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Buyers of Herald building court potential tenants

The iconic clock tower of the Grand Forks Herald's downtown building. Jenna Watson/Grand Forks Herald

Grand Forks City Hall, the library, UND and the school district are all potential tenants for Communication Central Building, the group that made an offer on the Grand Forks Herald building last month.

Since signing a purchase agreement with the Herald's parent company in May, architect Mike Kuntz and contractor Craig Tweten have been scouting the city for potential leasers. Kuntz met with School Board members Tuesday morning and walked with city officials and library representatives on a tour Monday afternoon.

"There was really a variety of department heads to show them the kind of space that's available," Kuntz said of the tour.

City Administrator Todd Feland, who participated in Monday's tour, said the city could use the Herald building's first floor for office or community space. City officials have been talking to Kuntz for the past week, and Feland said their next step is to review departments and check for expansion needs.

Another option is turning the first floor into a satellite library.

For school district business manager Ed Gerhardt, who was present at the Tuesday meeting, it's too soon to commit.

"I guess it's never say never, but at this point it's just not feasible with all the things we have going on and their deadline," Gerhardt said in an interview after the meeting. Without a clear need for more space, Gerhardt said the school is not at a good place to express interest.

Outside local government agencies, Kuntz said he and Tweten also are considering private multimedia companies, who might fit in better with the Herald if the newspaper follows a more digital direction. Kuntz didn't name any specific companies.

The real goal — other than finding more committed interest by Sept. 1 — is to maintain "a synergy around education, communication and media," Kuntz said. "I worked on the design after the flood, and he was the contractor after the flood," Kuntz said, referring to Tweten. "So we know that building really well. And we didn't want to see someone move in that wasn't as into the success of it."

The agreement forwarded by Kuntz and Tweten stipulates they have 90 days to do due diligence. After that, the deal can be completed. The agreement is simply for the building and includes no portion of the Herald's business.

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