January 24, 2019
Downtown Grand Forks seemed a step closer to seeing construction of a downtown mixed-use building after its developer posted a sign advertising open space in “The Argyle.”
“A sign went up. That’s all that’s going on,” said JLG Architects President Lonnie Laffen, whose company owns the site of the proposed building at Fourth Street and DeMers Avenue.
Laffen and CEO Kevin Ritterman of Dakota Commercial said Wednesday they hope the sign will attract a retailer or restaurant for the building’s first floor.
“That’s the only thing stopping us from moving forward,” Laffen said. “Just trying to find that tenant.”
“Ideally on the first floor we’d like to see a restaurant,” said Brian Carlson of JLG Architects. “We feel that would really activate that corner. … It’s a very visible location downtown. With the development of the condos just two buildings away and the Hugo’s project a block away, I think they’re going to see a lot of traffic in that area.”
Carlson said the architects plan to lease the first floor at $18 per square foot. The entire project will cost approximately $5.6 million.
A rendering included on the sign shows a five-story building, which Laffen said also will include offices for JLG Architects and other tenants, as well as market-rate residential units for rent, most of which will be one and two bedrooms.
Laffen has talked of building something on the lot for several years. He told the Herald in 2014 he planned on moving JLG Architects there from its current location on North Third Street and Second Avenue North.
In 2016, Laffen’s company was responsible for designing Dakota Commercial’s Selkirk condo- development at the former Arbor Park location, also on South Fourth Street. He told the Herald the two developments were “indirectly connected.” Dakota Commercial is using JLG’s otherwise unoccupied lot to park construction equipment for its Selkirk project.
Grand Forks Deputy City Planner Ryan Brooks said JLG has submitted no plans or tax incentive applications to the city.
JLG will do so, Laffen said, when it finds a first-floor tenant.
The Argyle will be named for the Argyle Block, which occupied the lot from 1914 to 1997, when damage from the flood forced the city to tear down the building.
Laffen said JLG found the name in an old Herald clipping from 1917.
The name choice fits the project well, as downtown Grand Forks and Fourth Street itself prepares for several new residential and mixed-use buildings downtown. Already construction has begun on the Selkirk condos, which recently announced it has already sold half of its units.
Dakota Commercial will also begin construction later this year on a mixed-use building at DeMers and North Fifth Street, which will feature 50 residential units, a Hugo’s grocery store and a drive-up Alerus bank branch.
Farther along North Fourth Street where it meets University Avenue, Northridge Construction has plans to build a six-story mixed-use building. The project will replace the historic Lyons Garage and other buildings. It includes approximately 134 residential units, most of which will likely be studios and one bedrooms.