Developed by Epic Companies, the Beacon will be the future home of three buildings, a 40,000 square foot outdoor space, public parking and an event space. It will be able to host markets, trade shows, theater performances, movie nights, children’s events, hockey and other sporting events, art exhibitions, and more. Completion is planned for autumn 2023.
The three buildings are mixed-use and consist of apartments, condominiums and commercial space with an area of more than 12,000 square meters. It is being built in a manner similar to The Lights, a four-building Epic Companies development in West Fargo that is partially completed.
McKenzy Braaten, vice president of marketing and public relations at Epic Companies, said the inspiration from The Lights made the design process easier.
“It definitely gave us the opportunity to develop a similar (property) and see what works and what doesn’t and how we can improve it and make changes,” said Braaten. “It definitely gave us a blueprint. This place will actually be a bit bigger than the one in West Fargo, since (Grand Forks) is such a hockey city. “
The Beacon and the City of Grand Forks have agreed on terms for the project by August 23, which means construction can begin soon. Epic Companies plans to start this month.
“Since we are working with the city for the square, the administrative structure will be similar to the past where you have members from multiple entities, and those entities can be the park district, the school district, the county and the members as a whole”, said Braaten. “That was very important as part of something we’ve seen in the past, how you can manage a place in a place and still own it as a city. It was very important to us to make sure that we could agree on the terms. “
The Beacon’s place will be owned by the city thanks to Tax Increment Financing (TIF). It subsidizes companies by refunding part of their taxes to finance development in an area or project. The place is managed by a non-profit organization that has yet to be determined.
“We have done this with The Lights in West Fargo in the past and it worked really well,” said Braaten. “We use a similar structure to this development and management conditions. It is open to the community and the public so that city ownership of it is guaranteed that the community can use it. “
One thing The Beacon has an advantage over The Lights is location. Braaten said it should be accessible to more people because of its proximity to downtown.
“We think people can walk so much and get downtown so quickly, that will really attract the crowd,” said Braaten. “It is definitely on a major thoroughfare compared to West Fargo, which is a little further on the outskirts of Fargo. Since The Beacon is located in the immediate vicinity of the city center, this was also important to us based on the location. “
The Beacon will also take inspiration from UND and some people who meant a lot to the university. Part of its design will pay tribute to them.
“It’s going to be green and white bars, so it’s going to have colors similar to AND,” Braaten said. “One big thing is that ‘The Beacon’ means ‘Inspiration and Opportunity’ and is named after Ralph Englestad and Reggie Morelli for providing opportunity and inspiration to so many people. So the Beacon not only has multiple meanings when you think of aviation and lights and the like, but also has the meaning of opportunity and inspiration. “