Newman Center expansion approved by the Planning Commission board

Andrea McClary, Junior Ad Editor

North Fargo is potentially at risk for losing some of the most historic neighborhoods in Fargo several homes such in the Roosevelt district are being considered for demolition as a new project arises. The project was approved by the Fargo Planning commission board on December 4th.

The project plans for the St. Paul Newman Center, located on North University Drive, to include a $40-$45 million-dollar renovation that would entail an expansion to the church, new Catholic based student housing for North Dakota State University students, and market-based housing for the public.

Roers Construction has taken into consideration the communities concern. They have lowered the amount of faith-based housing from 29 to 25 and have lowered the market-based housing from 107 to 87. However, in the communities’ eyes that is only a small step in the right direction.

“Our concern is the proposed high-density apartments that will be included in the expansion by Roers Construction and how that will encourage more developers to raze more houses on more blocks in the Roosevelt community to build more high-density buildings,” said Ken Enockson, a leader of the Roosevelt Neighborhood Association. The community’s concern lies in the aftermath the project may bring, and that the high-density apartments are sure to influence the neighborhood and surround areas.

“This in turn ( the high-density apartments) will threaten the stability of our neighborhood schools. The schools or the center of public life in our neighborhood and losing them due to decreased enrollment would further erode the interest of families in living in the community,” said Enockson. The Neighbor Associations main goal is making sure the neighborhood is still attracting families and creating a welcoming environment considering the close distance from NDSU.

Although Roers Construction and the neighborhood association have their differences they are trying to come together on an agreement that works for both. Roosevelt’s Neighborhood association wanted it to be made clear that they support Catholic student-based housing, the expansion of the Newman Center and increasing the amount of town homes Roers would build along 12th Ave, however, they want Roers Construction to understand the severity the building of the apartments will have on the community itself.

The expansion of the Newman Center also raises questions from the community as to why NDSU needs more housing. When the discussion of the expansion first came about NDSU’s student body was increasing, but this year’s enrollment has dropped by almost 900 students. Along with that NDSU has a new dorm center for sophomores opening in the fall of 2019, and this fall Apartment 170, located on University Drive, opened for university students.

As of 2016 the Fargo apartment vacancy rate was approximately 4.41% and set to only increase. It has all the community members wondering why there is a need for more housing units when there are already many that need to be filled.

Even though there has been great improvement there is still hope from community members. They hope that Roers construction will continue to adjust some of its plans to appeal to single family’s, so that they may keep their appeal, and schools will stay open.