Tax breaks given to two major Fargo projects

Gateway Center
A birds-eye view of the Gateway Center along Main Avenue in downtown Fargo, which EPIC Companies is developing into a mixed-use facility. The project gets underway this summer.

FARGO — Two major building projects in Fargo will be receiving tax breaks for the next five years.

City commissioners approved on a 4-1 vote a property tax break for Financial Business Services, a software development company for the real estate industry, and to EPIC Companies for a five-story, multi-use building to be constructed in the parking lot of the Gateway Mall along Main Avenue downtown.

FBS Chief Financial Officer Joelle Staller said the employee-owned company that's been in Fargo more than 40 years is planning a $3.8 million expansion at 3415 39th St. S. and will be adding about 20 employees to its 124-member company.

The added space will allow the company to launch a new product called FloPlan, which will allow real estate agents to scan a home with a smartphone and then create a floor plan that can be attached to the digital listing.

Commissioner Tony Gehrig, who consistently votes against any property tax incentives for expanding businesses, asked if that project as well as the EPIC structure would be done without the tax break. Staller said FBS' likely would as they were close to starting construction.


The tax break for FBS under the city's new and expanding business tax incentive program would total about $39,000 a year, or about $195,000 over five years. The company will continue to pay full taxes on its current structure as well as on the land for the new building.

EPIC will receive a tax break of about $145,000 through the Renaissance Program for its $9.9 million downtown project.

Brian Kounovsky, an owner in the company, said the five-story structure near the entrance to the city from Minnesota will have about 50 apartments, with a main floor for businesses and underground parking.

The project will involve demolishing the east portion of the Gateway Mall and keeping the main, or south, side of the mall where the popular Fryn' Pan restaurant is planning to keep its operation going. Other businesses are also located in that section of the mall.

Kounovsky told Gehrig it would make the project more difficult without the tax incentive. "It's hard to say," he said.

Commissioner Tony Grindberg said the structure is part of a "larger dream" along one of the main entrances into Fargo and the state.

This is the first phase, with the second phase being the likely demolition of the nearby high-rise for low-income residents and another possible project there.

The third phase would be developing the land closest to the border and the Veterans Memorial Bridge that is called Park East, where an apartment building used to stand. The city owns that parcel. But no decisions have been made about a project there. Grindberg added that the vacant former Mid-America Steel building on the north side of Main Avenue is another chance to embark on a project near the entrance to the city and along the river.

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