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A rendering of the future Mercantile building's garage. The Mercantile will be a mixed-use facility to be built at the corner of Fourth Avenue North and Broadway in downtown Fargo. The six-story garage is the first phase of the project and will add 369 parking stalls to the area. (Image: Courtesy of JLG Architects)

Mixed-use project to add six stories of parking to downtown Fargo

FARGO, N.D. - A $40 million mixed-use project, funded by a public and private partnership, aims to add more residential and commercial activity - as well as parking space - to downtown Fargo.

The project, dubbed the Mercantile, will add nearly 400 additional parking stalls once the six-story garage is completed. That won’t be until sometime next fall, but the project officially got underway on Wednesday, Dec. 18. 

A groundbreaking ceremony for the garage happened at noon at the corner of Fourth Avenue North and Broadway.

The garage is the first of two phases of the mixed-use facility, a joint partnership between the city of Fargo, Kilbourne Group, and Tom and Kari Smith, owners of the historic Great Northern Depot that sits adjacent to the site. Other phases will include residential and commercial space. 

The city’s portion of the $40 million project is $13 million, said Ty Filley, the city’s public affairs coordinator. He said one of the things the city is excited about is the extra parking space the garage will provide downtown. 

The garage will replace a surface parking lot and, when finished, have 369 vehicle stalls. That’s in addition to 455 parking stalls created when Roberts Commons, a mixed-use facility developed by the Kilbourne Group at 625 2nd Ave. N., was completed in 2017. The new garage also will have 50 ground-floor parking slots for bicycles.

Filley said the city started looking at parking opportunities downtown in 2015 and decided additional space was needed, in part to meet future needs. In short, he said, the city wanted to stay ahead of the game as it continues to grow.

“What this does is it keeps us ahead of demand,” he said. 

When the garage is finished, and with the addition of parking at Roberts Commons and stalls created by private businesses, Fargo will have added more than 1,200 parking spaces since 2015.

The Mercantile is named for the four-story brick structure that was built at the site in 1909 for Fargo Mercantile Co. That building was demolished in 1966 to make room for the Goodyear Service Center, built two years later in 1968. The Goodyear Building, as it came to be known, Philly said, closed in 2016. The building will be razed sometime this week, accoring to Adrienne Olson, director of communication at the Kilbourne Group. 

Besides creating more parking downtown, another goal of the Mercantile is to inject new residential and retail experiences in the area, according to the Kilbourne Group. The mixed-use portion of the project will include space for a substation of the Fargo Police Department, public restrooms, about 100 apartments, and 16,922 square feet of ground floor commercial space. 

The garage is expected to be finished by September 2020, Olson said, while construction on the mixed-use buildings, which will wrap the Mercantile, is slated to begin in March 2020.

The Smiths said in a statement they also plan to add nine owner-occupied housing units, called “The Great Northern Block,” which will be located north of the garage. Olson said construction of the condominiums will begin next summer, with the entire Mercantile project to be wrapped up in time to open in fall 2021.