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Developer looking to reduce size of controversial north Fargo apartments

St. Paul's Newman Center in north Fargo as seen in 2016. Forum file photo

FARGO — In a bid to mollify unhappy would-be neighbors, a developer said he's mulling reducing the number of apartment units in a proposed building that's part of the Newman Center expansion.

Larry Nygard, vice president of Roers, told The Forum on Thursday, Oct. 4, that he plans to talk about it with the Roosevelt neighborhood in a few weeks.

Two Roosevelt Neighborhood Association leaders, Jim Laschkewitsch and Ken Enockson, said Thursday that the group has yet to get a meeting with Roers a month after complaining about the high number of apartment units at a meeting of the city's planning commission.

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Commissioners postponed a decision on the project for a month at their Sept. 4 meeting so city staff and developers could digest comments. They again postponed a decision for a month at their Tuesday, Oct. 2, meeting.

In September, Roers' plan was to build the 107-unit apartment building as part of an expansion of the Newman Center, a Catholic ministry aimed at North Dakota State University students. The center itself would have 29 faith-based apartments.

The RNA doesn't oppose the Fargo Diocese's plans, but it does oppose Roers' because the number of units will require a zoning change. Homeowners worry that high-density apartments drawn to the area by student renters will lead to the destruction of too many single-family homes, the reduction of families with school-age children and, ultimately, the closure of the neighborhood school.

Nygard has said the apartment building needs a certain number of units to be a viable investment.

Roers is now taking a closer look at that number and testing assumptions to see if it can go lower, he said Thursday. The diocese has also been asked to test its assumptions also to see if some of the units it plans to build could go to the developer instead, he said.

Nygard said he understands city staff is meeting with neighborhood residents to develop a set of objectives that Roers can use to redesign the building. He said it's better for the city to be the go-between at this point because it understands what both sides need.

When Roers has a more fleshed-out plan, the firm will present it to the neighborhood, he said.

Tu-Uyen Tran
Tran is an enterprise reporter with the Forum of Fargo-Moorhead. He began his newspaper career in 1999 as a reporter for the Grand Forks Herald, now owned by Forum Communications. He began working for the Forum in September 2014. Tran grew up in Seattle and graduated from the University of Washington.
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