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After delays, Arbor Park project underway

Workers from Florian & Sons Excavating operate an excavator to dig in the alley next to Arbor Park on Wednesday afternoon. Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald1 / 3
Workers from Florian & Sons Excavating work in the alley between Third Street and Fourth Street in downtown Grand Forks Wednesday afternoon. Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald2 / 3
A pedestrian walks past the former Arbor Park site and future home of the 4th Street Lofts in downtown Grand Forks on Wednesday, July 11, 2018. Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald3 / 3

More than two years after city officials proposed developing Arbor Park, Dakota Commercial is starting construction on the green space at 15 S. Fourth St.

Dakota Commercial CEO Kevin Ritterman said he hopes to have 13 to 18 condos ready for sale by fall 2019.

"Hopefully by the end of December it will be enclosed," Ritterman said of the construction. "It'll look like a building, but we'll be working inside."

Ritterman had originally planned to start construction after his purchase of the lot last year, he said. A group opposed to the sale known as Friends of Arbor Park, named for the sold lot, delayed construction for a year as it fought to keep the land public property. The group lost a city vote last summer.

"We never had a concern, after the vote," Ritterman said.

Craig Tweten, president of Community Contractors, which Dakota Commercial hired to build the condos, said a delay might affect his budget as he accepts bids for materials and work.

"A year and a half ago we put together a budget, and we're trying to make that same budget work."

But steel prices have risen since then, Tweten said Tuesday.

The city of Grand Forks has closed the alley behind the lot until Friday, as Community Contractors relocates the park's storm sewers. Tweten said he hopes to break ground this Monday or Monday next week.

Dakota Commercial is already accepting offers from anyone interested in the condos, Ritterman said, so he can tell what people want before construction starts.

"We've had a lot of interest," Ritterman said, adding he predicts half the condos will sell in a month. "So they're going to go fairly quick."

The lot neighbors several businesses, including River City Jewelers, Curious boutique, Kittsona Lifestyle and Rhombus Guys pizzeria. Tweten said he met with approximately 23 neighbors last week, promising weekly updates and emails throughout the process.

Despite initial pushback and the following delay, Ritterman said he's excited to get started, and he can't foresee any more problems.

"It needed to happen," he said. "This development needed to happen. And it's happening."

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