FARGO – Enclave co-founder Austin Morris said he drove by the old Kmart site on South University Drive here last year and asked his then 6-year-old daughter what she thought what would have to be done with the vacant building and the parking lot.
“Do something that helps people,” she told her father.
Morris relayed this story to the Fargo City Commission last week as the board approved the site’s rezoning and renewal plan.
Part of the project will create 88 apartment units for low income seniors built by Beyond Shelter Inc. on 4 acres on the west side of the property.
Such affordable housing is badly needed in the city. Current apartments for low-income seniors are almost completely full.
This effort will be bolstered by Fargo’s Enclave development company offering six commercial construction sites on the east side of the property closer to University Drive. Ideas for these sites include a restaurant, cafe, and a grocery store among the retail stores. Kmart occupied most of the space for almost 60 years after it was built in 1962.
Not only did city commissioners 4-1 approve a plan to finance and renew tax increases to help demolish the huge store that had been vacant for two years, but there has also been major development on the side of the affordable housing.
Beyond Shelter CEO Dan Madler said something happened that doesn’t happen often: The North Dakota Housing Finance Agency approved federal low-income tax credits that will help support the construction of affordable housing in one phase instead of two.
Originally, it was believed that the units should be constructed in two phases, thus extending the completion of the project by two years or more. Because two projects have been approved with 43 units for low-income seniors over 55 and another 45 units for those over 62, the job can be done in one go.
The credits will provide funding of approximately $ 20.5 million for the construction of housing.
Madler said the Kmart building is expected to be demolished by next summer, with work starting this fall and hopefully finished by fall 2023.
“It was huge,” Madler said of securing funding for both phases. It should also save on construction costs, as everything can be done at the same time, he said.
Enclave will receive tax savings of up to $ 1.4 million over the 15-year tax plan to remove the building and provide some of the necessary infrastructure on the site.
City strategic planner Jim Gilmour said a financial analysis by a company the city uses said the project would not be feasible without the tax incentives and was also needed to help with the facet. affordable housing project.
Only Commissioner Tony Gehrig voted against the renewal plan because he believes many projects would be done by developers without such tax benefits.