Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Open Thread #99

Here's this week's installment of the open thread.  Have your say!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

If you had $100 million dollars...

In our discussion of how UND might go about expanding its campus in the future, the topic of redeveloping Grand Forks' BNSF railyards came up.  The railroad and railyards cut right through the heart of Grand Forks and occupy a large amount of land located directly between the UND campus and downtown Grand Forks.

Moving the railyards and redeveloping the land might be only a dream...something virtually unattainable...but it is still an idea that really interests me.  If thought about this for years.  I actually see it as sort of a manifest destiny for the city that UND and downtown should grow towards each other and a mixed-use neighborhood should be created between the two areas.  If we could ever accomplish this, we would have one giant, contiguous, commercial/campus/high-density residential area running through the heart of the city.

Below is a map to start the conversation.  The UND campus is outlined in green, downtown is the blue area, the "New Downtown" area that I've previously proposed and that now the city of Grand Forks itself is talking about is shown in orange, and the potential railyard redevelopment area is shown in red.  If you had hundreds of millions of dollars (or whatever sum it would take to magically relocate the railyards somewhere outside of the city, how would you use the old railyard area?  What portion would you devote to future growth for UND?  What types of public facilities would you like to see located in the new development?  What would you want the new developments to look like?  Should such a development be built in the classic grid-style of streets to mimic the older sections of the city?

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.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Open Thread #98

I'm still going to have the occasional open thread....probably on a weekly basis. I like readers to be able to create dialogue instead of just commenting on my posts. I also like the way that open threads can encourage interesting leads or tips.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Things like this just bug me...

So the Herald has a story in Thursday's paper about the Alerus Center's bottom line, but the only picture of the events center that they can come up with is one from about eight years ago when the building was still under construction? You can even see construction equipment parked by the building. Wednesday was a beautiful day...the perfect kind of day for taking a picture, Herald. Sheesh! Little things like that just bug me...

Sunday, October 12, 2008

New GFK Terminal

At tomorrow night's Grand Forks city council meeting, council members will see a presentation about the new passenger terminal being planned for Grand Forks International Airport. According to the presentation, construction will take place from 2009-2011 and the finished structure is estimated to cost around $21 million.

Update -10/13/2008 - 11:48 PM
Here is a description of the new terminal and some more pictures courtesy of the JLG Architects website:

Designed for efficiency, improved circulation, and future expansion, the new Grand Forks International Terminal offers a comfortable traveling environment within a “Wow Factor” showpiece for the State. Located on a new site, the two-level terminal provides two gates capable of boarding aircraft from the Saab SF340A to the Boeing B757-300 through a passenger bridge with access to all planes, including commuter flights. Space outside the facility includes curbside loading, parking for 400 vehicles, car rental facilities, and a new aircraft apron. Materials, including stone, metal panels, concrete masonry units, and glass curtain wall, were selected to fit the landscape, as well as evoke the concepts of flight. In order to avoid a “visual shadow” for the control tower, the front of the Terminal is slightly higher than the back.

Third Anniversary

This month marks the third anniversary of Grand Forks Life.  Unfortunately, I don't really look back on this year as a positive one for the local blogosphere in general or this blog in particular.  Grand Forks Life has become almost unrecognizable from the blog it used to be.

A major part of this has been because of laziness on my part - my life has just become much busier than it used to be when I started this blog.  Another major reason why this blog took a wrong turn was the onslaught of anonymous posters.  Of course, this blog has always had anonymous posters, but it has reached the point where 90% of people are now posting entirely anonymously.  The comment sections are filled with dozens and dozens of seemingly pointless comments...many of which are little more than attacks or unfounded gossip.  This isn't what this blog used to be and not what I ever had in mind for this blog.  I actually feel ashamed that my blog has devolved to something like this.  Things have to change.

I want to give this blog a makeover.  I've started by changing the overall design.  I know changing a few colors and the blog's layout isn't going to make the blog what it used to be, but the "dots" were becoming tired...don't you agree?  We need something a little fresher.

I'm also trying something a little more drastic: no more "anonymous" posters...at least for now.  I'm hoping that this will clean up the comment sections and hopefully encourage some of the old GFL readers/commenters to return.  You'll have to sign up with Google to comment on GFL now.  It's really very simple.

Another change that needs to be made is for me to get back to regularly posting interesting things once again.  I need your advice...what types of posts are you interested in seeing on this blog?

I want to be proud of Grand Forks Life once again.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Open Thread #97

A new week...a new open thread.  So much to talk about!

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

GF Dining Thread #3

Time for that most favorite of threads...the dining thread.  After all, you guys just love your food and just love talking about the local restaurant scene, don't you?

There have been plenty of changes in the local dining scene lately.  Boston's is gone and the building will become a Space Aliens...is that a good trade?  Mama Maria's has left Grand Forks for the sunny pastures of East Grand Forks.  The Emerald Grill is history and the Royal Fork's future is questionable after the Fargo location closed.  Prices at local restaurants seem to be rising everyday...are you cutting back on dining out?  There are new restaurants, too.  Beyond Juice and the Pita Pit have set up shop at University Village.  Buffalo Wild Wings and Subway will soon break ground on new buildings adjacent to each other on 32nd Avenue South in front of Kohls.  The Firkin Pub is planning for a new location in Grand Forks' historic St. John's Block.  Have you heard of any other new restaurants coming to Grand Forks-East Grand Forks in the future?