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For now, Fargo doesn't fit H&M's plans

Other than a Cash Wise Foods store that opened in summer 2018, there has been little activity on land northeast of the intersection of 52nd Avenue South and Interstate 29 in Fargo. In late 2016, a local development firm had said it would build the Fargo Outlets at Timber Creek mall on the site. Helmut Schmidt / The Forum

FARGO - Fashion retailer H&M may have a worldwide reach, but it won't be reaching out to Fargo in the near future.

The Sweden-based conglomerate announced in 2017 that it planned to open a 25,000-square-foot store at the proposed Fargo Outlets at Timber Creek.

Those plans have been scotched, at least for now.

"At the current time we are no longer planning on opening at this location," the corporation's media relations department told The Forum in a brief email replying to questions about whether they still intended to expand into Fargo.

H&M already has a North Dakota presence, opening a store in Bismarck's Kirkwood Mall in fall 2016.

Plans for the Fargo outlet mall were first announced in December 2016, with a goal to break ground on a 300,000 square-foot center in 2017 and have it open this fall. At the time, it was to have room for about 60 stores.

There has been some development in that area, including a Cash Wise Foods grocery store and liquor store on the mall site. There are also some strip mall and standalone businesses to the east along 52nd Avenue South.

The Forum reached out to Kevin Christianson, president of Property Resources Group, several times in the last six weeks to find out if the developer is delaying or permanently shelving plans for the mall northeast of the intersection of 52nd Avenue South and Interstate 29.

No replies have been received from Christianson or other representatives of PRG.

When the outlet mall was proposed, a brochure touting the potential business opportunities pointed to the success of the West Acres mall, which in 2015 had 7 million visitors and sales of $517 per square foot. West Acres at that time had 950,000 square feet and 120 stores.

Since then, the erosion of large brick and mortar retailers nationally have taken big chunks out of the local big box scene. West Acres no longer has a Sears store. And the Herberger's stores at West Acres and Moorhead Center Mall have both closed with the bankruptcy of parent corporation Bon-Ton.

Many restaurant and store owners are also taking advantage of opportunities in Fargo's resurgent downtown and in strip malls springing up in the southern and western reaches of the metro area, where homes and apartments are still going up at a brisk pace.

Hennes & Mauritz AB is known for its fast-fashion clothing for men, women, teenagers and children. There were 4,328 H&M stores around the world as of May 2018, according to a corporate store count. Other brands, such as COS, & Other Stories, Monki, Weekday, ARKET and Cheap Monday accounted for another 473 stores.

Helmut Schmidt

Helmut Schmidt was born in Germany, but grew up in the Twin Cities area, graduating from Park High School of Cottage Grove. After serving a tour in the U.S. Army, he attended the University of St. Thomas in St Paul, Minn., graduating in 1984 with a degree in journalism. He then worked at the Albert Lea (Minn.) Tribune and served as managing editor there for three years. He joined The Forum in October 1989, working as a copy editor until 2000. Since then, he has worked as a reporter on several beats, including K-12 education, Fargo city government, criminal justice, and military affairs. He is currently one of The Forum's business reporters.

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