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Dave Olson, Published July 23 2012

Downtown Fargo's Syndicate Block up for auction

FARGO – A large property in a high-profile area of downtown Fargo, a portion of which has sat vacant for years, is going on the auction block in August.

Built in the early 1890s and purchased by Nachhattar Gill in the mid-1990s, the property involves a structure that occupies the southwest corner of First Avenue North and Broadway and houses several businesses, including a restaurant operated by Gill called Broadway Classic Subs.

Gill said the sale will not affect any current leases, nor will it slow the opening of the Beefsteak Club, a steak restaurant in the process of remodeling space on the ground floor of the property.

The property for sale, part of which is known as the Syndicate Block, has essentially four levels: a basement, ground floor and second floor – all of which cover about 16,000 square feet each – and a third floor of about 3,000 square feet.

The latter features a skylight and commons area that would create a nice space for a restaurant, said Bob Zielsdorf, who owns an auction business in Benson, Minn., and who is part of a team that is marketing the property.

Another member of the team, Bill Berg, who runs an auction service in the Hendrum, Minn., area, said selling a large building at a prime downtown street corner in the largest city in North Dakota makes the auction one of the most unusual he has handled in 31 years in the business.

Gill said his decision to sell was due in part to the number of inquiries he has received from would-be buyers. He said an auction was the best way to give all of them an equal shot.

According to Gill, the building does OK from a commercial standpoint. He said highly visible vacancies in storefronts on the ground floor were not a factor in his decision to sell.

Zielsdorf said the second floor houses 17 studio apartments, as well as five spaces for offices.

He said two of those office spaces are rented, though he added the office areas could be reconfigured, depending on what a buyer might want to do.

Open houses are scheduled for noon to 3 p.m. Wednesday and again Aug. 1. Tours are also available by appointment.

The auction is scheduled for 10 a.m. August 10 in the basement of the Hotel Donaldson, located across the street from the property for sale.

Zielsdorf said anyone who is curious should take a look, especially when it comes to the naturally lit third-floor commons area.

“It’s unique,” he said of the space, which features exposed brick.

Berg said that on the day of the auction prospective buyers should come prepared to pay a $50,000 down payment, with the balance of the sale price due in 30 days.

Zielsdorf acknowledged that purchasing the building will require a buyer with deep pockets.

But, he added, “There are those out there who have those.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Dave Olson at (701) 241-5555

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