Grand Forks, North Dakota
The spring of 1997 brought catastrophe to downtown Grand Forks, ND, unleashing widespread flooding from the Red River of the North. Ultimately 11 downtown buildings were destroyed by fire, and the entire downtown area was severely affected by floodwaters. When the smoke cleared, debris mucked out, and repairs had begun, local residents, business, and community leaders strove to not just rebuild, but to make downtown a vibrant place once again. Vitally important in this effort was the development of housing, business, and community spaces.
Even prior to the flood, downtown housing options were limited – the affordable housing units that did exist were mostly traditional rehabs that lacked accessibility and modern amenities. With much of the current stock destroyed or badly damaged, the shortage was exacerbated. Ten years later, The Current helped to breathe new life into downtown Grand Forks, by infilling one of the last remaining empty lots with much-needed urban housing – and as a corner lot, it’s presence is especially powerful. The goal of the owner was to “build affordable housing on a limited budget that makes an architectural statement the community would be proud of” – and the results have exceeded stakeholder expectations.
The building has been full since the day it was completed and the City holds this building as an example of how to successfully translate traditional architecture into a language that represents today’s materials, construction methods and modern aesthetic. Street-level walk-up units bring energy to the street level, and parking located at the interior of the site allows new construction to fill this former parking lot site with massing that reinforces the urban fabric.
The Current has become an important component of post-flood revitalization, attracting new residents who take advantage of easy access to downtown services and amenities, and continues the focus of moving downtown Grand Forks forward, making it a destination for city residents and visitors alike.
Michael Brown, Mayor of Grand Forks