Downtown Programs


The Planning Division administers the City’s two downtown programs – the Renaissance Zone program and the CORE Incentive Grant program – and serves as staff support for the Renaissance Zone Authority. The Division also administers the downtown design review process. 

Renaissance Zone Program

Applications and information are available on the Renaissance Zone Program page .  

The Renaissance Zone program, which was established by the North Dakota Legislature in 1999, provides tax exemptions and credits to both residents and businesses for revitalization and redevelopment activities within the Zone. Bismarck’s Renaissance Zone was established in March 2001 and now encompasses a 39-block area in downtown Bismarck. The purpose of the Zone is to encourage reinvestment in downtown properties, which in turn strengthens the core of our community. The Renaissance Zone provides both property tax and income tax incentives to property and business owners who invest in qualified projects. There are five different types of Renaissance Zone projects: rehabilitation, purchase with major improvements, purchase only, lease, and historical preservation and renovation. 

A Renaissance Zone project must be approved by both the City of Bismarck and the 
North Dakota Department of Commerce before the qualifying activity occurs (purchase, lease or rehabilitation).

CORE Incentive Grant Programs

Applications and information are available on the CORE Incentive Grant Programs page.  

The purpose of the CORE Incentive Grant Programs is to encourage rehabilitation, reinvestment and new development in the downtown area of our community. These incentive programs are funded by the Downtown Tax Increment District and are available to property owners, developers and tenants for projects within that District. The available programs are the Façade Incentive Grant Program, the Technical Assistance Bank Grant Program, the Housing Incentive Grant Program, and the Sidewalk Subsurface Infill Grant Program.

Downtown Design Review

Additional information is available on the Downtown Design Review page.  

The purpose of downtown design review is to create and maintain a high visual quality and appearance for the Downtown districts. The regulations are intended to ensure that new buildings, building additions, façade alterations, building rehabilitations, and signage are compatible with the character of the downtown districts and fit into their surroundings. 

Developments and improvements within the DC - Downtown Core or DF – Downtown Fringe zoning districts are be subject to the City’s downtown design review procedures and guidelines established in the Downtown Design Guidelines document and must be approved by the Renaissance Zone Authority prior to issuance of any permits.

For additional information on all downtown programs and provisions, contact Daniel Nairn.