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Heidi Shaffer, Published December 28 2010

Vacant home along 12th Avenue North to be razed for NDSU project

A vacant home, once an obstacle to development along Fargo’s 12th Avenue North, will be demolished to make way for the completion of a showcase project.

FM City Development has acquired a house, previously owned by William Rakowski, that left the project’s two existing buildings near North Dakota State University divided.

The house will be razed this spring, and a new structure will link the two existing buildings, said developer Roger Gilbertson.

The new portion will be set up similarly to the existing buildings, with eight apartments on the second and third floors and commercial space on the main level, Gilbertson said.

The purchase allows the developer to adjoin the rear parking lots, adding 16 to 18 new spots and easing traffic flow and snow removal, he said.

The demolition and construction will likely start in the spring, with the hope of finishing in time for the 2011 fall semester, Gilbertson said.

When FM City Development began buying houses for the student-oriented housing and commercial space, Rakowski turned down offers to sell his property, according to Forum archives.

When asked Monday what had changed his mind, Rakowski said, “We just came to an understanding.”

The city assessor’s website lists the property value at $86,100, but neither Gilbertson nor Rakowski would disclose the purchase amount.

The rental property had been vacant since a series of housing inspection violations in the early 2000s, according to Forum archives.

The City Commission on Monday gave preliminary approval to move forward with $50,000 in tax-increment financing assistance to help with the demolition of the house.

The city previously granted $585,241 in TIF funding for the project’s first phase. This latest $50,000 installment brings the second phase’s TIF total to $487,000, said Planning Director Jim Gilmour.

Earlier this year, Rakowski appealed the city’s previous TIF funding for the project to the North Dakota Supreme Court, which upheld the city’s decision.

Rakowski most recently took Fargo to district court over a dispute on the special assessments he received on the property following the 12th Avenue bridge and road reconstruction project.

His attorney, Jonathan Garaas, said Rakowski will no longer have an interest in that case, which is pending in district court, but the new owners of the property could take over his portion of the appeal.

Gilbertson said his attorney is still examining the abstract of title for the property, and the development group has not decided whether to continue Rakowski’s legal proceedings on the special assessments.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Heidi Shaffer at (701) 241-5511