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Published July 09 2012

Fargo approves $3 million in Renaissance Zone tax breaks

FARGO – Fargo city commissioners have approved Renaissance Zone applications that will give four Fargo businesses about $3 million worth of property and income tax breaks in exchange for upgrades and renovations to various downtown business sites.

Commissioners most enthusiastically endorsed Aldeveron’s plans to turn the former Woodrow Wilson High School at 315 N. University Drive into its corporate center.

The company’s $5 million renovation project should yield about $600,000 in property tax relief over five years as part of the Renaissance Zone.

Once complete, the refurbished building will offer corporate offices and research space for at least 50 employees, with the space to grow up to 150 employees, said Fargo senior planner Bob Stein.

“It will really inject some life back into that area,” Stein said. “It’s a real landmark project in downtown.”

Aldeveron officials are finalizing purchase of the property this summer and also seek other tax relief on the property through historic preservation tax credits, Stein said.

Commissioner Brad Wimmer noted that the property doesn’t yield any tax revenue now, so it’ll be “a real home run for the city” once the tax breaks expire.

“It’s a beautiful project,” Commissioner Mike Williams added.

Meanwhile, Boulger Funeral Home, 123 10th St. S., is embarking on a 3,000-square-foot expansion worth more than $750,000. Approval of the Renaissance Zone application gives the business a $55,000 property tax break over five years.

Since the funeral home lies off a main artery to downtown, Fargo commissioners expressed optimism that the project could help enhance visitors’ welcome into the core of the city.

“That gateway into downtown is critical,” Wimmer said of 10th Street south of the Main Avenue underpass: “It’s going to help clean that up.”

JPO Rentals LLP plans to construct a $5 million, 45-unit apartment complex on the 400 block of Roberts Street in downtown Fargo. The project makes the company eligible for a property tax break worth $325,000 for five years.

Lastly, Brandt Preferred Co. wants to relocate from its offices off 45th Street in south Fargo to 309 Broadway. In its application, the company asked for income tax breaks worth nearly $2 million over five years.

When approving the four projects Monday night, city leaders said they were pleased to support projects that enhance Fargo’s downtown core and help fill in gaps in the business infrastructure.

Also Monday, Fargo commissioners approved $1.1 million in work toward upgrading Fargo’s water treatment plant off 13th Avenue South near the Red River.

The work is part of a plan to expand the plant’s capacity from 30 million gallons per day to 45 million gallons per day and also enhance Fargo’s water treatment process to deal with increased sulfates from Sheyenne River water, which are a result of increased outlets from Devils Lake.

Fargo gets its municipal water supply from both the Red and Sheyenne rivers. The $95.5 million effort to expand and improve Fargo’s water treatment plant is set to be done by early 2016, Fargo Enterprise Director Bruce Grubb said.

The state will contribute $30 million to the cost, while the city’s sales tax for water treatment should help cover the rest, Grubb said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Kristen Daum at (701) 241-5541

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