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Patrick Springer, Published July 30 2010

Innovis to demolish former church for parking space

The wrecking ball looms for a Fargo building that once served as a church, an engineering office and a medical equipment warehouse.

The building at 1602 S. University Drive is owned by Innovis Health and is located near its clinic campus.

The health care organization bought the building in 1996 to allow for future expansion, but that didn’t happen because of the later purchase of land at 3200 32nd Ave. S., the location of its main clinic and hospital.

Innovis once used the brick building to store surplus medical equipment and medical records, said Bob Bakkum, Innovis’ senior director of administrative services.

The building became unusable in recent years, however, because of a leaky roof and mold problems, he added.

“It’s deteriorated. The roof’s leaking. It really isn’t habitable,” Bakkum said.

Repairs and renovations proved unfeasible, in large part because the building was designed as a church, he added.

Bethel Church, now located at 2702 30th Ave. S., built the building in 1959 at a cost of $130,000, according to a church history.

The church was expanded in 1976, with additional seating of 100, an enlarged narthex, and more space for Sunday school.

Then, in 1994, Bethel moved to its current location. The 18,000 square-foot building was used for one or two years to house an engineering firm before it was acquired by Innovis.

Innovis has zoning approval to demolish the building and turn the site into a parking lot with about 90 spaces but needs to secure a demolition permit, Bakkum said.

The parking lot, with an estimated demolition and construction cost of roughly $300,000, should begin in August, with completion expected in September, he said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Patrick Springer at (701) 241-5522