GRAND FORKS, N.D. – On Wednesday, Dec. 13, The Olive Ann Hotel in Grand Forks will celebrate its grand opening, a venture led by Sadie Gardner of 322 Hospitality Group and Phil Gisi. The hotel and event center features architectural design and branding by JLG Architects, with interior design by Christina Fluegel of PFW Designs.
The public open house event on Dec. 13 runs from 2-7 p.m. The official ribbon-cutting ceremony is scheduled for 4 p.m. and is open to the public.
The Olive Ann Hotel is located in downtown Grand Forks at 14 North Fourth Street, a once multi-building block devastated by the city’s 1997 flood and fires. To complete the hotel and event center, the site’s remaining 1915 First National Bank building has undergone an extensive renovation and expansion, building upon its 109 years and 1982 listing on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Olive Ann Hotel broke ground for its historic renovation in the spring of 2022 – creating 79 boutique hotel rooms, two dining experiences, a state-of-the-art fitness center, community conference rooms, and a 350-person event and banquet center. The design team focused on preserving the building’s historic charm with sophisticated luxury, reinforced by JLG’s architectural pre-design and branding services, with PFW Designs’ interior elements.
“I’ve long seen the existing First National Bank building, also known as Edgewood Plaza, as the most striking in the neighborhood,” said Andrew Budke, JLG Architects. “It’s a timeless, classical design and a fixture downtown. The design team knew immediately that any proposed addition would have to pay homage to the existing building’s formal façade in terms of scale, massing, and rhythm. We mimicked certain elements and reinterpreted others using current building materials in hopes of creating a modern, elegant companion.”
Throughout the building, the aesthetic was inspired by University of North Dakota’s rich aviation history and “The First Lady of Aviation,” Olive Ann Beech. The design concept and branding forged an authentic “stay with a story,” paying homage to Beech’s pioneering legacy and penchant for art, elegance, and design.
“The vision for The Olive Ann Hotel was based on a desire to establish the most eloquent boutique hotel experience between Minneapolis and Seattle, with event space for up to 350 people,” explained Sadie Gardner, 322 Hospitality Group. “We also wanted to create a strong connection to the local community and the University of North Dakota. The connection we chose was aviation, and specifically women in aviation. The history of aviation is dotted with women who were mavericks in this male-dominated industry – from the early days of aviation pioneering to air racing, engineering and corporate management and governance.”
“It has been my privilege to be involved with this project bringing Olive Ann Beech and her story to the Grand Forks area in such a tangible way,” said Christina Fluegel, PFW Designs. “The interior design reflects the spirited and bold nature of the hotel’s namesake through the use of carefully curated details, pattern, and of course her signature blue color. Mixed into the modern classic design are aviation references that can be seen throughout the guestrooms and public spaces – a tribute to the First Lady of Aviation, Olive Ann Beech.”
“We see The Olive Ann Hotel as an asset for the public and private sectors to showcase the region as we continue to recruit the best and brightest to our community for commerce, sports and leisure, and a place to live,” added Phil Gisi. To support this effort, The Olive Ann Hotel’s commercial office and event space will feature three distinct areas: The Boardroom, which accommodates up to 14 people; The Landing, a second-floor, 1,500 square foot space for 60 people; and Cloud 9 Events, a 350-person fifth-floor event space that overlooks the city.
Within The Olive Ann Hotel, guests and Grand Forks residents will have on-site access to Sweetwaters Coffee & Tea, along with Skies 322, a destination dining experience that offers a creative spin on American classics and seasonally inspired dishes.
“Grand Forks is a great place to live, work, or visit – there are so many amenities, whether it’s dining, entertainment, cultural, or recreational,” added Budke. “The neighborhood hasn’t had a lodging option of this quality in many years, and no lodging option at all since 2020, so it’s no surprise that so many people are excited about The Olive Ann Hotel opening in the heart of downtown. Some are retailers and restauranteurs eager for new customers, and some are business executives looking to recruit professionals to relocate here. Others just want to showcase the Greenway and its network of trails. It’s an amazing opportunity for the whole community to put our best foot forward and show visitors what Grand Forks has to offer.”