Moorhead council votes Monday on architect for $31.6 million library, community center

MOORHEAD — Should JLG Architects design Moorhead’s new regional library and community center?

The City Council will decide that question the evening of Monday, May 8.

If six council members agree, Mayor Shelly Carlson and City Manager Dan Mahli will have the green light to authorize up to $3.5 million in design work by the team of North Dakota-based JLG and Miller Hull, an architectural firm based in Seattle.

“I’m itching to get going,” Carlson said Friday, May 5.

Last November, more than 64% of Moorhead residents who voted on the issue agreed to add a one-half-cent sales tax to finance up to $31,590,000 for a new library and community center. Construction of the building alone is expected to be $26 million.

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Carlson said that the process leading to Monday’s vote “was pretty lengthy and pretty intense.”

She said JLG Architects should “be able to make the (community’s) vision come to life. They spent an incredible amount of time and energy at the beginning of the project.”

The new library and community center will be a key for the future of the city’s downown, meant to spur on what is envisioned as a multi-year redevelopment of the Moorhead Center Mall area, Carlson said.

“I really look at it as a project that belongs to our residents,” she said. “So now, we’re moving into the next phase.”

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An architect’s rendering of what the interior of a new regional library could look like for Moorhead. The Moorhead City Council will be asked to vote on an architect for the project on Monday, May 8, 2023.

Rendering by JLG Architects

If the JLG proposal is approved, the work will include:

  • $100,000 for programming and pre-design (including gathering public input).
  • $2.4 million for construction design and construction administration.
  • $1 million in supplemental services (this includes furniture design and procurement; library collection planning and design; HVAC , internet technology and audio visual systems; security; indoor play space design; food service design, and more).

Eight firms answered the city’s request for qualifications, and two teams, JLG and Miller Hull, and Moorhead-based YHR Partners and HGA (Hammel, Green and Abrahamson) were asked to submit proposals.
Rob Remark, principal architect for JLG, is enthusiastic about the opportunity to move the project forward.

“We’re incredibly excited,” Remark said Friday. “We’re really, really passionate about the future of Moorhead.”

Remark said this summer will be devoted to planning, with the goal of having design concepts ready this fall.

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“We want to be sure the community’s voices are really captured,” Remark said. “We really need to kick the project off and get input from all the stakeholders in the community.”

Remark said if all goes smoothly, it may be possible to start construction in spring 2024.

Mayor Carlson said the coming phase of work will be a deep dive into finding out exactly what the community wants.

Carlson said a walking track, indoor playground, a coffee bar to gather, and a “maker’s space” as part of a center to support entrepreneurs were ideas she “heard over and over again” in the lead-up to last fall’s vote.

The current library is about 50 years old and “it’s been slowly falling part,” Carlson said. “The library itself is saying, ‘I’m done. Let me fade away.’”

She looks forward to a “21st century library, which is going to be amazing” for the region.

Carlson said the project will be the cornerstone for the downtown’s redevelopment.

“I’m just really excited to see how this is going to unfold over the summer,” Carlson said. “The public engagement component is going to be so incredible.”

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The 0.5% city sales tax for the project has been in place since April 1, bringing the total sales tax in Moorhead to 7.875%. The half-cent sales tax is expected to bring in $1.6 million or more per year, which will be dedicated to the community center and public library.

Helmut Schmidt is a reporter for The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead’s business news team. Readers can reach him by email at [email protected], or by calling (701) 241-5583.

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