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New Kesler building adds apartments, retail space to downtown Fargo's mix

The Kesler is the second of three Kilbourne Group projects coming online this year. It will also be home to the Bottle Barn Off Broadway liquor store.

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The Kesler Building, pictured Monday, July 25, 2022, is located at 624 2nd Ave. N. in downtown Fargo.
David Samson/The Forum
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FARGO - Downtown Fargo has another new place to call home.

Tenants began moving into the Kesler building at 624 2nd Ave. N. on July 1. So far, nearly 40 of the 109 apartments in the building have been leased, Property Manager Kelli Emerson said Monday, July 25.

The Bottle Barn Off Broadway is also being fitted up on the Second Avenue North side of the building. The liquor store is going into one of the five ground floor spots (9,000 square feet total) available for retailers.

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The outdoor patio space at the Kesler Building in downtown Fargo as seen Monday, July 25, 2022.
David Samson/The Forum

The six-story Kesler was built on what had once been two surface parking lots between First and Second Avenues North, said Keith Leier, vice president of development and construction for the developer, Kilbourne Group. Leier said the Kesler was Kilbourne Group’s toughest site to work on to date, bordered by two busy downtown streets and actively used alleys.

“Not an extra square inch” of space to work, he said.

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Excavating the site to provide a good foundation and below-grade parking wasn’t easy, either, as debris from previously demolished buildings had to be removed, he said.

The completed Kesler offers a mix of apartments. There are 18 studio, 28 alcove (a studio with an extra sleeping space), 25 one-bedroom, 33 two-bedroom, and 5 three-bedroom units, each with its own washer and dryer. It has two levels of heated parking (one underground) with 69 spaces. Parking is also available in the nearby Roberts Commons ramp.

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The second floor club room at the Kesler building in downtown Fargo as seen Monday, July 25, 2022.
David Samson/The Forum

An open house is planned from 4 to 7 p.m. Thursday, July 28, with apartment tours, giveaways, and refreshments on the second floor patio.

The Kesler is the second of three Kilbourne Group developments to open this year. The first was the mixed-use Mercantile building at 405 Broadway . That project, which involved the city and other partners, came online April 1, with 100 apartments and 17,000 square feet of commercial or restaurant space.

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Fargo-based Kilbourne Group has broken ground on the project with apartments, parking and restaurant space that is envisioned as another gateway to Fargo's downtown area.

The third mixed-use development, The Landing at 1001 NP, will open in phases starting in August. The Landing will include 154 apartments, space for a ground floor restaurant, and parking.

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Apartment space kitchen view from the Kesler building in downtown Fargo as seen Monday, July 25, 2022.
David Samson/The Forum

When The Landing comes online, Kilbourne Group will have added more than 360 apartments to downtown Fargo this year alone, spokeswoman Adrienne Olson said.

“There’s a lot of people looking for this urban lifestyle” and its walkability, Olson said. “It feels like we’re on a roll now.”

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Apartment space kitchen view from the Kesler Building in downtown Fargo.
David Samson/The Forum

Large windows in the apartments and common spaces bring in plenty of natural light, Emerson said. The apartments are on the second through sixth floors. The first floor is given over to retail and indoor parking.

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The second-floor club room is a relaxing area with a gas fireplace and large windows looking out on the Second Avenue streetscape, with clear views down to Broadway Square. The adjoining open-air patio has gas grills for residents’ use, and a firepit to take off the chill in the fall and spring.

“It’s really nice to people watch. You can either take part (in street-level activities), or you can have a cocktail and hang out here,” Emerson said.

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The dog run space located at the Kesler Building in downtown Fargo as seen Monday, July 26, 2022.
David Samson/The Forum

Kesler has a dog wash room, bike storage spaces, and a secure package delivery room.

A dog run takes up part of the space between the Kesler and its neighbors to the east.

“Seventy percent of the residents have pets,” Leier said. “We’re very pet-friendly.”

The building uses Smart Home technology, with community and resident key codes and Bluetooth wireless access for doors.

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The Kesler building in downtown Fargo features heated ground floor and underground parking for residents.
David Samson/The Forum

Each of the rooms has temperature and humidity sensors to detect if there are environmental problems indicating maintenance may be needed, Emerson said.

Part of the land the Kesler is built upon had been a surface parking lot along Second Avenue North for about 45 years.

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Before that, it was the mixed-use Kesler Block (614-624 2nd Ave. N.), which was rebuilt after the great fire of 1893.

The top floor of the Kesler Block was used as the Masonic Temple until about 1899. After that, the upper levels were known as the Kesler Apartments and the street level space used for retail. That building was torn down in 1976.

The other surface lot removed for the Kesler had also been created years ago by tearing down other buildings, including Fargo’s Carnegie Library.

Kilbourne Group broke ground on the new Kesler building in August of 2020.

Virtual tours and other information is available online at www.LiveAtKesler.com .

Helmut Schmidt is a reporter for The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead's business news team. Readers can reach him by email at hschmidt@forumcomm.com, or by calling (701) 241-5583.
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