Wednesday, April 30, 2008

A hole in the heart

With all this talk about downtown construction, I'm thinking of places in the downtown district that could someday soon be the site of new developments.

We've been hearing about the potential redevelopment of the Civic Auditorium site. That site, located on the western fringe of downtown, could help to push the boundaries of what we consider to be downtown. I'm all for that - I've talked extensively about our need to "expand" downtown both up and out.

Another potential development site comes to mind...except this one is not located in the fringes, but in the very heart of downtown. The corner of Demers Avenue and 4th Street has always been a very important intersection downtown and the post-flood construction of the Corporate Center and the renovation of the old First National Bank Building - now dubbed 322 Demers - has further reinforced that particular intersection's prominence.

Still, that corner is not as built-up as it could be. Two of the corners are anchored by the Corporate Center and 322 Demers takes up a third corner, but the fourth corner is still vacant more than a decade after post-flood cleanup saw the demolition of the lot's previous occupant.

Empty lot in the heart of downtown

If memory serves me correctly, the current owner of the 322 Demers building once owned the empty lot in question. I'm not sure if that is still the case. Either way, perhaps the time has come for the redevelopment of this empty lot - this "hole" in the heart of Grand Forks.

So I'm asking you, my readers, what would you like to see built on this lot. Would you like to see another commercial building on this intersection? How about yet another residential building for downtown? Perhaps condos instead of apartments so the building could be built higher? How about a mixed-use building? Would you like to see new skyways built to connect the new building to the existing buildings and thus create a loop around the busy intersection?

Let's brainstorm.

40 comments:

Anonymous said...

Why have 322 and the Corporate Center (directly west) been empty for so long? The main floors appear to have been vacant for quite a while. Even if it wasn't a full grocery store something along the lines of a CVS would be a nice addition.

Anonymous said...

Have multiple business, CVS would be nice. The downtown area could benefit from an all 'all in one' store like CVS, pharmacy, photo-shop, food, etc, etc. Make the second level a walkway, and the 3rd condos?? The mid-level having a walk way would prevent the top and bottom floor from bothering each other and the walkway would really help in winter months.

Anonymous said...

how about the first level a CVS, second a walkway and offices, and the thrird through FOURTEENTH stories condos? The area is pretty small, so there would probably only be about three or four full-sized condos on each floor.

Anonymous said...

How about an Olive Ga-...
oh never mind.

Barbara said...

The building next to it has windows, you couldn't go more than 3 stories without blocking those, so I doubt it will go to 14 stories. It's a bit grass field right now, it'd be nice if the put a walkway and benches in it, maybe an art installation. I know we have something similar a block or two away.

How about really thinking outside the box... an aquarium... Parking would be a pain though... Although there is open parking at the top of the Alerus ramp.

Justin said...

Look to Sioux Falls for help... I have Lived in Sioux Falls for almost nine years and in that time the city has made a push to rejuvenate the downtown area and has done a fantastic job. Of course a big draw to downtown Sioux Falls are the falls themselves and Falls Park but there is a vibrant shopping and restaurant scene as well.

Anonymous said...

100 story building. Just for the heck of it.

Anonymous said...

Let's throw up as many buildings as we can and just see what happens.

Anonymous said...

How about a place to show movies per http://www.areavoices.com/bizbuzz/index.cfm?blog=26195

Just need to paint a big white screen on building -- but I suppose traffic noise will be a downside

Anonymous said...

Grand Forks lacks a huge element...young adults. There is no shortage of college age. Then, in the demograhic after college, there is a very small market. They either leave, are busy raising children and don't really go out much, or, are "hicks" who are happy with a can of beer at The Gate or The Drum.

Weak market for anything "cool".

Anonymous said...

Leave it as green space and plant native ND flowers & grasses. Or bust out the side of Subway and let them use it as an outside eating area. Plant a few trees, add some tables. In the summer that would a nice area to get some fresh air while you eat your lunch.

Anonymous said...

How about another bar? That will help the downtown area grow for the better... I do like the idea of the person who posted above, make it into a park of sorts. There is already a lot of vacant/overpriced commercial space downtown.

On a side note, does anyone have any info on the rumored bars going in the Medowbrook and Cherished Moments locations?

Anonymous said...

I just inanely Googled greenglass4. Two whole pages of who-ever you are and what I noticed was a stock photo labeled: Greenglass4
Description:
"Sphere glass filled with bright green shower gel and green glass pebbles with juicy orange."

Inane in the membrane!

Rhombus Guy said...

I like the empty space a lot. There's a few of them peppered around downtown and it keeps a nice feel to the place. I vote keep it.

Matthew said...

I agree.

Logan said...

A general store would be great. Remember Osco Drug in the City Center Mall? That was so handy. Put four more stories of AFFORDABLE apartments above that and downtown has a nice new addition. Also, why can't we put more underground parking in these new buildings? We can't build up, but why not down?

Anonymous said...

HOw about a swiming pool,do it on two or three levels as some swimming pools are on 2nd or 3rd floors and since it's only 4 blocks away call it the Riverside Pool.

GrandForksGuy said...

Let's stay on topic...posts about politics should go in open threads, guys. I hate deleting posts, but I'm going to try to make our discussion threads a little more on-topic and organized.

Anonymous said...

Don't delete posts!?!?! Where's the freedom of speech here? I know it's a blog but come on..even the 'inane' add a little spice once in awhile. I am now afraid to voice my opinion about anything (on THIS blog) even if it's about politics...and besides, it's ALWAYS about politics!! Delete that!!

stepping away and not coming back in 3, 2, 1

*poof*

vcsuvike said...

I think UND should take over the Corporate Center for classrooms. The empty lot should stay a park, there should be more of those to break up the brick-and-mortar. A small CVS or Osco would be a welcome and much used store.

Anonymous said...

vcsuvike - look at downtown. There are quite a few little pocket parks that are very nice additions. There are three within one block of this open space. Yes, I agree that I don't want those to go away, but this is a very attractive spot that will hopefully develop into something good for the community as a whole.

ilovesummer said...

Some sort of indoor butterfly garden would be really nice and it would bring in customers year round. The glass would enable it to really open up that space and would not be an eyesore to passer byers...a relaxing haven to enjoy a cup of coffe or a sub sandwich on a cold day

megan said...

Brilliant! An indoor summer year-round. I like it! It could be the main floor and you could have a community rec center above that. Some place to go and hang out that doesn't have beer and shots! Get some WiFi and bands on the weekends, more rock/country then bluegrass, pinball, pool tables. Why not even a big flat screen (dvd/ps3) if your going to dream here. It would attract that young adult group. Make it smoke free too. To save the butterflies of course. Add in a walk way on the third floor, and there ya go! All the office people playing pool and enjoying a few flowers and some guitar hero and coffee on their lunch breaks. If your gonna dream..dream big!

Anonymous said...

What is up with this urge people feel to put up a crappy, cheaply-constructed, wood-framed building on every open plot of land?

Rebecca said...

Justin...I completely agree. Downtown SF is just wonderful...many unique shops and restaurants. It'd be great to have a Zandbroz type shop with the soda fountains! (I had no idea that there was a Zandbroz in Fargo...just found out after searching online.)

Also, I realize this is a stretch, but I'd love to see GF get a wider variety of ethnic food like Indian or Thai.

OUWxGuesser said...

Why need Indian or Thai when we have Italian Moon? No seriously... that's the root of the problem I believe. The community absolutely loves the (in my opinion) subpar local joints that offer bland Americanized versions of ethnic food. Not that I'm complaining because it is a non-diverse area, however, you'd hope a college town could support a bit more diversity. I absolutely love the cultural nights on campus which provide a good source of ethnic food. We've been over this topic ad nausem, however, so I'll leave it alone from now on :)

On topic, a CVS type place would be great downtown especially given it is within a 5min walk of our residence.

Anonymous said...

You mean Red Pepper ain't realy Mex-e-can?? oh, my - whatever will I do with myself!

Anonymous said...

A winter garden would be a great addition to downtown...as long as it didn't become a de facto homeless shelter. It'd be great to have a place to experience plants and flowers all year long.

Anonymous said...

I like the idea of keeping that corner as green space. Not every crevice needs to be filled. Pocket parks are nice. Besides, we have plenty of empty office buildings the way it is. Why slap together another building to sit empty?

I've lived in or near downtown for almost 20 years, and I remember the old City Center Mall had a problem with homeless folks, and a few harmless but bothersome individuals, who would hang out all day at the mall entrance and Osco Drug. They scared away customers. A drug store would be nice downtown, but I doubt CVS would want to set up a city center shop based on the reasons described.

Anonymous said...

I like the idea of keeping that corner as green space. Not every crevice needs to be filled. Pocket parks are nice. Besides, we have plenty of empty office buildings the way it is. Why slap together another building to sit empty?

I've lived in or near downtown for almost 20 years, and I remember the old City Center Mall had a problem with homeless folks, and a few harmless but bothersome individuals, who would hang out all day at the mall entrance and Osco Drug. They scared away customers. A drug store would be nice downtown, but I doubt CVS would want to set up a city center shop based on the reasons described.

Seasonally Effected said...

Honestly and sadly it's probably true that it would get loiterers that might make it a little scary and unsafe. Everyone has rights whether they have a home or not, enough said. If only there was a way that could be avoided to keep people coming not going and safe. An indoor green spot would be a haven in the winter for the whole community. Even go all Feng Shui with a rock garden, a water feature with fish and walk ways over a river. Think Mr. Miyagi's back yard in Karate Kid. Laugh if you will you know you would love it. You could host small birthday party's maybe 10 or less for kids, and they would love it! Take your husband or wife there to relax with your kids, everyone is happy. Sit read a book. Go on a date. Add a planetarium on the second floor that would show scenes of stars, planets and other celestial objects. Maybe a mini rotating museum/art exhibit. I think it would be wise to look at our northern neighbors as an example of what there is to do in the winter. They have am amazing selection of educational fun. I know this is going waaay out on a limb and would never even be able to fit into that little spot, but as a young adult in town I would love to see something fun, educational and beautiful I could enjoy all year round. Charge $7 adults, $3 for kids a pop, extra for the light show and I would go all the time. I think we all would. I get so tired of people saying "There is nothing to do here, wah wah wah" Is there anyplace in town this would work?

Seasonally Affected said...

spell checker duh

Anonymous said...

Do any of the bloggers here really know that GF cannot support more diverse ethnic food? I enjoy how people assume that diverse, ethnic food does not work around here. Is it because we don't have a Thai, Indian, or Greek restaurant? I guess I'm a little unclear what people are expecting in a town of 50,000. I enjoy different ethnic foods, but I usually get that fix in much larger cities, namely San Francisco and DC. It gets to be difficult for a restuarant with such a niche to make it in such a small town.

Rebecca said...

haha...I mention it as a "oh it'd be nice to have but realize it could be awhile before it happens". is this not an open discussion and can't we be allowed to dream? Plus, you sorta contradict yourself by saying you 'enjoy how people assume' ethnic food doesn't work here, but then go on to say that you don't expect it to work 'in such a small town'. Besides, I -do- think it could work here for as much as we talk about food on this blog. If so many people are waiting to get their fix on trips, whose to say it wouldn't thrive?

ilovesummer said...

I like the idea of an indoor water garden...can't you just imagine the soft trickle of waterfalls in a GREEN environment while the world outside buzzes by in the frozen world that we live in? Subway could build it so there is a way to monitor who comes and goes...just in case anyone wants to do anything more there than enjoy the sanctuary...the space is pretty small but it would be cool (and warm too if it were all glass)to have some tables on a raised level to look out over the city and the gardens...it would be something unique that people would come to see and enjoy time after time...leave the bands and video games in the bars around the corner...this would be a sanctuary...butterflies don't thrive in a loud environment

seasonally affected said...

That's exactly what I was thinking ilovesummer! Warm, sunny with glass walls and the smell if summer in the winter with . If I won the lottery, because you would almost need it to fund such a project, I wouldn't even think twice about it. I might find a little bigger spot for it. I love planetarium shows. I am sure it would be able to thrive here in Grand Forks. We all need something of a sanctuary/haven in winter.

akm said...

I'm surprised we don't have a greenhouse or a botanical garden here. Is there one at the U?

Anonymous said...

Keeping the garden small would keep the cost down so this would be the perfect spot...maybe solar panels on the roof would offset the costs of heating it in winter? I'm sure plenty of people are sick enough of winter to think this would be a nice change of pace...an extention of the summer that we may not have? certainly didn't get spring...very disappointing indeed...where are all the pretty flowers? We could get schools involved to help plant the indoor gardens...have people donate and have stepping stones in their honor...have every nook and cranny filled with something wonderful that really reflects the "heart" of Grand Forks...

what better way to reflect a growing, thriving city than something that grows with the city? It could step volunteerism up a notch or two and get people out of their homes and get out to meet their "neighbors" Its sad that there is no where to go anymore that feels truly safe or welcoming...unless of course it comes with a price...what kind of world are we leaving our children? If the only concern in this town is about the homeless people that may show up and loiter...OMG! There are lots of places a lot worse in this world...has anyone ever tried to help or God forbid talk to one the homeless? I admit I am just as guilty as picking up the pace a bit but I always wonder what put them there and what kind of person I would be if I were in their shoes...

Anonymous said...

I think a little Mcdonalds would be great, or another Burger Time. You always see or hear about downtowns with Mcdonalds etc. in them. It would be great because it would emphasise the dining atmosphere, being that Subway and many other eaterys are in the area.

angelo h said...

You can build a condo also there.

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