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Dave Olson, Published January 07 2009

Students generate ideas for reusing old power plant

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

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

Now, they’re 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.

“This is not a rattletrap,” said Backman, adding that the study group is eager to hear from anyone who has an idea on reusing the power plant.

The committee is collecting input and comments via an online survey, which can be found by going to www.cityofmoorhead.com/ and clicking on the “What’s New” link.

Kate Henne, who lives near the power plant and attended Tuesday’s open house, said she found the examples of what can be done with old buildings interesting.

“I love some of the community use concepts, because it’s such a beautiful space.

“I’d like to see something the community could enjoy there, if it’s feasible, of course,” said Henne.


Share or read comments on possible reuses for the Moorhead power plant at www.cityofmoorhead.com

Readers can reach Forum reporter Dave Olson at (701) 241-5555