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Developer seeks tax break to revitalize former Moorhead armory, warehouse

An eastward view of Center Avenue showing the old, vacant Moorhead armory, left, and the Simon Warehouse. MBA Investments plans to make the armory into an event center and the warehouse into a residential complex. Construction could begin this March. Kim Hyatt / The Forum1 / 2
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MOORHEAD — A local architect and developer is looking to redevelop two historic properties along Center Avenue here.

Kevin Bartram of MBA Investments LLC plans to make an event center out of the old Moorhead Armory and former car dealership site at 904 Center Ave. The Simon Warehouse just to the east at 8 10th St. N. would be transformed into a 60- to 65-unit residential complex.

The Moorhead City Council will consider granting a total of $419,500 in tax exemptions for both projects at its Monday, Jan. 22, meeting.

City leaders say they are excited to see redevelopment efforts in the heart of Moorhead.

"We're thrilled with the living space and event center," said city administrator Chris Volkers.

The projects are a "critical part" of plans to revitalize downtown, she said, also citing the new $5.2 million mixed-use development underway on the southeast corner of Eighth Street and Main Avenue.

Bartram's plan with the vacant armory, per city documents, includes demolishing an existing metal wing to the east and filling in the west side shipping ramp. He will restore the main building to "preserve its historic significance within in the community."

Once the armory is restored, Bartram will lease the space to an unnamed management company to run the events center, which will host weddings, concerts, meetings, banquets and other community functions. The management company anticipates staffing five full-time and 20 to 25 part-time employees.

Tax breaks for the armory renovation total $94,500.

With the Simon Warehouse, Bartram plans to remove and reconstruct the loading dock, repave the parking lot to the west and restore the building. The warehouse will be a residential complex with 60 to 65 units of either one, two or three bedrooms.

Bartram could receive $325,000 in tax breaks for developing the warehouse.

Volkers said the city is "interested and supportive of projects like this, and I expect there will be excitement around it," so it's likely the tax exemptions will be approved at Monday's meeting.

Bartram has owned both building since 2009.

Bartram also owns a group of buildings in the 1600 block of Fargo's First Avenue North that is home to Crossfit Icehouse and Drekker Brewing Co.

He did not return phone calls for comment on the Moorhead plans.

Kim Hyatt

Kim Hyatt is a reporter with The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead and a 2014 graduate of the University of Minnesota Duluth. She started her newspaper career at the Owatonna People’s Press covering arts and education. In 2016, she received Minnesota Newspaper Association's Dave Pyle New Journalist Award and later that year she joined The Forum newsroom.

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