Grand Forks city officials agreed Monday night to purchase the Grand Forks Herald's downtown building.
Located across the street from City Hall and Central High School, the Herald building has existed at 375 2nd Ave. N. since 1998, when the paper's then-owner Knight Ridder paid to rebuild one of two Herald buildings destroyed by the flood of 1997 and a following fire.
Today, the Herald is owned by Forum Communications Co. in Fargo, which also owns the Fargo Forum and several other publications across North Dakota.
The Grand Forks Jobs Development Authority, consisting of all seven City Council members and the mayor, voted to buy the Herald building from Forum Communications for $2.75 million.
The JDA is in charge of making final decisions regarding the city's use of its growth fund, a pot of money gathered from sales tax collections and rent the city collects from tenants occupying other buildings the city owns.
The JDA was in charge of voting on the Herald building because the city agreed to purchase the property using the growth fund.
After its purchase, the city of Grand Forks will begin creating a master plan for the development of a collaboration space on the first floor of the Herald building, where there's currently a community room. UND and Grand Forks Public Library have preliminarily agreed to help the city pay for this project.
Private developers Mike Kuntz and Craig Tweten, who had offered last summer to purchase the building as Communications Central Building, LLC, told JDA members during a meeting last Monday, April 15, they had spent almost a year developing similar plans and might seek compensation from the city for their ideas. JDA President Bret Weber and Feland have disputed this claim.
The city will also move some of its departments into available Herald building office space. The JDA agreed to let Herald staff stay for a five-year lease with the option to re-new. The Grand Forks Economic Development Corp. and Grand Forks Public Schools will also continue leasing space from the city.