GRAND FORKS — The Olive Ann boutique hotel and event center broke ground on Thursday, May 26, at a ceremony in downtown Grand Forks.
The ceremony was followed by a cocktail reception in the Cloud 9 Event Center, which, as well as the current Edgewood Corporate Plaza, will be remodeled as part of the project’s $20 million construction.
Developer Phil Gisi spoke first about the hotel, saying he thinks it will be one of his last projects.
“I’m not dying or anything,” Gisi said jokingly. “But I do need to retire at some point in time, and I do see this really as my last cool project that I’m really involved in. (I’ll stay with) the company forever, and they’ll be doing a lot of cool stuff across the upper Midwest, but this one is where I want to leave my signature.”
The hotel and event center, which is being constructed alongside an existing building at 322 DeMers Avenue, will have more than 80 hotel rooms, three ballrooms, commercial office space and four luxury condos. There are rumors of a speakeasy in its basement.
Gisi, CEO of Edgewood Healthcare, said back in March that the hotel will be designed around the history of aviation in Grand Forks. Its name honors Olive Ann Beech, the founder of Beech Aircraft Corporation. Construction planners worked with UND Aerospace and corporate partners at Beechcraft Aircraft to pin down the design.
Grand Forks Mayor Brandon Bochenski also spoke at the groundbreaking, saying he hopes the hotel will bring more business to a growing downtown area.
“The number of projects and the amount of activity that’s happening in Grand Forks is really astonishing,” Bochenski said. “And we’re coming out of the pandemic and having all these ‘risk-on’ environments, having all these projects and these developers willing to take on that risk and to do projects. So it’s exciting — it helps the economy (and) it helps everybody. This is a major piece of it. Hopefully it brings a lot more big business into town, and now we’ve got a place to bring them downtown and show off the city even more.”