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St. Cloud is seeking $100 million to improve downtown walkability

St. Cloud envisions $100M plan to make city more pedestrian-friendly
St. Cloud envisions $100M plan to make city more pedestrian-friendly 01:48

ST. CLOUD, Minn. -- The city of St. Cloud is looking to revitalize its downtown and it's looking for funding from the state.

They're asking for $100 million, to add a riverwalk and make it more enjoyable to get around on foot.

"It's one of the more fastest growing, diverse communities in Minnesota," St. Cloud Mayor Dave Kleiss said.

It's safe to say St. Cloud, Minnesota has changed since Kleiss became mayor nearly 18 years ago.

"It's becoming more vibrant," said Kleiss.

Kleiss would like to see the city continue to grow, particularly in downtown St. Cloud. Kleiss believes the way to grow downtown is to make it more inviting.

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"The goal is to add a thousand housing units to downtown," said Kleiss.

But to reach that goal, Kleiss is looking for a grand total of $100 million from the state legislature during the next legislative session.

The money would go toward several projects over the next four years, aimed at increasing walkability, connectivity and pedestrian safety around downtown.

The crown jewel of the additions is an $8 million riverwalk along the Mississippi. Kleiss said that riverwalk could also feature an amphitheater, which may be funded through private donations.

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The projects would be split into two phases, lasting through 2027.

The state funding would help pave the way for $1 billion of private investment, according to Kleiss.

"We've got a lot of the bones of what a downtown needs," he said.

Kleiss said the key is building upon the city's existing strengths, like historic buildings and unique restaurants, to make Downtown St. Cloud a true destination.

"For people to want to come first to visit and then to live, and that's a benefit to the state and a benefit to the region, not just St. Cloud, but all the communities around," said Kleiss.

If the city secures that funding from the state, the first phase of construction would begin in 2024.

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