Friday, August 29, 2008

New downtown projects

The Grand Forks office of Urban Development is working with private developers to get two new projects off the ground in downtown Grand Forks. At the same time, the city is developing a new program to assist future economic development projects such as these. (agenda)

The Marcil Group plans to invest $1.2 million to remodel the St. John's Block.  Their plans include remodeling space for the new Firkin Pub planned for the building and rehabbing nine apartments in the upper floors.

The old YWCA building across the street from Central High may soon be downtown's newest apartment development.  The building's owner, Mr. Steele Sacks, plans to convert the space into 25 new apartment units at a total cost of $2.03 million.

City staff at Urban Development is working with Bremer Bank to develop a "financial instrument" modeled after the Bank of North Dakota's PACE program for economic development.  The new program could assist these two downtown developments and future projects in the city's core.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Not a very formidable "Force"

The Fargo Force has revealed their new mascot...

I know...nothing really to do with Grand Forks, but just too good to pass up.

Thanks to for this story.

Open Thread #92

Here's a new open thread for the weekend. Keep it interesting and civil, guys!

Friday, August 22, 2008

New tenants for Columbia Mall?

It's been a while now since I uncovered GK Development's preliminary plans to redevelop the old Target space at Grand Forks' Columbia Mall, but so far no plans appear to be set in stone. Although it appears that a large bookstore may be headed for a portion of the space, even that has not yet been officially announced and no other potential tenants have been listed.

I've been doing some thinking about what stores and restaurants may possibly be headed for the new spaces that GK Development will likely lease out in the near future. I've come up with some tenants that I consider to be almost a "sure thing" and some other tenants which are more likely "possible" tenants or even just "long shots."

I'm thinking about stores that are located in other regional malls (think West Acres, Kirkwood, Dakota Square, Crossroads, Empire, etc.), but currently are not at Columbia Mall. It seems logical that if a chain has a location in Fargo and Bismarck (or even just in Fargo) that it is fairly plausible that they might be interested in an expanded and renovated Columbia Mall.

Below are a few thoughts that I have on potential tenants. Let me know what you think about these. Am I being realistic here? What other chains would you consider to be likely additions to Columbia Mall?

Almost a sure thing

Barnes and Noble
Abercrombie & Fitch
Coldwater Creek

New York and Company
Yankee Candle
Williams and Sonoma
Pottery Barn

Crate and Barrel
Cheesecake Factory

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Baby boutique coming to downtown

Downtown Grand Forks will soon be home to a new baby and maternity boutique named Adley Anne's.  The owner, Holly Schneider, will lease 4,500-5,000 square feet of space at 224 North 4th Street.  That building previously housed Cherished Moments, a wedding store which recently moved to the Grand Cities Mall.  Schneider has submitted a Renaissance Zone application which, if approved, would result in a five-year state income tax exemption.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Open Thread #91

What do you want to talk about, guys?

Clean up the front door!

First impressions are everything. When I go into a new restaurant or store, I immediately formulate opinions based on the overall look of the entryway. That may or may not be fair, but I think we all do it. Well, I think our "front door" needs some major sprucing up.

I feel that the I-29 interchange at 32nd Avenue South is the front door of sorts for our community...even more than the interchange at Gateway Drive. Thousands of people use this interchange everyday and many visitors to our city access our prime business corridor here.

In my opinion, this is a pretty ugly and poorly maintained first impression of our city. Have you driven over that overpass lately? The weeds are totally out of control...I really don't think they've seen the underside of a mower this year. The entire interchange is overgrown with weeds and dotted with trees that are either dead, half-dead, or very ugly because of years of neglect. The areas filled with "bushes" are really just areas filled with weeds. No weeding is ever done here.

Routine mowing, weeding, and the occasional planting of new trees and regular tree maintenance are not hard to do or overly expensive. Why is this area so neglected and why does the neglect appear to be getting worse with each passing year? Who is supposed to maintain this area and others like it? The city? The state? Someone is doing a very poor job.

If we truly want to be a "destination city," one of the most important (and easiest) things we can do is to spruce up our city's major entryways. The 32nd Avenue interchange is just the worst example; there are clearly other entryways that are in need of improvements. When I see these "front doors" to our city, I'm ashamed.

Monday, August 11, 2008

New poll: Greenway use

The new poll question is "How often do you use the Greenway?" and I'll be interested to hear from you guys on this one. Personally, I love practically everything about the Greenway, but I'm not always able to find the time to get out there and enjoy it as much as I would like. How about you? What parts of the Greenway are your favorite? Any room for improvement?

Poll results: Hello Allegiant Air!

The old poll question was "Will you use Allegiant Air's new flight from GFK to Las Vegas?" and, with over 130 votes, the result is a strong "yes" from readers. In fact, 70% of readers polled answered that they are likely to use Allegiant in the future. (results)

Likely to use 70%97
Not likely to use 20%27
Unsure 10%14
138 votes total

Friday, August 08, 2008

New blog: Touring Grand Forks

I'm pleased to announce that the Grand Forks blogosphere has added another blogger to its ranks recently. Touring Grand Forks is the name of a new blog by a UND student named "JP" who is sharing his discoveries from along the city's extensive bike path system.

From the blog:

Basically, I'm going to ride my bike around different parts of Grand Forks every day (hopefully) and detail my experiences (with pictures!). I'm hoping to see all kinds of crazy things as I explore every corner of Grand Forks, all while getting in shape at the same time. I'm using this blog as motivation to stay active. It should be stated that I'm by no means an experienced bicyclist...or blogger for that matter.
I must admit that I too am a devotee of our metropolitan area's system of trails. In my book, there isn't an urban system like this anywhere else in the region. I think this is something that we should be truly proud of as a city. While JP uses his bicycle to explore our trails, I am a walker. I have been known to take four or five mile walks along the Greenway and on other city trails and paths. I look forward to reading JP's blog. Check it out!

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Open Thread #90

What's on your mind? Heard any good rumors or interesting stories lately?