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Fargo group seeks to build 90-unit apartment complex at site of warehouse destroyed by fire

The Fargo Planning Commission voted unanimously Tuesday to approve the renewal plan for the nearly $15 million J Street Flats housing project on First Avenue North.

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An architect's rendering of the J Street Flats apartment complex planned for 1418 1st Ave. N., about two blocks west of the city's downtown. (Rendering supplied by the City of Fargo)
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FARGO — A group of local investors is seeking at least $1.25 million in tax increment financing to build an apartment complex on the site of a warehouse just west of downtown that was destroyed by fire a year ago.

The four-story J Street Flats is planned for 1418 1st Ave. N. It will include 90 one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments. The building has an estimated construction cost of $14.75 million, according to city documents.

Plans include first-floor indoor parking for 92 vehicles, three levels of apartments and a rooftop terrace. There will also be surface parking for 21 vehicles, documents indicate.

The Fargo Planning Commission reviewed the site renewal plan for the project on Tuesday, Dec. 7, giving it unanimous approval.

Local architect and developer Kevin Bartram and a group of investors who make up Prrrt Worldwide Development are the partners in the project. Mark Bjornstad, the president of Drekker Brewing Co., is also president of Prrrt.

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If the project receives all the needed city approvals, construction is planned to start in spring 2022, with completion scheduled for summer 2023. Demolition of the remains of the buildings and foundations on the site are to begin in late winter, depending on whether the TIF is approved, a letter to Jim Gilmour, the city’s director of strategic planning and research said.

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The project includes a request to pave 14½ Street North (which was originally platted as J Street) and a section of NP Avenue on the south side of the property, both of which are gravel surfaces.
Bartram is listed by the North Dakota Secretary of State’s office as the agent for J-Street Properties, the entity that will own the building.

The project, as presented, will include 57 one-bedroom apartments, 24 two-bedroom apartments, and nine three-bedroom apartments. No commercial spaces are planned for the building.

Proposed rents are $950-$1,075 per month for one-bedroom units, $1,250-$1,350 for two-bedroom units, and $1,500 to $1,700 per month or three-bedroom units. Bartram told the Planning Commission that the proposed rents are market rate but below those sought in the city’s downtown area

The 1.5-acre site is about two blocks west of downtown. It was recently rezoned as downtown mixed use to allow for housing and other commercial land uses.

The renewal plan for the site pegs land acquisition costs at $1,075,000, building demolition and environmental cleanup at $500,000, and public works improvements (streets, streetlights, storm sewer, etc.) at $950,000.

The city’s administrative fees for the TIF would be $50,000, which would bring the total TIF request to $1.3 million, Gilmour said.

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However, Bartram said Tuesday that he still hopes to see some of the street improvement costs included in the TIF.

“It’s a pretty straightforward project,” Bartram told the Planning Commission. “We’re kind of excited for that addition along First Avenue.”

Gilmour said the project will clean up the blighted site and create a new housing area near downtown.

“This will be a nice addition to that area,” Gilmour said.

Planning Commissioner Dawn Morgan said she liked the project.

“It’s definitely needed in the neighborhood,” Morgan said. “There’s much improvement that can be done in that area.”

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The remains of a warehouse destroyed by fire last December are seen Friday, July 2, 2021, at 1418 1st Ave. N., Fargo. Some of the many animal and cartoon character figures that were arrayed around the building are also seen. An investment group now has plans to build an apartment complex there. (Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor)
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The warehouse that once stood on the site was destroyed in a blaze on Dec. 5, 2020. The cause of the fire was not determined.

The building, which at the time of the fire was owned by auctioneer Gary Reinhart, was torn down in early summer of this year after being sold to a local developer.

Numerous large animal and cartoon character statues have been removed from the site, which for years attracted gawkers.

But there had been complaints about junk, abandoned vehicles and unkempt property at the site for more than a decade, a former city official told The Forum.

Related Topics: REAL ESTATEKEVIN BARTRAM
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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