FARGO — With the Lashkowitz High Rise building in Fargo set to be downgraded, funds were raised to build a new apartment in its place, but the funding for the demolition itself was lacking.
Gaps in demolition funding and the future vision for the property brought together Senator John Hoeven, RN.D., Fargo Mayor Tim Mahoney, Fargo City Commissioner John Strand and representatives from Fargo Housing and Redevelopment Authority on Tuesday, August 15. 30.
The group, which involved Fargo Housing CEO Chris Brungardt and Executive Director Jill Elliott, discussed the building’s current status, their collaboration to secure funding for demolition, and the future of affordable housing in Fargo.
“What’s really important to all of us is partnership and collaboration, across the islands, to meet our (funding and housing) needs locally,” Strand said.
While the project was put on hold until funding could be secured, Hoeven worked with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to secure $1.5 million through the grant program of cleaning up industrial wastelands to treat asbestos in the building.
“The Fargo area is vibrant and growing, which means new developments are needed to provide adequate housing for people from all walks of life,” Hoeven said. “The Lashkowitz High Rise is in a prime location, but due to a very outdated design and health hazards, this building needs to be demolished and redeveloped so that the city can make the most of this land.”
The demolition of the building is expected to cost $5.8 million in total.
“Trying to cobble together $5.8 million to tear something down is always a big chore,” Brungardt said. “It takes a whole school of different partners to try to bring these funds together.”
Brungardt added that with the help of city, state, HUD, capital and operating funds, that’s about $4 million.
Due to a nearby development approximately 60 feet from the existing structure, demolition will need to be handled with care. Fargo Housing has issued a tender and will select a demolition contractor.
If all goes as planned, the building will be decommissioned by November 1 this year. If EPA funding is granted, asbestos abatement is expected to begin by July 2023, with demolition taking place in late summer or early fall 2023.
“I wish we could speed it up so we could go further on our path faster, but that’s what it is,” Strand said. “These collaborations help us get there. We need housing. We need affordable housing. We need a continuum of housing – a range… We want people to move (to Fargo) and they have need affordable roofs.”
Groundbreaking for the new project would take place in early 2024, with a completion date of 2026.
The 204-foot Lashkowitz High Rise, located at 101 2nd St. S. Fargo, overlooks the Red River, nearby skate park and Island Park Community Garden, and large swathes of Fargo and Moorhead.
“We called it the vertical village,” Elliott said. “It’s bigger than some communities in North Dakota.”
The building was opened in 1971 and has provided affordable riverside housing for Fargo’s seniors ever since. Once the building was due for demolition, HUD worked with its 247 residents to get them vouchers to move into different units with HUD Tenant Protection Vouchers. The last resident moved in January of this year.
While the structure is now gone with asbestos, bugs and a tattered entrance ceiling, the love that once entered the place is still apparent.
“It was an exciting place, people wanted to come to the tower, we had a long waiting list. I always say our biggest issue was whether to serve… lemon or date bars,” Elliott said. “People came from all over North Dakota; they wanted to be near medical facilities, and it was really the first affordable property people could get into.
Affordable housing is a huge need in Metro Fargo with about 3,500 families on Fargo Housing’s waiting list for affordable housing, according to Brungardt.
The current building will be replaced with a 110-unit apartment complex that will include modern amenities, larger apartment options and a parking structure. The four-story building, which will be called Lashkowitz Riverfront Apartments, will also have a rooftop terrace.
“This building has served its purpose, and we’re so excited to build a beautiful, updated new unit on possibly the finest property in Fargo,” Elliott said.
Fargo Housing has the funding in place to build the new apartment building, they just need a little help raising the final demolition funding, Brungardt said.
“It was a long-term goal for us to have this demolished and build new housing for the community,” Mahoney said. “It was a really difficult task… It’s a huge step for us; having federal funding in the mix really helps us move this project forward.