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Erik Burgess, Published January 28 2013

Moorhead City Council hears plans for First Avenue North development

MOORHEAD – A pair of three-story, multimillion-dollar apartment buildings tailored to students, with retail on the ground level, is well on its way to being built on First Avenue North here.

The City Council first heard plans to construct an $8 million to $10 million complex for college students last September, when Paul Hyde of the Minneapolis-based Hyde Development was given the council’s permission to move forward with a housing market study.

Hyde told council members at Monday night’s meeting that the study found that Moorhead is seriously underserving its college-aged residents.

“All of our work has yielded what looks to be a very promising project,” Hyde said.

The two proposed buildings would each include around 33 apartment units, totaling 35,000 square feet of residential space spread across three stories. There would be a mixture of efficiencies, one- and multiple-bedroom units. Rent would start around $400 a month per bedroom, including utilities. Each apartment would also be abutted by 5,000 square feet of ground-level retail space. Project manager Raime Lavelle told the council that the retail options include fast food, salons, 24-hour gyms and coffee shops. Chipotle Mexican Grill and Caribou Coffee were specifically named as possibilities. There would also be around 200 parking stalls.

Hyde said the Minneapolis-based ESG Architects is consulting on the project. He said ESG is behind many popular projects statewide that become “attractive, vibrant placemakers in a community.”

“And we’ve got an outstanding architect who’s going to create the same thing here in Moorhead,” he said.

Moorhead’s Economic Development Authority voted Monday afternoon to allow Hyde to continue. The news was received warmly by the council, which cited hopes that this project will spur continued growth downtown.

Redevelopment efforts for this site have been ongoing since at least 2004. It is the original home of Aggregate Industries, a construction material producer. Moorhead’s environmental consultant estimated the cleanup of the site would cost $1.6 million.

Last June, a request for redevelopment proposals was sent out to 35 area architects and real estate professionals, and zero responses were received by the July deadline. Hyde’s firm, which works specifically with redeveloping polluted sites, picked up the project soon after.

“I’m really pleased that you’re taking the risk,” Councilman Mark Hintermeyer told Hyde on Monday. “I think we recognize the traffic that First Avenue has. There’s just possibilities down here.”

Environmental cleanup could be done by this fall, with construction on one of the buildings starting soon after. One building would ideally be completed in time for the fall semester 2014. The firm plans on applying for a federal DEED grant in May to help cover some costs.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Erik Burgess at (701) 241-5518

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