Mandan is often viewed as the red-headed stepchild of Bismarck. But they're looking to grow. It's just a matter of whether or not it will.

What-if scenarios plague basically every city in America, but as the City of Mandan put out its January issue of the Mandan Messenger, we see a city that could have a really bright future... with the potential of just turning into a series of disappointments.

Of course we know that the city purchased the former Central Market property and is looking to turn that entire area into an event and entertainment area.

The city is still working with architects to get pricing and the official plan still needs to receive approval from city commissioners. Additionally, beginning in 2018, they want to begin offering part of the space to private businesses. It remains to be seen if there will be any takers.

Generally speaking, we are seeing some eateries pop up in Mandan. It includes Culver's, Bennigan's, Arby's, and Grand Junction. The long anticipated opening of Dickey's finally came to fruition as well.

Food is great. What else could we see though?

When it comes to the area by the former Central Market, the destiny of that plan lies solely in the hands of the city.

Mayor Tim Helbling wants to see more expansion in the West part of Mandan too. In order to help this, he needs help from ND DOT and an overhaul of some of the interchanges on I-94.

From the Mandan Messenger:

Helbling suggested moving a new interchange at 32nd Avenue NW up to the short range list to allow development toward the west.

...

The mayor cited recent conversations with land owners and inquiries about developing in that area. Helbling said the area provides potential developers with valuable flat land, adding “I think that has to be a priority if we are going to keep Mandan growing and keep progressing.”NDDOT officials view the list as input from the City but they have the final say. According to [City Planning and Engineering Director Justin] Froseth, NDDOT tends to prioritize updates to existing infrastructure before creating new interchanges. Helbling said the priority list shows the City of Mandan is serious about a new interchange.

So it's clear that Mandan is eager to create an entertainment district downtown while expanding to other areas that right now are quite barren.

Will the ideas come to fruition or will Mandan residents be forced to suffer from the nuances of ongoing city planning rigmarole with little action?

Time will tell. We're rooting for you Mandan.