be full-time and supported by an agency to start churches, I emphatically say no. It is so un-natural to employ someone to connect with people who are not in church by employing them to be a full-time church person. I know for the Robinsons and for us, we are so thankful that we get to raise support from various sources: people and churches, our jobs, and a mission agency.

5. This is how I see it as the most helpful: Abby and I pay our bills, the mission agency equips us financially to do ministry and our supporters fund big projects and other on-going and future mission efforts.

So this isn't saying at all that we have THE WAY or we are totally correct but this is a convictional thing for us. We are totally understanding that the Lord changes directions etc, but at the same time we want that to be the Lord, and the Lord alone, and no other peripheral issues to be catalyst for changes.

Please hear that this is not a slam on anyone, rather it is an explanation from real life situations on why we are so intentional about the direction we are going. We are hopefully learning from the successes and mistakes of others that have gone before and to be totally honest are striving to be great examples of following Christ.

4:30, 4:30 in the morning

Saturday, December 6, 2008
Just so everyone knows the typo errors are for good reason. I leave them because you need to experience the real experience because as my wonderful big sister says int he comments, I am totally fried by this time of night. HAHA

Winter has come to the Northern Plainss. The temp is in the teens and yes snow has fallen. We enjoyed or first decent snow today. It started snowing around 1 and didn't stop till around 5:30 (P.M.). We had a fab night frequenting one of our usual spots. Get to take some cool steps with people and we are thrilled about that.

Then we went to a holiday party with Abbys co workers and it was wonderful, chatting with new friends and getting to know each other better. This was a huge step and we are starting to do some more stuff here. It was cool for me as a husband to see how much these people love Abby and get along with ht.

So now the part we are all waiting for

Where else would......

1. I was propositioned by a girl with her BF in tow (weird)

2. Super slow night but me and shanna and suzy had fun

3. Got to drive shanna home to moorhead.

4. Had a couple of boys" that for whatever wonderful Reason couldn't stop knocking things over

5. Chairs knocked over, table knocked over.

6. Trash everywhere in the dining area

7. I was so proud of my co-workers for cleaning up so well before I got there and then when we closed

8. The weather brought out a particularly committed groups of fri night partiers.

All around a nice slow pita Pit day nothing crazy to report...

What a Weekend

Tuesday, December 2, 2008
I'll have pictures up soon, so the story will have to suffice.

Thanksgiving was fantastic! We stayed here and hosted a friend from Louisville, Hilary, who is seeking the Lord's will as to whether the Dakotas are where God would have her. She and our friend Sam from BW's, whom we've talked about before, but this is the first time Sam has come over. It was a fabulous time, we had so much fun with them laughing, telling stories, and just genuinely enjoying each others company.

We then took Hilary to Sioux Falls on Friday so that she could see that city ,and what's going on there. We got to take her through Wahpeton, Watertown, and Brookings, and tell her the vision we have for starting Churches all throughout the region, and  in particular up and down I 29.

While spending time together we found that Abby, I and Hilary all have similar passions, gifts, vision, and desires to follow Christ. It was refreshing for us to meet someone that we instantly became friends with. Abby and I also saw a definite future ministering along side Hilary.

While in Sioux Falls, the DBC put us up in a hotel. covered our meals, and paid for our transportation expenses. It was a wonderful time for Abby and I to get away and to get to know another city more intimately. Thanks to Jim and Lisa for hosting us, Zach and Jen for showing us around, Karen for covering all the details, Travis and Becky for letting us in their home and showing us what the Lord is doing on Summit. And to Set Free Church, Church at the Warehouse, Ridgecrest, and Crosspoint, thanks for you kindness and showing us how to love people just for who they are.

I'm having an excited dad moment

Sorry for this, well really I'm not, I am having an excited dad moment. Check it out