405 Broadway, Fargo, ND
The mixed-use Mercantile project on Broadway in downtown Fargo is a public-private partnership between The City of Fargo, Kilbourne Group, and Tom and Kari Smith, owners of the historic Great Northern Bicycle Company.
The project includes 367 public parking spaces, 100 apartments, 6 for-sale condominiums, ground-floor retail space, a substation for the Fargo Police Department, and public bathrooms.
The garage will be wrapped on all sides with mixed-use and residential private development. Plans for the six-story, mixed-use portion of the project, to be built by Kilbourne Group, include space for a Fargo Police Department substation, a parking office, public restrooms, approximately 100 apartments for rent and 16,922 square feet of ground floor commercial space. Smith intends to add nine owner-occupied housing units, to be called The Great Northern Block, to the North side of the project.
The project has been labeled Mercantile, in homage to the four-story brick structure which was built in 1909 for Fargo Mercantile Co., a wholesale grocer. Designed by the Hancock Brothers and constructed by C.H. Johnson & Co., the building was demolished in 1966. The Goodyear Service Center was constructed in 1968 and served the downtown community for 48 years before closing in 2016.
“Downtown is the vibrant core of our community and it continues to grow and evolve,” said Fargo Mayor Dr. Tim Mahoney at the December 18, 2019 ground-breaking ceremony. “It’s a regional epicenter for the arts, entertainment and commerce. We are creating an active city center built around thriving downtown businesses and beautiful, natural features. All of this is possible due to strong partnerships between the City, our businesses and our community organizations.”
“As the caretakers of the historic Great Northern Depot, we are excited to be a part of this development and to create a building, a community, that will benefit from and enhance the area around the new parking garage,” said Tom Smith, developer of the owner-occupied residences. “We will honor the history and significance of the Depot and The Great Northern Block, and its homeowners will become a part of the fabric of downtown Fargo.”
“The Mercantile project will add to downtown Fargo’s parking supply and create entirely new experiences downtown that are uniquely Fargo,” said Kilbourne Group President Mike Allmendinger. “This infill project replaces a surface parking lot of 85 stalls with a 369-stall garage to support residents, restaurants, retail customers and office workers. The 400 Block of Broadway is lined with strong, established retail and we are excited to contribute to this already vibrant area. Our goal of filling in this corner is to increase walkability and activate the area even more by injecting new residential and retail experiences on Broadway.”
Rendering by JLG Architects.
The Fargo Mercantile Company was a wholesale grocer, established on April 1, 1895. The company was organized by J. C. Hunter as Secretary and Treasurer, Thomas A. Quirk as President, and C.H. Reineke as Vice-president.
The company started out in the Dacotah Block and used the two storefronts and basement for its stock. After expanding into the Hagaman Block on 2nd Avenue North, the need was quickly felt for a new building dedicated specifically for the business. It was constructed at 611 N.P. Avenue, in a building called the Martin Block. It was designed by the Hancock Brothers, and constructed by J. H. Bowers construction.
By 1909, growth again necessitated a larger building, so the N.P. building was sold (it would become the Orphium Theater). A new four-story brick building located at 401-403 Broadway was constructed for the exclusive use of the business. It was designed by the Hancock Brothers, and constructed by C. H. Johnson & Co. The company offices were located on the first floor, the second floor was dedicated to packaging and cigars, and the rest of the building used as storage. A railroad spur behind the building gave direct access to the nearby Great Northern Railroad tracks.
In the early 1950s, the company became a branch of the Griggs, Cooper & Co. based out of St. Paul, Minnesota. In 1953, the company name changed to the M. J. Sullivan Food Distributors, and it remained under that name until the late 1950s. In 1960, the Fargo city directory lists Philco Distributors in the building, and by the next year it was vacant. The building sat vacant for the next six years, before it was demolished in 1966.
After the Mercantile building was demolished, the Goodyear Service Center opened in 1968 and served downtown for 48 years until it closed in 2016.
Since then, Kilbourne Group decided to see what our creative neighbors could do with the space. A little unassuming garage came alive with craft beer tasting, a food truck park, the Red River Market, the Folkways Night Bazaar, local theater groups, painting classes, an art gallery, live music and so much more. It’s been a wonderful showcase for the talent in this community and our team is so grateful to everyone who partnered with us to make this a special space.
For more information about the history of Fargo Mercantile Co., visit the NDSU Archives.