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Erik Burgess, Published September 30 2013

Fargo City Hall site finalized; commission to explore combining Fargodome, Civic Center management

FARGO – The city is one step closer to putting a new City Hall downtown.

City commissioners voted unanimously on Monday to make the four-block Civic Center, City Hall and library area the future home of the proposed new City Hall.

The site was unanimously recommended by a 13-person board of residents tasked with picking a new home for the city government center.

Commissioners also voted unanimously to ask city staff to set up a six- to eight-person building committee and send out a request for proposed architectural and engineering design services for a new City Hall.

City Administrator Pat Zavoral said the request for proposal could be back in about six weeks, and the city could select an architect by mid- to late-November.

Prices to build somewhere on the civic quad area range from $10 million to $13.8 million, according to conceptual designs presented by Richard Moorhead, a local architect who has consulted the city on the project. A surface parking lot could add another $500,000, while structured parking could add up to $3.75 million to the price.

City leaders want construction on the new 60,000- to 70,000-square-foot building to be bid out in late 2014.

In choosing a site for the new City Hall, commissioners did not pick a specific site within the four-block civic quad area. They also didn’t choose a configuration of how the building might connect to other existing or proposed buildings, such as a possible downtown convention center or a flood wall on Second Street North.

Former Mayor Bruce Furness, who co-chaired the committee that made the recommendation, said the group wanted to allow flexibility for future development. The Fargo Dome Authority is looking at building new convention space, possibly downtown.

Because of the increasing talk about a convention center downtown, Zavoral asked the commission on Monday to consider combining management of the Fargodome and the Fargo Civic Center.

He suggested forming a committee to look at how to combine management for the two event centers. Commissioners voted 5-0 to form that committee.

Zavoral said he’d like the new committee to “explore what opportunities there are” for collaboration.

Commissioners also unanimously approved setting aside $50,000 of flood sales tax money to contract with an urban landscape architectural firm to help city engineers design the Second Street floodwall.

Zavoral said this will help city engineers develop more green space near the river in conjunction with the floodwall, as recommended by the City Hall site selection committee.

City Commissioner Mike Williams said he thinks hiring an urban landscape architect is important to “make sure we make things as nice as they can be” on the riverfront.

Zavoral said he’s not certain all of the $50,000 will be spent, and that the green space project could be included with the City Hall request for proposal.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Erik Burgess at (701) 241-5518