I have an idea for a possible use for the KMart location: A Maker's Mall.
Imagine numerous rooms built with each one housing a different art/craft shop. Some of those shops could be a wood shop, a metal shop, a ceramic studio, a 3D printing shop, and so on.
People interested in making something must attend classes to learn how to use the equipment, then take a test to get signed off, but after that, they could go in and make whatever they want.
This idea could bring about jobs as each shop/studio would need a professional carpenter, machinist, ceramicist, etc., to teach the people how to use the equipment and machines.
This idea would be way more beneficial to the community than a hands-on aquarium, which, to be honest, if I lived there still I would go once, maybe twice. Grand Forks has had way too many novelty type places open to great fanfare and then fold, because people would go there once, maybe twice, and that's it.
With a Maker's Mall, people would go again and again for years and years to make something they would be proud of. Something they made with their own hands.
If, in the center 'commons' area there were a retail section set up so that the people could also sell what they made – right there in the Maker's Mall – then maybe America could become a country where people actually make things again, instead of a country where people just buy things made on the other side of the world. That right there would continually draw people in – the ever-changing art, where nothing like it is available anywhere else, except at the Maker's Mall.
School field trips to the ceramic studio? Sure! Date night making something together? Sounds fun! Retired Senior Citizens passing on their knowledge? Perfect! Artists trapped in tiny apartments in need of a creative outlet? Absolutely!
So many people really want to, and like to, make something creative with their own hands, but where do they go? Currently, the answer is “nowhere.”
Or, I suppose everyone could go pet a fish and call it good.
Alan D. Ness, St Cloud, Minn., formerly of Grand Forks