Sep. 14—Grand Forks' city government is on the cusp of selling one of its two downtown "corporate centers."
City staff and consultants on Wednesday, Sept. 8, opened seven sealed bids for the city-owned Corporate Center II, which sits across DeMers Avenue from Corporate Center I, which is also publicly owned, in downtown Grand Forks. Appraisers hired by the city put Corporate Center II's value at about $3 million, but the highest bid opened Wednesday was $2,505,000. Only three bidders appeared at an auction-style followup at Grand Forks City Hall on Friday morning, and none upped their offer.
"I think it's a fair price," Mayor Brandon Bochenski told the Herald on Friday afternoon. "We were obviously worried there was going to be a lot of low bids, but I think that was a pretty competitive bid."
City staff expected to get a high bid between approximately $2.3 million and $3 million, according to Bochenski.
The bids the city received are set to be presented to the city's Jobs Development Authority board on Sept. 20. There, board members could accept one of the bids or reject them and keep the corporate center in the city's hands, according to City Administrator Todd Feland. The city cannot solicit a second round of bids unless it wanted to start over, he said.
$2.5 million high bid
The high bid was placed by Tanner Grimsley, an addiction counselor at Agassiz Associates who stressed that he was not bidding on behalf of that company.
Instead, Grimsley said he was a middle man for an investment group that he declined to name. He said they are not based in the Grand Forks area but are based inside the United States.
"I'm just the face of it," Grimsley told the Herald. "They think it's a great city and they want to do some really cool development stuff here and make the city better."
At least on paper, though, Grimsley's bid was on behalf of Grimsley Consulting LLC, a Thompson-based firm that touts commercial remodels and new construction projects in Grand Forks and Fargo, including a pair of Turning Point Health and Wellness buildings.
Other bidders for the center included Kevin Ritterman, the CEO of Dakota Commercial who bid $1 million on the company's behalf, and Phil Gisi, a developer who runs a chain of elder care facilities who bid $1.95 million on behalf of Edgewood Group, LLC. Edgewood's bid was the second-highest the city received for Corporate Center II.
Gisi confirmed to the Herald in July that he was interested in buying one or both of the centers from the city via the Edgewood Real Estate Investment Trust or a related company. He said on Friday that the potential investment group hasn't decided if they'll bid on Corporate Center I.
That building contains offices for Alerus Financial, Brady Martz & Associates, and the Camrud, Maddock, Olson, and Larson law firm. Those tenants could potentially buy the space they're currently leasing from the city. Appraisers put its value at about $7 million.
Corporate Center II, at least for the moment, houses more Brady Martz offices plus a regional social security office. Neither of them, though, has the guaranteed option to buy their space there.