The new Aldi grocery store coming to Grand Forks will be joined by Play-It, a not-for-profit sports facility that is being started by the same person who owns the building.

Bill Spatz owns not only Play-it, but also the building it and Aldi will occupy. He will lease out half of the space to Aldi. Spatz built the building in 1990 and leased it to its various occupants over the years, most recently the Hornbacher’s grocery store.

The city of Grand Forks issued a $2 million building permit to Aldi Inc. earlier this summer. The chain began seeking employees as early as March. An opening date has not yet been made public.

Spatz said Hornbacher’s closed with 30 months still left on its lease, which is why the building sat empty for so long. Now that the lease has ended, Aldi has moved in, and Play-It will also open in the space this fall.

Play-It is purported to be a multi-sports facility offering fitness areas, sports lessons, play areas for children and other services for members. It is a brand-new business, with a second location opening up in Marshalltown, Iowa.

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“The real key is that it’s membership only,” Spatz said. “The memberships are relatively inexpensive, starting at as little as $100 a year. You have to become a member to participate. It’s sort of like going to the (YMCA).”

Aldi will take the right side of the building and around 22,000 square feet, and Play-It will occupy the left side of the building, which will take up around 30,000 square feet.

Spatz said his goal is to become involved with Grand Forks and become part of the community.

“It’s being designed to sort of boost communities,” Spatz said. “The idea is that there will be more of these, and we feel they would be beneficial.”

Spatz said he hopes Play-It will be ready to open within the next 90 days, but one all-too-common issue could throw a wrench in the plan.

“At the moment, everything’s going well, except hiring a manager, which is getting to be nearly impossible,” Spatz said. “We’ve been working for a while, and we’ve been completely unsuccessful. We’re re-energized to get a manager hired now that we’re under construction, so hopefully we’ll find somebody.”

Because Spatz owns the building, he has not had to worry about getting building permits until now. He said he hopes the process will be completed shortly, and he can move on to the construction phase.

“We haven’t gone in for building permits yet,” Spatz said. “The architectural drawings are being completed now, so we hope to be getting permits this week.”