Demolition project of Fargo high-rise gets $2 million boost to tackle asbestos removal
Thirty people slated for the asbestos removal team will remove roughly 923 tons of asbestos from the 22-story Lashkowitz High Rise near downtown Fargo prior to implosion.
FARGO — Before the 22-story Lashkowitz High Rise near downtown Fargo is imploded later this year, building owners must first address the large amounts of asbestos within the aged structure.
Dangerous if disturbed, asbestos fills the structure’s ceiling spray, floor tile and mastic, pipe fittings, structural fireproofing spray, sinks and drywall joint compound, according to a statement from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
To combat the expensive removal process, the EPA awarded $2 million in funding to the Fargo Housing and Redevelopment Authority to help crews remove roughly 923 tons of asbestos from the building and allow the demolition project to move forward.
The announcement on Thursday, May 25, was made on top of the 204-foot structure in the company of Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., Fargo Mayor Tim Mahoney, Fargo Housing CEO Chris Brungardt and other project stakeholders.
The federal grant is part of a $3.5 million bipartisan infrastructure package awarded to the state of North Dakota from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), administered through the Brownfield Grant Program.
Elsewhere in the state, the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians received $1 million in funding for their Main Hospital in Dunseith, while McKenzie County was granted $500,000 for projects in Arnegard, Watford City and Alexander, according to the EPA.
“The cleanup and revitalization of the Lashkowitz High Rise exemplifies how EPA Brownfields funds can help communities revive properties and neighborhoods,” EPA Regional Administrator KC Becker said in a statement. “We look forward to seeing the building cleaned up and safely reused as much-needed affordable housing along the city’s riverfront.”
Jorge Perez, a representative from the demolition team Target Contractors LLC, based out of South Carolina, told The Forum that crews are currently in the process of gutting the building, removing everything from drywall to pipes.
Inside the walls have been stripped to their studs in places, the small old apartments emptied and the narrow hallways a hollow memory of the once bustling building.
The demolition team started taking down portions of the interior in the middle of April, and are expected to start removing the asbestos next week.
The removal process will take between two or three months, Perez estimated, and will be done entirely by hand to ensure safety.
Thirty people are slated for the asbestos removal team, Brungardt previously told The Forum in February.
All told, officials anticipate 2,717 tons of concrete, 817.5 tons of metal and 349 tons of construction debris will be taken away over the course of 30 days following the implosion.
“This is a big project,” Hoeven said Thursday. “(The Lashkowitz) has been a landmark for Fargo for many years… but we need new units.”
Fargo Housing is planning to replace the aging structure with modern affordable apartments called the Lashkowitz Riverfront Apartments.
Mahoney said the planned building is a “huge win” for the city that will help revitalize downtown housing.
Downtown is a vibrant and growing community, Brungardt added, and the new building will make the area much more financially accessible for Fargoans.
“We are very excited for the EPA Brownfields Grant to allow us to abate hazardous materials and pave the way for the new 110-unit Lashkowitz Riverfront,” Brungardt said. “The new Lashkowitz will provide direly needed affordable housing to our downtown neighborhoods. I’m appreciative of the work and cooperation from Senator Hoeven, the City of Fargo, and our EPA partners.”
The new apartment complex will feature 110 units of affordable housing, Brungardt said. All units will be eligible for vouchers, or Section 8, and occupants of the old high-rise will have the first opportunity to move into the new building if they wish too.