Granite Shores to add artistic touch

by Britt Aamodt

Contributing writer

Granite Shores, the luxury apartment community in downtown Elk River, has clinched a deal that will thrill art lovers and book lovers in one fell swoop.

The Arts Alliance and Reading Frenzy Corner will open April 3 in a combined shop in the building’s northeast corner.

The Elk River Area Arts Alliance has achieved its goal of remaining in downtown Elk River. The nonprofit organization had hoped to secure the former First National Bank building, but that never materialized. They have now struck an agreement to move into the commercial space of Granite Shores Apartments.

The Elk River Area Arts Alliance has achieved its goal of remaining in downtown Elk River. The nonprofit organization had hoped to secure the former First National Bank building, but that never materialized. They have now struck an agreement to move into the commercial space of Granite Shores Apartments.

Jim Soderberg, whose company Apartment Specialists of Brooklyn Park owns Granite Shores, says the move is a win-win for everyone.

Soderberg inherited some 10,000 square feet of unoccupied commercial space from the previous owners, who had maintained the building as condominium units. The condominiums were converted to apartments last summer. And now that all the residential units are rented, Soderberg says he’s focusing hard on the storefronts.

He initially approached Reading Frenzy last year about the possibility of leasing a retail space, says the Zimmerman bookstore owner Sheri Olson.

“We crunched numbers and decided we couldn’t afford to open a whole new store in Elk River,” says Olson. “But as I left, I told Jim that if they ever needed a kiosk or something I’d be interested.”

The floor plan for the Elk River Arts Alliance will include a dance space, gallery space and a classroom space, among other things. A hallway will provide additional gallery space for the organization as well. Here is a peek into the turret area.

The floor plan for the Elk River Arts Alliance will include a dance space, gallery space and a classroom space, among other things. A hallway will provide additional gallery space for the organization as well. Here is a peek into the turret area.

That comment made in passing resurfaced a while later when Soderberg fell into talks with the Arts Alliance. The Elk River arts organization was looking to move into a larger space with better visibility and parking in front. The idea of sharing the turret space, the building’s premier location, with Reading Frenzy sweetened the deal for both parties.

The Arts Alliance’s pottery studio, art gallery, gift store and roster of classes will benefit from the exposure provided by Reading Frenzy’s author events. Olson will get a presence in Elk River without having to shoulder the burden of staffing another store.

“We’ll have use of the building’s community room, conference room and outdoor patio for events,” says Arts Alliance executive director John Stander, who’s excited to see his organization evolve as it makes use of the new location.

Reading Frenzy Corner, in conjunction with the Arts Alliance, will celebrate the Elk River grand opening April 5, when it hosts a catered book release party with mystery author William Kent Krueger.

“When I first bought the building, I walked to every business downtown,” says Soderberg. “What I heard over and over was ‘We need a bookstore and a coffee shop downtown.”

Soderberg has his bookstore, and already has solid prospects for a couple of more of the unoccupied storefronts. Details will be forthcoming in the next month or two, he said.

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