Grand Forks leaders are scheduled to meet Tuesday morning to start figuring out what to do with the city’s newest piece of downtown real estate: the Grand Forks Herald’s longtime home on Second Avenue North.
JLG Architects will host a master planning “kickoff” meeting at 8 a.m. in the building’s community room to ask “strategic partners,” including the University of North Dakota, Grand Forks Public_, Grand Forks Public Schools and city administrators, about the “why” for the project, its broader objectives and expectations, and “what does success look like for you standing in and using this building three years from now?” according to a meeting agenda distributed last week by City Administrator Todd Feland.
Attendees are scheduled to brainstorm their priorities for the project and potential “space types,” according to the agenda.
One plan that’s already been floated: turning the community room, which used to house the paper’s printing press, into an alternative library branch, where the public could record podcasts, work on video projects or learn how to write a business plan, in addition to more standard offerings such as computers and internet access.
City department heads hope to take a “field trip” to Fargo to check out new and renovated city facilities there the same afternoon and aim to arrange a similar trip among “private sector partners” in late July to meet with Fargo developers, Feland said.
The city bought the building from the paper’s owners, Forum Communications Co., this spring for $2.75 million, and city staff picked JLG to help put together a plan for the 36,000-square-foot building, which then-owners Knight Ridder rebuilt after the flood of 1997. Forum put the building on the market in 2017 for $3.47 million.
The Herald has called the downtown building home since 1998. The paper is at the outset of a five-year lease with the city for office space on the second floor. The Grand Forks Economic Development Corporation, representatives from which are also set to help with the master plan for the building, also leases space there, as does the school district.