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Helmut Schmidt, Published April 22 2009

Development group plans to rehab downtown Fargo building into loft apartments

FARGO - Another building once considered an eyesore in downtown Fargo will likely soon have new life, this time holding a dozen loft apartments under its roof.

Sterling Development Group Nine plans to turn the former Fargo Mental Health Building at 506 Roberts St. N. into 12 loft apartments, said Kevin Bartram, a principal partner in MBA Development Co.

The $750,000 project on Wednesday received unanimous approval from the city’s Renaissance Zone Authority for $9,680 in property tax exemptions over five years, and up to $11,000 in income tax exemptions over five years.

The current value of the building and property is $136,000, city documents show.

Kevin Bartram, president of Sterling Cos. and Mutchler Bartram Architects, said at one time the building was being considered for office space. But, “there just seems to be a demand” for apartments downtown due to the amenities, he said.

That demand will likely be further fueled this fall with the opening of North Dakota State University’s downtown College of Business.

The building will get a new roof, new windows, a new north entrance stairway and ramp, repairs to the brickwork, new paved parking, landscaping and walks, documents show.

The interior will be gutted and the mechanical and electrical systems will be replaced, documents show.

Bartram said his firm hopes to complete the project by the end of summer.

“The investment is outstanding,” said Roger Gilbertson, chairman of the authority.

Near the building are two churches, a hospital, a theater, 12 restaurants, three bars, a bike shop, post office, bus route, coffee shop and several retail stores, Senior Planner Bob Stein said.

“Within a two-block area, this building has virtually everything,” Stein said.