Tuesday, May 02, 2006

What's up at the Riverwalk?

I'm sure we are all well aware of the poor financial record of East Grand Forks' city owned mall, The Riverwalk Center. The city purchased the mall after the Flood of 1997 with the hopes that it would attract businesses and people to the downtown area. It did that...for about a year. The first year or two after the flood actually was a pretty good time for the mall. It had low (or no) vacancy and there was a steady stream of shoppers. Then, that all but dried up overnight. Today, this very small mall has high vacancy, few shoppers, and tenants who haven't paid their bills for literally years (does the city seriously think they will ever see any of that money???). The city would like to sell the property, but this isn't possible at least until next year because federal funds were used to purchase the mall and federal law requires the city to keep the property for at least ten years after the flood...which brings us to 2007. East Grand Forks mayor Lynn Stauss has publicly lamented that the Riverwalk Center was one of the city's...and his...biggest mistakes in the wake of the flood.

Now comes news that "something" is up at the Riverwalk Center. There is a persistent rumor going around that many of the mall's tenants will be leaving the mall and moving over to the Grand Cities Mall in Grand Forks. However, the rumor also has it that it wasn't the businesses decision to leave the Riverwalk Center...the city is asking them to move. Word is that "something" wants to come in and take over most of the mall space. A new store? Perhaps a department store? I know that Herbergers has been sought in the past. Also, it seems that a couple of the tenants do not want to leave the mall and it is plausible that the largest tenant in the mall...I think we all know what that is...would simply close up if they were forced to leave the mall. Like I said, this is all just a rumor right now. However, it is a very interesting rumor in light of all of the construction and development going on in the downtown area of Grand Forks. A department store down there could bring more people to the area. Guess we'll have to see just how true this rumor is.

Update - 5/17/2006
Jack's Shoes appears to be in the process of leaving the Riverwalk Center and moving to the Grand Cities Mall. Also, WDAZ just aired a story about the mall's woes, but didn't say anything about any possible new tenants. I should not that reporter Lacey Crisp was wrong when she said that the city would keep the mall for ten more years and then maybe sell it. As stated in my original post above, the ten years that the city is talking about started in 1997...not 2006. That means that the ten years are up next year...not 2016.

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

Interesting!! I like rumors like this, they make me want to investigate!

Anonymous said...

How about blow up the downtown. There is no parking and the new places that are there are terrible. Yes I have been in the new places and they have no appeal.

Anonymous said...

-->How about blow up the downtown. There is no parking and the new places that are there are terrible. Yes I have been in the new places and they have no appeal.<--

Have you heard of walking? Guess it really sucks that downtown doesn't have a McDonalds driveup window - would that make you happy? There's a reason Manhattan residents are the thinnest in the country - they have to walk everywhere. Unfortunately, to many GF residents refuse to walk anywhere.

Just can't stand the negativity of some people.

Tu-Uyen said...

We're talking about downtown EAST GRAND FORKS here. Parking's hardly a problem there with that big lot in front of the boardwalk, Cabela's and behind the Riverwalk Centre.

Besides, blowing up downtown would be stupid. You go to downtown for the bars, restaurants and stores. Turn them into a lot and why the hell would you go downtown??

wendian said...

Ooooh, excellent research. What role do you think the new "community marketing manager" that the city is hiring will have on the situation? Is it a last gasp attempt to save the mall?

Herbergers would be a fun addition to downtown EGF, no doubt, but I don't know if it's truly feasible. Department stores are becoming dinosaurs--people just don't shop them like they used to, what with being an always-in-a-hurry society and all. Sluggish sales plus an unstable location lead me to believe that it won't be the store to drop anchor in the mall.

It might be fun to see a type of outdoor leisure store that sells things like bikes, boats, RVs, ATVs, camping stuff, sporting gear... to compliment, not compete, with Cabellas, of course. The whole active-outdoor brand could really work and promote more activity downtown, on the Greenway and on the river.

JGS said...

I agree with wendian.. Herbergers would be a good addition but not to downtown East Grand Forks. If Herbergers wanted business and to compete with other stores, they would build it near 32nd Avenue south, imo. Seeing a big department store just doesn't fit the downtown "feel". Cabela's doesn't even look right in downtown EGF. A downtown to me consists of small-med-high rises with small department stores inside. But thats just me and my opinion.

GrandForksGuy said...

At one point in the last couple of years, it was apparently almost a done deal that Herbergers was going to go in the old Target space in Columbia Mall. I guess just like Wallace Theaters opening up a cinema in the mall...

wendian said...

I have heard the same rumors about Herbergers in the Columbia Mall. It would be fun to see an indoor fun park of sorts in the old Target space. Mini golf, bumper cars, a small theater, etc. Things for families to do while mom is shopping. I'm of the opinion if they turn the mall into a destination, families are more likely to go as a unit, spend more time, which equals more money. For that matter, why not explore the possibility of a small hotel, a sitdown restaurant (like TGI Fridays or Bennigans, or even bring back Barley Corns), a rentable facility for things like weddings or receptions, a clinic, or etc. Just tossing around some ideas, didn't mean to hijack the thread. :)

Anonymous said...

A lot of excellent ideas Wendian. I think it would be cool in incorporate all 3 ideas. A small hotel complete with a restaurant and a few attractions like mini golf and batting cages, etc. Only thing holding them back, which basically holds us all back is $$$$.

Tu-Uyen said...

I disagree about the money being the problem. It's the lack of traffic that's the problem. Rent in the mall is way below market rate and I'm pretty certain city leaders would bend over backwards (as they did for Cabela's) to help any business that's thinking of opening downtown.

No, they're not coming because they're afraid no one will come. Unless you're a destination store like Cabela's, it's too easy to find alternatives on Grand Forks' 32nd Avenue than to drive all the way to East Grand Forks.

Anonymous said...

I think a unique, but well-branded retail specialty store, say Urban Outfitters, would be a good fit. It would attract college kids as well as Canadians to the area and other smaller business might follow. I think it could work in downtown GF as well. Wishful thinking...

Anonymous said...

Riverwalk is the most dismal depressing place I've ever seen. I don't think it should come as any surprise that its tenants would fail. It reminds me of the old enclosed mall in downtown GF.

Anonymous said...

The Riverwalk Mall is not being closed to make room for Herbergers; it is going to become a TV Studio so that the EDHA Executive Director can give Business Seminars on Econmic Development over the internet and the Council President can have daily news conferences on the making of East Grand Forks and the lack of progress, original thought and the good ole days or is that "boys". There next project is a Grain Elevator next to the New Clinic (EDHA original idea). East grand Forks is on the move...only problem is that the newly constructed levee system kept the Red from washing the place away.

Tu-Uyen said...

Haha. Who ever posted this last one must work at City Hall or knows someone who does. Inside baseball!

Elucidarian said...

The Downtown is supposed to be about stuff to do on foot after you park your car (in the spacious parking area bordering EGF's side of the river).

The Riverwalk Center should be a pedestrian friendly establishment. What about an indoor version of the GF Town Square's Farmer's Market? What about a flea market? Every successfully quaint district I've seen other cities has some form of flea market. Imagine a festive atmosphere where folks can rent out some space any weekend of the year to sell their wares. It would even compliment the Farmer's Market.

Maybe to supplement the slower week days, the building could house business-related agencies and such, providing more customers for the lunch crowd at Whitey's Applebee's, etc.

Elucidarian said...

Barnes and Noble. Starbucks. I'm willing to admit these corporate entities could really compliment smaller entrepeneurial types (and a flew market).

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Anonymous said...

I have heard that the Karlstad Bakery sells food items all year
after the FM closes down in Sept.
I like the idea of a FM inside in
the winter time. I would come
with my Karen's Kuchen. I also
like the idea of an indoor flea
market or indoor rummage sale.
You could charge for using space,
which I think they do now, at 25.00
each time you use space.