Nancy Edmonds Hanson
“We’re seeing clear signs of steady growth in a challenging time,” acting city manager Dan Mahli told the Moorhead City Council Monday. And that evening’s actions proved it.
The council approved the sale of 77 acres of city property for a major residential development of single-family homes, affordable entry-level townhomes, apartments and a small commercial development. Fargo developer Justin Berg and his partners, doing business as Northern Roots Development, agreed to pay the city $1 million for the mostly open land south of Southside Regional Park. Payments are due in 2023 and 2025.
In June, the same group purchased another 30 acres on 28th Street South, directly east of the park and north of 40th Avenue. According to Berg, the entire development will be known as Prairie Parkway. Work will begin on that tract late this year with platting and other preliminary steps. Planning is at the earliest stage for the larger acreage to the south; according to Berg, it will take shape over the next eight to ten years.
Mahli teased the council with another major development on the agenda for its Oct. 26 meeting – approving tax increment financing for a $32 million development in the southeast quadrant of Interstate 94 and U.S. 75 (Eighth Street South). That complex by Enclave Development includes a 127-unit apartment building with some apartments designated as affordable housing, for which the TIF funding is being requested. The project also involves about $12 million in commercial space in the area that butts up against the interchange.
He cited other positive signs for the city. To date, building permits have been issued for 187 homes, compared to 190 for the entire 12 months of 2019. The valuation of commercial building so far in 2020 exceeds the combined totals of 2018 and 2019.
Meanwhile, the ambitious goal “500 in 5” — adding 500 living units to the downtown area over five years – is right on course. “Since 2018, 254 units have been completed, are underway or are being permitted,” he said. He compared the 93 apartments so far this year with 70 in 2019. “I anticipate we’ll beat our goal,” he predicted.
Prairie Parkway plans
Reached after the meeting, developer Berg said he’s looking forward to working in his hometown of Moorhead. “I grew up on Highway 75 a couple miles east of the area we’re developing,” he noted. He is also involved in a four-story, 33-unit building underway downtown known as 12th and Main Apartments, as well as Terra Gardens in Horace.
According to Berg, a commercial real estate agent with the Park Company, he and his partners are working with engineers and a resiliency expert on plans for their southside development. He envisions eco-friendly elements like solar and possibly geothermal energy to provide sustainability. “There’s a piece that’s locked in by the railroad tracks and drainage that could be the right spot for the array,” he noted.
The preliminary plat of the tract north of 40th Avenue includes affordable entry-level townhomes, along with rambler townhomes and single-family residences. Preliminary infrastructure work is expected to begin next spring. The land adjoins the Farmstead Living complex just to the north.
The Berg group is still putting together ideas for southern part of what they have christened Prairie Parkway. He said, it may include two apartment buildings and what he calls “a small commercial nook” as well as single-family houses designed to blend in with nearby neighborhoods.
“These are exciting times for a guy like me,”he said, “who cares about building a more sustainable and equitable community.”