Grand Forks leaders now plan to vote on purchasing the Grand Forks Herald building next Monday, April 22.
The Grand Forks Jobs Development Authority-featuring all seven members of the Grand Forks City Council and the mayor-had originally planned to make a decision on the Herald building Monday night, after City Administrator Todd Feland said the city had spent a year studying the matter.
Developer Mike Kuntz said he and contractor Craig Tweten have spent the same amount of time discussing a purchase with the Herald's parent company, the Fargo-based Forum Communications Co. The two men formed Communication Central Building, LLC, before signing a purchase agreement for the building last May. Kuntz said he had been planning to lease space to the city, along with several other public entities.
Kuntz and Tweten were responsible for attracting Grand Forks Public Schools, which moved students into the Herald building earlier this year.
"I'm a little disenchanted by the way it came together at the end here," Kuntz told JDA members Monday night, shortly after sharing concepts for an e-library and a shared conference room. "(We had) a private solution (and) we felt like we were a little maneuvered around by the public sector here."
The city of Grand Forks plans to create a collaborative community space on the first floor of the Herald building with UND and Grand Forks Public Library as stakeholders, according to Feland, and it also plans to move city staff into the building's available offices.
The JDA owns three other properties: the Cirrus building, the Grand Forks Corporate Center, Centre Inc. and parts of the LM Windpower building. Feland said on Friday the city plans to divest from the first three properties within three years.
According to Kuntz, the city would've spent $1.3 million dollars renting space from him over a 10-year period.
Banker Jon Ramsey with Assurity Finance and Development said on Monday that if the city was to buy the Herald building for $3.2 million it would ultimately generate $1.7 million over 10 years in rent from tenants like Forum Communications, who would rent space for Herald staff on the second floor.
The JDA's advisory committee, the Growth Fund Committee, recommended that the JDA agree to buy the Herald building for $2.75 million. Ramsey is a member of that committee.