City of Fargo, ND

How can Fargo maintain and improve the health of its diverse, older neighborhoods?


Fargo’s physical edges were home to new development and its downtown was increasingly vibrant, but the vast residential spaces in between the two were experiencing falling enrollment in neighborhood schools, creeping property disinvestment, concerns about the compatibility of infill development, and frustrations with outmoded infrastructure.

To identify and address such diverse issues in these nine “core” neighborhoods, Fargo retained czb in 2020 to develop a core neighborhoods master plan that would provide the community with direction to improve the livability and vibrancy of a collection of neighborhoods that have long served as the foundation for residential life in Fargo.

Nine neighborhoods surround a resurgent downtown Fargo

The process was designed to help the nine neighborhoods in Fargo’s core—encompassing an area with over 30,000 residents, 9,000 residential properties, and most of Fargo’s major institutions and cultural assets—to come together to create a unified master plan while simultaneously developing or updating neighborhood-level visions, outcomes, and implementation steps.

The result was a Core Neighborhoods Master Plan that achieved both a core-wide vantage point—helpful for identifying common issues and conditions and devising collaborative interventions—and a localized focus on implementation.

Identifying Interconnected Neighborhood Issues

Neighborhood change is complex. As neighborhoods age and housing markets evolve, a number of individual conditions tangibly change. czb collected and analyzed data on demographics, real estate sales, capital needs, building permits, crime, exterior property conditions, code complaints, the tree canopy, and other subjects in order to paint a detailed picture of what has been happening in the core neighborhoods. This informed the development of a multi-pronged toolkit that touches on resident engagement, home reinvestment, public safety, land use policy, and other factors that influence neighborhood health.

Virtual Open House Captured Community Feedback

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, an online open house was developed to communicate key issues, assets, and preliminary tools to the public for review and feedback. This kept the project on track without sacrificing meaningful public engagement.

Visit Fargo's Core Neighborhoods Master Plan Virtual Open House

A Plan for Preventive Maintenance

At its heart, the Core Neighborhoods Master Plan for Fargo encourages the community to seize an opportunity: implement relatively modest interventions over the coming decade to make the core neighborhoods durably healthy and to prevent disinvestment from becoming an overwhelming and far more expensive problem to address in 15 or 20 years. To enable this work, the plan lays out a comprehensive set of tools and provides values and principles to guide routine decision-making.

Briefs Designed to Guide Work at the Neighborhood Level

Since planning will ultimately be realized at the neighborhood level, these briefs are an important tool in realizing the goals and outcomes of the Core Neighborhoods Master Plan.

The Neighborhood Implementation Briefs were developed to understand the unique characteristics of the nine neighborhoods, the visions of the residents and how core-wide strategies can guide work at the neighborhood level.