How the RDO building changed downtown Fargo for the better – InForum

Lauren Zima had been looking for a location for her clothing store “The Nines” in Fargo for a while. Many places just didn’t work. Then one day she and her husband, Steve, were driving downtown when they saw the “Block Nine” building with its name linked to their store.

Not only that, but she said the once-open retail space where her store now sits is where she first came into labor at the Fargo Street Fair nine years ago.

“Guess it was meant to be,” she said of signs pointing to the location on the northwest corner of what is now called the RDO building along with its many other amenities.

Things couldn’t have worked out better, she said, as her business has been nothing short of “incredible” since it opened last November. “We didn’t know what to expect,” she said.

The store offers clothing for daughters, mothers and grandmothers and is her second store as she has also operated a similar store in Detroit Lakes for nine years. She said part of the reason for her store’s success was everything going on in this downtown area. She said its neighbors, including restaurants, ice cream parlors and shops, are “a good mix” that helps draw people in. Zima knows many people from the Lake District who travel to Fargo for a “day downtown”. “It wasn’t always like this,” she said.

It’s just a story of how what was US Bank’s surface parking lot for 45 years turned into a bustling and thriving site in the middle of downtown after the opening of the RDO building in $117 million with all its amenities and ancillary businesses.

The second-tallest structure in the state — behind only the State Capitol — rises 18 stories or 235 feet and is also home to the upscale Jasper Hotel, Rosewild Restaurant, and condos on the upper floors.




Retail space will soon be complete in the building with the addition of the Salt Hill Gallery, a showroom and retail space focused on offering an art and jewelry collection highly curated, as well as a selection of original artwork and beautiful gifts.

Owner and curator Taylor Mertz said the process of selecting a space for the gallery was long but worth the wait. “We enjoy the vibrant downtown community, the events and public gathering space of Broadway Square, and the proximity to other businesses within the building. We are thrilled to have a local audience and we We also look forward to welcoming travelers to Hotel Jasper.”

It is not the only company that has decided to join the vibrant atmosphere of this region. Brad Cimaglio, owner of Black Coffee and Waffle Bar across Broadway Square, said the Civic Square in particular was a big impetus for the location they chose. “The RDO building is great, but the square is the most important thing for us,” he said. “Community gathering spaces are essential for any city, and having this space right in the heart of downtown benefits everyone.”

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Shoppers visit The Nines located on the lower level of the RDO building in downtown Fargo.

David Samson / The Forum

Joel Wold, owner of the Bottle Barn which is expanding its operations by opening a new liquor store in the soon-to-be-opened Kesler building just down the block, said the RDO building and Broadway Square were “100%” a factor in his decision to add a store downtown. “Once we saw all the extra foot traffic downtown, we were ready to expand,” he wrote in an email. “If you look at the Broadway Square calendar of events, there’s something going on six days a week in the summer. Some days have multiple events, yoga, Zumba, movies, live music, splash pad, etc…

“Red River Market is also big. They estimate there are 10,000 people every Saturday for the market alone,” he wrote. “With all this activity, and more and more businesses and residents moving in, I was convinced of the need for an off-sale-only store there.”

The $4 million Broadway Square, paid for by the Block 9 Partnership which includes global company RDO and the Kilbourne Group, is a 17,000 square foot plaza for public use. The land was purchased from the US Bank, which had this surface parking lot on the site for those 45 years.

Square manager Ana Rusness-Peterson said she welcomed 350,000 unique visitors to the square last year. That number will likely increase significantly this year. Like last year, 270 days of events are planned this year, with some of the most popular being music concerts, movies, chalk art events and fitness programs. She said the site’s rentals have increased this year.

A big fan of the square is Adrienne Olson, vice president of communications for The Kilbourne Group. “Do you know what my favorite part of the Square is?” she said. “Not on event days. It’s that every day people hang out there. Kids play, people sit and chat, teenagers bring their boba teas and ice creams and hang out. Did we ever had a place like this before in this town?”

Olson also notices the influx of workers, especially the 375 new RDO employees who have moved in, bringing new life to downtown. She said employees ate at restaurants and visited stores and were “a huge boost to the downtown economy”: Olson, who helps with extensive research into issues affecting downtown, said said a study by the International Council of Shopping Centers found 62% of office workers shop during the workday.

The average office worker spends $96 a week and, on average, eats lunch outside of their office three out of five days, according to the study. So, she said, as the RDO tower adds employees, it would support about 15,000 square feet of retail and restaurant development.

Tara May, vice president of communications for RDO, said there’s plenty of room for their team of employees to grow in what they call the RDO Tower. So more businesses and people wandering the downtown streets are waiting for us, according to Olson. So far, the two-year-old RDO Building is living up to expectations.

Just ask the occupants and neighbors.

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