Fargo downtown development stalled by city and neighborsA downtown developer is making a third run at plans for a new building in hopes of satisfying both the neighborhood and city. The second proposal for a building on two vacant, city-owned parcels at 320 and 324 7th Ave. N. – brought to the City Commission this week – wasn’t up to neighbors’ design standards and the offering price was too low for the city.
By: By Heidi Shaffer, Forum Communications Co., The Jamestown Sun
FARGO — A downtown developer is making a third run at plans for a new building in hopes of satisfying both the neighborhood and city.
The second proposal for a building on two vacant, city-owned parcels at 320 and 324 7th Ave. N. – brought to the City Commission this week – wasn’t up to neighbors’ design standards and the offering price was too low for the city.
Developer Troy Walseth said he talked with neighbors Monday night and is calling in a new design team, Fargo’s Stahl Architects, to draw up improved plans.
Paul Gleye, one of the six homeowners on the block just north of the downtown post office, said he sees the area as the next downtown district to undergo revitalization and wants to make sure it’s done right.
“What happens on that site will set the tone for everything that happens around it,” said Gleye, a North Dakota State University architecture professor.
Gleye described the three-story apartment building presented this week as “basically a box” designed without the help of an architect.
Walseth’s initial proposal last summer of a four-story building was too tall for neighbors, who said it didn’t fit in with nearby single-family houses.
Walseth revised that first set of plans after hearing neighborhood concerns and said he will again work with the homeowners.
“I want everyone to be happy,” Walseth said. “I understand that they’re a neighborhood.”
The surrounding homes, built about 100 years ago, were designed by a prominent Fargo architect, Gleye said. Neighbors are researching the homes in hopes of getting listed on the National Historic Register, he said.
The City Commission voted 4-1 Monday to reject the proposal because of an almost $54,000 difference between the asking and offering price, and concerns over a lack of parking in a largely residential neighborhood.
Fargo officials were asking $93,500 for the land that housed the Native Americans program building and parking lot until 2006. Walseth offered a bid of $39,000, the assessed taxable value of the property.
Brad Wimmer was the lone commissioner voting against the rejection, saying he’d like to come to a compromise on the price.
“I believe we can come to a mutual agreement there, too,” Walseth said Tuesday.
The city’s asking price of $9 per square foot is in line with prices at which other downtown parcels are selling, said Dan Mahli, Fargo senior planner.
Walseth said he plans to bring forward the new design within the next month.
Heidi Shaffer is a reporter at The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, which is owned by Forum Communications Co.