Thursday, September 14, 2006

The Gateway Drive D- Awards

As Tu-Uyen mentioned in his blog, the "Gateway Drive A+ Awards" were recently handed out to two businesses. The awards recognize businesses along the Gateway Drive corridor that have in some way improved the appearance of Gateway Drive - long considered to be the most blighted commercial area of Grand Forks. The winners were The Carpet Garage for exterior renovations to their building and Advance Auto Parts for their newly constructed store.

It's fine to recognize these businesses. They have both made their respective areas of Gateway Drive a little better looking. Still, most of the corridor can only be described as truly ugly. When you think about it, it's unfortunate that we have to actually give out awards to businesses that make improvements to their properties. When was the last time you ever heard of the "Columbia Road A+ Awards" or the "DeMers Avenue A+ Awards"? There would be no reason for such awards. The business communities along those arterials are, for the most part, much more interested in making their properties look as good as they can. The same cannot be said for many in the Gateway Drive business community.

For years, the city has talked about improving the corridor, but in reality it has mainly been just talk. There have been few improvements and the city has pretty much turned a blind eye to the business owners who neglect their properties. Many in the city and in the Gateway business community pretend like "that's what Gateway Drive is for...ugly businesses." I think that's silly. Almost all businesses can be properly taken care of in such a way that their mere presence doesn't feel like an offense to the senses for those who drive by them each day. As it is, we as citizens of Grand Forks are, for the most part, ashamed to have out-of-town visitors travel along Gateway Drive. What a shame.

Again, while it's ok to recognize businesses that truly do make a difference along Gateway Drive, why do we ignore all of those businesses who can never seem to get their act together? Recognizing a few improvements, but ignoring a multitude of neglect...that's really a little too "North Dakota nice" when you think about it.

So, that's why I'm introducing the "Gateway Drive D- Awards". I can personally think of only a few businesses along Gateway Drive worthy of an "A+ Award", but I can think of many that should get a "D- Award".

I'm interested to hear what you guys have to say. Which businesses along Gateway Drive do you feel routinely neglect their properties and make Gateway the black eye on the city of Grand Forks that it currently is? In other words, who would you nominate for a "D- Award"?

14 comments:

Peder Rice said...

GrandForksGuy, aren't you being a bit harsh? I know that Gateway is ugly. But then, Highway 2 from eastern Washington to (at least) Grand Forks is ugly (it's the nature of the beast since bypasses and I-94 came around), and besides, we have the 32nd Ave. Corridor for the tourists to go oooh and aaah over.

Further, with the new construction just off of Gateway (condos and the new strip mall), surely land values in that area will soar, leaving those ugly businesses scratching their heads at their new tax levels, which should have much the effect of driving out ugly businesses and (hopefully) bringing in new, less ugly ones (see the Happy Harry's Plaza for evidence).

Anonymous said...

My d- award goes to Weekely's Auto...simply THE ugliest business in all of Grand Forks!

wolfgf said...

Simplot gets my award.

Anonymous said...

Gateway is a dead area of town. Nobody lives up there, it has bad access, it's ugly and rundown, more businesses are leaving than starting.

Why are we trying to save that pit? Turn it into a more industrial area and forget about it. Gateway drive cannot be fixed to be like 32nd Ave S.

GrandForksGuy said...

Further, with the new construction just off of Gateway (condos and the new strip mall), surely land values in that area will soar, leaving those ugly businesses scratching their heads at their new tax levels, which should have much the effect of driving out ugly businesses and (hopefully) bringing in new, less ugly ones (see the Happy Harry's Plaza for evidence).

I'm hoping that the continued development of University Village will gradually spill over to adjacent areas along Gateway. I'm hearing rumours of a big project being planned for one area on the north side of Gateway. I'll post something about that soon.

Gateway drive cannot be fixed to be like 32nd Ave S.

No one ever said it could be or should be. Still, it can be a heck of a lot better than it currently is. Some changes that property owners could make are really quite simple and affordable. How about spraying weeds on your property? That would be a good place to start.

Anonymous said...

Gateway will never become a vibrant commercial strip like 32nd. But, I don't think anyone thinks that will happen. Just make it look like someone cares. It's a first impression for many and the "gateway" to the city. The name says it all.

Anonymous said...

I may take flak for this, but I vote for the quonset church.

dale said...

One of the reasons most frequently cited for cleaning up the area is that it's the route most often taken from the airport. Thus, first impression for many first time visitors.

That said, I've been hearing it for most of the 25 years I've been living here, and the best result so far is the wall that was supposed to hide the junk yards. Which it somewhat did, until the junk yards overflowed and the owners started piling up crap outside of the wall.

wolfgf said...

GFG,

You definitely struck a nerve here. This has been source of ongoing debate and disgust since I was a kid. Maybe we should form a citizens' action group. The city seems to have no interest in making something happen.

C.Y. said...

I think a little mowing and some paint would make the area a lot nicer.

How about a contest and let the schools paint the concrete walls along the junk yards?
They could change every year, and give each school a section to work with.

JGS said...

Not enough GF voices are being heard by the council. We all clearly know this corridor is by far the worst in town. New travelers like first impressions and taking Gateway first will just make them think, does this city care? I care about this city and something needs to be done here.

And GFG, I can't wait to read this rumor, I hope it's promising to the corridor.

Anonymous said...

I believe everything west of 55 street is in the County although the city sets standards for somethings (like beutification, or lack thereof).

Maybe it's time to check on the County Commision. Go to one of their meetings and get a lesson in micromanagement and everything done outside of public meetings. The meeting is just to rubber stamp their committee's decision.

GrandForksGuy said...

I believe everything west of 55 street is in the County although the city sets standards for somethings (like beutification, or lack thereof).

Actually, I'm pretty sure that the span of Gateway between GFK and the city is all in the city limits. If I remember correctly, there is a very thin strip that runs along the highway that is within city limits.

GrandForksGuy said...

It might sound mean to pick on a cemetery, but one thing that really bugs me along Gateway Drive is the way Memorial Park always keeps that big pile of dirt/clay right up by Gateway Drive. If you haven’t seen it, just take a drive by the cemetery...you can’t miss it. I’m assuming this is used when new graves are dug and they need to pile the dirt somewhere, but it looks very untidy and gives the appearance of perpetual construction work of some sort. I used to think the pile was somehow temporary, but it clearly isn’t. They’ve had it there for years now. It gets bigger every year and is covered with weeds every spring and summer. Would it be possible for the cemetery to either move this pile to another area that isn’t so visible from a major arterial? Or maybe it would be better to build some sort of fence around the pile so you at least couldn’t see it from Gateway Drive? I just hate seeing such a messy looking pile of dirt sitting right next to Gateway for years.

On a related note, why must UND always pile dirt on the north side of University Village? There have been piles there ever since the Ralph was built and dirt comes and goes every year from the piles. It really looks terrible.

You see, one way of improving the look of Gateway would be to do some simple landscape cleanup.