FARGO — The cranes looming over the Block 9 building in downtown Fargo will grow nearly 100 feet combined so work can begin on the top floor of the structure — an 18th-floor luxury condo — as well as the roof. The cranes were scheduled to go higher this week, but the predicted winter weather has hindered that plan.
"We should be topped out by the end of November," said project manager Keith Leier of the Kilbourne Group referring to the final reach of the $117 million multi-use building, the second highest in the state that's only a floor lower than the North Dakota State Capitol.
The west-side crane will be raised from its current level of 305 feet to 346 feet while the east-side crane will grow from 265 feet to 319 feet.
Leier said the cranes are at different heights to allow for a "swing radius" because they sometimes reach under or over each other.
Once the top floor is framed in, Leier said one of the cranes may come down as soon as December, and both will likely be gone by February, depending on the weather.
The top two floors are taking longer to pour and frame in, Leier said, because of more concrete reinforcement required; it's taken about three to four weeks to complete them whereas ones directly below took about 10 days.
While the final few floors are being finished, crews will also install windows to help enclose the structure for a good share of the winter and keep it "water tight."
Leier said some windows were installed already on the lower Broadway side, but they are being tested for quality control. By January, all windows should be installed.
Crews are also busy installing six elevators in the structure and placing precast beams on the exterior upper levels of the south side of the building using a third mechanical crane.
Leier said the project is about 60 percent complete, with the hope that the core or shell of the building will be done by July with most of the interior walls, mechanical and electrical work completed. Finishing work, including building the new community outdoor plaza on the south side with the Fargo Park District, should be done by about this time next year.
Leier said the plaza will probably open in its winter phase, which includes an ice skating rink.
"We are on schedule," Leier said. "We thought it would take about 22 to 24 months, and we've been meeting our critical dates."
He said about 170 employees, which includes the subcontractors, are working on the structure, and, so far, the safety record has been exceptional except for a few problems with heat stroke. He said contractor McGough Construction has a safety manager on hand and daily safety huddles are held.
Although there were some multiple shifts this summer, there is only one shift now although lights are kept on at night for safety.
The structure will house the new corporate headquarters for the R.D. Offutt Co. of Fargo, retail shops, a possible restaurant, an upscale hotel and luxury residential condos.
Leier said the project is also meant to show that such a structure can be built with minimal disruption to downtown.
"We want it to be a showcase for Fargo," he said, "and show that it can be done without shutting the downtown down."