City of Fargo to accept demolition bid for Mid America Steel site

Minnesota company submits low proposal for knocking down abandoned site of two suspected arsons

mid america steel fire
Fire officials have determined that the blaze in this image that damaged the former Mid America Steel complex in downtown Fargo on Monday, March 22, 2021, was intentionally set. Authorities believe a second blaze at the property on April 11 was also intentionally set. David Olson/The Forum

FARGO — A Minnesota company has won the bid to tear down the abandoned Mid America Steel buildings owned by the city of Fargo that were the site of two suspected arsons this spring.

Rachel Contracting, a St. Michael-based firm specializing across the Midwest in demolition and special contracting for public and private markets, had the low bid of $307,600 for the project along the banks of the Red River on the east edge of downtown. There were six other bidders.

The demolition will involve all 10 buildings on the 14-acre property and leveling of the land, which will be the site of a new flood control structure with about 4 acres left on the "dry side" for what could be a major development project.

The Fargo City Commission put the bid acceptance on the consent agenda for its meeting Monday night, May 17, which means the bid will be awarded without discussion as is normal procedure for most bids.

Assistant City Planning Director Mark Williams, who worked with Stantec Engineering of Minneapolis on the plans for the demolition, said they were pleased with the bids as they were well below the estimates of about $570,000.


Earlier environmental studies of the site said there might be minor amounts of asbestos in the buildings. Additionally, the studies found two underground fuel tanks that could be leaking — though it's doubtful they are — Williams said.

With the site being more than 100 years old, Williams said there could be some surprises. The firm would be paid more for any removal of contaminated soil.

A starting date hasn't been reached, but Williams expects demolition to be complete this summer.

In one of the suspected arson cases on the property this spring, two juveniles, a 15-year-old female and a 16-year-old male, were accused of involvement in an April 11 fire that damaged an outbuilding .

That fire followed a more dramatic blaze at the complex on March 22, which heavily damaged an abandoned two-story office building . Crews fought the fire that spread smoke through much of the eastern part of downtown throughout the night.

One adult, Riley James Keeping, 18, of Fargo, has been charged in Cass County District Court with conspiracy to commit arson in connection with the March 22 fire. Police said two juveniles were also identified as suspects in the March 22 fire and those cases were turned over to juvenile court officials.

The former Mid America Steel plant is seen on Tuesday, March 23, 2021, in downtown Fargo after a fire the evening of March 22. Alyssa Goelzer / The Forum

What To Read Next
Get Local