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Homeschooled: Fargo’s century-old Woodrow Wilson transforms into downtown character apartments

As published in the May 2016 issue of Fargo Inc!

Respect for the past. Gratitude for the present. Inspiration for the future.

These guiding values create a foundation for the work of Kilbourne Group, which seeks to demonstrate that vibrant downtowns create smart, healthy cities. Each value plays a role in writing the next chapter of the former Woodrow Wilson school.

Originally constructed in 1917, the Woodrow Wilson school building was purchased by Kilbourne Group January 2015 and renovation is well underway to convert it into nostalgic and unique downtown living spaces.

For 100 years, the corner of Fourth Avenue North and University Drive in Fargo has been anchored by the Gothic brick structure that, until 2012, was filled with the students of Woodrow Wilson High School. Added to the National Register of Historic Places just months after the school district vacated the building, Woodrow Wilson is second only to Horace Mann (1915) in longevity of serving Fargo as a school.

When an old structure no longer supports it original purpose, it takes thoughtful engagement to reveal its latent potential. Kilbourne Group and its consultants listened to the community and examined the design of the building, its place in the neighborhood, and the market needs to craft a vision that will create new experiences in downtown Fargo.

Situated on the west edge downtown Fargo, Woodrow Wilson’s classrooms will become 34 unique apartments, each distinctive in its layout and historic characteristics. The team at Kilbourne Group has the honor of discovering the historic treasures and elements that can be preserved or repurposed in the renovation. Shutter doors from student closets will be repurposed as soffits in kitchens from which to hang light fixtures. Glass classroom doors and cabinet casework original the building will be incorporated into apartment units. And, of course, the classic chalkboards will find a new home in the redesigned building.

Kilbourne Group is undertaking an infill project in the parking lot to the east of Woodrow, constructing a brand new apartment building with 63 residential units and underground parking. Both buildings are anticipated to be ready for move in by March of 2017. Residents will enjoy a shared courtyard, a half-court gymnasium, and a shop and storage area for bicycles.

The project also includes the construction of a new 2,500 square foot build-to-suit retail building on the southwest corner of the block. Nearly 15,000 cars pass by Woodrow Wilson each day, making it an attractive location for small retail or food and beverage concepts. We’d love to hear what you’d like to see in that space!

Through the thoughtful re-design of the school building and the block it inhabits, Kilbourne Group will add 97 apartments to the downtown housing supply and a new commercial space, attracting people to the neighborhood. Through multiple development projects including the Union Storage adaptive reuse apartments, the 220 West infill apartment project, and the redevelopment of 1213 NP Avenue which will house Prairie Roots Food Cooperative, the Woodrow Wilson neighborhood is emerging as a connector between downtown and North Dakota State University’s main campus. Kilbourne Group is honored to be part of this emergence.

Each project we complete, every new business that opens downtown, and the support of our community keeps the Kilbourne Group team invigorated, grateful, and excited about the future of the Fargo Metro.

Woodrow Wilson_Aerial SE

Kilbourne Group’s partners in the Woodrow Wilson project include Enclave Development and ESG Architects.

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