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'Midtown' revival: How a local business owner plans on raising the profile of Fargo's once-southern edge of town

Nikki Berglund, who operates Bernie's Liquor and the Luna cafe, is looking to boost the appeal of University Drive south in Fargo. Dave Olson/The Forum1 / 3
An operator of several businesses on University Drive south in Fargo is looking to increase interest in University Drive as a commercial and cultural destination. Dave Olson/The Forum2 / 3
An effort is underway to promote University Drive south in Fargo as a commercial and cultural destination. Dave Olson/The Forum3 / 3

FARGO—When Nikki Berglund's grandfather opened Bernie's Liquor at University Drive and 15th Avenue south in Fargo many decades ago the business was near the south edge of town.

Today, the liquor store sits squarely in what Berglund considers to be Fargo's midtown, an area that also includes the Luna restaurant, another business Berglund operates.

Berglund grew up in the residential neighborhood surrounding University Drive and later spent time living in Denver and the Twin Cities, cities she said have done a good job promoting commercial areas other than their downtowns.

Now that she's a Fargo business owner, Berglund has embarked on transplanting ideas gleaned from those cities to Fargo's midtown, a commercial area she feels is underappreciated.

"What we really want to do is create excitement, encourage businesses to move to this part of town," said Berglund, who held an organizational meeting for a midtown business association in November.

The meeting was attended by representatives from a small group of nearby enterprises.

Berglund said turnout suffered due to bad weather and the fact it was the holiday season, so she's planning to hold another meeting soon.

She said the idea is to form a business association that will allow for a group approach to things like marketing and communicating with city leaders.

Berglund said downtown Fargo is an example of how a commercial area can improve itself, and she's hoping to achieve something similar with midtown.

Beautifying the area and improving walkability are some of her goals.

"We have great neighborhoods on either side of us full of people who would love to walk to restaurants and have things to do without having to drive to downtown," Berglund said.

Berglund said one thing she would like to do is improve midtown's appeal to younger people by putting a focus on things like opportunities to enjoy art and culture

"I'd love to build the midtown culture. There's very little art in this part of town," she said, adding the aim is not to take anything away from downtown.

"It's a great model of what we want to be. I feel like this is the next step, people can move over to midtown," Berglund said.

She said the south University Drive businesses are still working on defining what their association will look like and which parts of town will be included, but she said a rough boundary could be the area between 13th Avenue and 32nd Avenue south.

One business that meets that criteria is Animal Health Clinic, at 1441 S. University Dr.

Natalie Gruchow, office manager at the clinic, said she hasn't heard much about efforts to organize a business on south University Drive, but she said she likes the idea and thinks Berglund is on to something.

"I think it's a great idea," Gruchow said, adding a business association for south University Drive would fit nicely with other groups in the area, like the Hawthorne Neighborhood Association, an organization she said does much to help the neighborhood and the city of Fargo in general.

"I feel like we do have a unique situation in this area," Gruchow said, referring to south University Drive.

"It's historic, an older part of town now," she added.

Business associations bring with them many benefits and south University Drive might be a natural place for one to form, said Dave Hunstad, executive director of the Moorhead Business Association.

Hunstad said business organizations can provide a unified and cohesive voice when issues arise that affect more than one organization and they can offer answers when people have questions.

"In our situation in Moorhead, I think we can bring a better awareness of what the opportunities are to open a business, to shop at a business and to engage in the business community," Hunstad said.

Dave Olson
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