Sponsored By
An organization or individual has paid for the creation of this work but did not approve or review it.



Renovations planned for former arena site

One of downtown Fargo's most visible blocks - proposed for demolition earlier this year and considered by some to be in disrepair - is about to get new lease on life.

One of downtown Fargo's most visible blocks - proposed for demolition earlier this year and considered by some to be in disrepair - is about to get new lease on life.

Nachhatter Gill said Tuesday he will renovate the storefronts of his four buildings along Broadway and First Avenue North, restoring them to look like they did in the early 1900s.

The downtown block - bound by Broadway, Roberts Street, NP Avenue and First Avenue North - was at the center of a debate this spring when Cityscapes Development proposed razing the buildings and replacing them with a $40 million arena and events center.

The Cityscapes concept didn't muster enough support from Fargo voters. Gill vowed at the time to do his own, smaller scale project to spruce up this high-profile downtown intersection.

Gill, who has owned the buildings since 1996, plans to first restore the outside of the buildings. Because several of the office and retail spaces are vacant, he said he'll likely wait to renovate the interior spaces so they can be tailored to specific tenants.


But a combined interior and exterior overhaul isn't out of the question, said Jim Simpson, an architect with YHR Partners in Moorhead, which is working on Gill's project. With a more comprehensive renovation, the building could be eligible for Renaissance Zone incentives.

Gill's project earned preliminary design approval Tuesday from the city's Historic Preservation Commission. On Thursday, Gill will request $25,000 in Community Development Block Grant storefront rehab money from the Community Development Committee.

Gill wants to get started immediately.

As proposed, the project will include two phases. The ground-level storefronts up to the window sills will be renovated first, which will cost at least $80,000, Simpson said.

The building's granite veneer, which fronts much of the buildings, will be removed and recycled. This should expose the building's original brick, Simpson said.

The hope is that the first phase will attract additional tenants, whose rent would help finance phase two. In phase two, the bricks on the upper level of the buildings will be cleaned and painted to match their original color, which Simpson said is similar to the color of the Hotel Donaldson.

A portion of the roof line also will be lowered to its original level, and a cornice will be added to the top of the building facing Broadway. Cost estimates aren't available.

Simpson said he'd ideally like all of the renovation to be done at once, but that will depend on costs.


Dave Anderson, president of the Downtown Community Partnership, said he also would like to eliminate the phasing and encouraged Gill and architects to begin thinking about what other funding options might be available so the project can be done right.

"It's a powerful new look and design," Anderson said of Gill's proposal.

The buildings now house Broadway Classic Subs and F-M Tax and Payroll. The upper level contains 17 apartment units, all of which are occupied.

The buildings were built between 1893 and 1903. Their 2005 appraised value is $547,800, city assessor's office records show. That also includes a building owned by Gill on First Avenue that houses PD's on First.

Members of the Historic Preservation Commission gave Gill's proposal high marks.

Commission Chairman Paul Gleye said the project will set a standard in downtown for what people can do with an old building thought to be blighted and beyond hope.

"The time is right to do this," Gleye said. "It will be a very important contribution to downtown Fargo."

Readers can reach Forum reporter Mary Jo Almquist at (701) 241-5531

What To Read Next
Get Local