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, moves projects like these forward.
Artspace Vice President of Properties Heidi Kurtze is working with community leaders to help bring the Artspace Magic City Lofts project to fruition. Here, ArtPlace asks about strategies to achieve a successful project and how the efforts will impact the community.
ARTPLACE: What do you have to do really (really) well to achieve success with your initiative?
HEIDI: At the moment, building out the space is the most pressing challenge. To succeed in downtown Minot, we need to expand our creative capacity to include even the building and design trades—as the most expensive place to be building in the United States right now due to labor shortages, its very difficult to construct a space that is affordable, sustainable and innovative at a time when "build it as fast and as cheap as you can" is being seen elsewhere in the community. During a "boom" it is very easy to take the easy route, which would mean short cuts, but that is counter to Artspace's purpose and mission. This is our biggest challenge and we are pushing everyone on our team—from the artists to the engineers—to think more creatively and sustainably about this important space we are about to create—a space that will be the anchor for a burgeoning arts district and center of creativity in the heart of the downtown.
ARTPLACE: How do you expect the community to change as a result?
HEIDI: I expect the outcome of this effort to be a demonstration project for future growth. We hope the project serves as a model of good design, quality construction, attention to detail and a strong sense of space—space that will act as a connecting point for the community and an agent for economic growth and stability.