Grand Forks City Council approves PILOT agreement for Memorial Village development project
The project, which will replace UND’s existing Memorial Stadium, will consist of a five-story building that will house UND's Athletic Department, coaches offices, film rooms, meeting rooms and 99 residential market rent apartments.
GRAND FORKS – A 90%, 20-year payment in lieu of taxes — also known as a PILOT — agreement for the Memorial Village development was approved by Grand Forks City Council members Tuesday night.
The project, which will replace UND’s existing Memorial Stadium, has been discussed by City Council since 2020, when council members approved a tax incentive pre-application. In December 2020 the project received a general consensus to move forward by the Local Government Advisory Committee, which includes select members from all four of Grand Forks’ property-taxing groups — the school district, the county, the park district and the city.
While the construction cost for the project in 2020 was initially estimated to be $31.5 million, the total construction cost is now estimated at $40 million, with the higher rates linked to inflation.
The project scope includes a five-story building that will house UND's Athletic Department on the first floor; coaches offices, film rooms and meeting rooms on part of the second floor and 99 residential market rent apartments consisting of 25 one-bedroom units, 58 two-bedroom units and 16 four-bedroom units on floors two through five. The development will also consist of underground parking and a Hawkway connection to the UND Pollard High Performance Center.
The overall concept of the Memorial Village development project is to increase the enrollment at UND; support the athletic, academic and business roles of the university and the Athletic Department; and strengthen the community partnership between UND and the city.
Although the property isn't currently taxable — since it is UND, or public, property — the public-private partnership between UND, the city/Park District, Grand Forks School District and Grand Forks County means the development would become taxable. City Administrator Todd Feland said the project is one of the first mixed-use, public/private partnerships with UND.
During the public hearing period, some residents voiced their concerns for the PILOT agreement. One said the PILOT agreement creates an unfair advantage for the developers.
“How do we compete against something when our taxes continue to rise?” the resident asked. “You’re giving them an unfair advantage. They’re going to collect market rate rent in market rate units probably higher than what we collect blocks away. It’s unfair competition. Our properties continue to rise in taxes and essentially our rising taxes are paying off that.”
Grand Forks resident Jodi Carlson also shared her concerns for this particular PILOT agreement, along with other prior PILOT agreements.
“I understand when you look at an incentive to bring businesses to the community, but I think it needs a closer look,” Carlson said. “I think it’s gotten out of hand with we have so many businesses out here that are not paying taxes to our community. ... And the cost is being dealt out to the citizens.”
Mayor Brandon Bochenski addressed the concerns, saying the amount of money the developer will save on taxes over the 20-year period will be the same amount they’ll have to pay extra for the costs of tearing down the stadium and all the other expenses that will come with the construction.
In other council news Tuesday:
- Council members approved several factors for the Children’s Museum and Destination Park, including approving the city to submit the Defense Community Infrastructure Pilot Program (DCIP) Grant in the amount of $8-10 million with the submission deadline on July 18. The council also approved the city land lease with Altru and city ownership of the museum. The council also approved consideration of future and potential lease back to Children's Science Museum nonprofit until the nonprofit can take ownership. And contingent on DCIP grant approval, the city will contribute up to $1.8 million in Economic Development Funds. The museum is being led and driven by a local and volunteer Board of Directors and includes community partners in Grand Forks, Grand Forks Park District, Visit Greater Grand Forks, the state of North Dakota, Grand Forks Region EDC, Dakota Science Center, Altru and the Grand Forks Air Force Base. The fundraising goal for the museum is $45 million, with $35 million dedicated to the building and $10 million to the endowment.
- Approved the updated Title VI and Limited English Proficiency Plan for Cities Area Transit. In accordance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, recipients of federal financial assistance can’t discriminate in the level and quality of transportation services and transit-related benefits on the basis of race, color, or national origin. Special emphasis is also placed on people with limited English proficiency. The city of Grand Forks and CAT are required to submit a joint Title VI and LEP Plan to the Federal Transit Administration every three years.