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Dave Olson, Published January 06 2009

Students generate ideas for reusing old Moorhead power plant

David Fitzgerald and Lisa Faulkner left Fargo three months ago and moved into a home on Elm Street in south Moorhead.

They then set about remodeling and reconstructing what Fitzgerald calls “a great old house.”

Now, they’re very curious whether a similar makeover is possible for the old Moorhead power plant just across the way.

“Finding something that would reuse at least part of it would be awesome, because there are a lot of wonderful materials there that can’t be duplicated,” said Faulkner, who along with her husband attended an open house Tuesday at the Moorhead Center Mall.

The event was sponsored by a study group appointed by the city to come up with recommendations on how the power plant, owned by Moorhead Public Service and at the end of its work life, might be reused.

Committee members say their imaginations and hopes have been invigorated by North Dakota State University architecture students and building management students from Minnesota State University Moorhead who put a number of ideas to paper.

Some of the concepts were on display at Tuesday’s open house, including examples of how buildings with similar pasts and functions have been reconfigured and given new lives as libraries, art galleries and museums.

“They (the students) did research from around the world … where they converted industrial sites. For me, it was eye opening,” said Deanne Sperling, a member of the study group.

No deadline has been set for when a decision must be made regarding the structure, but Bob Backman, another member of the study group, made it clear he feels the building deserves a new lease on life.

“In Moorhead, we don’t have a lot of unique historical buildings left,” said Backman, adding the condition of the building is amazing for a structure whose oldest parts date to 1896.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Dave Olson at (701) 241-5555