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Andrea Hunter Halgrimson, Published March 13 2011

Halgrimson: Tracing the footprint of Northport Shopping Center

The first announcement about plans for the construction in Fargo of the North Port Shopping Center (later changed to Northport) was made in 1954.

The story included statistics for the new structure, which was to be located between Broadway and Eighth Street and between 25th and 28th avenues with 36,500 square feet, parking spaces for 1,000 cars and proposed businesses including a drug store, hardware store, barber and beauty shop, variety store, gift and hobby shop, bakery, restaurant and a men’s and women’s clothing store.

The developers were J P. Melberg & Associates from the Minneapolis area and the cost of the construction would be $500,000.

J.P. Melberg Sr., said at the time that Fargo was chosen for this endeavor “because this is an aggressive city with a great business and industrial potential.” The 10-acre tract was purchased from Peter Sway.

The groundbreaking took place in September 1955. The first units were built to house a Super Valu market operated by Ted Hornbacher (12,500 square feet), a Marshall-Wells hardware store operated by R.G. Brekke (4,000 square feet), a drug store (5,000) and a Ben Franklin variety store (4,000 square feet). The cost was approximately $250,000. More construction was to follow in the spring, bringing the cost of the entire project to $750,000.

Included in the plans was a canopy that extended 8 feet out from the building over the sidewalk. It was supposed to protect people from the elements.

General contractor for the project was Oslie & Co., Fargo, in association with the Alm Construction Co. of Minneapolis.

By the time North Port opened in May 1956, the J.P. Melberg firm in Minneapolis was out of the picture. Officers at the time the shopping center opened were Richard W. Anderson, Moorhead attorney, president and secretary; Robert Alm, Minneapolis, vice president; and Truman H. Johnson, Minneapolis, treasurer.

Later that summer, the corporation planned to add to the north side of the building, forming an L. The extension would provide 60,000 to 75,000 more square feet of space and connect with a filling station on the northeast end of the property. It was estimated that the new construction would cost about $850,000, which would bring the total cost of the shopping center to more than a million dollars.

The supermarket contained a complete bakery managed by Alex. B. (Scotty) Stalker, with his wife in charge of the wrapping department. The bakery was equipped with two bread ovens and other bakery machines.

Walter E. Johnson operated the Walgreen Drug Store and R. Douglas Larsen was manager of the Ben Franklin store. The Texaco filling station was managed by John Korol.

Part two of this column will cover Northport’s first 20 years.

Source: Forum files


Readers can contact Forum columnist Andrea Hunter Halgrimson at ahalgrimson@forumcomm.com