Construction on a multi-use building on DeMers Avenue in downtown Grand Forks, known as “The Argyle,” is set to begin next week.

A fence will soon be put up at the corner of DeMers Avenue and South Fourth Street, the location of The Argyle, to prep the area for construction. The five-story building will house retail and office space on the first floor, office space on the second, and floors three through five will have 23 market-rate apartments. JLG Architects, the owners of the lot, will occupy all of the building’s office space.

“I think that's wonderful, and it shows people still have faith in this community,” said Mayor Mike Brown. “It shows we're going to recover, stronger than ever.”

JLG CEO Michelle Mongeon Allen said the pandemic caused by a novel coronavirus required her company to take time to evaluate the situation before proceeding with the $5.6 million building project.

“It was a pretty easy answer for us,” Allen said, in a phone call with the Herald. “We believe in the future of this community, we believe in the growth of our company and we believe in the capabilities of our local partners.”

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Construction on the building will get underway without a first-floor retail tenant, something company officials had previously stated was necessary for the project to begin. Lonnie Laffen, chairman of JLG’s board, told the Herald in January 2019 the only thing preventing the project from moving forward at that time was the lack of a tenant.

Allen told the Herald it is difficult to sell the space to prospective tenants based on drawings and renderings alone. JLG’s growth, she said, means the company can occupy some of the first-floor retail space, and all of the second-floor office space, when it relocates from its current office on North Third Street.

“They really need to experience the space and feel that it’s right for them, so we have elected to move forward without the first floor full,” Allen said.

Steps are being taken to minimize disruptions to area businesses during construction, according to Allen. Pedestrian traffic in the construction area will be kept open through protected walkways, as the sidewalk will be removed and restored. Trees located at the building site will be removed and replanted off-site.

“We thank all of the businesses along South Fourth Street for their continued patience during these transformative times,” Allen said.

Brown acknowledged downtown Grand Forks has been burdened with recent construction projects, but said it is time to move ahead. The recent reconstruction of DeMers Avenue, which extended to the sidewalks, slowed traffic and made walk-in traffic inconvenient at some downtown businesses.

“When it's done, we’ll all be admiring the new structure and enjoying what it brings to the downtown," he said.

The Argyle is the most recent development to kick off downtown, after the $8 million Selkirk on Fourth condominiums, and the $14 million Pure Development multi-use building, which broke ground in October. Pure Development will house a Hugo’s Family Marketplace and an Alerus bank branch, with apartments above.

Along with the proposed $30 million Olive Ann Hotel and Events Center, the developments represent what the city has called a “billion dollar boom” in projects.

The Argyle is named after the Argyle Block, which occupied the space from 1914-1997. The city took the building down after it was damaged in the flood that year.

Construction is scheduled to be completed in August 2021, and the work is being done by Community Contractors.