Wednesday, March 28, 2007

A look at UND's new Spiritual Center

Here are some images of what UND's new Hopper-Danley Spiritual Center will look like when it is completed this May. According to the Center's website, the chapel will be available for meditation, prayer, small worship groups, and weddings.

You might find it interesting to compare these with the first rendering. I like both designs, but the one they finally went with will probably fit in better on campus. What do you think?
Images - University of North Dakota

Monday, March 26, 2007

Bank Forward to open two GF banks

According to Monday's Herald, a Hannaford, North Dakota based bank will soon be opening two locations in Grand Forks. Bank Forward, which has eight North Dakota locations and three Minnesota locations, plans to open a pair of Grand Forks locations - one on the north end and one on the south end.

The southern location will be at the intersection of South Coulmbia Road and 47th Avenue South. Currently, that intersection is basically undeveloped and contains no commercial presence. It will be interesting to see this intersection develop. I wonder where the northern location will be...University Village?

These aren't the only new banks coming to Grand Forks. Choice Financial is opening a second location and Well Fargo has announced plans to open a third location. Both banks will be located in the new commercial development taking place on South Washington Street across from the Aurora Medical Park.

I've always heard that it's a good thing to see new banks open up in a city. More people and more money in the community = new banks. During its 1990s growth spurt, it seemed like many new banks opened in Fargo. Hopefully, so many new banks setting up shop in Grand Forks is a sign of growth.

Update - 3/26/2007 - 2:00 AM
Here's an interesting story about the new Walker, Minnesota Bank Forward location. A sign that the bank put up in front of this new location proved to be so controversial that a city council member even resigned after a debate.

Note to Grand Forks Planning and Zoning Commission: look very carefully at any signs that Bank Forward wants to erect!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

BEST OF GF: Coffee Shop

I'm starting another new feature here on Grand Forks Life. It seems like Open Threads have been very popular and the recent introduction of Pet Peeves also drew plenty of comments. So, since you guys have shown that you love to share your opinions, the new feature I'm introducing should be right up your alley.

"BEST OF GF" will be a series of posts/polls that attempts to gauge favorites within the community...Best Coffee Shop, Best Ethnic Food, Best Music get the picture. I'm hoping that this will become another popular feature here.

So, here is your first chance to pick favorites. Which coffee shop in Grand Forks deserves to be called "BEST OF GF?" Cast your vote and then head on over to the comments section.

BEST OF GF: Coffee Shop
B&N Tower Cafe
Caribou Coffee
Coffee Company
Java Journey
Mountain Mudd
Starbucks (32nd)
Starbucks (Washington)
Starbucks (SuperTarget)
Stomping Grounds
Urban Stampede

UPDATE: Since there seems to have been some trouble/confusion over the type of poll I was using, I've switched over to another type of poll. I'm using the same kind of poll I've always used over on the left side of the blog. It might not be very pretty and it might not be integrated into the website itself, but I've never had any trouble with that type of poll before. All voting that has gone on today in this poll has been wiped out because of this change so...PLEASE VOTE AGAIN!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Brad Paisley coming to The Ralph

According to, Brad Paisley is coming to the Ralph Engelstad Arena on October 11. Paisley was last in Grand Forks back in 2005 when he played the Alerus Center.

These country shows do seem to do well. I still wish we could get a larger variety of concerts in town. Oh well...I guess we'll take whatever we can get...

Heels Boutique now open

Heels Boutique, a new locally-owned, upscale women's shoe store, is now open in the strip mall in front of Kohl's. The boutique is located right next door to Bobbie's, a locally-owned women's clothing store. Synergy!

It's great to see two new local businesses sprout up in one of the city's newest strip malls. Any rumors out there about other businesses coming to this strip mall or the other new ones at University Village and across from the Aurora Medical Park? All three are being developed by the same company. Surely, we can expect a Starbucks in at least one of them. I would love to see a Panera Bread open up in one of the strip malls.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Big Lots closing Grand Forks store

Grand Forks' Big Lots store is apparently closing its doors after several years in the Grand Cities Mall. The store, which occupies a portion of the mall's old Sears store, is being closed due to a corporate realignment.

According to a national marketing manager for J. Herzog & Sons (which owns the Grand Cities Mall), the Big Lots chain is reducing their Midwestern operations. During the past two years, most Big Lots store throughout the Midwest have closed, including the Fargo location. After this realignment has been completed, the chain will have shuttered 174 Big Lots stores.

I'm sad to see the local Big Lots store close. I shopped there rather frequently...not that I ever bought much...oh wait...I guess that's the problem.

I wonder what the Grand Cities Mall will find to fill that space? Any ideas?

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Open Thread #18

Ok, Open Thread #16 got over 50 comments, but Open Thread #17 got less than ten.

Consistency, people, consistency!

Monday, March 12, 2007

State of the City: "A Historic Moment"

Grand Forks Mayor Michael Brown gave his 2007 State of the City address today...check it out.

New chains want to set up shop in GF

On March 23 and 24, Columbia Mall in Grand Forks will play host to Franchise Expo 2007, a unique event aimed at finding potential franchisees for retail chains that would like to come to Columbia Mall and the Grand Cities. Read the Herald story.

Companies interested in setting up shop in Grand Forks include:

Dunn Brothers Coffee
Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory
Charley's Grilled Subs
Taco Time

The Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory website already lists Columbia Mall, Fargo's West Acres Mall, and Bismarck's Kirkwood Mall as "available" properties they are looking to find franchisees for...check it out.

Also, a January 19, 2007 story in the Minneapolis St. Paul Business Journal mentions that Dunn Brothers "is in talks with prospective franchisees in North Dakota and Iowa and expects to open its first locations in those states later this year"...check it out.

Clearly, GK Development (the owners of Columbia Mall) would like to see these chains set up shop in their mall. The Dakota Cafe food court still has several empty spots that the mall would certainly like to fill. It will be interesting to see if anything comes of this expo.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

City website redesigned...again

Remember how much you all disliked the city's redesigned website when it was unveiled last July? Well, maybe the city was listening to you. They've redesigned the website again...check it out.

It still isn't the most attractive city website I've come across, but it is a bit of an improvement over the last version. Really, the only major difference is that now the city has implemented drop-down menus instead of the horrible navigation system they used to have.

They could still use some new pictures. Those images look squashed and faded. Also, wouldn't it make more sense to show some of this city's major attractions and historic buildings instead of a bad picture of University Park or a picture of the Chester Fritz Library in which the building is almost totally covered with frosty vegetation? They could clearly find some better pictures.

What do you guys think of the new website design?

Update - 3/10/2007 - 9:15 PM
Oh, I just realized that the website shows a different group of pictures each time the site is loaded. I hadn't noticed that before...

Update - 3/10/2007 - 9:25 PM
It looks like the city is going to start uploading videos of council meetings to their here.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Introducing: Pet Peeves

I'm starting something new here.

I'm clearly an opinionated person and, for some reason, I get the impression that plenty of you also have some pretty strong opinions. So, I'm going to start a new type of thread where I get to air one of my biggest pet peeves and then allow you to do the same. Since this is a Grand Forks blog, most of my pet peeves will be geared towards things in the local community that really bug me.

After you read each of my pet peeves, feel free to comment on it and tell me that I'm the most anally retentive person you know. Then, the fun part...share your pet peeves. What really bugs you?

GrandForksGuy's Pet Peeve #1:
Why can't some people ever learn the correct names of the streets in this city...streets they probably drive on everyday? How many times must I hear "32nd Street", "42nd Avenue", "Washington Avenue", or "Gateway Street"? Even as a kid, I knew that Columbia Mall was on 32nd Avenue and that the hospital was on Columbia Road.

It's bad enough to hear newcomers struggling with these names, but it's even more frustrating when someone who has lived in Grand Forks for years says something about the Alerus Center being "out on 42nd Avenue." The worst is when I see a news report on WDAZ or in the Herald and the reporter screws up the names...that really bugs me.

For one last time: east-west routes in Grand Forks are AVENUES and north-south routes are STREETS. Any route that is labeled a "Road", "Drive", or "Way" is just an anomaly in an otherwise very simple naming system.

So there it is, my first pet peeve.

Now, what bugs you?

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

The future of UND?

JLG Architects, a prominent architectural firm based in Grand Forks, recently debuted a new website. The other day, I was looking through JLG's online portfolio and I stumbled across some very interesting images. They show proposed developments at the University of North Dakota which, until this time, the public hasn't had a chance to look at. I love "peeking into the future" like this and I wanted to show you the pictures. Some of them are rather interesting.

Of the three projects shown here, two have been previously mentioned: a new College of Business and Public Administration complex and a new addition to Memorial Union. The Union project is currently listed in a bill making its way through the state legislature. The other project, a new housing complex geared specifically to students of the School of Aerospace Sciences, is news to me.

Memorial Union
Wow...could that "UND" sign be any bigger? This is a rather unusual design, but it certainly would make an impact. You couldn't exactly miss those two-story-high letters if you were driving down University Avenue! I wonder what exactly would be located in this expansion? Is that giant billboard just a walkway or does it serve some purpose? Notice the sunken parking lot.

College of Business and Public Administration
A major expansion of the COBPA has been talked about in recent years and it's interesting to see the plans. It looks like they want to build an entirely new facility directly west of Burtness Theater and connect it to Gamble Hall (the current home of the COBPA). This is certainly an attractive new structure and would put a shiny new "face" on the COBPA. In these images, old Chandler Hall (built 1899) has been demolished. Note that Gamble Hall would also get a brand new entrance.

Aerospace Housing
I have never heard of a proposal to build housing geared to Aerospace Sciences students. This building looks very similar to the other Aerospace Sciences buildings. I can't figure out where it would be built, unless some existing housing is demolished to make way for it. Perhaps this project is long-term planning or perhaps these plans were drawn up in the past, but it never got further than the drawing board. I've just never heard of this project.

Update - 3/6/2007 - 6:02 PM
Surprise, Surprise...WDAZ has a story on tonight's newscasts about these building projects. This is getting to be pretty funny, really. Does WDAZ even look for their own stories anymore or do they just rely on the blogosphere to give them their "scoops"? Oh well, I get a kick out of seeing my blog posts become the evening news each night! Keep reading the blog, Jessica Dugan and all you other 'DAZers...

All images copyright JLG Architects

Monday, March 05, 2007

Open Thread #17

The last open thread currently has over 50 guys did good! Can you do it again???

Saturday, March 03, 2007

What was up with Friday?

You guys must have been snowbound and bored. Friday's traffic was the biggest Grand Forks Life has seen. I had over 300 unique visits and about 600 page views.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Golden Corral now open

Grand Forks' newest restaurant, the Golden Corral, is now open for business on 32nd Avenue South in front of Kohl's. I believe this is a soft opening and a grand opening will take place in the near future.

Has anybody been there yet?

Canad Inn floor plans

On their website, Canad Inns has just uploaded the floor plans for the new hotel, waterpark, and entertainment complex that will open this spring next to Grand Forks' Alerus Center. Check out the PDF version here or just click on the below image for a bigger version (you can zoom in on the PDF and get a very close look at the plans).

The floor plans detail every aspect of the complex's main floor. It looks like Tavern United will be located right in the front part of the hotel and will face 42nd Street. Aalto's Garden Cafe sits in the middle of the first floor, near the grand staircase leading to the upper levels. Playmaker's Gaming Lounge will be located on the west side of the building and will face I-29. The previously mentioned Garbanzo's has been replaced with a new restaurant concept: L Bistro.

Other items of note: the large arcade on the north side of the waterpark, the large "spa/fitness" area (?), and the two outdoor patios for Tavern United and L Bistro. The "Main Street" hall whichs runs east-west is also interesting. Canad has talked about building a second hotel tower west of the first tower. The "Main Street" corridor would likely extend into the second tower.

BTW, doesn't it look like the main north-south corridor which runs from the south side of the Alerus Center through the Canad complex ends at L Bistro? What about the movie theater (or whatever else they find to go north of the waterpark) would it be accessed from the current complex? It kind of makes me wonder if Canad is really expecting to find a tenant for the space.

This looks like quite a place!