The possibility of a land exchange between Grand Forks and the city is still being considered. In exchange for the empty lot at the corner of Kittson Avenue and Fifth Street, the county has agreed to give the city ownership of its downtown parking ramp.
The city is still in the process of evaluating the country parking ramp, according to City Administrator Todd Feland. An engineer will evaluate the structural damage and estimate how much money the city could make by buying the ramp as part of the assessment.
“We’re looking at both the capital and the operations and how we would pay for it,” Feland said. The city owns both the main downtown parking garage and the Corporate Center garage. During their meeting on February 21st, City Council authorized the signing of a $147,610 parking management contract with Interstate Parking.
In addition to managing the daily operations and maintenance of the two existing city-owned ramps, the operations firm will also be included in discussions regarding the management of the county parking ramp. Parking ramp improvements for the county are anticipated to cost between $3 million and $6 million.
A cost analysis report outlining parking improvement projects, including having major renovations completed on the ramp for approximately $6.3 million, was presented to members of the County Commission last year.
“No. 1, what are the total needs, what would the years that we would need to make those determinations regarding the capital and how does it fit within the city’s capital planning?” Feland said.
While the real estate values of the two properties aren’t equal—the vacant lot was appraised at $180,000—getting rid of millions in needed repairs to the ramp would be beneficial to the county, according to Tom Ford, director of administration for Grand Forks County, in a previous interview with the Herald.
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Feland has stated that the city still retains ownership of the empty lot at this time. “We won’t look to develop that until we finalize the overall strategy between the city and the county,” he said. If the exchange were to take place, it would function similarly to a transfer of ownership.
Both the City Council and the County Commission will be presented with preliminary reports from the assessment, and their approval will be required to move forward with the property swap. “Our goal would be to at least have a draft to start presenting to both governing bodies in April,” Feland said.
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