Tuesday, July 17, 2007

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.

13 comments:

Coffee Guy said...

Does anybody know how loud the trains sound when you are inside the Opera House Lofts?

Anonymous said...

I'll wager pretty loud unless they've done some investing in soundproofing. My brother lived in an apartment across the street from the Urban (right before the tracks) and whew!!

I saw that Fargo just got a noise reduction deal done with the trains. Saw it on the frontpage of the 'paper' Forum, but wasn't able to read the article. Anyone out there see that and have any more info? It would be a good idea for the city to create a working group to investigate how Fargo got it accomplished.

ec99 said...

"Does anybody know how loud the trains sound when you are inside the Opera House Lofts?"

This is analogous to people who buy a house near an airport and the complain about jet noise. Which was there first, the trains or the apartments?

Anonymous said...

I would guess one gets used to the sounds if you live there a while. People lived in apartments above the Uptown Lanes for decades.

Any idea how many train vs pedestrian deaths there have been in downtown Fargo since the noise reduction act?

river_man said...

I live just north of downtown, and you can hear the trains before they even cross the Red or get even close to downtown. When they get into downtown, the train whistle can be quite annoying.

With the two housing developments downtown, I think that is enough for now. I know some people would like to see more condos or apartments downtown, but with further newer developments, it also increases the chances that rent on established properties will also go up. I like my rent where it is right now and even wish I was paying less.

Anonymous said...

Unless your specific building is gentrified, more housing in the immediate area should lower your rent, not raise it. Downtown apartments already have a pretty low vacancy rate, especially compared to the rest of the city... that's what's supporting the higher rents.

webmasterzero said...

"I saw that Fargo just got a noise reduction deal done with the trains. Saw it on the frontpage of the 'paper' Forum, but wasn't able to read the article. Anyone out there see that and have any more info? It would be a good idea for the city to create a working group to investigate how Fargo got it accomplished."

It's actually not completed yet. The project calls for four crossing gates at each intersection, as well as pedestrian gates to block sidewalks in the event a train is passing.

All the construction was supposed to be completed by 2006, but there were hangups with local gov't and federal funding, so it's being finished now. The "Quiet Rails Act" (as I've dubbed it, it may be called something more grand) is supposed to go into effect later this year, hopefully sooner rather than later as I myself live within the Downtown Fargo rail lines.

"Any idea how many train vs pedestrian deaths there have been in downtown Fargo since the noise reduction act?"

I don't have an exact # since the noise ordinance isn't actually in effect yet, but I know there have been at least 3 deaths this summer. 1 - college student who was drunk, 2 - 70 year old man at 10am, 3 - homeless person (I believe or remember reading about).

The thing you have to understand is that Downtown Fargo and Moorhead are completely surrounded by rails - the north rail goes to the Amtrak station downtown, but also directs straight north of here (to GF) - the other is just old freight and coal that used to dump/load at Union Transfer & Storage on NP Avenue as well as Mid America Steel (also located downtown, heading straight west to Bismarck).

Either way, living in Downtown Fargo, you can't escape rail horns (I'm hearing one right now actually), which is why they've enacted this ordinance.

It totally messes up traffic when trains pass, but the alternative is to build an entirely new railway north of Fargo, which is never ever going to happen (the buyout would be too expensive, I imagine, and the protest would be incredible since N Fargo is mostly wildlife sanctuary).

So we basically have to just "deal with it" here, which means getting woken up early in the morning by trains (mostly because there is a federal rule that states that all trains coming to a crossing within city limits are required to sound their horn for up to 30 seconds before the crossing), unless you have four-way and protective pedestrian gates. Which is why they are being built in the first place...so FGO/MHD can bypass that federal rule.

I wouldn't worry about the sounds from trains too much in GF. They are a definite annoyance, but could probably be "taken out" in the same way that Fargo is handling them. You will probably need to start a petition to get the crossings upgraded (what are there - 2? 3? downtown GF?). After that, it will just be the actual noise of the trains themselves, which really isn't that bad.

Sorry to write a novel, but I hope I have helped in some way.

Anonymous said...

Call me crazy, but I find the sound of a train whistle rather soothing...off in the distance...at dusk :)

Anonymous said...

I hate to sound like a backwards nut, but I think if anything should be done about that area is to get rid of the porn shop from that area. There has to be a better place for it, honestly. Or get rid of the massive sign. It is a plague on that neighborhood.

Anonymous said...

Backwards Nut...just kidding. But where would you like it to go? It's a "not in my back yard" issue. Has there ever been a complaint associated with that place? Let it be. Free speech, dude.

Elucidarian said...

I used to live above what is now the new Subway. The only sound that bothered me was the dump truck slamming down the dumpster in the alley below my apartment at 5:30am. I didn't know you could jump three feet from a laying flat position, but that first crash taught me otherwise. However, after about three weeks, I guess I mentally blocked it out because it stopped waking me up. I'm sure not everyone is blessed with such powers of obliviousness.

Anonymous said...

webmaster zero,

thanks for the information, really appreciate it,

Jeni.Ann said...

I have a friend living in the Opera House Lofts, and her apartment gets the worst of the trains. She, for some unknown reason, really liked the idea of having the corner apartment immediately across from Widman's, so she gets the full blast of the train as it comes from either direction, then stops to sit and blast its horns right on the crossing.

Fortunately, it's impossible to hang anything on the north wall of her apartment, otherwise those things would have fallen off the wall similar to the pictures and assorted objects that used to be on her east and west walls (before the trains rumbled those off).

The construction of the Opera House Lofts was severely impaired by the need to give it the antiquated feel. Definitely no sound proofing or reducing in that building. And who's ever idea it was to place the heat vents at the top of 12 foot ceilings really needs to have their engineers shot.