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Published November 05 2010

Radisson plans to relocate bar to street-level location by spring 2011

On most nights, the bar of Fargo’s Radisson is a subdued spot, populated by a handful of hotel guests and suspended on the second floor above a sleepy stretch of downtown.

Now, the hotel is aiming to liven up the place by taking it to the streets, advancing plans for a ground-floor lounge along Second Avenue North.

Work began in September, shortly after hotel owner John Adams discussed the proposal with Fargo’s Planning Commission. The plan cleared a hurdle this week when the commission voted to vacate the sidewalk adjacent to the Radisson on Second Avenue. The move opens the way for the hotel to expand into the space.

General manager and co-owner Sandi Adams said the new lounge is part of a larger project to renovate much of the hotel’s public space, including the existing second-floor lounge and restaurant. She said the plan is to complete the project in spring 2011.

She said she envisions the renovated hotel as an extension of the vibrant nightlife on Broadway a block west. That area got a boost in 2003 from the renovation of another hotel bar, the HoDo Lounge.

“I’m hoping we’re just going to extend that corridor from Broadway to here,” she said.

City Commissioner Tim Mahoney said a street-level lounge will help bring more traffic to a block that’s currently dominated by a pair of financial institutions – U.S. Bank and Gate City Bank – and typically falls quiet after business hours.

“It’s kind of a desolate area,” he said. “It’d be nice to have a bar on the ground level.”

Pat Zavoral, Fargo’s city administrator, told the City Commission the move will give the lounge a much-needed shot in the arm.

“The bar’s dying up at the second level,” he said. “If we want to have a little more life on Second Avenue, this would be a way of encouraging people to be downtown.”

Plans for the street-level work, which will narrow Second Avenue to about 41 feet in front of the new lounge, advanced despite opposition from Commissioners Mike Williams and Dave Piepkorn. Williams said he supports revitalizing the lounge but thinks constricting the street could disrupt an important route and “be an impediment to the downtown framework.”

Senior City Planner Jim Hinderaker said the street’s functionality would be essentially unchanged. He said the Radisson has owned the stretch of land in question since its construction in 1985.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Marino Eccher at (701) 241-5502