Duluth City Council to vote to discuss downtown redevelopment plans, attracting developers
DULUTH, MN. (KBJR) - The Duluth City Council will vote Monday on a plan that could revitalize and bring more housing to areas of downtown.
If approved, the council would start accepting plans from developers to create mixed-use housing projects.
The housing projects would go on East First Street between North Lake and Fourth Avenues.
Emily Ekstrom, who owns Hucklebeary in downtown, doesn’t like seeing the vacant buildings.
“What’s really hard is to come down here and to see vacant buildings and to see these structures that there’s nothing happening in them,” Ekstrom said.
Ekstrom used to have a space in the old Astoria hotel before it was closed for demolition.
“I’ve called that place home for the past four years,” she said.
The proposals submitted to the City Council, if approved, would need to include two parking structures on either end of First Street.
The Tech Village and Medical District Ramps currently serve as public parking, but if housing units are built, spaces could be blocked off in the structures.
“You would look at land near the parking ramps that you could redevelop and build into more housing,” Council President Arik Forsman said.
However, those two parking ramps would still have spaces open for the public who use them currently.
Currently, several buildings in the area stand vacant.
Forsman wants developers to bring more people into the area.
“More people, more activity, more commerce,” he said, “I think it would help with all of our plans and goals as a city to create more vibrancy and to create a safer downtown for everybody.”
He also believes these plans could help the city’s housing shortage.
“We need housing that’s affordable for our workforce and we need market rate housing,” Forsman said.
Ultimately, Ekstrom wants to see downtown flourish.
“I think we would all benefit and it makes it to be a destination spot to come and bring the energy back to the downtown world,” she said.
The City Council is expected to vote to open a request for proposal process at Monday’s meeting.
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