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Erik Burgess, Published July 22 2013

Fargo OKs $8.7 million budget to renovate former Sunmart building on 13th Avenue South

FARGO – City Commissioners on Monday approved a roughly $8.7 million preliminary construction budget to renovate the former CVS/Sunmart building in south Fargo.

The roughly 58,000-square-foot building at the corner of 13th Avenue South and 25th Street will be the new home for Fargo Cass Public Health, the Cass County Coroner’s Office, and a police substation, said City Administrator Pat Zavoral.

The renovation will be designed by Image Group Architecture and Interiors of Moorhead for roughly $632,000, Zavoral said.

Commissioners approved the design agreement and preliminary budget as part of their consent agenda, which passed 5-0.

The $8.7 million construction budget was set by Image Group and is a “not to exceed” amount that could be lower once the project is bid out in October, Zavoral said.

Construction will start by winter, and the building should be ready to open by late fall 2014, he said.

Geothermal system

Another item city staff will be looking at in the near future is whether to buy a geothermal heating and cooling system for the building.

Zavoral said the upfront cost of that kind of system would be more expensive than one that uses natural gas, but a geothermal system could be cheaper to operate if natural gas prices spike in the future.

The $688,000 geothermal system was included in the $8.7 million preliminary budget. City staff will come to the commission with a recommendation on the heating and cooling system in the near future, Zavoral said.

The city uses a geothermal heating and cooling system for the Osgood Fire Station, according to a memo from Zavoral in the City Commission packet.

Downtown space

Within the next year, the city will also need to decide how to use the old Public Health space downtown. Zavoral said the city assessor and some police operations could move into that space at 401 Third Ave. N.

A recommendation and price tag for the space will also be forthcoming to the commission, he said.

“We’ve got time,” Zavoral said. “They’re (Public Health) not going to move out for over a year, so within the year, we’ll start on that little piece.”

The city purchased the former CVS/Sunmart building for $3 million in February. Sunmart closed in May 2009 after losing its lease, and CVS Pharmacy relocated to a new building across the parking lot in January 2011.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Erik Burgess at (701) 241-5518