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Demolition Marks Start of RiverHouse Apartment Project Along Red River in Downtown Fargo

| By Helmut Schmidt |

This article originally appeared on InForum. The featured rendering is by JLG Architects.

Work on RiverHouse, a Kilbourne Group housing project seen as a key piece to developing downtown Fargo along the banks of the Red River, has begun with the demolition of a former military entrance processing station and the old Fargo School District warehouse.

RiverHouse at 225 4th Ave. N. will have 114 apartments, and should open in fall of 2024, Kilbourne Group spokeswoman Adrienne Olson said Friday, Dec. 30.

Meanwhile, the City Commission moved another downtown mixed-use building project forward, voting unanimously at its Dec. 27 meeting to approve the purchase and development agreement for a parking lot at 501 Main Avenue. The property will be developed by partners JLG Architects and Duluth-Minn.-based F. I. Salter Real Estate Services.

The retail-apartment-condominium project by 501 Main Ave DevCorp has been touted as a “gateway” to the city’s downtown core, with its prominent location at the corner of Main and Broadway.

It’s a positive start for 2023, Mayor Tim Mahoney said.

“We really would like to have the riverfront come alive and have a lot more activity for people to be involved,” Mahoney said..

The transformation of Fargo’s downtown area since he first joined the City Commission in 2005 has been breathtaking, Mahoney said.

“Just the change of the landscape. You don’t think about it … (but) just the transformation of downtown has been tremendous. I keep seeing new restaurants, new shops, different stuff coming up, and it’s just exciting to see, because people are doing well in their businesses and I think it gives” a variety of opportunities for consumers, Mahoney said. “I’m very pleased with the growth in town.”

RiverHouse’s location will offer its residents beautiful views of the Red River, Olson said.

“We are excited to be part of revitalizing the riverfront in downtown Fargo as we believe it’s such an underutilized recreational amenity,” Olson said.

Kilbourne Group won the right to build on the site on April 4, 2022, beating out two other competitors. At the time, the site was described with the warehouse’s address of 419 3rd St. N.

Kilbourne Group had offered three development plans, and the City Commission voted 3-2 on April 4 to pick the $28.8 million, 114-apartment option, which was the mid-size proposal.

The developer had sought to also purchase the Fargo School District’s former central office property adjoining the warehouse site, but was unable to strike a deal, Olson said. That land was not needed for the 114-apartment proposal.

RiverHouse will have 157 parking spots, with 115 of them enclosed and heated and 42 outside. Unlike a number of Kilbourne Group’s downtown projects, RiverHouse will not have dedicated retail or office space.

For the 501 Main Avenue project, the developers agreed to pay $505,000 for the lot, Jim Gilmour, the city’s director of strategic planning and research, told the City Commission.

One goal of Fargo’s Downtown InFocus master plan is reducing the number of surface parking lots by developing them, he said.

“I think this project checks a lot of those boxes. It provides some main floor commercial, it adds housing downtown, in this case two floors of condominiums on top of two floors of apartments,” Gilmour said.

The development partners have until June 30 to close on the property and a July 31 deadline to start construction.

The City Commission previously approved five-years of Renaissance Zone benefits for 501 Main, but no other property tax exemptions, Gilmour said.

“We’re very pleased that we’re continuing to see interest in the downtown area,” Mahoney said.

EPIC Companies Gateway development, on the site of the former Gateway Center mall on Main Avenue near the Red River, is chugging along. Construction on The Arch, a seven-story mixed-use building, is expected to be completed in summer 2023. The Arch is the second phase of the Gateway initiative and has a mix of commercial and office space, apartments and condominiums.

The third phase of the Gateway development is the seven-story Unite building. Construction of that building, which also includes commercial space, apartments and condominiums, is expected to start at the end of 2023.

The first of the Gateway buildings, Gateway North, was completed in 2021.

In the downtown core, Kilbourne Group is also partnering with Global Development, the city and Fargo-Moorhead Community Theatre for a $66 million mixed-use development. That building and a 500-stall parking ramp will fill two surface parking lots on the 600 Block of NP Avenue. The complex will include 145 apartments, retail space, a 420-seat theatre and classrooms. A timeline hasn’t been released for the groundbreaking and completion of that project.

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