Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Where you come from

Using good old Google Analytics, I looked up where Grand Forks Life readers come from. I thought you might find the data interesting. Keep in mind that not everyone necessarily lives in the city that the IP address associated with their visit originates from.

Top Ten Cities
Grand Forks, ND (25.34%)
Sioux Falls, SD (16.64%)
Fargo, ND (9.65%)
Minneapolis, MN (3.29%)
Cheyenne, WY (2.99%)
Winnipeg, MB (2.93%)
Rapid City, SD (2.58%)
Crookston, MN (2.55%)
Warren, MN (2.17%)
Prior Lake, MN (1.78%)

Top Ten States
North Dakota (41.14%)
South Dakota (20.89%)
Minnesota (15.29%)
Wyoming (3.16%)
Colorado (2.69%)
Florida (1.87%)
California (1.61%)
Illinois (1.28%)
Missouri (1.00%)
District of Columbia (0.96%)

Monday, July 30, 2007

Open Thread #36

I'm sure it will be another busy week so I better start a fresh open thread.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Furniture Row now open

Furniture Row, Grand Forks' newest furniture store, officially opened on Saturday. I'm thinking there still has to be a group of people who don't even realize there is a huge new store just behind Lowe's...it's very "cleverly hidden"...at least for now.

I walked into the store a few days ago (stupidly) thinking it was already open. Although I was made to feel very welcome, I only stayed for a couple of minutes. What I saw looked very nice. With this new store and the opening of Ashley Furniture a couple of months ago, Grand Forks seems to now have lots of choices when it comes to furniture.

I also can't help but wonder what other new businesses might line those streets leading to the Furniture Row development. Any rumors, ideas, or suggestions?

IHOP land for sale

It looks like we shouldn't be holding our collective breath for that IHOP restaurant that has been "coming soon" on 32nd Avenue South for years now. The land that the restaurant was supposed to be built on, between Arby's and the Village Inn, just had a "For Sale" sign put up the other day.

IHOP used to own land in Bismarck, but eventually sold it and seemingly forgot about their restaurant plans there. I believe they couldn't find anyone willing to buy into the local franchise. From what I had heard in the past, I thought the Fargo franchise people were going to be the same group who was going to open the Grand Forks location. I even spoke with the Fargo franchisee a couple of years ago and they said they were actively working on the plans for the new Grand Forks location. I wonder what went wrong?

I'm sure the plot of land in question costs a pretty penny, but it certainly would be an ideal location for another restaurant. Perhaps Denny's? I know they are searching for a spot on 32nd Avenue near I-29.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Poll: EGF movie theater

The new poll question is "In your opinion, will the new EGF movie theater be a success?" Please vote and then share your opinions in this post's comment section.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Poll results: city gets an A

The readers of this blog seem to think that the city government of Grand Forks deserves an A...at least when asked "How would you grade this year's mosquito control program in GF?" (results)


Good job, city of Grand Forks!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

New local blog

Just when it seemed like the local blogosphere was down to just a couple of blogs, a new local blog has debuted. GFL reader MattFacingSouth has started a blog called Still Fighting It.

From the blog...

My goal on this blog is to discuss music - local, national, wherever, and the things that drive music creation and production. Some people have mentioned to me that there's nothing to do here in the Forks. I disagree; I happen to have inside information that the music scene in Grand Forks and our surroundings is thriving. It doesn't take but a few visits to the local clubs, bars, and festivals to see what's happening here.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Open Thread #35

You sure filled up that last open thread fast!

GOOD customer service

At times, the comments on this blog tend to be a little negative. There is nothing inherently wrong with that, but it's nice to hear a positive comment now and then. That's why, for the first time ever, I'm starting a thread in which you can share stories of good customer service you've experienced at local stores, restaurants, etc.

We seem to love complaining about bad customer service (I know I sure do), but I think it is important to recognize good customer service when we experience it. So, here's your chance to thank that store clerk, waitress, or anyone else who has recently given you good customer service. Leave a positive comment for a change!

By the way, thanks to the reader(s) who suggested this type of thread a while back.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Open Thread #34

Anything interesting that you want to comment on or share with us?

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Check out Wednesday's editorial page

In his editorial for Wednesday's Herald, Tom Dennis includes several comments from local bloggers. The subject of Dennis' editorial is the culmination of the lengthy debate over where to place a dog park in Grand Forks. The editorial lays out two arguments made over at Tu-Uyen's blog. Commenter People in GF Hate Change criticizes the way the dog park has been debated and handled. On the other hand, yours truly, GrandForksGuy, praises the long but fair process that has taken place. Tom calls mine "the stronger argument." I really appreciate that. Thanks, Tom! I also appreciate the mention of my blog and its address.

My full comment:

You know one thing that I like about the way this dog park thing played out? The fact that, in the end, no one was ultimately able to force their particular plans or agenda without taking into consideration the opposite side of the argument. Some dog park proponents would have wanted any dog park plan regardless of what kind of an impact that plan would have had on the neighborhood or city. On the other hand, some dog park opponents would have been happy if the whole dog park thing had just gone away and no park had been built. In the end, both camps had to make concessions and revise their plans - no one side was able to force their agenda down the other side's throats. I think it's a good thing when an issue has to be weighed and debated and when ALL sides have to be given the ability to be heard. In the end, that is what occurred and we are left with a decent plan that satisfies almost everyone. To me, that's not such a bad way to handle a controversial issue.

Posted by: GrandForksGuy on 7/17/2007 6:36 PM

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Homestead Grove

Homestead Grove is a new commercial and residential development currently under construction by Crary Homes and Real Estate on South Washington Street. This is the development - just across the street from the Aurora Medical Park - that includes the new Choice Financial Bank, a new strip mall, and a new two story office building. I stumbled across a site plan for the commercial portion of the property via the Crary website.

The bank in the lower right corner is the new Choice Financial branch. The office building in the center is under construction as is the strip mall to its right. Looks like the development will also include another strip mall, another bank, and a 3,000 square foot restaurant of some sort. Any rumors about what types of businesses are going to be filling these spaces?

University Flats

On Wednesday, the city's Finance and Development Standby Committee will discuss a new housing development proposed by Dakota Commercial and Crary Real Estate. The development, dubbed University Flats, would include five row houses in the 500 block of University Avenue (or just north of downtown). The row houses would be two-story, two or three bedroom condos with brick and siding exteriors. The condos would each have a double garage and the targeted selling price is $160,000. Check out the proposal.

The project is part of the request for proposals the city issued back in 2005 to develop housing on city-owned lots throughout the downtown area. Other projects which have been a part of this program include the Elite Brownstones and the currently under construction Current Apartments. The city feels that getting more people to live downtown is key to redeveloping the city's historic center.

Given the success of past downtown residential projects such as the Opera House Lofts and the Elite Brownstones and given the interest that the Current Apartments have already created, it seems like downtown is becoming a fairly popular place to live. There has already been talk of a second Elite Brownstones development north of the immediate downtown area. I would expect to see more housing developments downtown in the future. I'm very happy to see so much interest in redeveloping the downtown area. A vibrant downtown is a vital thing for a city such as Grand Forks.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Not a fair move

I've held off on commenting about this year's Greater Grand Forks Fair until the event was over because I didn't want to in any way hurt attendance. However, now that the fair has come and gone, I can without hesitation say that I'm not sure I will bother to attend future fairs if they are anything like this year's.

Let me start off by letting you know that, before this year, I had never attended the fair when it was held at the fairgrounds. The first time I went to the fair was the first year it was held at the Alerus Center and I went every following year. I was impressed with the selection of rides during each year the fair was at the Alerus. I also thought the Alerus Center itself was an almost perfect place in which to hold fair activities and displays. I never understood why some people said they didn't like the Alerus as a fair venue and I was always baffled when it was suggested that the fair would someday move back to the fairgrounds.

That baffling suggestion became a reality this year. For the first time in several years, the fair left the air-conditioned Alerus Center and the events center's paved midway and ample parking lots for the cramped, dingy, muddy, tiny Grand Forks County fairgrounds. I'm sure some people will say that they still enjoyed this fair more than those held at the Alerus Center, but I really can't understand their reasoning.

Why didn't I like this fair? Where to start! There were far fewer rides and the rides that were there seemed very small and underwhelming. Instead of being located on the flat, smooth, clean, dry parking lots of the Alerus Center, the rides and food vendors were on the uneven, dirty, muddy field that is the county fairgrounds. Instead of being able to park in a large, paved parking lot, fair-goers at this year's fair parked in a cramped, grassy field or were forced to walk long distances. Instead of being in a new complex in a highly visible location like the Alerus Center, the fairgrounds are literally in just about the ugliest, dingiest part of town. You know how ugly the fronts of some of those buildings on Gateway Drive are? Wait 'till you see their backsides!

If you like fewer rides, muddy fields, and overall cruddiness, then I'm sure you loved the move from the Alerus to the fairgrounds. Personally, I'm not really sure I'll even bother to go back if the fair remains at the fairgrounds. I do like the fact that their was no gate admission this year, but I'm a little worried that, regardless of actual attendance numbers, this will give fair organizers the ability to claim any kind of attendance numbers they want to.

If we can't have the fair at the Alerus Center, I think it is high time to build a large, modern county fairgrounds somewhere new. I would recommend building west of town and building in conjunction with a new River Cities Speedway. The county could then sell off the old fairgrounds. Except for the historic gates leading to the grounds, all I can say about the Grand Forks fairgrounds is "what a dump!" This is no place to hold a fair.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Home Depot on the way?

I know we've heard this before, but I've once again been hearing rumors that a Home Depot store in Grand Forks is all but a done deal. Ever since Home Depot started building stores in the area, it seems that it has really only been a matter of time until they build one in Grand Forks.

I personally like Menards the best of the big three home improvement stores (Home Depot, Lowe's, and Menards), but I'm sure there are people out there who really want the option of being able to shop at a Grand Forks Home Depot. If Home Depot does finally get around to opening a Grand Forks store, I have to think there is going to be quite a bit of competition locally within that retail sector.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Friday, July 13, 2007

What about that monorail?

The other day, I came across a Herald clipping from 2002. This particular story was about the giant complex of museums and other amenities that a group called the New Horizons Decade group first proposed back in 2002. The complex was supposed to go directly north of the Alerus Center and stretch all the way to DeMers Avenue. In addition to a hotel and water park, the complex was supposed to include a collegiate hockey hall of fame, a collegiate aviation hall of fame, an agricultural museum, an automobile museum, an indoor golf facility, and themed restaurants. Oh yeah...and a monorail was supposed to connect all the buildings and possibly go all the way to the Ralph Engelstad Arena.

Quite a complex, huh? Now it's 2007 and I'm left wondering what happened to the New Horizons Decade group and their grand plans. I've emailed an individual who used to be involved with the group to ask them these very question, but so far I haven't had a response. I've mentioned this as a possible news story idea to people at both the Herald and WDAZ, but no reporter has followed through. Tu-Uyen Tran wrote the article back in 2002 so maybe he could do a new article on where the group and the project stand today.

I realize that the hotel and the water park proposed in the plan have finally become a reality. Still, no museums or halls of fame line 42nd Street and I can't catch a ride on the monorail when I want to travel from the Ralph to the Big Al. Have the plans for the museums and other developments been cast aside? Was an effort ever made to raise funds for any of the buildings? What about all of that land between the Alerus Center and DeMers Avenue...is anything preventing the landowner(s) from selling it to commercial developers? If they were able to sell the land, wouldn't that be the last nail in the coffin for the New Horizons Decade complex?

I have to wonder if all of these museums really would have ever been able to make a go of it in a city this size. Still, I was thrilled back in 2002 to see local leaders planning on such a grand scale. When the story came out, I poured over the above picture and practically drooled over the proposal. I would love to see some type of complimentary developments fill the land in question adjacent to the Alerus Center. The Alerus/Canad complex is already huge...I would love for it to be a sort of "super complex."

Thursday, July 12, 2007

'l Bistro to open on Monday

'l Bistro will open this coming Monday. The "Mediterranean eatery" will be the third and final restaurant to open in the new Canad Inns Destination Center hotel and water park complex north of the Alerus Center.

I've seen the interior of the restaurant and the place looks very nice. From what I have heard, 'l Bistro will have an upscale feel to it. I'm guessing this also means that it will have rather upscale prices. Aalto's and Tavern United (the other restaurants in the complex) are by no means the most affordable places to eat in town...especially Tavern United.

I had lunch at Tavern United last week and was a bit surprised by the prices. The food was good, but I couldn't help but notice that you could literally count the lunchtime customers on one hand. The English-style pub looks very busy on many evenings, but apparently has yet to catch on with the lunchtime crowd.

Overall, it appears as though business at the Canad complex has been very good since the recent opening. The parking lot is packed many nights. Perhaps that second hotel tower the company has talked about will become a reality after all.

Postcard: old airport

Old Grand Forks airport

Readers who are relatively new to the community might be surprised to learn that the current site of the Grand Forks International Airport was not the first airport in the city. From the 1920s to the 1960s, the Grand Forks Airport was located just off of present day 42nd Street or just northwest of UND. The old airport terminal was saved and is now an office building located on 43rd Street. In the postcard, you can see 42nd Street running just behind the airport. Columbia Road and Highway 2 are in the background. The building you see in the distance is the State Mill and Elevator.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

GF Goodribs closing

The rumors apparently were true. GF Goodribs is closing its doors for good this coming Friday. The restaurant, located in the northwest corner of town near Gateway Drive, has been open now for over 21 years.

The building that houses GF Goodribs has actually been for sale for a few months now. Earlier in the year when asked about a possible closure, an employee did not directly answer the question but instead stated that the restaurant was accepting reservations throughout the summer. Looks like those reservations will have to be moved over to Eagle's Crest Grill, the restaurant at King's Walk Golf Course operated by GF Goodribs owner Paul Waind.

With a couple of other recent restaurant closures in town, I'm wondering if any other restaurants will close down in the wake of so many new restaurants coming to town. Are any other restaurant's days numbered?

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Open Thread #32

What's the word on the street, people? Anything interesting going on?

Marilyn's memories

I know some of you like to pick on Marilyn Hagerty's restaurant reviews from time to time, but you have to admit that Marilyn has become a local fixture over the years. As someone who is very interested in the history of our community, I really enjoyed reading Marilyn's recent memories about what Grand Forks was like fifty years ago this summer when the Hagerty family first moved to town. Since I showed up on the scene only a couple of decades ago, I loved reading about what the city was like back in 1957. Thanks for sharing the memories, Marilyn. I'm glad you stuck around.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Poll: mosquito control

Time for a new poll question: "How would you grade this year's mosquito control program in GF?"

Poll results: uncertainty over banning

The most recent poll question, "Do you agree with the Turtle Mountain reservation's decision to ban a local blogger?", drew mixed results. Of the 144 votes cast, "yes" received 47% or 67 votes while "no" received 51% or 74 votes. No clear winner here.

Yes 47%67
No 51%74
Unsure 2%3

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Open Thread #31

Well, I'm finally back...missed you guys. I'm giving you a new open thread to have fun with until I can return to regular posting.

Have a great 4th of July!