Old Leevers building in for a faceliftConstruction workers are ripping off parts of the exterior of the former Leevers grocery store on South Washington Street in Grand Forks as work begins to rehabilitate the old building and reopen it as a mix of smaller stores.
Construction workers are ripping off parts of the exterior of the former Leevers grocery store on South Washington Street in Grand Forks as work begins to rehabilitate the old building and reopen it as a mix of smaller stores.
The building that has sat vacant for nearly four years just south of the heavily traveled Washington Street and DeMers Avenue intersection is finally receiving a much-needed facelift.
A Fuji’s Japanese Steakhouse and Seafood restaurant will open on the northern end of the building in December. A Planet Fitness health club is to open on the southern end of the renovated structure. The building’s owners are seeking a tenant for the middle portion of the structure, which will resemble a strip mall.
“It’s going to be a beautiful building,” said Dan Clark, a project manager working with Fuji’s owners. “The outside is going to look great.”
Community Contractors is working on construction at the site. JLG Architects is the architect for the project.
The building’s owners had been unable to sell it or find a tenant for the massive 35,000-square-foot space. A recent effort to promote the site as a new location for the Grand Forks Public Library was unsuccessful. The owners had been renting the parking lot to used car vendors, among others.
“They were really waiting for that library deal,” Kevin Ritterman, president of Dakota Commercial and Development, which is marketing the property, said of the building’s owners. “When that fell through, they decided to sub-divide it and move on.”
The exterior portions are being removed to make way for the remodeling that will add new glass, doors and a brick exterior.
Inside, the building is an empty shell, bearing little resemblance to its former life as a supermarket. Piles of debris, walls and flooring stripped down to the bare essentials have created a blank canvas.
Fuji’s will occupy 7,500 square feet on the side closest to the former Mi Mexico restaurant building. The new restaurant will feature eight counters with customers seated around chefs teppanyaki style.
“Our style is cooking in front of the customer in traditional Japanese style,” said restaurant co-owner Gui Gao. “It will be a lot of fun for customers to sit there and watch the chef cook right in front of them.”
The restaurant’s setup will allow a view of the chefs from outside the building. Customers waiting to be seated will also have a good view of the action.
Gao said the restaurant will serve the best sushi in Grand Forks and the décor will be upscale. “We want this to look like a high-class restaurant,” he said.
Planet Fitness will lease a 15,000-square-foot space on the side closer to the Cenex gas station and Paradiso restaurant.
Ritterman of Dakota Commercial said he has received some interest in the middle portion of the space, which he said could be configured to take up between 5,700 square feet and 11,000 square feet.
The parking lot, which has been rented on a month-to-month basis, will be free to provide plenty of parking room for the new businesses.
Ritterman said the building will start to come to life in the next two months as the restoration work progresses.
“It’s good for everything there,” he said. “It’s nice to get the building renovated, breathe some life into it and to get two new businesses come into town.”