FARGO - Work has started on the Kesler Building, the final phase of the Roberts Street redevelopment, the Kilbourne Group announced Friday, Aug. 7.

Heavy equipment was at the site of the $20 million mixed-use project, at 624 2nd Ave. N. in the heart of Fargo’s downtown.

When completed, the six-story Kesler Building will have: nearly 9,000-square-feet of ground floor retail for five new businesses; 109 apartments on five floors; and two levels of parking (one underground) with 69 stalls.

It is scheduled to be complete in the summer of 2022.

Phase I of the Kesler project includes an earth retention system, followed by excavation and concrete work.

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The Kesler is the fourth and last phase in an initiative done in partnership with the city of Fargo.

That plan called for turning three surface parking lots into three privately owned mixed-use buildings and a 455-stall publicly owned parking garage.

“For 45 years, this site has lacked activity with people,” Kilbourne Group President Mike Allmendinger said in a news release.

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“We are grateful for the opportunity to work with the City of Fargo to invest in bringing new living and working experiences into this growing neighborhood,” Allmendinger said, adding that the Kesler will add to the growing energy in the city’s historic downtown district.

“Urban infill is a key component to maintaining walkability and to the city’s revitalization journey,” Allmendinger said.

The previous phases of the Roberts Street redevelopment included construction of the seven-level Roberts Garage public parking, the mixed-use Roberts Commons building wrapping around the garage, and the mixed-use Dillard project to the north.

The three-story building at 614-624 2nd Ave. N. was built after the Fargo fire of 1983. The upper floor was used as a Masonic Temple until 1899.  After that, the upper levels were known as the Kesler Apartments and the lower level was retail. The building was torn down in 1976. (Photo courtesy of the North Dakota State University Archives)
The three-story building at 614-624 2nd Ave. N. was built after the Fargo fire of 1983. The upper floor was used as a Masonic Temple until 1899. After that, the upper levels were known as the Kesler Apartments and the lower level was retail. The building was torn down in 1976. (Photo courtesy of the North Dakota State University Archives)

The Kesler Building project derives its name from the original Kesler Block, which is listed in city historical records as a mixed-use block of apartments over ground floor retail existing until 1976. By 1977, it was listed as a surface parking lot.

The Kilbourne Group said that just as the Roberts Commons and Dillard downtown infill projects activated Roberts Alley north of Second Avenue North, the Kesler development will extend the activation of Roberts Alley south to First Avenue North.

This urban alley will feature storefronts across from the historic Black Building. The block will be complemented by the Stone Events Center along Roberts Alley and 1st Avenue North.