Nancy Edmonds Hanson
The long-vacant Days Inn at 500 30th Ave. S. is finally going to be torn down and the site redeveloped with a multi-unit residential complex – a proposal that thrills a neighboring church congregation.
Rev. Robert Drake of First Presbyterian Church told the Moorhead City Council Monday that he and his parishioners are, in his word, “ecstatic” about the Enclave Companies’ plan to tear down the once-prestigious motel, built as a Ramada Inn in 1970 but vacant for the past four years. An oddly shaped dangling segment on the northeast corner of the property abuts the area the church has been developing for family use and recreation. “It fits right in with the community garden, playground, soccer field and basketball court we’ve added on our property,” he said. “We are 100% vested in being a partner in that part of their plans.”
Parishioner Diane Wray Williams, who also testified at the hearing to rezone the property to fit Enclave Development’s plan for an apartment building, agreed. “Our church is very supportive,” she said. “This gives us an opportunity to help the area become an OK place again.”
Under discussion was the request by West Fargo-based Enclave Companies to rezone the motel site from “community commercial” to “commercial mixed use.” The change – recommended last week by the city planning commission and sent to the council for its approval — permits the development and construction firm to build a three-story apartment building, possibly with retail space on the main floor. The apartments would be rented at the market rate.
Enclave Development is currently engaged in a $20 million construction project across the highway. There, the five-story, 130-unit Emery Apartments are beginning to take shape just east of Southmoor Plaza, the commercial strip mall at the corner of I-94 and Eighth Street. Spokesman Brian Bochman told the council that demolition work is expected to begin next week on one end of the mall, which his firm is also redeveloping.
At a public hearing during last week’s planning commission meeting, nearby residents expressed concerns about the area’s lack of sidewalks and potential traffic issues – concerns also addressed by the church representatives. Bochman said his firm plans to add sidewalks to accommodate children and older pedestrians along the north side of 30th Avenue and east side of Fifth Street. He echoed the city’s assessment that traffic would be no greater than experienced in the past when the motel hosted Courtney’s Comedy Club and wedding receptions, but added: “Our engineers believe it may even be significantly less.”
After touring the long-empty motel, he said, “It’s a pretty scary place. We’re happy to help make it go away.”