Developers bid over $6M to develop southwest Fargo land into housing, park complex
FARGO — Two companies are in a major battle for developing a 16-acre parcel of land on the west end of Anderson Park, one of the premier recreational areas in southwest Fargo near Interstate 94.
The companies — Epic Companies of West Fargo and Stonewood Development/Buchholz Construction of Fargo — submitted bids in the $6 million range, along with preliminary drawings and written plans, to the Fargo Park District this week.
Property Resources Group of Fargo also submitted a bid, but for a much smaller amount of $3.65 million.
All three would plan a mix of housing and commercial lots or buildings in the acreage that borders 45th Street South between 23rd and 26th avenues south, with Epic and Stonewood offering drawings incorporating dramatic connections to the eight baseball and softball diamonds already in place with a park-like atmosphere.
In one of the more scintillating aspects of the preliminary plans, both Epic and Stonewood would construct a new baseball diamond in the midst of the housing complexes with views of the field from the structures.
The park district no longer uses the 16 acres where additional baseball and softball fields were once located. With the development of the massive North Softball Complex near Hector International Airport, they were no longer needed.
Remaining at the park are four smaller and four larger fields that are used for baseball and softball games, as well as flag football in the fall.
The Park District's board wasn't ready to accept any of the bids as they gathered for an outdoor retreat in the gazebo at Island Park on Tuesday afternoon, Aug. 11.
Park District Executive Director Dave Leker said he would have his staff put together an analysis of the bids with the pros and cons of each to present to the board at its next regular board meeting in September. The board should make a final decision on a bid at that meeting, he said.
The city is in the game, too, he added, as they are hoping to put in a new road through part of the park area to relieve traffic congestion on 23rd Avenue South, adding to the complexity of the situation.
"I know I don't have an opinion yet," said Commissioner Joe Deutsch about which bid he would favor. He said he would be counting on a recommendation from the staff to help guide him.
Deutsch said the district has a lot going on with the new Broadway Square community plaza next to the Block 9 building downtown and the proposed new Sanford Health indoor athletic complex in far south Fargo.
Leker said the board should consider the cash amounts of the bids, the risk in each bid and what "carrots" the developers were offering that could be a benefit to the Park District.
Both Epic and Stonewood offered those "carrots" in their bid documents.
Epic added in letters of support from West Fargo City Administrator Tina Fisk and bankers in their proposal praising the company's finances and other projects.
Their preliminary plan calls for a bid of $6 million for the land, with numerous housing and commercial structures on the 16 acres and the baseball diamond with a grandstand in the midst of the buildings offering dramatic views of the field. Drawings also had a park-like atmosphere with a water fountain feature and a possible parking ramp.
Stonewood had a similar plan, with a detailed letter and plan submitted by developer Mark Buchholz. They had a two-part bid with one for $6.2 million, and one higher at $6.75 million if the park district would accept about half at closing with the rest being paid eventually over a five-year period as they would sell commercial lots.
Buchholz wrote that their plan calls for commercial or office buildings along 45th Street South, with high-end, multi-family housing on the rest of the land.
He also said it would involve some relocations and changes to the current ball fields, but added there would be room for a baseball training facility with batting cages, a new championship field for youth baseball and the potential for two outdoor skating rinks. The plan also calls for a baseball diamond next to the housing units.