Grand Forks leaders always have a long list of things they’d like to do or build or improve — whether it’s a denser downtown, a new bridge over the Red River, or even a tourist attraction in a vacant retail space.

But high on that list is finding a new future for the Grand Forks Inn and Suites. It’s now a vacant building along North 43rd Street, near the intersection of Highway 2 and Interstate 29 on the city’s north end. Local leaders point out that it’s one of the first things visitors see when they enter the city from the west. Maybe it could do with a facelift — or a reimagined future.

Built in 1966, the hotel’s future wavered in recent years. County records show a long list of owners; but in late 2017, it closed for a $250,000 renovation project. By the following spring, it showed up on a commercial real estate auction flyer. This past fall, county records show a change in ownership, from a Fargo-based LLC to a Dickinson-area bank.

Right now, the location is a leading contender to host the career and tech center that local leaders are scrambling to bring to Grand Forks — a place for local students to learn and grow into local job opportunities. City and economic leaders believe that could mean a burst of activity in the area.

RELATED: Janell Regimbal, Grand Forks nonprofit exec turned consultant, joins push for career and tech center

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City Administrator Todd Feland said there’s plenty of possibilities for the building’s future, should the career and tech center be placed somewhere else. There’s a strong similarity between that space and Columbia Mall; both are products of a time that arrived decades ago, and now the community is trying to repurpose the property and move on.

"I think if you look at the Columbia Mall, the Grand Cities Mall … they were developed in the 1970s and ’80s,” Feland pointed out. “That era has passed us by. Now it's time to redevelop those properties for the next 30 years."

While the career and tech center leads the space, local leaders say they’d welcome development of the former hotel site. Keith Lund, president and CEO of the local Economic Development Corporation, said the location could play an important role in Grand Forks’ future.

“I think any number of businesses would be beneficial. I think retail, to a degree, and service, to a degree, I think that would add some vibrancy to the community."