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Kilbourne Group presents details on Woodrow Wilson project

FARGO - The Kilbourne Group presented new details Thursday about its $15.8 million development project at the site of the former Woodrow Wilson High School, including possible rent and amenities for apartments.

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FARGO – The Kilbourne Group presented new details Thursday about its $15.8 million development project at the site of the former Woodrow Wilson High School, including possible rent and amenities for apartments.

The project, initially estimated at $14 million, will transform the school into 25 apartment units and add 6,500 square feet onto the building's south side for commercial or retail use. On the east side of the property at 315 N. University Drive, there will be a new four-story building with 67 apartments and 48 underground parking spaces, Kilbourne project manager Mark Johnson told the Renaissance Zone Authority, a subcommittee to the City Commission.

City commissioners heard about the project earlier this month, and they've been eager to support what some are calling a connector between downtown Fargo and the North Dakota State University campus.

"All of the surrounding blocks, I think, will be impacted," Commissioner Dave Piepkorn said at Tuesday's meeting. "Hopefully, this will have a spillover effect."

The authority also approved an office space renovation at 404 4th Ave. N. that will include a restaurant on the first floor.

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The city is proposing a rezone of those three blocks from University Drive to the Red River as multiuse, planner Joe Nigg said.

"This is the type of catalyst that'll prompt development opportunities in the area," authority Chairman Roger Gilbertson said of the Woodrow Wilson project.

Authority members were excited by the project's mix of historic and new elements.

For example, each classroom in the school will likely become its own unit, meaning a couple will include the historic back doors, and the gymnasium will remain as an amenity, Johnson said. The design of the new building will also be inspired by the high school, built in 1917.

"Overall, the project did rate extremely high in terms of score (96/100 on the city's scale), and part of that is we just haven't seen a lot of projects, or really any projects, where you have a combination of a rehab on a historic structure-something that's actually on the National Register (of Historic Places)-in addition to a significant new construction effort on the property," Nigg said.

The city scores projects on how well they fit into zoning plans, what they add to street activity, whether they accommodate businesses and how they enhance the area architecturally.

Johnson estimated monthly rent will range from $650 for an efficiency to $1,500 for a three-bedroom. In total, the structure will have about 90 apartments and 100 parking spaces.

The project is expected to be complete by June 2016.

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