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Published January 03, 2014, 09:19 PM

Supporters of 42nd Street project want to cultivate Grand Forks tourism

There could be some “art activity” happening on Grand Forks’ 42nd Street as soon as this spring if plans continue moving forward for a “destination corridor” project.

By: Charley Haley, Grand Forks Herald

There could be some “art activity” happening on Grand Forks’ 42nd Street as soon as this spring if plans continue moving forward for a “destination corridor” project.

Eventually, supporters of the project want large art pieces to light up a stretch of 42nd Street, making it a tourist destination and bringing in more businesses such as restaurants and corporate headquarters, Kristi Mishler, executive director of the Community Foundation.

“We’re gaining some traction,” Mishler said. “People are excited about it.”

The art would be on 42nd Street from the Center for Innovation south of University Avenue to 32nd Avenue South.

The Community Foundation received a $50,000 match grant from the Knight Foundation, partially to assist with the 42nd Street project. In the next few months, Mishler said, the Community Foundation will be working to raise more money, including approaching private investors.

In late spring or early summer, she said supporters hope to begin “phase one” of the project — the sculptures.

She said the project’s stakeholders, which include business owners, land owners, community leaders and others, envision more than 50 large art sculptures in the corridor. The sculptures should be tall and illuminated so they can be seen from Interstate 29, she said.

“I think it could be a fun stretch to light up our community,” Mishler said.

Mishler hopes to see 15 or 16 sculptures completed by the end of 2014. The entire “art part” could be a five-year project, she said.

After that come the businesses, if things go as planned, Mishler said. “Our goal is to have more businesses like corporate headquarters, restaurants … things that support tourism and fun things to do,” she said.

Barry Wilfahrt, president and CEO of the Chamber of Grand Forks and East Grand Forks, said the business community supports anything that would draw people to the area, like the 42nd Street project.

“The art corridor will create additional interest and additional traffic,” which create business opportunities, he said.

The ultimate vision for the corridor is to have it be a tourism destination for performances, arts, entertainment and retail, Mishler said.

“We see a street that is funky and fun, as well as classic and attractive to most ‘seasoned’ art lovers,” she said.

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