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Mixed-use building announced for downtown Fargo

December 20, 2019

EPIC Companies has announced its plans to start construction next year on a $12 million mixed-use building in the Gateway Center strip mall along the busy Main Avenue corridor in downtown Fargo.

The company also is planning a second phase of construction, but the scope of that work will depend on talks with the city of Fargo, which owns land to the east, and the Fargo Housing and Redevelopment Authority, which manages and operates the Lashkowitz High Rise building to the south of the Gateway Center strip mall, spokeswoman McKenzy Olson said Thursday, Dec. 19.

Olson said the first phase of construction will start next summer and should take about 18 months, putting completion at the end of 2021 or the start of 2022. That building, which is planned to go up along Main Avenue on the north side of the Gateway Center parking lot, will include about 51 residential apartment units and 13,000 square feet. She said the building will probably be about four stories above ground, along with underground parking, totaling about 52,000 square feet overall.

Part of the strip mall, a wing on the east side, will be torn down next year as part of the first phase of construction, Olson said. The wing is currently vacant.

EPIC recently acquired Gateway Center, which currently includes the Fryn’ Pan restaurant, and the adjacent Northern Plains Surgery Center building.

However, it does not own the Gateway Service Center gas and service station and convenience store to the west.

A news release announcing the development plans said a Phase II follow-on building would include residential condominiums and apartments along with more than 15,000 square feet of commercial space.

The true size and configuration of any Phase II development is unclear and still very much in the conceptual stage, Olson said, with the scope of any project depends on whether talks with the city and housing authority pan out.

“The goal would be to work with the City of Fargo and Fargo Housing Authority to create a community within a community that includes affordable housing, mixed-use buildings, and a plaza entertainment space. In turn, creating a $70- to $120-million dollar development located in the Renaissance Zone,” EPIC said Thursday in its news release.
If that vision were to be realized, it “would be one of the largest projects in downtown Fargo,” Olson said.

The city of Fargo owns 1.4 acres of buildable land to the east of the Gateway Center.

Fargo Strategic Planning Director Jim Gilmour said he has talked with EPIC representatives about the property, bounded on the north by Main Avenue and on the southeast by a recently built flood control dike. He said it’s up to the City Commission as to how they want to have the property developed, and that will probably include making a request for proposals.

“It really needs to go back to the City Commission,” Gilmour said Thursday. “It’s very early.”

Gilmour said the issue of what to do with the land could be back on the City Commission’s agenda in a few months.

Matthew Pike, the executive director and CEO of the Fargo HRA, said Thursday that no formal talks have taken place to do anything with the high-rise, but that the city is excited to see development going on in the Gateway Center.

Pike said the high-rise is owned by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the HRA manages and operates the facility. Any decision on the disposition of the property will have to go through HUD first, he said.

In the meantime, Pike said his agency will focus “on taking care of our residents.”

Current commercial tenants in the Gateway Center include Fryn’ Pan, 360 Properties, Cowgill Olson Agency Inc., the Institute for Low Back Care, John Ermer CPA, Linneroth Law Office, Northern Plains Surgery Center, Panjini Law Offices, and Valley Medical Clinic, EPIC said.

Olson said the company would work with the tenants to keep them updated throughout the development process.

EPIC said it plans to use the current building for the next few years as the company finalizes development plans.

This project will be located within the federal Opportunity Zone and state’s Renaissance Zone, which gives investors and tenants in the project potential tax incentives.

EPIC Companies has developed several mixed-use buildings and entertainment spaces in the area, including The Lights at Sheyenne 32, the redevelopment of downtown West Fargo, including Sheyenne Plaza, Pioneer Place, and the POW/MIA Plaza, and Block E in Moorhead. EPIC also has projects in Bismarck, Jamestown, Minot, Grand Forks and Horace in North Dakota, and Detroit Lakes, Minn.

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