While some have wrapped up, downtown Grand Forks developments continue

Harry’s Steakhouse and Hugo’s Pure Market were the first of the recent major downtown developments to be completed. Work is ongoing at other major projects, including a boutique hotel and mixed-use developments.

Cloud 9.jpg
Sadie Gardner is the manager of the Cloud 9 Events center inside the Edgewood Corporate Plaza in downtown Grand Forks. Gardner will eventually manage the Olive Ann Hotel and other businesses associated with it.
Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald<br/>
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GRAND FORKS – Phil Gisi has built senior living facilities across North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota and a handful of other states. He’s excited about his latest project – a downtown hotel that he says will invigorate the core of Grand Forks.

When finished, Gisi’s project – called the Olive Ann – will include an 80-room facility that will overlook the downtown area. The $25 million project is still months out, but Gisi said he is excited nonetheless, not just for his own project’s unveiling, but for the way downtown is developing.

“I think the downtown area is going to become pretty dynamic,” said Gisi, CEO of Edgewood Healthcare. “And I think the Olive Ann hotel is just a piece of all of that.”

In recent months, downtown Grand Forks has seen grand openings for Harry’s Steakhouse and Hugo’s Pure Market . Other development projects are set to open soon, including The Argyle, which will house the offices of JLG Architects. Others are ongoing or just getting started, but their rising shadows give a glimpse of what downtown will look like in years to come. The developers of those projects say they will add vibrancy to the downtown area by becoming a magnet for people and events, and will support downtown businesses in turn.

The Olive Ann, named to recognize pioneering aviator Olive Ann Beech, will feature the theme of aviation. Plans call for the hotel to be connected at each of the plaza’s five stories. The plaza will undergo a remodel to accommodate some of those rooms, and the hotel’s lobby will be located on the first floor of that building. Sky’s Cloud 9 Lounge will provide dining services for the hotel. Gisi said the hotel’s design is being wrapped up, and he would like for construction to begin in the spring.


Already completed and hosting events is the Cloud 9 Event Center, on the Plaza’s fifth floor. Sadie Gardner, who runs the Opal Event Center near downtown, is managing both facilities, and is set to become manager of the Olive Ann. Gardner said Cloud 9 can accommodate 450 people from events ranging from weddings to corporate parties. Gardner said she has been getting inquiries from people who want to rent the space, which she expects will increase.

“I think word is spreading about our level of customer service, and people are finding it's a good experience, so that's great,” Gardner said.

A tax abatement proposal for the Olive Ann was passed by a vote of 6-1 by the Local Government Advisory Committee, on Wednesday, Jan 12. The committee is made up of the four tax collecting entities in the area, which includes the city, Grand Forks County, the school district and the park district. Voting against the proposal in the committee meeting was Doug Carpenter, who serves as the group's representative from the school district. The proposal will now be considered by each of those entities.

Following is a progress update on some other downtown projects that are underway:

The Argyle

Mike McLean, principal architect at JLG Architects, said staff there will take up residence in The Argyle, at the corner of Fourth Street and DeMers Avenue, in March. Those offices will take up all of the second floor and a portion of the first floor in the five-floor building. The first floor also has space for commercial tenants, but remains open at this point. Floors three through five are made up of 23 market-rate apartments, and McLean said about two thirds of those units have been rented.

Solar panels will soon be installed on the top of the building, and the electricity generated there will be used to power JLG’s office space. Those panels represent part of the plan to turn the development into a “green building,” a concept that reevaluates the use of energy and employee comfort, to become a more efficient model.

The Selkirk

Nearby, the Selkirk condo development is largely completed, with most of the building’s 18 units sold. Like the Argyle, it's a mixed-use building with commercial space on the first two floors and living space above. A branch of Edward Jones is located on the first floor, but the second floor remains open, and ready for a commercial tenant to renovate.


Both The Argyle and The Selkirk are JLG projects. McLean said they add a buzz to life downtown by offering different types of living space in places that have gone unused.

“Having those different places for people to live downtown creates that 24 hour neighborhood basically, so the more we can add that vibrancy in the downtown I think the more those businesses downtown stay healthy,” he said.

The Beacon

According to McKenzie Braaten, vice president of communications at Fargo-based Epic Companies, construction is in the beginning phases for The Beacon. The development stands on the location of the former Townhouse Hotel.

The project includes two seven-story buildings, with plans for a third. They’ll surround a public plaza, where outdoor events can be held. The first two floors of those buildings will be for commercial space, with the remains of the floors being housing units. One building will be apartments, but the other will be a mix of condos and apartments. The first building and plaza could be completed by early 2023, with the second building set to follow later that year.

Lyon’s redevelopment

Jon Miskavige, president and CEO of Northridge Construction, said he is working with the city to prepare for the removal and burial of power lines in the alley behind the Lyons Garage and Auto Supply building across from city hall. Doing so will be the first step in redeveloping the area into an apartment building that will also contain retail and office space.

Miskavige said architects are working on the designs for the six-story mixed-use building, which is set to contain 122 apartments, and will have underground parking and amenity space for tenants. Much needs to be done before the Lyons Auto building can be taken down, and work on the new building begin, but Miskavige said he would like work to start by the summer of 2022.

“It's a very involved project, and I think our team's pretty excited about it,” he said.

St. John's Block

Plans also in the works to revamp the St. John’s Block building across the street from Town Square, as well as a commercial building to the east of it. Plans, as submitted to city staff by Icon Architectural Group, call for the ground floors to be remodeled, with the upper-floor apartments also set for renovation. New external windows, a new elevator and a proposed patio on the roof round out plans for the building.


Inquiries to Icon seeking an update were not returned.

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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