Construction underway on the new Grand Forks Tech Accelerator in the Herald Building – Grand Forks Herald
GRAND FORKS – The city’s tech accelerator project is underway at the Grand Forks Herald building, with big changes already made in the first few weeks of the project.
Last year, the Jobs Development Authority received a grant of $1,079,646 for the construction costs of the project from the US Economic Development Administration. The tech accelerator is part of the local push to attract tech companies to the region, with the overall goal of diversifying the economy.
The project was budgeted at $3 million, to include architectural and engineering fees, furnishings, equipment, and various other costs. After bids opened in January, the project fell below estimated cost, with contract awards totaling $1,464,518.
Of this amount, $848,800 is planned for general construction with Diversified Contractors, Inc., $200,238 for mechanical construction with CL Linfoot Co., and $415,480 for electrical construction with Northern Valley Electrical Service, Inc.
While the bids were below the project’s estimated cost, community development manager Meredith Richards said staff worked with the EDA to determine if there were options for additional work.
At the JDA meeting on February 7, Richards said that the EDA could not expand the original scope of the project, but that additional items that could have been eliminated or reduced for budgetary purposes are being considered to be added back to the project. project. These additional items include upgrades to the HVAC system, as well as the possibility of more plumbing work and better fixtures.
Floor plans from JLG Architects, displayed at JDA meetings, show that the completed technology accelerator will include conference rooms, a multipurpose space, a meeting room, multiple workspaces, and office and tenant suites.
The Tech Accelerator will use most of the first floor of the city-owned Herald building, as well as about half of the second floor.
The city purchased the building from Forum Communications, owner of the Grand Forks Herald, for $2.75 million in April 2019. Herald employees still work in the building, renting office space upstairs.
Those familiar with the building will be surprised by the renovation, which so far has involved tearing down walls, exposing old brick walls, and generally creating large spaces before starting new construction.
With progress currently being made on the project, City Administrator Todd Feland said the technology accelerator would benefit the community for several reasons.
“This is going to be an exciting addition to the community from an economic development perspective, with tech startups in the UAS sector, with workforce development and people scaling,” said Feland said.
“There are going to be great spaces for us to really focus our energies in the city center and our existing partnerships in workforce development and startups, especially in data analytics and UAS. “
State leaders, including Governor Doug Burgum and Senator John Hoeven, noted the benefits the renovated building is expected to bring to Grand Forks and the region.
Feland said the goal is to have the project substantially complete by August.