Downtown Hugo's, Alerus bank construction marches on

New health monitoring policies have been instituted on some construction sites. Some concern that materials needed for the last stages of construction may not be available.

Construction continues on the new Hugo's in downtown Grand Forks Thursday, March 26. Photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

Construction on the Pure Development project downtown, at this point, is scheduled to finish on time, and the few times work has stopped were due to wind and weather, not coronavirus.

Pure Development draws its unique name from its location at the corner of North Fifth Street and DeMers Avenue. The area was the long-ago location of Pure Food Market, started by Hugo and Dorothy Magnuson in the late 1930s, and was a forerunner to Hugo’s Family Marketplace. The project is scheduled to be completed late this year and will house a Hugo’s, an Alerus Bank branch and an apartment complex with nearly 80 units.

Project developer Kevin Ritterman, of Dakota Commercial, said construction is proceeding according to plan, and work on the apartment building’s frame will begin soon.

“We’re on schedule,” Ritterman said. “I can say that today. Weather is probably the biggest thing right now. Obviously, you have the coronavirus, but that really hasn’t affected us yet."

Ritterman said construction workers are working to finish precast work -- concrete work on the floor, and pillars supporting the upper levels, as well a few masonry walls. He estimates the apartment frame will be going up in a week or so.


“The guys are working, and it’s kind of just status quo, if you will,” Ritterman said.

That doesn't mean the project is invulnerable to concerns surrounding the virus, as supplies of some necessary items for the project, in its later stages, may be hard to find. According to Ruann Deschene, project coordinator at Community Contractors, some of the items selected for the construction project may need to be re-examined.

“You could see that maybe two months out when you’re looking for light fixtures or an elevator that maybe has parts that come from China or other countries,” Deschene said. “It might take longer to get certain elements.”

The offices of both Dakota Commercial and Community Contractors are closed to the public in an effort to maintain social distancing, and some people are working remotely -- not a luxury that construction workers can enjoy.

A few policies have been put into place to protect them, such as increased health monitoring and requiring workers who were ill to see a doctor before coming back to work.

“Making sure if they feel something different from the day before, they let somebody know,” Ritterman said. “If they’re sick, they’ve got to go home and, before they can come back, they have to be cleared by their local physician.”

Still, Deschene is optimistic about how things are proceeding and noted the pre-built walls have been delivered and are being stored near the construction site.

“It’s an exciting project,” Deschene said. “You are going to start seeing a lot more development once we start framing.”


Ritterman said he is not concerned about a spring flood as the city has a “beautiful dike” that can hold any flood waters back, and he is looking forward to better weather.

“Spring is coming, so everybody’s mood is going to get better and that will help speed the process as well,” he said.

For now, the goal is continuing to keep on schedule, something Ritterman attributes to his partners in the project, PCL Construction and Community Contractors.

“Just good contractors, I guess,” he said. “You have a schedule, you keep it and you just try to move forward as best you can.”

Framework is set to begin on the apartment section of Pure Development. Adam Kurtz / Grand Forks Herald

Adam Kurtz is the community editor for the Grand Forks Herald. He covers higher education and other topics in Grand Forks County and the city.

Kurtz joined the Herald in July 2019. He covered business and county government topics before covering higher education and some military topics.

Tips and story ideas are welcome. Get in touch with him at, or DM at @ByAdamKurtz.

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