WEST FARGO — Downtown West Fargo may one day soon get its own skyline if a project under consideration for the 400 block of Sheyenne Street North moves forward with the inclusion of an eight-story building.
Epic Companies, along with developer Todd Berning, the city of West Fargo and Bell Bank, are considering a proposal that would replace the existing Bell Bank building at 409 Sheyenne St. with a 45,000-square-foot, eight-story, multi-use building and parking ramp.
Epic and the city have partnered before to bring a downtown feel to both northern and southern Sheyenne Street, completing Sheyenne Plaza, Pioneer Place and the POW/MIA Plaza to the north and the multi-structure and parking ramp development — Lights at Sheyenne 32 — south of Interstate 94.
Two more multi-use projects are planned for northern Sheyenne, including the The Firm, a three-story building with construction starting this spring at 350 Sheyenne St. N., and Ally Commons, on the site of Berg Auto Supply at 502 Sheyenne St., which remains in the development stages.
McKenzy Olson, vice president of marketing and public relations, said the Bell Bank building would including a parking ramp on floors two to four, with underground parking as well. Retail and businesses would be on the first floor, with apartments on floors five and six and condos on the top two floors. Building plans have not yet been finalized, but Olson said it would likely be similar to other new buildings on Sheyenne.
"But it would be bigger," she said.
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Bell Bank would retain a 3,000- to 4,000-square-foot space on the main level.
"They just wanted to better utilize the space that they have and keep going with the downtown development," Olson said.
Bell Bank will also be a tenant at the Lights at Sheyenne 32, which is slated to open this fall.
"Nothing would start until (Bell Bank) is open at the Lights, so there would not be a lapse in services out there," Olson said.
The Bell Bank project recently passed through the West Fargo Economic Department Advisory Committee as developers hope to enter it into a tax increment financing district.
West Fargo Planning Director Tim Solberg said once the TIF application is submitted to the city, which will likely be in March, the West Fargo School Board and Cass County have 30 days to agree to the district.
"We will likely have it be considered by the city commission by March 2 or March 19," Solberg said.
The proposal estimates the building would increase retail space from 9,500 square feet to 24,394 available square feet for businesses. It would also increase the value of the property by about $17.7 million.
West Fargo Schools Business Manager Levi Bachmeier told the school board at its Feb. 17 workshop that he would recommend allowing the TIF district, as it would bring in additional tax dollars following the 15-year TIF exception.
"This is not a blighted area. Bell Bank does not have to do this; they're really just trying to help with the broader benefit of Sheyenne Street."
Solberg said the plan matches the city's vision for a downtown area on Sheyenne Street, and it would likely not need additional planning changes to start construction.
"It might just fit," Solberg said. "All they'd have to do is come in for a building permit then."
At present, the West Fargo High Rise, at 230 8th Ave. W., is the city's tallest building with seven floors.