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 reflect on the sustainability of Minot’s Magic City Lofts.
ARTPLACE: How will the work you've begun be sustained after your ArtPlace grant?
BECKY: The project is financed to be self-sustaining so no long term operating subsidy is necessary—for a minimum of 30 years. ArtPlace’s investment was critical for making this project happen and will provide many, many years of return, and Minot Artspace Lofts will help encourage and spur additional quality investment in Minot’s downtown.
ARTPLACE: Have new options for sustainability emerged during the grant period?
BECKY: The project will be self-sustaining through the residential and commercial income and will not need additional fundraising for long-term operations.
ARTPLACE: Will this work live beyond the grant period?
BECKY: The Artspace model creates permanently affordable housing and workspace for artists and their families. This work also provides a permanent anchor of active, vital creative space in Minot’s downtown. The investment is already spurring additional development in the downtown area.
ARTPLACE: How has this work affected the work you will do beyond the grant period?
BECKY: The partnership with TMTAA (Turtle Mountain Tribal Arts Association) encouraged us to form similar partnerships in other communities. Connecting with USDA and other federal programs coordinated through ArtPlace is also a practice we will continue.