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Plans, financing firming up for renovation of Fairmont Creamery complex

1987 addition to historic building will be demolished.

011122.N.FF.FAIRMONTCREAMERY
The Fairmont Creamery bulding is seen on Wednesday, jan. 12, 2022. Kevin Bartram has received approval for a Renaissance Zone property tax break for the remodeling of the structure into apartments.
David Samson/The Forum
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MOORHEAD — Fargo developer and architect Kevin Bartram has been juggling projects and plans in downtown Moorhead.

The picture is becoming clearer, though, for the almost century old Fairmont Creamery and its 1987 addition, an Eventide senior living facility for nearly 40 years, at 801 Second Avenue North.

Bartram has announced that he will be demolishing the addition to the historic creamery and replacing it with a four-story, 69-unit multifamily residential building with enclosed first floor parking and a rooftop patio.

Work could start fairly soon on demolishing the structure, Bartram said, with construction on the new $11.2 million building slated to start in the spring.

Meanwhile, the almost century-old creamery building will start to get attention this spring, too. The $5 million restoration and remodeling of the 1924 structure will involve creating 36 market-rate apartments with shared community rooms on each floor.

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As for demolishing the east-wing addition, Bartram said the significant water damage could have been fixed but he said the layout of the apartments with no kitchens or laundry made it clearer that it would be more effective to tear it down.

Bartram is looking at the complex as two separate projects.

The Moorhead City Council unanimously approved a 15-year, $1.4 million Renaissance Zone tax break for the two structures this past week with a 100% exemption for the first five years, a 75% break for years six through 10 and 50% for the final five years. Taxes will still be paid on the land.

Bartram is also seeking federal and state historic tax credits for the creamery part of the project.

In order to keep the historic integrity of the building, he will be following guidelines set by the National Register of Historic Places. Besides the replacement of some windows, the exterior will remain intact preserving the familiar area landmark.

As he begins finalizing work on the creamery projects, he said it's likely he won't start work on the United Sugars building he purchased on the east side of the Moorhead Center Mall until next year.

He said the creamery project needed to start this year as leaving it vacant for too long only causes problems.

City Manager Dan Mahli and Downtown Moorhead Inc. CEO Derrick LaPoint said in city documents with the additional 105 apartment units, it moves the city closer to its goal of adding 500 housing units downtown in five years. The goal was set in 2018 and the Bartram projects are slated to bring the total completed or planned to 360 housing units.

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Bartram also remodeled the former potato warehouse into the Simon Warehouse Lofts farther east on Center Avenue and said there's only one empty unit of the 65 in that historic building.

"The market is strong," he said about the demand in downtown Moorhead. Thus, he believes the new Fairmont Creamery buildings will also easily be rented.

Related Topics: GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS
An almost 50-year veteran of the newspaper business, Amundson has worked for The Forum and Forum News Service for 15 years. He started as a sport reporter in Minnesota. He is currently the city and night reporter for The Forum. bamundson@forumcomm.com 701-451-5665
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