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Moorhead elevators nearly gone

Within two weeks, Moorhead's grain elevators will be green space. By then, the city-owned lots at 1101 1st Ave. N. and 1516 Main Ave.

Within two weeks, Moorhead's grain elevators will be green space.

By then, the city-owned lots at 1101 1st Ave. N. and 1516 Main Ave. should be black dirt seeded with grass, said Loren Nishek, project manager for Rogers, Minn.-based Veit and Co., which handled the demolition.

Veit, which was paid $458,000 for the demolition, hauled 2,000 tons of debris to the landfill and recycled about 8,000 cubic yards of wood, 10,000 tons of concrete and an undetermined amount of metal, Nishek said.

Workers should start laying topsoil at the Main Avenue site today, he said.

The project is about two months behind schedule -- all due to rain, Nishek said.


"We've had unbelievable weather problems -- you talk to any contractor in Fargo-Moorhead and they're behind," he said.

The company will not receive penalties for the delay, said Fire Chief Marty Soeth.

The City Council bought the property last year for $100,000, in order to clear the land and ready it for redevelopment. So far, the project has cost the city more than $800,000, including back taxes, pest control and cleanup.

Despite the property's location next to the railroad tracks, council members hope to lure new businesses with the empty space.

"It could be a prime spot for a lot of things," said Councilman Brian Gramer.

Although the city will accept ideas for the land now, staff members don't plan to begin marketing it until after the Federal Railroad Administration and Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad have approved the city's railroad whistle-free zone, said City Manager Bruce Messelt.

The city already has turned down requests to use the cleared spaces as parking lots.

J.C. Chumley's and the adjacent office building asked about buying the Main Avenue lot for a joint parking lot, said Gary Peterson, owner of Chumley's.


And Moorhead car dealership Muscatell asked for a lease for the First Avenue North lot, so that it could temporarily display for-sale cars, Soeth said.

But if cars are sitting in the newly emptied spaces, even temporarily, developers will think that's the city's plan for the sites, Gramer said.

"We don't want to have the perception that we tore down elevators to put parking lots up," Gramer said.

Peterson asked about buying the lot because he wants to add more parking at his bar, and he doesn't see the space as a prime commodity.

"It doesn't seem like it's really hot property to me -- there's lots of empty lots around town," Peterson said. "But the city owns it; they can do what they want with it."

A message left at Muscatell Dodge was not returned Tuesday.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Joy Anderson at (701) 241-5556

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