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Pioneer Place developer aims to add affordable housing

An updated artist rendering of what Pioneer Place will look like once built in the 300 block of Sheyenne Street. By Icon Architectual Group

WEST FARGO—The second phase of West Fargo's plan to turn northern Sheyenne Street into a downtown area will begin construction soon, but the design has been changed to include more retail and affordable housing.

Construction of Pioneer Place, a four-and-a-half story, mixed-use plaza in the 300 block of Sheyenne Street, will begin this spring. The building was originally planned to mirror the $12 million Sheyenne Plaza, a five-story, 124,000-square-foot complex that incorporates office space and residential units.

Instead of looking nearly identical to Sheyenne Plaza, Pioneer Place will now have four-and-a-half stories, with a large open community space on top of the building. And rather than office space, developer Todd Berning said only retail space will occupy the main floor. The upper floors will be home to 51 apartments. Unlike Sheyenne Plaza, Pioneer Place will offer 45 smaller, more affordable one- and two-bedroom units. Sheyenne Plaza's apartments are spacious, high-end units.

"We wanted to do something that makes sense to continue developing downtown," Berning said Monday, March 5. "I don't want to build commodity apartments. I'm trying to create things that startups, millenials and retired people will want to move into. I think they'll be really effective at reinvigorating downtown."

Berning said the Sheyenne Plaza residential units filled up quickly. Moore Engineering has moved into office space in Sheyenne Plaza and longtime West Fargo law firm Ohnstad Twichell Attorneys moved its headquarters inside Sheyenne Plaza earlier this year. The West Fargo VFW voted in 2016 to move from its location at 308 Sheyenne St. into the first floor of Sheyenne Plaza and may start moving in April, weather permitting, said former Post Commander Shorty Vetter.

Once the VFW opens in its new home, the former building will be demolished and work on Pioneer Place will begin.

Wendy Reuer

Wendy reports for The Forum and West Fargo Pioneer, where she is also assistant editor. A University of Minnesota Morris graduate from North Dakota, Wendy started her career in television news and entertainment in Minnesota and at CBS in Television City, Calif. before working at newspapers in Minnesota and North Dakota. 

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