FARGO – Faith and begorrah, the HoDo has new owners.
Fargo’s Hotel Donaldson was purchased by the partners who own and operate the
in West Fargo, Bismarck and Sioux Falls.
“Our plan is to look at putting a Blarney stone on the ground floor where the bar and restaurant are, and operating the Donaldson Hotel…and really pursuing the vision of Karen Stoker (owner current) of this property,” said Jim Poolman, President. and managing partner of Slainte Holdings. (Slainte, meaning “health,” is an Irish equivalent of “cheers.”)
“I’m so excited about this. It’s going to be cool!” he said on Monday, March 14. “Just go there, it’s so iconic.”
Poolman, a former North Dakota state representative and insurance commissioner, called the hotel, its bar and restaurant a “showcase for downtown Fargo.”
Poolman said he and his partners at Slainte Holdings, Chad Wachter, president and CEO of Investcore, and orthodontist Dr. Dustin Hollevoet, both of Bismarck, are beginning the liquor license transfer process this week. .
The partners plan to take possession of the property in early May and then make the cosmetic changes to fit the Blarney Stone name and concept with a view to reopening the bar and restaurant by this fall.
The restaurant will serve Irish and American cuisine. Poolman said Blarney Stone pubs normally offer a wide selection of craft beers and cocktails.
He said the exposed brick walls are beautiful and the partners will strive to maintain the integrity of the building, “but we certainly also want an Irish pub atmosphere”.
The lounge/restaurant and a separate dining area will be used for the restaurant. “Saturday and Sunday brunch here is going to knock it out of the park,” he said.
The boutique hotel itself will remain the Donaldson Hotel and will be operated by the partners. Poolman is also a partner of a Hampton Inn and Suites in Bismarck. He said some people he spoke to didn’t know the hotel was still operating, so there will be a marketing campaign for the hotel.
He declined to say what he and his partners paid for the property, but said there was a lot of interest when the HoDo hit the real estate market.
The building at 101 Broadway N. (at the corner of First Avenue North and Broadway) had been
on the LoopNet online commercial real estate site.
The 22,256-square-foot structure includes a 17-suite luxury hotel, with two ground-floor restaurants, a wine cellar and tasting room, and a rooftop bar.
Stoker is the ex-wife of North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum. The Forum reached out to her for a comment, but had not received a response at the time this article was published.
The hotel will remain open throughout the change in ownership, Poolman said.
“Everyone knows the Donaldson Hotel as an iconic property in downtown Fargo and knows the value and vision that Karen put into this property,” Poolman said. “We were very excited to potentially be part of the downtown Fargo community. And to add value to this wonderful property that the people of Fargo have come to love.
Poolman, “the old Fargo kid” who grew up here and graduated from South High School, is acclaimed for making a deal for the HoDo.
“We couldn’t be more excited. I haven’t been more excited to be part of a big real estate project in a very long time. And really happy and excited to be part of the Fargo business community,” he said. “And really excited to be part of a product that residents and visitors to downtown Fargo will enjoy.”
The hugely popular HoDo Lounge and its dining spaces have been closed since August 2020 and have not reopened since the COVID-19 pandemic spread.
The Donaldson Hotel was originally built in 1893, one of the first buildings to rise after a major fire destroyed much of downtown Fargo.
From the forum files:
It began life as the meeting hall of a fraternal organization known as the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. There was a ballroom on the top floor for dances and meetings.
In the early 1900s, businesses occupying the ground floor included Fargo Harness Co., Roen & Dahl Millinery, and the Fargo Forum and Republican Newspaper.
In 1915, new owners remodeled the building, replacing the ballroom and turning the structure into a “workers’ hotel”, which was named The Hotel Donaldson. It was revamped again in 1928.
In the 1950s, during the Korean War, the Donaldson had a military contract to house inductees.
In 1974 it became a permanent residence apartment complex with 60 rooms, eight of them with private bathrooms. Other residents used shared bathrooms.
The Donaldson Hotel closed on August 31, 2000, when longtime owner Thomas W. Bell’s lease was not renewed. Rates at the time were $195 to $250 per month, $75 per week, or $20 per day and included a furnished bedroom, cable television, and once-a-week cleaning and linen service.
The new owner, Stoker, then undertook a lengthy renovation of the building, which was celebrated upon its completion as a hip, upmarket addition to the city’s downtown core. He has been featured in several travelogues by newspapers and magazines across the country.
The HoDo has seen more competition downtown over the past two years.
The upscale Jasper Hotel and its Rosewild Restaurant and Lounge opened on June 24, 2021. The 125-room Jasper is part of the Chicago-based Aparium Hotel Group.
In early 2021, work was completed on updating the Radisson Hotel at 201 5th St. N., transforming it into an “upscale” Radisson Blu concept. Owner Brandt Hospitality poured $6 million into the 151-room hotel (not including infrastructure work) to give it a contemporary European flair.