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Developer plans to build on two downtown Grand Forks parcels

Grand Forks City Hall (Herald photo/Sam Easter)

Major downtown development near DeMers Avenue could be coming as soon as 2019 or earlier, a Grand Forks developer said, with plans for the open spaces near the Townhouse hotel.

Kevin Ritterman is the CEO of Dakota Commercial, a local development company, and he purchased the Townhouse with the head of Community Contractors, a local construction company, late last year. Now the green spaces on either side of the property are nearing development, Ritterman said.

There are two spaces that could see construction soon. One of them is to the Townhouse building’s northeast, and is sandwiched between First and Second avenues north. Ritterman said it could be the site of condo or apartment developments as soon as 2019.

The other site is the green space to the southwest of the Townhouse along DeMers Avenue, and could have commercial and residential development. If the right tenant comes along, Ritterman said, that project might get started even sooner.

Along with Community Contractors chief Craig Tweten, Ritterman has been a leading figure behind development throughout downtown in recent years, from Arbor Park, 15 S. Fourth St., to University Flats, 851 University Ave. It’s placed them among the principal architects of Grand Forks’ changing downtown skyline.

A new plan

News of potential development near the Townhouse comes as Grand Forks city leaders, in a Monday committee meeting, voted 7-0 to seek a consulting firm to plan the downtown development process.

Pending full City Council approval, the city could spend more than $100,000 on a document that would plot out years of development at locations like the old water treatment plant and elsewhere. City documents also indicate renewed confidence that the St. John’s Block building could soon become a boutique hotel with a bar and restaurant.

Though a volunteer committee had compiled a “vibrancy plan” that charted future possibilities for the downtown area, City Council member Bret Weber said the plan’s “good guidance” is furthered by a consultant’s expertise.

“We need the master plan to move forward in more concrete steps, we need that more professional planning document,” Weber said. “That’s all there is to it.”

The same committee also cast a 7-0 vote to revamp the city’s system of tax incentives for development, which were no longer in line with state law. Pending full council approval, those new guidelines will now have a new application fee, vetting process and bonding threshold.

The developments come after a Thursday visit from Gov. Doug Burgum, who has touted downtown development as a means to boost cities’ attractiveness to young, talented workers.

Sam Easter

Sam Easter is a City Government reporter for the Grand Forks Herald. You can reach him with story tips, comments and ideas at 701-330-3441.

(701) 780-1108