Sponsored By
An organization or individual has paid for the creation of this work but did not approve or review it.

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Downtown businesses make do as North Third Street construction continues

For the businesses on North Third Street, foot traffic has decreased, parking has become scarce and access to many businesses has become limited to side- or backdoor entrances. The city’s goal is to have vehicle traffic at the intersections of First and Second avenues in a week. While traffic still won’t be able to travel down North Third, cars will be able to cross it.

080321.n.gfh.NorthThirdConstruction3.jpg
Construction continues on North Third Street in downtown Grand Forks, Monday, August 2, 2021. Photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

Half Brothers Brewing Company on North Third Street, like many businesses, has been hindered by a global pandemic. Now, a street construction project has limited access to the business and others on the street.

“I try to be as positive as possible with all of this,” Chad Gunderson, owner, said. “It’s kind of out of our hands. We are handcuffed to a pandemic that’s rising in this country, and construction happens every year. It’s just something that you have to deal with.”

Construction on North Third Street began May 3 and is due to be completed Oct. 15. The project’s total cost is about $4.2 million, with $2.4 million of it being funded through the North Dakota Department of Transportation’s Urban Grant Program. It includes rebuilding the street from building to building, with decorative touches being added along the way, such as paver sidewalks, lighting and new street scaping features.

For the businesses on North Third Street, foot traffic has decreased, parking has become scarce and access to many businesses has become limited to side- or backdoor entrances. The city’s goal is to have vehicle traffic at the intersections of First and Second avenues in a week. While traffic still won’t be able to travel down North Third, cars will be able to cross it.

Half Brothers Brewing Company has seen a decline in business, but not a very noticeable one. Gunderson said he is lucky the construction hasn’t affected his business as much as others on North Third Street.

ADVERTISEMENT

“Customers and guests have a lot more access to our front door,” Gunderson said. “I think the only time our sidewalk is going to be shut down is Tuesday (Aug. 3), so that’s the only time people have not been able to access us from the front door, which is great.”

The Toasted Frog co-owner Shawn Clapp said the construction has eaten into his restaurant’s outdoor dining season. With sidewalks being reworked, there is nowhere for people to sit outside and eat during the waning days of summer. However, he said the wildfire smoke from Canada would have likely impacted outdoor seating regardless.

“Obviously that’s a short season,” Clapp said. “Even if we could do it, it probably wouldn’t work out with all the dust anyway.”

Clapp said the Downtown Development Association has been coordinating with businesses every step of the way, and it has done a good job keeping everyone updated on the progress.

“The DDA sends out emails, and there are updates available for people,” Clapp said. “They’ve been planning this for a while, so we knew this was coming. We were kind of hoping they’d put it off a little bit after the pandemic, but I suppose when it’s scheduled it has to get done.”

DDA President and CEO Blue Weber said that kind of communication with businesses and residents is one of the most important parts of the process. He empathizes with those affected by the construction, and he shares at least one common sentiment with them -- thankfulness that the project will be completed fairly soon.

“A lot of them are excited that it’s going to be done, which is the nicest way to put it,” Weber said. “Downtown has been hit hard over the past three years by construction, the pandemic and then construction again. We kind of have this nasty sandwich that we all have to deal with, and at least finally seeing an end in sight is exciting for everyone.”

The ongoing drought has hurt many industries, but the overall absence of rain has allowed construction crews to work mostly undeterred, and the project is now ahead of schedule. Weber said the city will ride that wave as long as it can.

ADVERTISEMENT

“The one industry that really enjoys this weather is the construction industry, because it makes their lives a lot easier,” Weber said. “The weather’s been great for its timeline. We’re still looking at being on-time. It is construction, so we know that within a moment’s notice that things can change.”

Residents are feeling the effects, too. Annie Reed, who lives in the Elite Brownstones condominiums building, cleans construction dust from her patio every day. While nearby businesses have difficulty with parking, the complex in which she lives in has its own parking garage.

“We park downstairs,” Reed said. “We just have to tell guests to find a spot in the parking garage.”

Related Topics: SMALL BUSINESS
Jacob Holley joined the Grand Forks Herald as its business reporter in June 2021.

Holley's beat at the Grand Forks Herald is broad and includes a variety of topics, including small business, national trends and more.

Readers can reach Holley at jholley@gfherald.com.Follow him on Twitter @JakeHolleyMedia.
What To Read Next
Nonprofit hospitals are required to provide free or discounted care, also known as charity care; yet eligibility and application requirements vary across hospitals. Could you qualify? We found out.
Crisis pregnancy centers received almost $3 million in taxpayer funds in 2022. Soon, sharing only medically accurate information could be a prerequisite for funding.
The Grand Forks Blue Zones Project, which hopes to make Grand Forks not just a healthier city but a closer community, is hosting an event on Saturday, Jan. 21, at the Empire Arts Center from 3-5 p.m.
A bill being considered by the North Dakota Legislature would require infertility treatment for public employees — a step that could lead to requiring private insurance for the costly treatments.