Tuesday, May 29, 2007

More University Village construction?

It appears as though a new construction project of some sort will soon start in the University Village neighborhood north of UND. The bike path that follows the English Coulee is being rerouted in an area just south of Gateway Drive. Also, all trees within this area have been spray painted with big X's so it appears as though they will soon be removed as well. The area I'm referring to is bounded on the north by Gateway Drive, on the east by Ralph Engelstad Drive, on the west by the now-rerouted bike path, and on the south by the existing condo development. Perhaps I’m jumping the gun here, but these things do lead me to believe that something is planned for the property.

So, what can we expect to see constructed on this property in question? Maybe even more condos? What about that University Village hotel project which the University has been working on lately? Perhaps something we haven't even heard about yet? I'll be interested to find out.

Even if the proposed hotel isn't built on the piece of property I referred to earlier, I think we should expect to hear something about the hotel in the near future. I've heard various hotel chains mentioned, including Marriott. A logical location seems to be directly north of Suite 49. I'm sure developers would like to have a physical link to The Ralph, but I'm not sure if that's possible.

Construction on the second University Village strip mall is winding down. One spot in the mall will be a chiropractic office. None of the other spots appear to be taken yet. Any word on future tenants? I have heard that the University has also been working on a plan to build a larger mixed use complex on the northeast corner of University Village. It would be nice to see at least a 3 to 4 story building in that area.

17 comments:

Nate said...

looks like the fire station there is going to be updating their exterior to match the surrounding buildings' brickwork.

Elucidarian said...

A University Village is supposed to be the sort of cozy nook in a town that students can visit to unwind and take of their needs without having to put on miles going to and from a "business district." There should be a small grocery, a pub, an underage rec hall, a drug store, maybe a spa, second floor apartments looking over it all.

This idea of the University Village is desirable, so much so, it has become a brand name. Do a quick google of the term and you'll find a long list of gated communities, old-age homes, and apartment/condo complexes, interspersed with a few links to actual student habitats.

UND seems to cater to money as priority #1. The current businesses may appear to be student friendly, but they lack charm and comfort like my above-mentioned archetype. Suite 49 is geared to sports fans, ostensibly of the student, alumni, and professional ilk. Beyond that, I've seen nothing that bears a "students' own" feel.

Maybe the planners are looking long-term. Maybe they figure in order to get the place built, they need to attract more established investors with more expendable resources. Then, after some years have passed, the village can begin to phase in more local entrepreneurs and interests. This is no call to avoid chains completely, I just don't want to see them dominate the place. At least there could be more inviting examples.

I don't know. What the does the blogosphere have to say about this?

Matthew said...

You acutually said something I was going to mention: why aren't there more places in "university village" that students will actually frequent? Aside from a REAL bookstore, having a small grocery store near campus would be a wonderflu thing.

Jason Berberich said...

Could that be the site for the new Bank Forward location? I know they're supposed to be building somewhere over in that area, but I'm not sure on the specifics.

The designs I've seen for it look nice - it'll even include a Starbucks.

Anonymous said...

There is a small grocery store near campus-its called Hugo's.

Anonymous said...

With the cost of new construction and extensive contractual commitments on the Bronson property, a student mecca is not going to attract the deep pocketed investors that are needed. The students are gone half the time and they don't have financial resources that alumni have.

A true student environment needs some mom/pop type stores/hagouts/takeout places, often converted from old housing or apartments. From what I understand, UND and the City of Grand Forks do not want 5th Avenue, Harvard, Cambridge, Oxford etc to have a mixture of retail/housing. That is the area that a truly has potential to be a "University Village" in the truest sense. UND buys out the properties that do become available (and forced out an older Valley Dairy). IF it was zoned for mixed use, investment might go into to that area.

Anonymous said...

You can't "create" a Dinkytown-style commercial zone from whole cloth. It has to be organic. University Village appears to have sprung up to serve the needs of the townhouse residents rather than students.

Anonymous said...

As for the construction...isn't there supposed to be a meditation center along the Coulee, near the Wellness Center, or was that absorbed into the Wellness Center?

Anonymous said...

You can't "create" a Dinkytown-style commercial zone from whole cloth. It has to be organic. University Village appears to have sprung up to serve the needs of the townhouse residents rather than students.Well put. If allowed, the 5th Avenue area could become an "organic" zone.

Elucidarian said...

There is a small grocery store near campus-its called Hugo's.

Maybe where you come from Hugo's is small, but I was thinking more like half that size and closer still to the main campus. You've got to travel over ten blocks from the nearest student residence hall, crossing an overpass and a major city artery to get to that Hugo's. This town isn't so large that we can't do better.

Anonymous said...

The Hopper-Danley Meditation center is completed, next to the coulee, just east of Hughes Fine Arts...

it held it's first wedding this past weekend. The area looks amazing with the new addition.

GrandForksGuy said...

Jason, where have you seen the images of the Bank Forward building? Would it be a regular Starbucks that just happens to be connected to the bank? Are they planning a Starbucks for both Bank Forward locations?

As far as a grocery store at University Village, that would be nice, but don't bet on it. I wish we could have a small grocery store in University Village and a small grocery store in the old Civic Auditorium, but I doubt a chain like Hugo's is interested in creating a smaller format store in the days of massive, supersized grocery stores and at a time when grocery store profits are so small. Besides, Hugo's wouldn't be such a great fit for either location. Are there any other chains out there that might be interested in either of these locations?

The Hopper-Danley Spiritual Center looks very nice. That whole area is seeing lots of improvements. I'm still a little puzzled why we need such a large monument dedicated to those who have passed away while attending UND. Why wasn't the memorial simply dedicated to everybody who has ever been a part of the UND community, but has since passed away? Dedicating it only to those who have died while at UND is a little odd, in my opinion. I wonder when the fountain will be back? I should get in contact with John Colle Rogers (they guy who is doing the renovation).

Anonymous said...

University Village will never be a true university haven for students because the businesses and landlords that control that area won't allow it to be the student haven.

As for a grocery store close-by, this is a massive misunderstanding of most Americans. Go to Europe and truly understand the idea of communities that don't require an automobile just to go get victuals. As much as it is a fantasy, a lightrail system would be incredible for public transportation in this spread out and car-dependent town.

Jason Berberich said...

Bank Forward currently has a loan production office over at the Center for Innovation, where I've met and talked with a few of their people.

They proudly showed off some artist renditions of the University Village location, which is being designed by the ICON Architectural Group.

From what a remember, the Starbucks appeared to be more than just sharing a wall with the bank. Bank Forward is trying to position itself as an "unbank", so I imagine the wait for help will seem a lot quicker when you're enjoying you favorite beverage.

I don't think there are plans for a Starbucks in the south GF location.

Matthew said...

Well, what can we do to show the city, the landowners and the developers that putting in a small shop somewhere (NOT a strip mall) near the dorms would be a fantastically profitable venture?

Although most of the undergrads leave during the summer, most of the grad students stick around and would give it plenty of business, I am sure.

Anonymous said...

Hand over Mcneil!

ec99 said...

Kupchella's legacy at UND will be that he turned a university into a business. Early discussion on the University Village centered on how it would be a Dinkytown for students. Not! Same with the parking ramp. The lost student parking spaces would be replaced by the ramp...it would be a push. Not! Now I understand you can get a reserved spot for a few hundred bucks a year.