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.

Open Thread #82

It's summer!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Open Thread #81

A new open thread...ready for business!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Reba and Kelly coming to the Ralph

According to, country superstar Reba McEntire and the original American Idol Kelly Clarkson will bring their "2 Worlds 2 Voices" joint concert tour to Grand Forks this fall. The two will perform at the Ralph Engelstad Arena on October 23.

What would you change?

You may have noticed a few small changes in the appearance of Grand Forks Life. A few of the fonts and colors have been changed and I added a "Recent comments" box. Nothing major here, folks...just a few little changes.

This made me think about the overall design of GFL. I wonder if there is anything that you would change about the blog's appearance if you could? Would you arrange the sidebar differently? Would you change the size of a particular font? Do you think there are too many posts on the main page or not enough? I want your opinions and constructive criticism.

Please keep in mind that I'm no expert at web design so I'm not able to implement anything too groundbreaking here. I am more than happy to make small changes if the community of readers wants them.

This can even go beyond mere appearance to the content of GFL itself. What types of threads do you like the most? What areas should I be focusing on? I think feedback is the best way to know what this blog is doing right and what it is doing wrong.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Milo Smith's new blog

WDAZ's Milo Smith has a new blog, Milo's Turf Tips. The blog is about "the quest for the perfect lawn." Good luck with the lawn and the blog, Milo!

Wonder why Forum Communications didn't make Milo use their AreaVoices blogging platform for his new blog?

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

New poll: Civic Auditorium choices

Time for a new poll question: "Which Civic Auditorium redevelopment plan do you support?"

Poll results: Brown's chances

Time to close the poll question "Would you support Michael Brown for a third term as GF mayor?" (results)

Selection Votes
Yes 50%99
No 41%82
Undecided 9%17
198 votes total

What do you think of the results?

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

President Kelly's new digs

Here's a first look at what the new University of North Dakota President's House will look like when completed later this year. UND's new President, Robert Kelly, and his wife will be the home's first inhabitants. The new house is being built on roughly the same spot as the old presidential house. A new Alumni Center will be built adjacent to the house in the near future.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Open Thread #80

It's a new week and I'm sure you have plenty to talk about.

Mooddyz Bar and Casino

A new business by the name of Mooddyz Bar and Casino may soon open in the former Westward Ho building. Currently, the only business in the former entertainment complex is the Northside Cafe.

The bar's request for a liquor license has been at least temporarily denied due to the way in which one of the potential owners answered the question "Have you ever been convicted of any crime, in this or in any other state, or under Federal Law?" in the liquor license paperwork.

In the paperwork, the man reported a 1979 arrest for marijuana possession, but according to the Grand Forks Police Department's Criminal Investigation Bureau, he failed to report several other crimes. These include a 1998 arrest and conviction for DUI, a 2005 arrest and conviction for reckless driving, and a 2005 arrest and conviction for harassment.

Mooddyz is appealing the liquor license application denial at this evening's Service and Safety Standby Committee. Check out the meeting packet which contains all of this and more information.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Plans for "new downtown"

A year has passed since I first shared my vision for a "bigger and better" downtown Grand Forks. To sum up my proposal, I think the current geographic size of downtown Grand Forks is too small for a city of our size and much too small for the city I think we will become in the next few decades.

In my earlier post, I proposed an expansion of downtown to the west. Now comes word that Grand Forks city staff and JLG Architects have been working on a plan to expand downtown in the very direction that I was talking about. Check out Ryan Schuster's great blog post about these plans. I'm not foolish enough to think that my earlier plan was the inspiration for this new plan, but I am very pleased to see a plan very similar to my own presented to our elected officials, the media, and to the citizens.

My earlier plan

The new plan

I'm very excited to see bold plans like this put forth. I think this is both a doable project and a necessary project. Downtown Grand Forks has plenty going for it these days...some of us just think that making downtown bigger might also make it a whole lot better. What do you think?

Friday, May 02, 2008

Open Thread #79

Here's a new open thread for the weekend, kids.

Have fun at Springfest if you go...but leave the fiery couches at home, please.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

GF Dining Thread #1

Nothing gets you guys talking more than a discussion of the local dining scene. Why not start up a special category of threads akin to the "open threads" that you're all familar with? I thought it would be fun to give it a try.

Here's a chance for you to share your opinions of the local dining scene. Perhaps you would like to review a particular restaurant? Maybe you have an interesting tidbit of restaurant-related news or gossip that other readers would like to hear?

Go ahead...pretend that you're Marilyn Hagerty.