Grand Forks apartment project passes first review

Proposed location for an apartment project aimed at UND students. Photo credit: ICON Architects.

A Grand Forks apartment building could be constructed in an “unusual” spot if the city gives the project a green light.

Developers have brought forward a plan for an apartment building to be constructed at 2750 and 2900 DeMers Avenue — just west of the Columbia Road overpass.

Preliminary plans showed the building would be four stories tall and contain a maximum of 145 units. The apartments would be marketed mainly to UND students.

The land is zoned for commercial use. A request for rezoning was given preliminary approval Wednesday by the Planning and Zoning Commission despite some city employees having doubts about whether apartments would be the right fit for the space.

To the south of the proposed site is a busy street and to the north is a rail yard.

“It’s an unusual location for (apartments),” City Engineer Al Grasser said. “I have reservations about that as a residential area.”

City Planner Brad Gengler brought up similar concerns when the commission discussed the apartments at its meeting last month.

Developers said precautions such a 10-foot fence would be used to keep residents from entering the rail yard.

Building amenities would reflect this concern, according to developer Mark Bell with real estate and investment company Harbor Bay.

“There will be no balconies on that side of the building. There won’t be any sliding glass doors,” he said.

Also proposed by developers is a pedestrian stairwell that would give residents access to the overpass and keep them from crossing DeMers Avenue at an intersection without a traffic signal to get to the overpass’ sidewalk.

Details about the stairwell and a future traffic light are still being worked out, according to city staff.

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