Thursday, May 29, 2008

The future

It's some of the biggest economic development news that this city has ever experienced. The Marcil Group of Fargo has finalized its purchase of nearly 600 acres of land owned by longtime local farmer and Grand Forks real estate developer Art Greenberg. The land tracts are located on the southern side of Grand Forks and sit on both sides of I-29. The Marcil Group won't disclose just how much this deal is worth, but a local realtor estimates a value of at least $15 million. Read Ryan Schuster's article in Thursday's Herald and check out his blog post. Also, check out the Marcil Group's press release.

So why is a land sale such a news story? Well, for one thing, the size of this land purchase is almost unprecedented in this region. Simply the sale of this much land in the backyard of a city like Grand Forks is a story in and of itself. When was the last time nearly 600 acres of land was "put into play" at one time in Grand Forks or for that matter any other North Dakota city?

The other story here is the plan that Marcil is drawing up for this land. The Marcil Group will not sit back and wait for developers to approach them before they sell off the land in a slow, piecemeal fashion. Instead, Marcil has bold plans to develop this land over the next decade or so and, in turn, create a major expansion of Grand Forks and inject a major boost to the local economy. And, yes, we're talking MAJOR. This is literally "the next 32nd Avenue."

It appears that Marcil is placing a major emphasis on commercial uses in their early plans for the land. I think that is a great idea because, currently, there are few remaining tracts of land bordering the city that can easily be developed into commercial uses. This is something that has worried me in the past. I've been concerned that Grand Forks' economy could be stunted because we don't have enough commercial land readily available. In my opinion, this has now been taken care of with one stroke of the pen.

However, we're not talking about just a new shopping mall or sea of strip malls here. Sure, there probably will be plenty of big box stores ultimately developed in this land, but this land will also see residential, public, and possibly even some industrial uses. This land will ultimately become entirely new neighborhoods of Grand Forks.

Expect to hear plenty more about this in the local news and in future blog posts here. This story isn't going to go away.


Anonymous said...

Very exciting news. The impact for GF will be felt for many years to come. The mention of Kelley, the new president at UND, has me wondering how UND fits into this. Will there be some joint venture going on between Marcil and the University?

Ryan Schuster said...

There are no current plans for a specific project partnership between UND and The Marcil Group for any of this land. But Marcil, who is a UND alumni, feels the future of UND ties in closely with the future of Grand Forks and spoke in optimistic tones about Grand Forks' recovery from the flood and its bright future. Marcil did say during Wednesday's press conference that UND will continue to attract research and development. Maybe some of those spinoff businesses from the university will eventually take on some of the land (The Marcil Group itself started at the Center for Innovation), but I wouldn't expect UND to suddenly announce a big expansion of its campus this far south.
-- Ryan Schuster
Grand Forks Herald reporter

Jay said...

Thanks for the information, Ryan. I have started a thread on the topic over at[url=""]Grand Forks Development[/url]

Matthew said...

1. "Alumnus."
2. Is there a map of this somewhere we can look at?
3. I was just going to write about "o great, more commercial land, more sprawl, more traffic, and more horribleness," but then I took a second to think about it. Barring the probability that more commercial development will stretch the job force in this town even more without providing any higher-skilled/higher paying positions, we have a real opportunity here.

I think Marcil would show some real class by working with the townspeople of Grand Forks (notice that I didn't say city government) to plan out this new section as best as possible for the future, especially since there will be new residential areas.

I'm talking about basic quality of life infrastructure--better street/intersection design, better support for pedestrians (integrated commercial and residential zones), and of course (my old hobby horse) full integration with the existing bike trail system (including the possibility of tunnels/underpasses below major roads.

This is a good thing to happen to Grand Forks, and if Marcil can uphold a specific plan for the land development, this could be turned into one of the nicest areas of Grand Forks. If not, it'll just be another strip on the highway, just like everywhere else in the country.

dale said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Matthew said...

Yeah, I just saw that and was coming back to post it, doh!

vcsuvike said...

The Marcil Group is an excellent company to do business with and does great things. They have made an enormous impact in redeveloping downtown Jamestown. Grand Forks can look forward to several unique developments from them.

Anonymous said...

This is making news on cnbc. Must be even bigger deal than I thought.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, it's msnbc

Ryan Schuster said...

That story on MSNBC's website is from the Associated Press, which used liberally from my "exclusive" story in Wednesday's paper. The original AP version that moved on the wire Wednesday probably credited the Grand Forks Herald as the source of the info at the bottom of the story, but those often get cut out or disappear as stories are rewritten and original info is added by AP. FYI, in case anyone besides me cares (probably not).
-- Ryan Schuster
Grand Forks Herald reporter

Anonymous said...

Any word on the English pub the Marcil group was planning on bringing to town this summer? Is it still a go and are they still considering St. John's Block?

C. Y. said...

Things must be looking up. I heard Canad Inn is considering an expansion on the hotel/motel side. Could just be employee talk though.

PartTime said...

I also heard the same thing about the Canad Inn adding the second tower, nothing official yet.

This news really has me wondering now. I talked to someone a couple of months ago and we were talking about Grand Forks economy and MSA population. I won't mention his name, but he was telling me that in 10 or so years, you'll see Grand Forks pass Bismarck. The look on my face must have told him what I thought of that comment, I told him the MSA and the future MSA outlook dispute that, he just said " you can believe it if you want or not". Since then, I've heard about the second Canad Inn tower and now this land deal, has me wondering.

Attentive Reader said...

Ryan - I assumed that was the case, thanks for verifying. AP is a great concept but, IMO, bylines should be kept static for the life of the piece's publication. I often see pictures and news stories from faraway (or close to home) places, and instead of getting a better connection with the piece by knowing the name of the writer/photographer, I get the big old empty "AP". The AP probably has some reason for ditching the credits but I tend to emotionally perceive it as carelessness on their part. What other reason than it being too much added responsibility, even though it shouldn't be, would there be for the AP to not keep these extra bits of information with the original work?

J- said...

If the oil boom slows down in 10 years then we might have that chance to pass Bismarck to reclaim #2 in the state.

8th and walnut said...

Finally, the wind farm is arriving!

Anonymous said...

I have spoken with someone who works for JLG Architects on the issue of Canad building a second tower and he said that that was the original plan when the hotel was built but the second tower wouldn't break ground until 10-15 years later...BUT since the hotel has done so well and is essentially booked solid every night the second tower has been moved up to being built in the next 4 or 5 years.

8th & walnut said...

Free speech, free shpeech, free speech. Grand Forks Guy, please do not delete the beastiality post by anonymous, or I'll totally have to shoot myself. Btw, this guy says you've snubbed him. Do you even know what Elucidarian means?

8th & Walnut said...

Y'know, speaking of the CanadInn...some of my greatest Grand Forks memories have been made at Mommy's and Me, $4 every Tues and Thursday...but that's ended for the summer (picture me crying).

Oh well, many more memories yet to be made (plus all the CoolMoms gather there!)

Did I mention it's only $1 for each additional kid? With 5 of all ages, you can call me grateful!

Anonymous said...

greenglass4, you got relatives at 8th & Walnut?????

8th & walnut said...

Hey goonies, there's an open house o'er at Riverside Park tomorrow from 1-3. If you give a hoot about sustaining this town's roots, hope to see ya there. P.S. I'm bringin' my camera.

Movin' to Riverside, baby said... open thread? Don't you work Sundays? Missed you at the event, all the old folks were there. Yup, saw Mayor Brown, and guess Humble was there (tan with white hair?)...which gives me an idea, any cartoonists in town?

So I took a few notes, and of course shot some pictures. And their posted on up, so sorry, out of hot dogs.

8th & walnut said...

Oh look, she misspelled it, must've meant they're.

Anonymous said...

INOT may be smaller than Grand Forks (I grew up there), but it sure surpasses our larger city when it comes to attractions.

Has everyone forgotten about the fairgrounds? As far as I know, the only thing that happens there anymore are the races. Why not utilize the land there in a much more constructive and complete manner and bring a zoo to Grand Forks??????

Also, considering that there are numerous buildings sitting empty in the city, why not utilize those buildings before getting into new construction projects???? It would be wonderful to see every commercial building in the city being used. Not only are empty building an eyesore, but they are also a breeding ground for pests.

Grand Forks is in dire need of more family activities. Other than Splashers which not every family can afford and the splash parks at a couple of city parks, there's not a whole lot for families to do. The Park District does a good job of organizing several events each summer and making the parks attractive, safe, and comfortable, however, there are not many more attractions.

We lost the riverboat several years ago as well as the roller skating arena. Oh yes, and then there was Planet Pizza. That also closed. The races might be okay for some families, but I don't think it's a good place for young children. Besides the atmosphere and alcohol, there is also the "noise pollution" that is way beyond the decibals that are safe for anyone's ears even with earplugs.

Earlier this month I was in Minot to visit a friend. Minot has nearly half the population that Grand Forks-East Grand Forks do combined. I am stumped as to why such a small community has so many more attractions than a city of our size. It seems that any attempts to cater to families in Grand Forks seem to fail. Can anyone tell me why??????

They also have a Planet Pizza. A much nicer facilty than the one we used to have. There is a single room devoted solely to those huge inflatable "jungle gym" type things that you find at many of our city's events in the summer. They have definitely thought about ALL ages when they opened that particular Planet Pizza. We don't necessarily need to have a Planet Pizza here, but someplace like it where people of all ages can take in the fun and games.

Also, it's a wonder our youth are getting into trouble. I've heard many a complaint about boredom because of no place to go. When young people are bored, they find their own things to do and they are not always constructive.

I say bring back the roller skating, bring back a community center for all ages, And finally. . .open a zoo. I believe these would prove to be successful in our community and could also present great opportunities for young people to gain valuable experience through volunteer work, more interesting paid jobs, and service to their community.