Erik Burgess, Published January 09 2014
Committee finds tentative home for new Fargo City Hall
The City Hall building committee decided this week that the proposed building should be put on the north side of the Civic Center parking lot, City Administrator Pat Zavoral said.
The site hasn’t been officially chosen, but the committee seems to have picked the best site out of all the options, Mayor Dennis Walaker said.
“Is anything cast in stone yet? Not really,” Walaker said. “But we are getting closer to making it work.”
A different city committee decided last year to put the new building somewhere in the roughly four-block area of the current City Hall, Fargo Public Library, Civic Center and parking lot.
Architects used software Wednesday to show what a 75,000-square-foot, three-story building would look like plopped down in the green space between the library and the Civic Center, Zavoral said.
Committee members basically ruled out that site when they saw the imagery, he said.
“It just consumed the space and didn’t leave any sort of real good Second Avenue connection to the river,” Zavoral said.
City Hall building committee members decided the north side of the Civic Center parking lot makes the most sense, Zavoral said, after they reviewed the location of the Second Street floodwall, which was determined late last year by the City Commission.
He said the city also has to consider the 350-foot setback from the river.
“It seems like the north end of the parking lot would maybe be the best fit for something like that,” Zavoral said.
Walaker said putting City Hall on the north side “leaves everything to the south open for future development.” Conversations about a downtown convention center or performance hall have been swirling since late last year.
“There are all kinds of moving parts, and I think we’re picking them off one at a time,” Zavoral said of the converging downtown projects.
Architect Devin Mogck, of T.L. Stroh Architects and Interiors, said architects will be looking at a number of things between now and the next building committee meeting Jan. 22, including how the public would access the new City Hall.
Mogck said connecting the skyway from the Civic Center to the new building seems logical.
“And possibly even connect (the skyway) to the river,” he said. “The connection to the river from downtown has always been an importance piece to try to maintain.”
Design is in the early stages, but Mogck said the project could be shovel-ready by late summer or early fall. A structure of this size would take 16 to 18 months to build, he said.
The city expects to spend about $15 million, a number that Walaker said could “grow a little bit.”
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Erik Burgess at (701) 241-5518