Monday, June 30, 2008

The end of the Kupchella era

Today is Charles Kupchella's last day as president of the University of North Dakota. Tomorrow, the Kupchellas will move back to Pennsylvania and Dr. Robert Kelley will officially become UND's eleventh president.

Kupchella has been UND's leader since 1999 and has presided over an eventful period in the institution's history. From research to the Ralph, from flood recovery to enrollment growth, and from strategic planning to unceasing debates over words and imagery...Kupchella had an interesting presidency.

The Grand Forks Herald and the Fargo Forum both had editorials about Kupchella's time at UND. Interestingly, the Forum's sendoff of Kupchella was truly glowing when compared with the "fair and balanced" Herald editorial.

What will you remember about Dr. Kupchella? What is his legacy at UND? Was he a good president? What do you hope to see in President Kelley?

Sunday, June 29, 2008

I want you!

I'm going to try something new here. In the past, I've put together all of the posts on this blog and you readers have only had a chance to have your voices heard in the subsequent comment sections. Starting now, I'm going to introduce occasional reader generated content to this blog.

The first reader generated content I'm introducing is something that I hope will be popular and fun. You know how we all love talking about the local dining scene so much? Well, now you can review a local restaurant and potentially have that review show up on this blog.

So what am I looking for here? Well, a good review should include some specifics (restaurant, day/time, menu items ordered) and some generics (your overall opinion of the restaurant, its prices, its menu, its service, and its atmosphere). Refer to the apparently defunct Grand Cities Dining blog for inspiration. Oh yes...please feel free to elaborate on the quality of the restaurant's napkins if you so desire.

Keep in mind that a publishable review should be of an appropriate length (not too short or too long). Also, I reserve the right to make spelling, grammatical, or syntactical changes. Reviews should be sent to:

Marilyn Hagerty, watch out!

Update - 7/9/2008 - 12:10 AM
So no one wants to review a local dining establishment? What made everyone clam up?

Friday, June 27, 2008

Open Thread #86

And just what interesting directions will this open thread take?

Friday, June 20, 2008

Another sign of summer

The Town Square Farmer's Market returns for its 8th season this Saturday. The Market is held every Saturday (rain or shine) from 9 AM -2 AM until September 27. This Saturday, Penumbra will play from 10:30-1:30. Next Saturday will bring a free petting zoo for the kids. The Market is held in the Town Square at the intersection of Demers Avenue and South Third Street in downtown Grand Forks.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

GF Dining Thread #2

The first dining thread had a great response. Since you guys just LOVE talking about restaurants, here's another dining thread. Enjoy!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Wish list for Columbia Mall

Now that we know GK Development is planning to renovate the old Target space at Columbia Mall and turn it into multiple stores and restaurants, I've been thinking about what could go in all of those spaces. What would you like to see in Columbia Mall? Are there any shopping or dining chains you would like to see in these spaces? Please share your wish lists!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Open Thread #84

Here's a new open thread. Now you can stop putting random comments in posts about specific things like Columbia Mall or Carrie Underwood. That's just annoying!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Carrie Underwood coming to GF

Another "Idol" is coming to the Ralph. American Idol alum Carrie Underwood and Little Big Town have scheduled a concert at Ralph Engelstad Arena for September 27.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

The new Columbia Mall

Columbia Mall appears set for a major renovation and redevelopment project which may bring new life to the 30 year old mall. Columbia Mall's owners, GK Development, have drawn up what can only be called impressive plans to totally renovate and reconfigure the space formerly occupied by Target and establish it as a new "lifestyle center" sort of addition to the mall.

According to GK's website:
A new 90,000 sf renovation will bring more retail, restaurants and specialty options to enhance the real shopping experience at Columbia Mall. Bringing the outdoors in, GK Development, Inc. will create an extraordinary space - including a bright, enclosed atrium roof as a highlight - showcasing many more exciting places to shop, eat and play. Changes will also take place on the exterior, where the renovation will include beautiful streetscaping and enhanced entrances to those retailers.

Some readers may remember that I had a post back in February in which I discussed potential plans for the old Target space. At that time, I mentioned options for this space which appear to be similar to what we are seeing in GK's plans. I have to say that I was "thinking big" when I talked about those plans back in February...I didn't necessarily think that such a "grand" redevelopment of the old Target space would take place. Clearly, I wasn't the only one thinking big.

These are impressive plans and they look quiite a bit like a "lifestyle center." Currently, there is nothing like this in the region. The plans appear to show a variety of retail and restaurant spaces - about 23 leasable spaces of varying sizez - with a variety of both interior and exterior entrances. Even West Acres in Fargo has no development quite like this. In fact, am I the only one thinking that the "new" Columbia Mall could be really giving West Acres some much needed competition in the not too distant future?

I find it interesting that, back in February, many of us were talking about the need for a large new bookstore in the mall. You may be happy to see that the floorplans for the space show a 27,900 square foot space labeled simply as "Books." I'm guessing that, in order for GK Development to actually label that space, they have a tenant already lined up. My guess? Almost certainly a brand new Barnes and Noble...a "real" Barnes and Noble for Grand Forks.

As someone who has fond memories of shopping at Columbia Mall starting as a small child back in the 1980s, I've been sad to see it get quieter, less exciting, and a little neglected in recent years. I personally think that, if these plans are actually put into place, Columbia Mall may just become as exciting as the mall I remember as a child...maybe even much more so.

And what in the world are those big buildings that appear west of the old Target space in the above rendering? They look like a new hotel and some sort of giant movie theater complex if you ask me. Very interesting!

GFK plans forthcoming

A reliable source tells me that the plans for the new Grand Forks International Airport terminal will be released within the next week or two. What are you hoping to see in this new structure? Will a new terminal make you more likely to use GFK in the future?

DLG set to disband

I've been informed that the Downtown Leadership Group (or DLG) will be disbanding after this year's Grand Cities ArtFest. According to the group's website, the DLG "is dedicated to development and promotion of downtown Grand Forks and East Grand Forks." Formed in the wake of the flood of 1997 to pump new life into the downtown areas, the DLG has evolved into a group whose focus is almost exclusively to organize the annual ArtFest. According to my source, the North Valley Arts Council (or NOVAC) will oversee the ArtFest in future years.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Draft Holiday Lighting Plan

Gone are the days of those faded, disintegrating red bells popping up on Grand Forks street lights each December. There have been plenty of complaints about the city's Christmas (or, to be PC, Holiday) decorations for some time now and the city is finally drawing up plans to spruce up its act. A draft plan has been devised which could see an entirely new holiday lighting program put into place in the near future.

According to the plan, the city's goals are to highlight Grand Forks' major commercial areas, develop a consistent theme, focus on high-impact high-efficiency displays, and encourage displays by private businesses.

In addition to the existing downtown lighting program, the plan calls for focusing the city's efforts to major commercial corridors including: Columbia Road from 32nd Avenue to Gateway Drive, Demers from the interstate to downtown, Gateway from the river to 55th Street, Washington from 32nd Avenue to Gateway, and 32nd Avenue from the interstate to Washington. The plan also raises the possibility of future expansion into newer commercial areas such as 42nd Street.

As far as developing a consistent theme, the plan calls for a white-light-based theme throughout the city. This would mimic the theme that already exists downtown and would make the decorations able to be used throughout the winter. The plan also mentions that this theme would make some of the decorations able to be used for other holidays or events throughout the year such as the July 4th celebration or ArtFest. Also, I might point out that white lights are very non-denominational.

The draft plan calls for a smaller number of impressive displays throughout the city instead of a more spread out "ho-hum" display. Such displays could include "intensely" lighted clusters of trees. Whatever type of displays are put up, the city plans to use LEDs in all decorations.

Finally, the plans would encourage private businesses to put up their own displays. The plan mentions the possibility of a one-time give away of light sets to businesses to encourage private displays. The city may also hold a lighting contest as another means to encourage businesses to light up.

As someone who loves Christmas and the whole holiday season, I'm excited to see what the city comes up with here. This plans sounds pretty good to me. What do you think?

Monday, June 02, 2008

Another hotel for 42nd Street

42nd Street is quickly turning into Grand Forks' newest hotel district. In the past year, roughly 300 hotel rooms have been added to the 42nd Street corridor. The 200-room Canad Inn "destination center" complex opened its doors last summer and the 100-room Country Inn and Suites will do so this summer.

Now comes word that another hotel is on its way to this area of town. Visim LLP is planning a new hotel for the northeast corner of South 42nd Street and 29th Avenue South. Visim is connected to a Grand Forks hotel development and management firm called Yellowstone Management. Yellowstone owns and operates several hotels in Grand Forks including the Holiday Inn Express, C'mon Inn, and the new Country Inn and Suites.

So even before their new Country Inn and Suites opens its doors, Yellowstone/Vism appears to be planning for yet another hotel in the city. No word yet on the brand or size of the hotel. Has anyone heard anything about this project? Do you think we're starting to have an over abundance of hotel rooms or do you think we could stand to have even more hotels constructed in town?

Update - 6/5/2008 - 11:50 PM
This blog broke the story on Monday and now the Grand Forks Herald has an article confirming the construction of a SpringHill Suites by Marriott.

Valvoline to expand, become Tire One

The Valvoline Instant Oil Change location on 32nd Avenue South in the Grand Forks Marketplace will soon have a new name. The location is being rebranded as a Tire One store. The building will also undergo an expansion.

Open Thread #83

Go for it!