F-M residents dream big for Moorhead’s downtown

Story and Storify compilation by Meghan Feir

MSUM English and mass communications

A rough outline of Fargo and Moorhead’s downtown areas. Image from www.northernplainshighways.org.

Few can argue that downtown Fargo has proclaimed itself as one of the few places in the area full of culture and entertainment. Moorhead’s downtown, on the other hand, seems to be leagues below in the sea of excitement. Across the connecting bridge, downtown Fargo has transitioned itself from being a sketchy dinge-ville to an eclectic and overall safe array of antique, coffee and gift shops, bars (lots of ‘em) and eateries – things one would expect to find in a downtown area.

Though Moorhead’s downtown is quite extensive, most do not realize its grasp reaches farther than Pizza Patrol, just steps away from the connecting bridge to neighboring Fargo.

Most Moorhead occupants would agree that their downtown needs to expose its cool side and expand its appeal to a larger crowd, not just Eventide residents. How can this feat be accomplished? Fargo and Moorhead residents shared their opinions readily, especially college students.

Beth Ekre, a teacher in the F-M area, had some innovative ideas for city planners to consider. Ekre mentioned the collaboration Fargo and Moorhead have had in the past. She thinks there could be improvement in the overall public view of downtown Moorhead by “emphasizing things that Moorhead does well, like the arts from their colleges,” Ekre said. “(It) would be a great way to revitalize or add some life into downtown Moorhead.”

Andres Batres, a 22-year-old economics major at MSUM, said, “they need a more alive downtown. Like more restaurants – things that people can go and walk over there and have a nice time. I think they should go more for the younger generation just because it’s a college town. It would be good for them to have something for these young people to do.”

Some argue there are too many bars to begin with in Fargo’s downtown and question whether or not Moorhead should duplicate that atmosphere.

Nate Ehlers, an MSUM freshman studying art, said Fargo’s downtown is fine, but has “Too many bars. Moorhead needs more small places to eat, drink, dine – whatever. That and probably some hole-in-the-wall shops as well,” Ehlers said. “I really don’t know how far it extends, per say. There’s not much to it, anyway.”

Spencer Livdahl, a 19-year-old sophomore studying physics at Concordia, said, “Fargo needs a higher-end club that has a great venue for awesome bands. It needs something that isn’t the Hub or the Fargodome. I’m not able to go to the bars yet, but there seems to be quite a few.” Livdahl agreed with Ehlers that “Moorhead needs more stores that are cool to shop in. Also, Moorhead’s streets are the worst and need to be fixed.”

In an online discussion, Andrew Thomason, a 30-year-old studying special education at MSUM, said “Downtown Fargo is as close to Nicollet Mall as you would want to be. Moorhead has restaurants – nobody goes to them. Also, waiters/waitresses make more an hour in Moorhead so businesses tend to set up shop in Fargo. As for too many bars, they are all full Thursday thru Friday, so maybe there needs to be more.”

On the same online discussion, Ashley Harrington, a 22-year-old senior studying communication studies at MSUM, said there is a need “for funk! More small venues for concerts like MLPS’ fine line cafe where they host many events and have heaps of smaller intimate concerts. LOVE that living room type feel. Ummm more diversity in food venues as well sushi to indian to thai to etc. A piano/jazz bar, all the assortment of dancing salsa to swing to you name it.”

In the grand scheme of things, Harrington and others crave more entertainment options to expand the area’s appeal. Better roads, running and walking paths, yoga studios, restaurants, nightlife – you name it, are the demands of the younger generation. “The main thing is DIVERSITY stepping out of the box!” Harrington added.

Storify compilation: Locals brainstorm for downtown Moorhead’s image

Downtown Fargo’s image has evolved from dinge-town to semi-hip-ville in recent years. However, the neighboring downtown of Moorhead, just across the river, is still lacking. Read more comments from local F-M residents on how Moorhead could become a more appealing area to the younger generation on Storify.

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