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Jon Knutson, Published June 12 2009

Gate City to upgrade downtown building

Gate City Bank has begun a $4.1 million renovation of its downtown Fargo building.

The project will add needed space for the growing banking company and enhance the building’s appearance, said Steve Swiontek, chairman, president and CEO.

Work on the building – which serves as both Gate City’s corporate office and downtown Fargo branch office – is expected to be completed next summer.

The project will include:

• Adding and renovating interior space to provide 10 more office rooms, increasing privacy for customers when they’re opening accounts and talking about loans.

• Improving energy efficiency by about 15 percent.

• Enhancing the building’s appearance, including improved sidewalk, increased lighting and architectural changes to the building’s exterior.

“That’s a real skyline project,” Dave Anderson, president and CEO of the Downtown Community Partnership, said of the building’s future appearance.

The project reflects Gate City’s recent growth and its deep roots in downtown Fargo, Swiontek said.

The bank’s assets surpassed $1 billion last year, and companywide employment has grown to 390.

The downtown Fargo location has 130 employees, a number that could rise by five or six in the next year, company officials said.

Swiontek said no work on executive offices will be done during the project.

Gate City serves 19 communities in North Dakota and western Minnesota.

“We’re very optimistic about the future of North Dakota and western Minnesota,” which contributed to the bank’s decision to go ahead with the project, Swiontek said.

Gate City Bank was founded in downtown Fargo in 1923. Its current building was constructed in 1956.

Swiontek said the many recent building improvements in downtown Fargo encouraged his company to enhance the appearance of its building.

The project will not involve Renaissance Zone funds, Swiontek said.

“We didn’t think that was appropriate,” he said, adding that he believes in what the Renaissance Zone is doing.

Renaissance Zone incentives help to encourage investment in downtown properties.

Gate City this spring completed major renovation and expansion projects at its West Fargo and downtown Moorhead offices.

The West Fargo project, which cost about $900,000, included three more offices for customer service, new drive-up equipment and expanded parking and landscaping.

The Moorhead project, which cost about $800,000, included another office for customer service and new drive-up equipment.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Jonathan Knutson at (701) 241-5530