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Fargoans may save buildings

Two Fargo-based development companies are looking to save several historic buildings on the campus of the Fergus Falls (Minn.) Regional Treatment Center from the wrecking ball.

Two Fargo-based development companies are looking to save several historic buildings on the campus of the Fergus Falls (Minn.) Regional Treatment Center from the wrecking ball.

For the projects to move ahead, the Fergus Falls City Council needs to decide soon if the city will assume title to the state-owned properties, City Administrator Mark Sievert said Tuesday.

Hawthorne Development and Goldmark Schlossman Commercial Real Estate Services have sent letters of intent to the city outlining potential new uses for the structures, which were once part of the Fergus Falls State Hospital.

Hawthorne Development, the company behind the rescue of the Northern School Supply building in downtown Fargo, is interested in turning the old nurses' dormitory into a housing complex of 12 residential units, which would occupy the first two floors of the building.

A letter of intent signed by Mike Allmendinger, of Hawthorne Development, reads in part:

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"The exterior of the building needs much repair, with further study we would keep the original integrity of the building and replace existing materials with materials that will have a similar aesthetic appearance."

Doug Burgum, a Fargo-based senior executive at Microsoft, is a financial backer of Hawthorne Development.

A letter of intent submitted by Jeff Schlossman of Goldmark Schlossman outlines that company's desire to create office space in four satellite buildings on the treatment center campus.

City Administrator Mike Sievert, who described the proposals as strong, said City Council members plan to discuss the letters Thursday at a special work session.

The developers are still researching infrastructure and cost issues, but Sievert said he's hopeful concrete proposals could be ready by the end of the year.

Minnesota officials have told the city that Fergus Falls must take ownership of the properties soon to avoid demolition of the buildings.

Sievert said any transfer of ownership would come with an allocation of state dollars that could be used by the city to demolish the structures if development plans fall through.

If the city takes ownership of the properties, developers would have to pay fair market value for the buildings, with the funds going to the state, Sievert said.

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The city is still seeking proposals for possible uses for what is known as the Kirkbride building.

The complex, which has been called an architectural treasure, was constructed in the late 1800s and served as the centerpiece of the Fergus Falls State Hospital.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Dave Olson at (701) 241-5555

I'm a reporter and a photographer and sometimes I create videos to go with my stories.

I graduated from Minnesota State University Moorhead and in my time with The Forum I have covered a number of beats, from cops and courts to business and education.

I've also written about UFOs, ghosts, dinosaur bones and the planet Pluto.

You may reach me by phone at 701-241-5555, or by email at dolson@forumcomm.com
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