Green Planning in North Dakota

Amid the tall grasses and open skies of the Great Plains, forward-thinking urban planning ideas take root in North Dakota.

Like many low-density cities, Fargo, North Dakota (population 107,000), is a victim of sprawl. To combat his hometown’s swelling city limits, developer Doug Burgum applied the infill and adaptive reuse lessons he gleaned while living in San Francisco and Chicago. “You can’t have a healthy community without a healthy core,“ he says. “And people want to live in a vibrant core, whether it’s in Fargo or in California.”

Burgum’s company, the Kilbourne Group, is hard at work developing downtown Fargo properties, like the Lofts on Roberts—a former office and warehouse that lay vacant for 26 years. Today its residential units are 100 percent occupied. Burgum lives in one of his own infill projects, 300 Broadway, a condominium sited on a former parking lot adjacent to the historic Fargo Theatre. “My mother, Katherine Kilbourne Burgum, grew up here,” says Burgum. “In the 1970s, when I was growing up in nearby Arthur, North Dakota, we would come to downtown Fargo. She would always be saddened by another business closing, another building being torn down. We named Kilbourne Group after her to honor her memory of a vibrant city.” From his rooftop deck, Burgum can survey the downtown that he’s been working to reinvigorate—one filled with a diverse mix of people, new businesses, a stronger sense of community, and a clear vision for the future.

Originally published

as 
Reinventing Fargo

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