Saturday, July 26, 2008

New restaurants may be coming to 32nd Avenue

According to a tipster, that empty lot in front of the Kohl's development on 32nd Avenue may not be empty for much longer. Over the last few years, there has been lots of talk about what restaurant should or would eventually end up building on this lot. After all, this is one of the last few empty lots on 32nd between I-29 and Columbia Road.

My tipster claims that plans have been filed with the city for a new Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant on this property. The tipster also says that, in addition to the wing restaurant, a Subway restaurant will also be included in the building.

Of course, Buffalo Wild Wings already has a Grand Forks location about half a mile away from this 32nd Avenue location. No word on what would become of that existing location, but I would have to think that it would close after the new restaurant opens up.

So what do you think of this apparent development coming to this particular piece of property? Had you hoped for a different restaurant for this spot? Do we really need a new Buffalo Wild Wings? How about a Subway...after all, their website lists 10 locations in GF/ we need another? Let me know what you think.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Open Thread #89

I was out of town for most of the past week so I'm sorry about the lack of updates. Here's an open thread...have fun and be nice!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Grand Forks Starbucks will not close

The local Grand Forks Starbucks locations will not be closing as a result of the company's recent announcement of 600 domestic store closures. The only North Dakota location that will close is a Starbucks located at the intersection of 13th Avenue South and 25th Street in Fargo.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Open Thread #88

Summer in the city. What's on your mind?

Is Grand Forks ugly?

My answer is a resounding NO. I personally think Grand Forks is easily the most attractive larger city in the state and the region. Sure, there are some "ugly" parts of portions of Gateway Drive. However, I see those areas as exceptions to the rule. Really, even our "ugly" areas aren't so bad when compared with those found in most other cities.

When I think of Grand Forks, I think of a city that for the most part clearly cares about its appearance. One of the first things I think about are the city's tree lined streets. Sure, most cities have large trees in their older neighborhoods. Grand Forks, however, has trees all over town...even the newest areas of the city have trees lining the streets. I think of all of the stately old homes that, for the most part, have been kept up throughout the years and together form a real sense of "place" for the community. I think of the outstanding campus located right in the heart of Grand Forks. I see the grounds of UND as easily the most attractive urbanized area in the state.

Even 32nd Avenue South with its big box stores and large parking lots is an attractive corridor in my eye. The buildings are set back from the street and the parking lots are interspersed with islands of grass and trees. 13th Avenue South in Fargo may have a few more shopping and dining options, but that corridor makes me think of one giant parking lot. Don't get me wrong...I think of Fargo as a very attractive city too. However, I would still rank it as below my own fair city.

There is always room for improvement. Clearly there are many offending properties and area of town and I wish so badly that they would be forced to clean up their act. Seeing a business with foot-tall grass and weeds out in front or garbage littering our city's major streets drives me nuts. However, I still am a bit dumbfounded when someone makes a sweeping comment such as "Grand Forks is an ugly town." It might not be perfect, but "ugly" it ain't!

How do you see Grand Forks? Is it ugly? Is it attractive? What improvements or changes do you think would make the city better looking? How would you rank the city's appearance with other regional cities?

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Grand Forks growth compared with Fargo

Can it be? Is it possible? Grand Forks gained more people and grew at a rate more than twice that of Fargo's growth rate between the years 2000-2007?

It's true.

Sure, plenty of people made fun of the story that ran in the Grand Forks Herald this past week proclaiming that Grand Forks gained 70 people last year. Big deal, huh? However, look beyond last year's figures to the past decade worth of figures and the numbers are much more interesting.

From 2000-2007, Fargo gained 2,061 people for a growth rate of 2.3% while Grand Forks gained 2,419 people for a rate of 4.9%. (Fargo Forum article)

We do have to keep in mind that these numbers come from the Census Bureau which many people feel has a history of undercounting local populations. Also, obviously populations are in constant shift and a few years worth of data don't necessarily mean that much.

However, there is something that I find very interesting about these numbers. These numbers cover a period when Fargo was considered to be the economic powerhouse of the region and during the same time when Grand Forks was a city recovering from the region's worst natural disaster in modern history and major reductions at the Air Force base which is so integral to the city's economy.

Under those circumstances, which city do you think would be the logical leader in growth? I just find it very interesting that Grand Forks not only held its own, but beat Fargo in both growth rate and number of new residents.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Future of the library

The recent death of longtime Grand Forks Public Library director Dennis Page has once again brought the topic of our local library to the community's attention. The current library building was built in 1972 and has certainly started to show its age. It is cramped and very outdated in many respects.

Fellow blogger Tu-Uyen Tran had a great story about the library's future in the Herald and on his blog last year. According to Tu-Uyen, remodeling the current library would cost about $1-$2 million and a brand new library would be just under $10 million.

Fargo is in the process of building a new main library building. The downtown structure will be two stories and will contain over 54,000 square feet. In my opinion, the current Grand Forks library is actually much nicer than the old Fargo library, but the new Fargo library will be a far cry from the 1972 Grand Forks building.

I know Grand Forks has been accused of copying Fargo (and vice versa), but improving public libraries is something that I'm happy to be accused of copying. I feel that we shouldn't let Fargo beat us in this area. I feel that we must start planning to improve our community's library facilities.

Do you think that the Grand Forks Public Library is in need of some major changes? How often do you currently use the library? Would you be more likely to use the library if it was extensively remodeled and/or expanded? How about building a brand new library? If that option was chosen, where would you like to see a new main library building go? How about branch libraries...are there any areas of Grand Forks that you think could stand to have a branch library?

Open Thread #87

Miscellaneous topics go here, folks. And we're off...

New poll: GFK to Vegas

It's about time for a new poll, huh? The new question is "Will you use Allegiant Air's new flight from GFK to Las Vegas?" I'll be interested to hear from you guys. I would also like to hear about other possible destinations that you're interested in.

Poll results: More housing for downtown

Time to close the old poll question "Which Civic Auditorium redevelopment plan do you support?" Most respondents seem to think more housing for the downtown area is a better option than remodeling the old auditorium into retail space. (results)

Which Civic Auditorium redevelopment plan do you support?
Tearing it down and replacing it with a mixed-use development 75%88

Remodeling it into space for HB Light and Sound and other tenants
117 votes total

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Local Starbucks closing?

Yesterday, Starbucks announced that it will be closing 600 "underperforming" domestic stores (Herald story). The shutdowns will start immediately and continue until early next year. Previously, the company had said that they would only be closing around 100 stores.

I'm wondering what this means for the local Starbucks locations. Will a Grand Forks store or stores close as a result of this announcement? Are any of these stores considered to be "underperformers?"

I do need to make a correction to the Herald story. The article says that Starbucks operates Grand Forks locations on South Washington Street, 32nd Avenue South, in SuperTarget, and in the UND Barnes and Noble bookstore. This isn't exactly accurate.

The SuperTarget location is considered to be a Starbucks, but it is staffed by Target employees. It looks very much like a "real" Starbucks, but it technically is not a regular Starbucks location and I'm not sure that any of the Target Starbucks locations throughout the country will be closing as a result of this announcement.

Also, the Barnes and Noble cafe is not a Starbucks at all. It isn't even called's the Barnes and Noble Tower Cafe. They merely serve Starbucks coffee. This announcement really has no impact on the Tower Cafe's future.

Are there any local Starbucks employees out there that know anything about the status of the local Starbucks locations?