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Published February 10, 2011, 09:08 PM

Old Civic Auditorium Site Soon to be Home to New Four-Level, $6.3 million Building

A developer says Downtown Grand Forks needs more housing and a new building will help solve that. It will possibly also give a boost to downtown businesses.

A developer says Downtown Grand Forks needs more housing and a new building will help solve that. It will possibly also give a boost to downtown businesses.

A few months ago, a piece of land downtown was the site of the Civic Auditorium. That building sat vacant for nearly a decade, but this project will bring a lot of activity to downtown Grand Forks.

The project, a new four-level, $6.3 million commercial and residential building right in downtown Grand Forks.

Kevin Ritterman with Dakota Commercial and Development Company says taking away the vacant 53-year-old Civic Auditorium will actually be adding to the area.

"There's a lack of adequate housing since the flood. They lost quite a few apartment units. The overall downtown activity breeds off people living there," Ritterman said.

"There are a couple of restaurants that have opened up. It's going to give us a lot of business and them as well," employee at Dakota Harvest Bakery Jasmine Vondal said.

Several downtown businesses are looking forward to increased revenue from people who will be in walking distance. One bar owner says it will come in handy when driving isn't an option for his customers.

"Most definitely. I mean with DWI's the way they are nowadays, (it's) definitely beneficial to have more housing," Gilly's owner Josh Gilleland said..

Ritterman says the new housing will bring in people with diverse incomes because of a federal grant helping pay for the project.

"We did receive some stimulus money through the Neighborhood Stabilization Program. A percentage of that project had to be low to moderate income," Ritterman said.

Those apartments will be rented for just under $500 a month, while the high end of the range is around $1,000.

Ritterman says there is 7500 square feet of space in the building. His business will be expanding and filling part of that. He also says they have been talking with a restaurant to fill the rest. No hints as to what kind yet, though.

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