A nonprofit rehabilitation center is looking to buy the building it occupies from the city of Grand Forks, and both entities are investigating options to keep a months-old social detox center there, too.
City staff are in talks with the Centre Inc., or the Community Extended Nuclear Transitional Residence for Ex-Offenders, for a possible purchase deal for the building at 201 S. Fourth St., City Community Development Deputy Director Meredith Richards said last week during a Growth Fund Committee meeting. The city and Centre are in the early phases of negotiations and have pitched offers at each other.
An assessment of the building is being conducted and should give the two parties a better picture of what the final price could be, Richards said.
"We want to continue to serve the Grand Forks community," said Centre Executive Director Josh Helmer.
The two entities will have to figure out how the Grand Forks Withdrawal Management Center, which is connected to the 201 building, fits into a purchase deal, if at all. Also called the social detox center, it received Community Development Block Grant funds for fit-up and operation costs. The 10-bed facility opened in fall 2016, with the goal of helping low- to moderate-income clients find long-term recovery support. It typically serves those who are not committing a crime but need detox services.
Last year, it logged 480 admissions from 175 clients, said Debbie Swanson, director of the Grand Forks Public Health Department. She said 109 of those clients used it only once.
"We're keeping people safe, and we are working very hard to engage them and care for their chronic health conditions, specifically their need for treatment of substance abuse," she said.
CDBG regulations require the social detox center to remain at the building for five years, Richards said. Discussions regarding the center have barely begun, but the Centre is looking at several options that would allow the social detox center to stay in the building, Helmer said.
The building could be separated into two properties, or the Centre could buy the entire building and lease the space that holds social detox to the city, Helmer said.
The city has held ownership of the building since 1998, according to Grand Forks County records. The Centre has been in Grand Forks since the early 1990s, but it moved into the Fourth Street location in 2002, according to city staff reports.
The nonprofit's 15-year lease expired last June, and with it came a possible rent increase. The Centre paid a base rent of $20,600 a year to lease space in the building, or a "break even" rate, according to city staff reports. The organization receives funds from the North Dakota Legislature, but because of state budget cuts, the Centre's leaders told city staff it likely would not receive enough funding to support a rent increase.
So instead of raising the rent to market value, the Jobs Development Authority, which is advised by the Growth Fund Committee, approved in May a 12-month extension with the initial rent price, giving the city and Centre time to negotiate a purchase deal.
Richards said a deal likely will be penned by the May deadline.