Oct. 20--Pending approval Monday from a city committee, public accounting firm Brady, Martz & Associates will add office space in one of the city-owned Corporate Center buildings downtown.
That would mark the first time the twin buildings have been 100 percent occupied in their 14-year history.
"It's great that it's full," said City Council member Dana Sande, who is chairman the city's Jobs Development Authority. "But what's more great is that there's a need for that sort of space downtown."
The Corporate Center buildings were constructed partially by federal dollars. City leaders hoped the twin buildings would keep business downtown even after much of it was damaged or destroyed in the 1997 flood.
Prior to the flood Brady was located, ironically, where the Corporate Center II building now stands. After its office was destroyed, they moved across the street into the Corporate Center I building, where they will continue to occupy a 22,844 square-foot space.
The two buildings occupy two corners of the intersection of DeMers Avenue and Fourth Street, with a skyway connecting them across DeMers.
The JDA will have the final say Monday on approving a 5,000-square-foot lease for Brady in the Corporate Center II building. Brady will pay $8 per square foot in its first 46 months in the new space, providing the city $40,000 a year under proposed terms outlined in a Growth Fund Committee meeting last week.
But Grand Forks Urban Development Director Greg Hoover said vacant spaces in the Corporate Center buildings weren't causing the city financial strain. According to an October 2010 memo, annual lease revenues exceeded annual debt payments for constructing the building by $428,000.
However, a February 2012 city staff report acknowledges the first floor of the Corporate Center II building sat vacant and generated no income for more than 10 years. The report cited that, along with Sadie's Couture Floral and Event Styling's and Tres Chic Bridal and Formal Styling's situation as retail start-ups, for offering them a lower rent than other Corporate Center tenants.
"We've always been looking for tenants," Hoover said. "There was no real sense of urgency in that we had sufficient money to be paying the financing that was taken out on the building."
The buildings are scheduled to be fully paid off in 2017.
While the Corporate Center I building has been full from the very beginning, its twin has only come to close to full occupancy in the past two years.
The Corporate Center I is occupied by Alerus Financial, the law firm Camrud, Maddock, Olson & Larson and Brady, Martz & Associates.
The first floor of the second building was filled last year by the Sadie's and Tres Chic businesses. The Social Security Administration, International Trade Solutions and Brady's future office account for the rest of the space.
Growth in the company prompted Brady to seek additional room, said Mark Miller, the shareholder in charge of the Grand Forks office. He said they looked at other locations but ultimately chose the Corporate Center because of its proximity to its current office and the skyway connection between the two buildings.
Keith Lund, vice president of the Grand Forks Region Economic Development Corp., said having the buildings fully occupied is not only good for city finances, but it's an indication of increased economic activity.
"That building is a key indicator of how well downtown Grand Forks is doing," Lund said.
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