Thursday, October 23, 2008

Where will UND build in the future?

Nothing is as important to the city of Grand Forks as its flagship employer and cultural foundation - the University of North Dakota. UND's enrollment has been up and down in recent years, but I feel that UND will very likely grow by quite a bit in the longterm. If UND does increase the size of its student body and its campus offerings, how will the campus change to accommodate that growth?

When UND was founded in the 1880s, it was placed two miles outside of the city limits of Grand Forks. For years, students had to cross fields by means of carriage, train, or trolley in order to access the campus. Over the last 125 years, the city has grown to meet the campus - indeed, it has surrounded the campus. UND is now essentially a land-locked institution. There are no large tracts of undeveloped land adjacent to campus.

On this blog, I have pushed for the geographical expansion of downtown Grand Forks. That's a proposal which, it now appears, will become the reality in the future. Now, I've been thinking about where and how UND can push its boundaries in the future. Don't get me wrong, there is plenty of room for denser development and redevelopment on the existing UND campus. Still, if UND experiences a major increase in the size of its student body, where will new classrooms and residence halls go? If UND ever desires to add large-scale building projects in the future years - a new preforming arts center, a new football stadium, more research buildings - where would those structures go?

The map below presents some possible expansion sites that I've identified. Developing the empty land at Technology Circle is an obvious one. Turning the UND-owned Ray Richards Golf Course into an expansion of the campus is a less obvious and likely more controversial possibility. I think it is really only a matter of time until the giant Chester Fritz parking lot is converted to a parking garage and the existing lot turned into multiple buildings sites. ideas like pushing the EERC campus into the residential neighborhood to the east and converting the neighborhood between University Avenue and 6th Avenue North into more space for campus buildings will be difficult, but likely necessary, future projects.

UND should first look within its borders to accommodate growth and new building projects, but I think it is prudent to identify some potential expansion scenarios. What do you think? Do you feel that UND will ever need to greatly expand its campus? What do you think of my ideas? What about a satellite campus elsewhere in the city? Please share you ideas with us.


JWGreen said...

The only problem with expanding over the fritz lot is that that parking would need to be replaced. A parking ramp would work, but would cost extra money.

Technology circle would be alright, but the walk over there would be a pain.

I'm usually against urban renewal. Some of the crappiest buildings in downtowns were part of urban renewal projects in the 70s(especially of the 70s/80s type), but I think it would work in the case of the University, especially since its not an overly historic district. University Ave might be the worse choice over the area between campus and the Bronson Property in that matter and for walk times between buildings.

I have no problem covering up the Golf Course, but then you also have the problem of students having to cross a rail switchyard, four lane road, and ditch. A skywalk could be built, but it would be insanely long.

minnemom said...

I was just back on campus for Homecoming. When I was at UND in the early 90's, the basement Valley Dairy was the only non-university business on campus, and the Bronson property was supposedly never going to be developed.

My, how things have changed.

I don't know the current enrollment figures; when I was there it was about 12,000. Have things grown so much that all these changes have been necessary, and will they continue to grow? I don't know. Your scenarios are probably pretty logical possibilities if it ever comes to needing more space.

Jaberwky said...

This issue is confronted by "urban" campuses all over the world. Rather than go out, they go up. I am a firm believer in being wise with the use of campus land, and would prefer to see the investment in going up (i.e., parking ramp in conjunction with building at the Chester Fritz). Expanding laterally increases cost of land acquisition, added surface drainage and runoff, travel time and distance, and takes away from the feeling of a unified campus.

Omaha Food Guy said...

The Neighborhood area on the map I would think is the most logical to be redeveloped. If I remember correctly the University already owns some of the property and then rents it out. Also remember the University/State has that great constitutional power of eminent domain for anything they don't own.

Stewie said...

Being a staff member at the University of North Dakota I do not want to see another parking ramp. They are already talking about raising staff parking passes too 225 dollars a year, that is over 3 times as much as we are paying now. Another ramp would just be a waste of money, as is the first one they built and now we have to pay for it just to go to work.

Craig said...

UND should NOT look into a satellite campus. I have been to other campuses that have this and it is not a good campus atmosphere or feeling. I like the idea of building "up" rather than "out" as well. Although there are still plenty of options close to campus for expansion. This needs to be planned immediately. It's not IF, it's WHEN will all of this need to occur. UND's enrollment and campus will grow exponentially over the next 20 years. In turn, I think Grand Forks will grow commercially and residentially because of this.

C. Y. said...

Employees using other parking ramps in the city pay for parking - some I think are paying $30 month(?)($360 year) so it's not just UND employees.

Stewie said...

CY, I do not even use the parking ramp I work in Clifford, about as far away from the ramp as you can get. I, along with the majority of the faculty and staff do not park in the ramp yet we still have to pay for it. The people who are paying that amount you mention to use the other ramps where as I am not using the one at UND nor will I ever use it.

The Parking office held a series of meetings on campus to explain everything and in that meeting they said the reason for the increase was not because of the ramp. Yet a staff member asked if there was not parking ramp what would be the cost of the permits, they said 125. The parking ramp is supposed to be self sufficient, apparently its not.

Also, I worked at SEI in downtown for about 2 years. We were issued parking permits for the ramp across from Central. Not once did I have to pay to park there.

OUWxGuesser said...

I attended one of the parking meetings (I also work in Clifford). They basically said two things. A) Fee increases aren't because of the parking ramp and B) The parking ramp is part of the reason for the fee increase. Poorly worded on their part. The $$$ issue exists even without the parking ramp, parking rates were too low to pay for maintenance on the current lots. With the parking ramp, however, we're in deep crap. Apparently somebody (previous admin?) approved the parking ramp with numbers that showed the ramp would pay for itself. Of course this didn't happen and now we're all stuck with the bill. Basically it's UND's version of the economic bailout. What's concerning is how the parking office had no say in the ramp being built? (their words) They pointed fingers towards the state board of higher education, previous president etc. At the current time, the university doesn't have enough $$$ for the bonds and as risk of defaulting if the state doesn't give them a waiver for a few years.

Stewie said...

I might just try get a student pass since I am also taking classes as well.

ouwxguesser, you enjoying the work they are doing in the parking lot? won't how much longer it will be.

Matthew said...

I know you agree with me on this GFG, but wouldn't it be great if UND or the city bought out the railyard?

I actually wrote to BNSF a couple months ago to politely ask them to help GFK out by installing whistleless crossings and a trackside bike path, general PR stuff for them, but they wrote back and said to get GFK to do it.

With the railyard gone (moved out of town) and that corridor opened up, there would be an awesome opportunity for a crosstown Greenway, as well as some expansion for UND.

It would suck to string out the campus that much, but would UND consider expanding even more along 42nd (south of DeMers)? A similar idea might be to string out along Columbia north of Gateway.

dale said...

Employees using other parking ramps in the city pay for parking

However, parking permits at UND do not include parking in the ramp, that's an additional fee. Tripling the cost of a permit isn't going to have any positive impact on those of us who have to pay it.

ouwxguesser, you enjoying the work they are doing in the parking lot?

I know that I'm not, even got a $15 ticket a little while back because the only parking spot open was "visitors" and I forgot to take down my permit. When they've gutted your parking area, I think the rules of who can park where should be suspended (though the back of the ticket specifically says that they are not.)

I've been out of town the past week, so I don't know the progress that they're making, but I hope they don't run into ground freeze issues and we're left without those lots for the whole winter.

Stewie said...

Dale, that is true those of us not using the ramp are stuck with the bill. They are also going to raise student permits to 125.

I also agree that the rules should be different for the Clifford parking lot.

They haven't gotten much done in the past week. It actually sat empty for about a week and a half. They finally added blacktop to the majority of what they dug up but it is not complete yet. And they just started replacing the line that goes under the railroad tracks and under 42nd.

I don't know why they didn't do this in the summer when weather wasn't such a big deal and there would be hardly and students so parking wouldn't be such a nightmare.

GrandForksGuy said...

"I know you agree with me on this GFG, but wouldn't it be great if UND or the city bought out the railyard?"

Matthew, that is actually kind of my dream for Grand Forks development. I see it as a manifest destiny of sorts for the city and for UND. If we could magically remove the railyards, the city, UND, and developers could redevelop the area into a further westward expansion of downtown, an expansion of UND directly adjacent to the heart of campus (the PERFECT type of expansion for UND), and a mixed-use neighborhood sitting directly between UND and downtown. This would actually be the perfect topic for a future blog post on here...I'll have to put something together.

FWC said...

Couple of points:

With regard to parking, seems that UND will be moving more toward ramps, but not near Chester Fritz. UND athletics has tentative plans to build a new track/soccer complex on the eastern 2/3’rds of the remaining parking lot at University / Columbia (southeast). Immediately across Columbia from the new ramp, a second new parking ramp is proposed on the remaining 1/3rd lot to replace the parking lost to the soccer field. Since the whole of Bronson Property was supposed to go to athletics and intramurals, the athletics department is basically owed land. The athletic department also has to fund demolition of the old Engelstad arena, and build an indoor practice complex there, so it makes sense for the soccer/track complex to be near the practice field/Memorial Stadium. The Med School has the rights to build a new complex on the existing soccer field at Bronson, while most the rest of the Bronson property will be developed high-density residential and commercial.

The EERC already has undeveloped land east of its facilities, and toward the NUT lab, but yet battled the UND Administration to expand toward Memorial Stadium. Since, the commercial buildings along most of Dyke Avenue need revitalization anyway, it seems sensible that EERC should expand east along Dyke Avenue, not in residential property towards University Avenue.

If new housing gets developed, they should consider removing the one-story duplexes at Stanford Road and Columbia. That land could be higher density use. Longer term, they could also consider transforming the area between CAS and the main campus into additional classroom space (a number of buildings are in the proposal stage, like forensic science, general science and lecture building, a graduate school /faculty building for business where Chandler Hall sits) A proposed theater to replace Burtness should be located somewhere with adjacent parking, like near the Chester Fritz Auditorium, at the Bronson property, or, it could be one UND department that would make sense to be downtown.

Would hate to see the golf course redeveloped: the railroad causes too much separation (unless some how the rail switch yard is miraculously moved out of town). If UND needs to grow, the city could really use it’s help along Gateway and towards the north (not with classrooms or faculty offices, but with service buildings, business incubators, etc). The land near the English Coulee north of Gateway needs to be redeveloped anyway: why waste an potential internal bike/park resource like the Coulee? If the Marriott Courtyard ever gets built on Bronson near Gateway, that would certainly help.

Finally, always thought that the city and UND should encourage small retail businesses ethnic/quirky restaurants within the residential district between 6th and University, but UND admin always seemed to squelch it.

FWC said...

On last note, meant the single-story duplexes at Stanford and University (Stanford / Columbia only intersect at the North Pole, which in the winter probably doesn't feel much different that Stanford/University! )

dale said...

I don't know why they didn't do this in the summer when weather wasn't such a big deal and there would be hardly and students so parking wouldn't be such a nightmare.

Budgets would be my guess. Within the University, you don't have the money for a project until your budget is approved and is active, so that would be a big constraint.

If we could magically remove the railyards, the city, UND, and developers could redevelop the area into a further westward expansion of downtown

I can't imagine what that would cost, and it almost certainly is beyond the ability of the University and city to pay. In addition, the cost of erecting another train yard outside of town would likely be beyond what BNSF would be wanting to spring for. Nuisance that the train yards are (noise wise, blocking roads wise and using prime real estate wise,) I think it's unreasonable to think that this is even a remote possibility.

Johny said...

I've been a long time reader of this blog and think it is great. However, since you turned the anonymous comments off, I believe it has fallen off a great deal. A bunch of what was posted was absurd, outrageous, etc, but some of it was useful and insightful. This blog is now turning into a the same handful of people making comments and that is making this place boring.