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GF leaders approve getting bids for Civic Auditorium demolition

Grand Forks leaders unanimously voted Monday to get bids for demolishing the Civic Auditorium. At the city's Growth Fund Authority, or Jobs Development Authority, meeting, City Council members and Mayor Mike Brown approved a resolution that calls...

Grand Forks leaders unanimously voted Monday to get bids for demolishing the Civic Auditorium.

At the city's Growth Fund Authority, or Jobs Development Authority, meeting, City Council members and Mayor Mike Brown approved a resolution that calls for the demolition, filling in the basement and cleaning debris off the property where the 50-year-old building now stands.

Another part of the resolution asks developers to submit proposals by July 15 for redeveloping the property by either redoing the existing building or constructing something new.

Ray Dohman, a rural resident of Grand Forks, told members that their demolition plans didn't make sense to him. "I think it's incredible that you would propose that," he said. "The building's a wonderful building and it should not be torn down."

He pointed out that taxpayers spent a lot of money to get the building, and said the demolition would be another expense for residents to fund. An estimate from last year said it would cost $300,000 to demolish the Civic.

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Dohman then proposed to buy the building for $100, saving taxpayers from paying construction costs.

But many council members said the resolution was just part of the process in getting the city-owned property developed into something useful. The land is estimated to be worth $300,000.

Curt Kreun said some components of the current building could be used in the redevelopment and it would depend on the proposals.

Dough Christensen said it's important to get the property near downtown to serve a purpose again, adding many options such as a housing complex, multi-use building with stores and apartments or a UND building are all in the mix. "I think we have to move forward with these ideas now," he said.

City Council President Hal Gershman told Dohman he was welcome to submit a proposal of his own if he wanted. The resolution was passed unanimously, with Art Bakken and Eliot Glassheim absent.

Greg Hoover, urban development director, told the Herald that the demolition could be funded by the JDA itself or possibly could be taken from another fund.

Another option is using neighborhood stabilization program funding, money given to the city by the federal government primarily to purchase foreclosed properties. But that would require the building to be primarily used for lower-income residents and would limit the options for development.

Reach Johnson at (701) 780-1105; (800) 477-6572, ext. 105; or send e-mail to rjohnson@gfherald.com .

Related Topics: GRAND FORKS CITY COUNCIL
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