Horace Mann residents provide feedback of future Block 37 project

FARGO -- Whatever becomes of Block 37, residents told Kilbourne Group at an input session Wednesday, June 13, that they want future developments to support families and strengthen neighborhood schools.
Residents of the Horace Mann neighborhood share ideas with Kilbourne Group team members Wednesday, June 13, in downtown Fargo for a project coming to Block 37, formerly anchored by Sahr's Sudden Service on Fourth Street North. Kim Hyatt/ The Forum

FARGO - Whatever becomes of Block 37, residents told Kilbourne Group at an input session Wednesday, June 13, that they want future developments to support families and strengthen neighborhood schools.

Kilbourne invited the community for feedback on the project expected to kick off in phases starting next spring. The project at this point is essentially a blank canvas, but focuses on residential developments like owner-occupied townhomes or courtyard apartments while exploring commercial opportunities, such as a coffee shop, hardware store or day care facility.

Project manager Mike Zimney said Block 37 will be different than other Kilbourne projects. While the city offers a lot of single-family homes or large apartments, he said Block 37 will fall in the middle of that housing spectrum.

The block, formerly the home of Sahr's Sudden Service, 601 4th St N., is bound by Sixth Avenue North and Seventh Avenue North to the south and north and Third Street North and Fourth Street North.

Existing buildings on the block could stay or be razed, and that flexibility is due to a phased approach, said Kilbourne President Mike Allmendinger. The first phase on the east side of the block would largely consist of housing, with potential mixed-use developments in the second phase on the west side.

Kilbourne talked early on with nearby Sanford Health to see how Block 37 could cater to employees and patients. While Sanford is excited and supportive of the project, they aren't partnering with Kilbourne on Block 37.

Jordan Runsvold, treasurer of the Horace Mann Area Neighborhood Association, said that the association's goal is keeping elementary schools in the neighborhood. The project could help support that by encouraging families to live in the area, thereby boosting enrollment, he said.

Resident Maren Jorgensen said "price point is key" to ensuring young families can afford to live at Block 37.

Allmendinger said the price point of future homes at Block 37 is unknown. Construction costs in the area are higher than what developers would see in south Fargo, he said, and there are more costs associated with contaminated soil on site.

Joe Burgum, of the group Folkways, which brought a pop-up park to Sahr's in 2016, said the block presents a lot of opportunity and challenges. He said each corner of the block could have its own identity to create an overall dynamic site.

Some residents suggested creating a homeowners association for the development and many noted their support of having owner-occupied homes to keep the area well maintained.

Allmendinger said the next step will be meeting with city staff in the next several weeks to start further developing site plans. A follow-up survey will also be sent out to residents to provide more feedback.