20 Ingredients of an Outstanding Downtown

Roger Brooks is a guru on placemaking. He’s studied the differences between places that are thriving and places that are not, and his poster “The 20 Ingredients of an Outstanding Downtown” hangs prodigiously in the offices of people making a difference in their community. As such, you should know about it. We should follow it. That’s what this page is for.

1. Razor Sharp Focus
Food, art, entertainment, antiques, wine, nightlife… Great downtowns have found that ‘one’ thing they can do like no one else does, and they’re all on board with being a part of it!

Minot Status: We’ve got our glasses on and we’re on the lookout for that one thing.


2. The Action Plan
Your t0-do list from A to Z. It takes a whole community to win.

Minot Status: We’ve done the planning, and we’ve got a lot of lists. Now we need to bring them together and get behind them. Our website and what you find here is evidence that this is coming together!


3. Critical Mass
10 eateries, 10 retail shops, 10 open after 6, in three blocks.

Minot Status: Our food and nightlife are leading the way, retail is following, but we’d benefit from a bit of added diversity. We’re not as open after 6:00 pm as we need to be!


4. Anchor Tenants
Shops, restaurants, activities people will travel for.

Minot Status: Our restaurant scene is close to qualifying as an anchor tenant, but we’d benefit from landing a big retail fish or wow-like attraction for sure. Until then, we’ll make kindness, community, and hospitality our anchor!


5. Consistent Hours
Businesses need to be open on common days and hours.

Minot Status: COVID really through a wrench in this one, and labor challenges aren’t helping either. But it is an identified need, we’ve planted the seeds, and we’re figuring out how to help our downtown businesses get there!


6. Living, Staying Downtown
Condos, loft apartments, hotels, and inns.

Minot Status: We’ve got a long way to go. Higher quality housing and a hotel are high on the list of identified needs. Making them happen takes time.


7. Pioneers with Vision
And patient money, who take the chance and make the investment.

Minot Status: Yes! Have you noticed the transformations taking place? It’s our pioneers with vision making those happen. Let’s support them like crazy and let them know how much we love what they’re doing for Minot! And we’re only scoring at 86% because we’ll always take more!


8. Just One Block
Concentrate on creating one awesome block. Your demonstration project.

Minot Status: We’re actually at 3-4 awesome blocks, but their awesomeness still has room for improvement.


9. Four Hour Parking
Better yet, all-day parking within two blocks.

Minot Status: We have lots of parking, we have work to do on focusing it so it works to our advantage. But largely, these are little lifts; the heavy ones are complete.


10. Public Restrooms
Relieved shoppers and visitors spend more. Open after 5:00!

Minot Status: We’ve taken some swings but nothing has quite connected. We’re getting an upgrade when City Hall moves downtown but we still won’t have an after 5:00 option that’s truly public. Accessibility matters too!


11. A Programmed Plaza
250 days of activity a year. Retailers will follow – in droves.

Minot Status: We swung here and missed, but we’re on the lookout for the silver lining, and hearing whispers of ideas in the wind.


12. Community Gateways
First impressions are critical. Add directions to downtown.

Minot Status: Our auto-centric, industrial outskirts don’t always impress, but we do have some nice signs out there, and the prairie is its own impressive first impression. We have progress to make on downtown signing; planning has been completed on that project.


13. Wayfinding System
Vehicular & Pedestrian wayfinding, pole banners, visitor info kiosks.

Minot Status: We deployed some guerilla tactics this summer, and the planning part is funded. Hopefully, we’ll see signs of signs before too much time passes.


14. Downtown Gateways
Create a sense of place and sense of arrival. You’re here!

Minot Status: We don’t have a lot of action or traction on this, mostly because we’re focused on other areas on this list.


15. An Intimate Setting
Just one traffic lane each direction and crosswalks every half block.

Minot Status: We’re doing well on this one. Main Street delivers, Central Avenue is coming along, and the side streets are all slow-moving, too. And we can improve in bunches by activating some of our empty spaces and stopping cars at a couple of other key intersections, particularly 1st St. and Central Avenue East.


16. Blade Signs
Retail signs perpendicular to traffic. Consistent height and width.

Minot Status: We’ve got some early adopters to this, but we’re still kind of all over the place. More education, more attention to community aesthetics are in order!


17. Sidewalk Cafe Dining
Beautification, umbrellas, lighting = incredible ambiance.

Minot Status: Huge progress on this in the past years, and again this year with the addition of parklets. Now to keep the momentum moving and get more adopters!


18. Curb Appeal
70% of first-time sales come from curb appeal. Beautification pays!

Minot Status: Our pioneers with vision made the first moves, and we’ve added the facade improvement program to help bring others along. We predict a near-future blossoming! And we need to keep it rolling and not lose sight of the little things we can do every day like pick up trash, keep weeds at bay, and get after graffiti quickly when it appears.


19. Constant Activity
Activities and entertainment. Bring downtown to life!

Minot Status: We made big moves on this in 2020 with the 10-week run of Arts in the City, and we’ve got lots of businesses and organizations programming too. We can always do better, but we’re on the right path! And we’re about to make a big splash in making it easier to communicate all the fun stuff!


20. Give Downtown a Name
A name makes it a destination, not a geographic designation.

Minot Status: What about “Historic Downtown Minot”? How about Squirrel Town, USA? Or do we harken back to our bootlegging history? Throw us your ideas, the sooner we decide on this, the sooner we start becoming this!