Saturday, August 11, 2007

Commercial construction in EGF

On Friday evening I happened to be driving around the north side of East Grand Forks when I noticed something interesting. You know that big empty lot right west of Hugo's and just south of the old Maury's building? It's sat empty for years, but a sign which reads something to the effect of "Coming soon - commercial space for lease" has just been put up on the property. There appeared to be some sort of building pictured in the background of the sign, but it was getting dark and I couldn't make out what kind of a building it was. I'm guessing it must be either an office building or a strip mall...probably a strip mall.

I know "they are going to build some office building or strip mall in East Grand Forks" isn't much of a news story, but it made me do some thinking. When was the last time that a new retail building was built in East Grand Forks? I'm thinking it was either the new video store or the new dollar store (both in front of Hugo's). The sad thing is, both of those projects were from several years ago. In other words, commercial growth - namely retail - seems to be almost non-existent on the Eastside lately.

Why have East Grand Forks' commercial areas sat virtually stagnant during the same period that huge tracts of commercial land have been filled in Grand Forks? I know there is some correlation between the activity in Grand Forks and the lack of activity in East Grand Forks, but I don't think it is fair to only blame Grand Forks' growth for East Grand Forks' commercial stagnancy.

Let's look at an example. Fargo and West Fargo obviously have booming retail areas, but the retail community in Moorhead is not stagnant by any means. There have been quite a few smaller commercial projects in Moorhead and now a new Mendard's is even going to open and there are more big name retailers on the horizon. What is Moorhead doing right that East Grand Forks is doing wrong?

I have to think that there is some reason why national retail and restaurant chains aren't eager to set of shop on the Eastside, but I can't figure out what that reason is. I think that a metropolitan area like Greater Grand Forks should have vibrant growth in all areas. That's why I think it's very unfortunate that the commercial community in East Grand Forks is anything but vibrant. What is preventing a Wal-Mart, a Target, or even something smaller like a Starbucks or a Taco Bell from setting up shop on the Eastside?

If I were in the city government of East Grand Forks, I would be very concerned about this stagnancy. I think it's really very sad when the recent big business stories in your town are the departure/bankruptcy of a craft store and the failure of a city-owned mall. Here's hoping that East Grand Forks sees more projects like the upcoming movie theater and the new building I mentioned at the start of this post. I think it's high time for the city of East Grand Forks to look at what is preventing real commercial growth from occurring in their community.

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

I have lived in EGF for 3 years and Movie Gallery has been built since then, I think several years is a stretch. Also, Moorhead is a poor example as it is a larger city than EGF. Moorhead also has very small towns east of it until you reach Detroit Lakes. EGF has Crookston, which is larger only 20 miles east and then TRF 60 miles away. Moorhead is also on I-94, major route to MSP, and also Highway 10, major route to lake country.

Anonymous said...

Except on 32nd street (and soon to be 42nd Ave), the commercial community in GF is not vibrant with minor exceptions (University Village and Far South Washington).

Throughout the country, take a look at the surburban areas that were built in the 1950-70's. Unless there is a conscious effort to regentrify those developments locally, in much of the country there is absolutely no new commercial development going into those areas. In fact, the 50's - 70's style strip malls are vacant in most of this country, and the surrounding areas are declining. That is not happening in EGF or GF.

When major corporations open up new stores/establishments, they locate near each other. For expansioin, the same corridors pop up on every list as they all want to be near each other.

University Village and the small developments on North 42nd are unique in that businesses located there are almost all local. The restaurants that have opened on Gaeway are all local. Even the fast food away from 32nd, have local franchise owners.

Corporate America has absolutely no interest in GF or EGF except at the 32nd st corridor.

Anonymous said...

Glad to see attention given to EGF, as a long term resident and business owner in EGF and GF, we need to talk about the history and powers in EGF gov and bus circle. There was a period of time 50 years where new bus and companies were "discouraged" from setting up shop in EGF. Pop. was 7,000 for years. If you were local and well established or family was it was a breeze to start a bus. I set up on Demers Ave across from now Cabela's. We also had a auto dealership, body shop/restoration shop, etc. without restriction from city council, city gov, etc. Someone from out of town could not even get"to first Base". Rule and regs stiffer than those in GF. There is a lot of bus activity in the EGF Industrial Park. A certain farmer built a great building at the corner of Demers and #2 , now is a gas station/convience store. That is my opinion about the growth, or lack of growth in EGF until recently. Western Store Fronts, $800,000 Water Fountain, Statutes, Cabela's, . EGF has been a bar and grill town since 1920 to 2007. Doi you agree? greenglass4.

ben said...

I think the biggest thing that hurts EGF is the lack of traffic. Anyone has to agree that GF retail is greatly enhanced by I-29, especially the Canadians that come down that corridor. HWY 2 is just not that major of a route. Most national chains require proximity to a major transportation route and a certain amount of traffic before they are willing to set up shop. EGF also has a reputation of being difficult to deal with for business, which is something that GF has worked hard on recently.

ben said...

what I meant was that GF used to have a reputation for being hard on new businesses, but that has gone away somewhat, while EGF's recent fiascos probably still scare away most business people.

jason said...

another thing thats not helping out egf is the sugar beets and potato processing plants. everytime ive gone to hugos or another place right off of gateway, the first thing i notice is that the whole region smells like asshole. i think the only place new establishments would be successful would be to the south, off of demers.

Anonymous said...

Bingo, Jason you nailed it. The smell of money. greenglass4.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone smelled Simplot at The Ralph during the winter? I have friends that come to the state hockey tournament and that's all they talk about it is the smell of Simplot. Strange, that has not hurt the development there. In addition, the smell of the sugar beet plant is sometimes in Grand Forks, it all depends on the wind.

Anonymous said...

I went to UND and put up with Simplot pretty much daily. It sometimes was irritating, but absolutely in no way can the smell of simplot be compared to the smell of the beet plant. Usually simplot smells like french fries, and on a bad day rotten ones. On a good day the beet plant smells like fresh crap...there is a big difference between the two plants.

Anonymous said...

I know many food sevice industries, especially sit down resturants, prefer to build on the North Dakota side because of the minimum wage for servers is $3 something whereas in MN it is tha basic $5 something. However with the change in those laws things may alter.

I have also been told that some taxes are different. Primarily in the property tax area. That could also be a motivating factor to many businesses.

Anonymous said...

GFG, you asked whay Moorhead is doing right that EGF is doing wrong... Maybe it's because Moorhead has 38,000 people while EGF only has 8,000. Maybe that'll answer your question.

Anonymous said...

How does one know what asshole smells like?

Anonymous said...

I was kinda wondering about that myself...best left to our imagination.
I agree with the previous posts about EGF business. Driving east from Moorhead is now one extended community out to Glyndon. They draw a lot of MN shoppers who don't want to drive into Fargo or shop on the way home.
MN has less sales tax so if you buy school clothing in Moorhead you save on that. As far as buying clothing in EGF, well if you wear Pamida...

Anonymous said...

"How does one know what asshole smells like?"

Simple. Next time you see greenglass4 give him a whiff.

Anonymous said...

wish I'd thought of that.