FARGO — The Fargo Park District is completing agreements and planning a full slate of 330 events next year for the new Block 9 Broadway Square plaza, while construction is still on track to be done next month.
The Park Board approved four one-year contracts this week with Fargo companies to help with promotion, technical aspects and event production for the new plaza designed for the public next to the towering, 18-story, $117 million Block 9 structure.
The park district will be responsible for operating events and programming at the plaza, while the Kilbourne Group and R.D. Offutt Co. are paying $4 million for its construction and equipment.
The approved agreements are with John Borge Photography Studios, a video and marketing company called Tellwell and two companies that will help with technical and event aspects of operating the plaza — Livewire Entertainment Media Services and Livegauge marketing company.
Borge and Tellwell will shoot "high-quality" photos and video of events at the square to help promote the plaza to visitors and event planners, and to help share the story and mission of the plaza.
Livewire will help with event and programming options and technical equipment needs that might surface, according to Park District Broadway Square Plaza Manager Ana Rusness Peterson. Livegauge will provide attendance numbers that can also be helpful in promoting the square.
Rusness Peterson said the coronavirus pandemic is having an effect on events and activities at the plaza, but she is hoping for better days ahead. Despite any hiccups, she has 330 events and activities already planned for 2021. She has a Plan A for the events if the virus is more contained and a Plan B for safety measures if the pandemic stretches on.
Planned events include concerts, movie nights, cultural festivals, yoga classes, speakers and workshops.
There will be charges for rental events planned for the plaza, but most concerts and other activities are expected to be free.
In discussing the plaza, Park Board member Dawn Morgan brought up the question of security. While the Block 9 structure will have its own private security operation, Rusness Peterson said they are coordinating their efforts with Block 9, the park district's designated city police officer and the Downtown Business Improvement District (BID) planned security detail. Security cameras will also be a part of the plaza.
"We plan to have a robust security plan in place," she said, although she noted it wouldn't be anything overbearing.
Also being built just a few blocks away will be the new downtown police station in the Mercantile mixed-use building currently under construction.
Meanwhile, the plaza's underground work is about 80% to 90% complete, according to Block 9 Project Manager Keith Leier, including final installation of the water fountains and "square spouts" (splash pads) for summertime fun for children.
In the next few weeks, more above-ground features will begin to show up.
About half of the concrete panels have already been poured in the square. Leier said it's mostly decorative concrete that will surround a central lawn area where a durable synthetic turf "with a plush green grass feel" will be installed, possibly in about a week.
Equipment for the ice skating rink — the main feature of the plaza in the winter months — and two igloo-shaped warming huts and a main warming shack for skate rentals and concessions is slated to arrive on Nov. 9. The rink will be placed over the turf for the winter.
The skating rink will open in the early winter, although Rusness Peterson said social distancing and health concerns also have to be addressed, and no final date for opening has been set.
Leier said work is also underway on the stage and pavilion, as well as lighting fixtures.
About 30 large trees are scheduled to be planted in the plaza on Oct. 24. Some trees and plantings are already in place along the next-door US Bank building.