Minot has been known as the “Magic City” since it first sprang up, seemingly overnight, in the late 1800s. Over the last decade, an oil boom has brought many new arrivals, generating a severe shortage of affordable housing. This shortage was compounded in June 2011 by a flood of the Souris River, the worst in Minot’s history, which damaged more than 4,000 homes, many beyond repair. The flood left approximately a third of Minot without homes.
Minot now faces the dual challenges of re-establishing its long-term residents while creating appropriate space for the influx of oil-related workers, and it aspires to do both while maintaining Minot’s unique identity and cultural integrity. Artspace Projects has been welcomed as a key partner in this process.
The new 34-unit artist live/work project at the corner of Central Avenue and Main Street in the heart of downtown Minot will also include about 5,400 square feet of commercial space, some of which is expected to be dedicated to a Native American museum and gift shop. The community has rallied behind the project: local businesses and individuals have contributed more than $400,000 to the planning effort. This, coupled with other critical support, including foundations such as ArtPlace, helps make these projects a reality.
ArtPlace asked Artspace Project Manager Becky Carlson St. Clair to speak about the effects the project will have on the community and sustaining its momentum after the grant period is over.
ARTPLACE: What has been the most rewarding part of the project?
BECKY: The anticipation and energy from the local community for the project has been immensely rewarding. The building is situated on a highly visible location in the downtown, at the corner of Central Avenue and Main Street, and is the first building built in the downtown in more than 30 years. Due in part to these factors, it has been a highly visible project in the community.
We anticipate the momentum that has been created in the community regarding the project will continue to grow after construction is complete. With the addition of 34 units of live/work housing for artists and the three commercial spaces that will be filled by arts-related businesses—including the gallery for the Turtle Mountain Tribal Arts Association and the office of the Minot Area Council of the Arts—new energy will be added to a downtown that is poised to become a place with greater vibrancy.
Once the project opens its doors, it will create more investment in the downtown through filling vacant commercial spaces and building additional residential housing in the downtown. There are already arts-related businesses in the downtown, such as an arts store and gallery, and we anticipate that the arts activity from this project will spur even greater growth.
ARTPLACE: How will the energy for the project be sustained after the grant period?
BECKY: It will be necessary for Artspace Projects to stay connected to our community partners and expand this network. Our projects start with local partnerships and they are the most successful when the artists are connected with the community. We know how important it is that our projects do not operate within a vacuum.
Particularly in Minot, the connection to the community is vital, with the rapid building related to the oil industry now taking place on the outskirts of town. It is important for Minot’s longevity that it becomes more than a boomtown—and we are excited to see the ways in which Artspace Magic City Lofts and the community connections it fosters will contribute to Minot’s vibrancy and growth.