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En-'Vision'-ing Dickinson: Architect shares ideas for sprucing up city's vital downtown district

Workers put up lights outside of the Historic Elks Building in downtown Dickinson on Oct. 9. Dickinson city officials have hired Gary Reddick and V3 Studios to put together a plan to revitalize downtown. City officials and business owners gathered at the Dickinson Public Library on Tuesday evening to discuss Reddick's initial plan and to give input and gather information about the project.

A vital downtown is the key to growth and retention, or so has been the case in architect Gary Reddick's 40-plus years of experience, as he shared at a meeting of city officials and downtown business owners at the Dickinson Public Library on Tuesday evening.

After years of moving away from downtown, America is once again seeing the value of a booming main street district, the architect said.

"It's where our culture speaks to people," Reddick said. "It's why our original towns and cities were laid out the way they were."

Reddick, whose V3 Studio has been hired by the city of Dickinson to create a plan for revitalizing downtown, "Vision Dickinson," has done similar projects for cities all over the world; and has been contracted by Minot for a similar project.

Because of the oil industry, Dickinson is in the perfect position to begin a project like this, officials said.

"I think right now, in Dickinson, our stars are lining up," said City Commissioner Carson Steiner, who also works downtown. "We've got the economy, the city has some revenue streams, I don't want (to create) a sense of urgency now but I think it is for these business owners," because of development happening in other parts of the city.

There are many cities in economically depressed areas that would love to have Dickinson's problems, Reddick said. Now is the time to act because the city is in a position to change.

Because he is an artist and a planner, some of Reddick's designs included a creative vibe.

Reddick highly favors town squares, areas that host outdoor events and act as a gathering place, park, market and possibly an ice rink in the winter.

"I'd love to see something like that happen here," Reddick said. "Truly, obviously, you have the climate for it. Why not find that civic space to celebrate every month of the year?"

One concern brought up was how to begin downtown revitalization.

"In every jurisdiction that I know has gone through a renaissance revitalization ... did not and could not have done it without a public-private partnership where there were various forms of public moneys that came in to offset developments," Reddick said.

There are tax incentives already in place for those wishing to develop in the renaissance zone, City Administrator Shawn Kessel said.

And once the first few projects are up and running, the excitement for revitalization will build, Reddick said.

"If a group doesn't come together ... if you all are still sitting here two or three years from now, trying to solve the basic questions of how does downtown grow and change and improve ... maybe the questions get on the table, but the workable answers aren't showing up," he said.

This was the first of many meetings about the revitalization of downtown, which is part of a bigger development plan for the whole city, "Dickinson 2035: Roadmap to the Future."

Katherine Grandstrand
I graduated from Bemidji State University in 2007 with a bachelor's degree in mass communcations, from Columbia College Chicago in 2009 with a master's degree in journalism.  
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