Sunday, January 28, 2007

"Beyond the Blogosphere"

Television ads have started airing on WDAZ for reporter Jessica Dugan's upcoming series "Beyond the Blogosphere" about the local blogging community. The two part series will air this Thursday (February 1) during the 6 PM and 10 PM newscasts.

Jessica wanted to have me on the series, but I told her I was too shy/fond of being anonymous to go on camera. She then offered to put me in the shadows and distort my voice, but I still had to decline. Can you imagine me going on television and having my face and voice obscured? That would be really creepy!

Why didn't I want to go on? Like I said, for one thing I'm too shy to go on the news. I can't bear the thought of tens of thousands of people watching me and listening to what I have to say...It would just kind of "freak me out" I guess. Still, that's not the only reason. Being an anonymous blogger is kind of my gimmick or shtick. No one knows who I really am, so I don't have to worry about my blogging life getting in the way of my real life or vice versa. I have found that you will actually get more leads and tips if people don't know that they're talking to someone who is going to blab everything they know on a blog. I'm just too fond of being the "deep throat" of Grand Forks to give that up.

I'm looking forward to Jessica's series...and the surge in blog visitors I hope it brings with it. You better be nice to us, Jessica!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Open Thread #13

Need topics?

What does the State of the Union address mean for the region?
How about that RiverWalk Center...what would you do with it?
Anybody go grocery shopping at Menards yet?

We're still waiting...

In the past couple of years, there have been many announcements of new restaurants coming to town. Indeed, several of these restaurants (Golden Corral, Pita Pit, and Texas Roadhouse to name a few) have already opened or will do so in the near future. However, we are still waiting for several other previously-announced restaurants to set up shop in Grand Forks.

Why does it take so long for Space Aliens, which the company has said several times will be coming to town, to actually open a Grand Forks location? How about Johnny Carino's? They now have locations in Fargo and in Bismarck, but hints at a Grand Forks restaurant have so far gone nowhere. Whatever happened to that Taco del Mar chain? They were supposed to open several restaurants in the metro area, but so far not even one has opened. How about Erbert and Gerbert's? They used to list a Grand Forks location as "Coming soon". They had it up there for a couple of years, but I see that it has now been removed. What happened? And what about that IHOP?

Don't get me wrong, we have a booming retail and restaurant sector. More places are setting up shop each year. It just seems like so often we hear about a new store or restaurant opening in town and then nothing comes of it for ages. What makes businesses announce Grand Forks locations and then do nothing about it for months or years after making the announcment? Does anybody know anything about the status of the above mentioned establishments?

Friday, January 19, 2007

Sam Silverman dies

Sam Silverman, one of the more prominent figures in the history of Grand Forks and a leader in the local business community, has died today at the age of 91. Read the Herald's story.

I never met Sam, but I've always heard what a good businessman he was. His name has become synonymous with business in Grand Forks. Even though his store is now closed, Silverman's legacy in the community is lasting. His contributions to Grand Forks will not be soon forgotten.

A part of the history of this community passed away today.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Groceries at Menards?

Something odd is up at Menards. The regional home improvement giant may now be entering the grocery business. Yep, you heard me right...groceries at Menards. The chain is advertising for "grocery specialist" positions at stores in St. Cloud, Hutchison, and Grand Forks. Crazy!

A reader just sent me this news via an email tip. This is the first I had heard of this odd news. Has anyone else heard anything about groceries at Menards? Any Mendards employees out there?

Thanks again to the tipster!

Update - 1/18/2007 - 12:30 AM
Read John Edison's story in Thursday's Herald.

In other grocery store news, Leevers is no longer open 24 hours a day. Hmmm...could that have something to with that retail behemoth on the south side? It's too bad, really. It would be nice to see a 24 hour grocery store in both the south and north parts of town.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Open Thread #12

Does anybody need topics?

How about the recently announced changes at the old Uptown/Downtown?
Any interesting rumors about new places setting up shop downtown this year?
Are you satisfied with the way the city streets have been cleaned so far this winter?
Speaking of winter, how are you staying warm?

Topics covered: Uptown/Downtown, bars downtown, Grand Junction moving to South Washington, roller derby league

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Building the future of UND

UND is proposing $80 million dollars worth of new construction in the near future. The projects are detailed in a report for the 2007-2009 North Dakota legislative biennium. House Bill 1003 contains proposals for funding projects on several college and university campuses across the state. No campus is proposing more construction than UND. Click here for a more detailed breakdown of the projects.

UND projects include:
Allied Health Facility - $20 million
American Indian Center - $10 million
EERC Commercialization Center - $5 million
Earth Systems Science Building - $5 million
Indoor track facility - $15 million
Memorial Union front entrance - $4.5 million
O'Kelly/Ireland lab - $2.2 million
SMHS lab and administration renovations - $9.8 million
SMHS Bismarck FPC graduate center - $4.5 million
Wilkerson Dining Center renovations - $4 million

In addition to these, President Kupchella is also talking about at least $50 dollars worth of additional projects for the near future including a $29 million steam generation facility and a $20 million graduate-level business building. Also, there should be more private development on the UND campus in the near future. A University Village hotel is sounding more and more like a sure thing.

UND has some pretty impressive plans, to say the least.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

32nd Avenue through the years

I'm was inspired by fellow Grand Forks blogger JGS's recent map detailing ongoing construction projects along 32nd Avenue South. Instead of just looking at what is currently being built, I decided to branch out and take a look at the 30 year history of the busy retail corridor.

The satellite image below shows the 32nd Avenue corridor between I-29 to near South Washington. Each commercial building in the area has been color coded to show during which decade the building was constructed. Yellow=1970s, Blue=1980s, Green=1990s, and Red=2000s. Please take into consideration that I was only born in the early 80s so I'm guessing whether a few of these buildings are from the 70s or 80s. Still, I think the coding is fairly accurate. Also, I know the buildings are tiny on the map, but they had to be if I wanted to get the entire strip in one picture.

For those of you who are less than comfortable with maps, the big yellow shape is Columbia Mall, the large red shapes on the left are SuperTarget and the rest of the Grand Forks Marketplace, and the green shape with a big red box around it is Wal-Mart.

After finishing the map, I found it interesting to note just how much construction took place during the 1990s. Granted, several buildings were constructed after the Flood of 1997 as replacements for flooded out structures elsewhere in town, but a large amount of construction took place even before the flood.

Next, look at just how much red is on the map. These are all buildings that have been built since 2000. When you consider that this is only the start of 2007, it is amazing how much construction has taken place in just the first part of this decade. There already looks to be almost as much - or even more - red on the map compared to the amount of green. In other words, the 32nd Avenue strip saw plenty of construction during the 1990s, but the current decade has been booming so far.

You might also want to take note of the fact that there aren't many spots left along 32nd Avenue these days. Grand Forks' prime shopping corridor is almost full.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Open Thread #11

Have at it.

Topics covered: Barnes and Noble, Borders Books, the price of textbooks, sprawl, the southward growing of cities, University Village and the possibility of a hotel and a Starbucks coming, Chipotle vs. Qdoba

"Thanks for the good times!" - Vastlane closes

Vastlane, a pioneer in the local user-generated content community and a forerunner of the Grand Forks Blogosphere, has ceased operation. In a short note dated January 2 at the site, "VL" says "Its time to close up shop".

Long before there was Grand Forks Life or any of the many other Grand Forks blogs, Vastlane was the place to discuss the local community. Thanks to Vastlane for being a pioneer and for giving the community a gathering place. You'll be missed!

Monday, January 08, 2007

32nd Avenue boom

The Herald has an article in Monday's paper about all of the developments taking place along 32nd Avenue in south Grand Forks.

In ways, the story is a little like those WDAZ stories that seem to rehash the same developments over and over again without ever mentioning anything that most people don't already know about (how many times can Texas Roadhouse be a news story?). Still, I always love reading development-related news in the paper.

So, since Ashley Furniture and the Golden Corral really aren't breaking news anymore, I'm left wondering what else might be coming to the 32nd corridor in the coming year. Anybody heard anything? What about this Denny's? Maybe the Herald can get more out of the district manager than I could. How about Home Depot? I have heard serious talk in the past that it was considering a new Grand Forks location on 32nd Avenue.

I have to say that I'm excited to see the ongoing boom of shopping and dining opportunities in the community. Pretty soon, none of us will have to go to Fargo for anything, right? I'm thinking that, over time, more choices in Grand Forks will also lessen any leakage of Canadian shoppers to our neighbor to the south. Why drive 70 more miles when you can find almost all the same stores and restaurants in Grand Forks?

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Dog park dead?

As Tu-Uyen is reporting in Wednesday's Herald, it's looking like that city funded dog park proposal that advocates were pushing so hard last year might be dead. At the very least, it doesn't sound like the city is able to (or willing to?) fund any such dog park. Also, the Greenway has been shut out as a potential site. And to think that, just a few short months ago, some of our leaders were behind the plan to build a fenceless dog park in a very central location of the Greenway. What a difference a few months (and a few phone calls and a few blog posts) can make, huh?

Like I have said in the past, I'm not against a dog park. However, I have been against just about every proposal for a dog park that has been presented so far. My major problem has always been location, location, location. I just don't feel that we can have a dog park take up valuable green space in centralized locations of town. Surely we can find a more suitable location somewhere on the outskirts? I, for one, am excited about the potential for the Humane Society dog park. I hope that project can get going in a reasonable amount of time.

I must say I'm glad the city is, at least for now, putting the brakes (or tightening the leash) on this project.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Open Thread #10

The first post of 2007. Wazzup?

Topics covered: Toppers restaurant, empty Target building, Alerus Center debate (city finance director John Schmisek comments)