Griffith's building in Grand Forks to get facelift, new tenant
An ongoing reconstruction project will soon add a new tenant and give a facelift to a long-standing landmark of downtown Grand Forks. Crews are already working inside the Griffith's building, located on the northwest corner of DeMers Avenue and T...
An ongoing reconstruction project will soon add a new tenant and give a facelift to a long-standing landmark of downtown Grand Forks.
Crews are already working inside the Griffith's building, located on the northwest corner of DeMers Avenue and Third Street, to remodel the area that was occupied by the Meadowbrook furniture and gift store until 2008.
And work could begin as early as next week to remove the aggregate panels that have covered the building's windows for decades -- the first step in a reconstruction project that will eventually convert the building's top two floors into apartments.
The 42,000-square-foot, four-story Griffith's building was erected in 1905 as Griffith's Department Store. The building has also been home to Grand Forks Public Schools administrative offices and several businesses since Griffith's closed.
Elite Property Management took over management of the building June 1. Business partner Darrin Kuenzel and his brother, Derrick Kuenzel, are now in the process of purchasing the building and plan to eventually convert the top two floors into apartments.
But Kuenzel said the first task is removing the window panels, which were added in the late 1960s as a way of redesigning the look of the building and cutting heating costs.
City officials asked the building's previous owners to remove the panels because some of the material is deteriorating and falling onto the sidewalk, said Bev Collings, building and zoning administrator.
"It could be hazardous and we don't want to take any chances," she said. "It hasn't been a safety concern, but it could be."
Kuenzel said the window work could start as soon as next week and is expected to be completed this fall.
ICON Architecture has been hired to help the Kuenzels plan reconstruction of the outside of the building, including replacing the windows. But Kuenzel said the plan is still being finalized and needs to win approval of local officials before work can start next year.
"We've got to make the downtown review board happy and we've got to make it profitable at the same time, so it's got to work for everybody," he said.
The Griffith's building already has two tenants, and Kuenzel said he anticipates renewing the leases of both when they expire.
Crosstown Lounge, which took over the former Lucky's Green Room pool hall in 2007, fills the second floor of the building. Ojata Records and DogMahal DogHaus will keep its corner spot on the first floor after the remodeling project.
The new work on the building also will allow Freedom Church to expand into the open space on the first floor and build children's ministry rooms on the now-vacant third floor.
The church already owns downtown property and holds services at 8 N. Third St., which formerly housed Scott's Music. But Pastor Nathan Johnson said the church is ready to expand, less than three years after opening its doors to Grand Forks residents.
"We're actually running three services, two in the morning and one at night," he said. "But we're still just packed with our services, so we just need to make a move to get more space."
Johnson said the church will keep its existing location across the street from the Griffith's building. That spot will continue to be used as a ministry center and could also serve as a coffee shop down the road, he said.
Crews are now working to remodel the third floor and the church could be moved into the new space by the end of the year. The new spot in the Griffith's building will have seating capacity for 300, Johnson said.
Kuenzel said the plan is to convert the third and fourth floors into apartments within the next two to three years.
The new owners may begin to gut and rebuild the fourth floor as early as this winter. But Kuenzel said the timing of when these floors will become rentable apartments is still up in the air.
"Our main goal is to get the Freedom Church in, deal with architects over the winter and hopefully start work on the windows in the spring or early summer next year," he said. "As long as the church is in downstairs, we're just going to take it a piece at a time rather than trying to tackle everything at once."
Johnson reports on local business. Reach him at (701) 780-1105; (800) 477-6572, ext. 105; or send email to email@example.com .