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Jefferson Lines to move Duluth bus terminal

Jefferson Lines is moving its Duluth bus terminal to the former H&R Block location in the Denfeld Center at Grand and 47th Avenue West. Operations there will begin July 1. (Steve Kuchera /

Jefferson Lines is moving its Duluth bus terminal next week to nicer digs at the Denfeld Center in West Duluth, two blocks west of its current location.

And while the move is supposed to be temporary, just until the new Multimodal Transportation Center is built in downtown Duluth, bus company officials say the new, bigger site is so appealing, they just might keep it as a secondary station to serve the city’s western neighborhoods.

Jefferson’s bus terminal operations — including ticketing, bus drop off and pickup and package express services — will continue operating at its current location at 4426 Grand Ave., across from Denfeld High School, for another week.

It will shift to the upscale Denfeld retail center at 4602 Grand Ave. on July 1.

It made sense to stay in the neighborhood, said Kevin Pursey, Jefferson’s marketing director.

“From our perspective, it’s very close to the old location,” he said. “It’s part of the area our customers are familiar with, and it provides easy access to the highway and from city buses. And that’s important to us.”

The move is prompted by Whole Foods Co-op’s purchase of Jefferson’s current site for its much-anticipated second store in Duluth.

That sale is expected to close next month. Johnson Wilson Constructors in Duluth, which owns the property, will demolish the current 1,600-square-foot building, then build the 12,500-square-foot store for the cooperative, said Sharon Murphy, the co-op’s general manager.

Groundbreaking probably will occur in late August or early September, with the store opening sometime in 2015, she said.

Jefferson Lines will move to the far west end of the Denfeld Center in space formerly occupied by H&R Block. The layout of the 2,300-square-foot storefront will work well

for Jefferson. It includes office space and a waiting area for passengers and a rear exit for easy bus access.

Little needs to be done to the space; moreover it’s clean, neat and in good condition, Pursey said.

“It’s definitely an upgrade,” he said. “We’ll probably add more amenities, some TV, maybe a kids’ area.”

Because the space and the location at the Denfeld retail center is so customer-friendly, bus company officials are hoping that it will draw more passengers.

“That’s why we’re excited about it,” Pursey said. “It has parking, food options. We’re hoping for more ridership.”

Indeed, customers can drive to the new bus terminal and leave their cars in the parking lot until they return from their bus trips, something they can’t do at the current bus station.

Long-range plans are for Jefferson’s Duluth bus terminal to be part of the $29 million Multimodal Transportation Center in downtown Duluth, the city’s future hub for public transportation. Groundbreaking was last week, with construction expected to take two years.

While Jefferson’s Duluth operations will then be based downtown, Pursey said they may keep the West Duluth facility.

“If it turns into a really good location, we may end up keeping it as another stop,” he said. “It’s so convenient to come off the freeway and could easily be another stop for the west side.”

Jefferson Lines’ Duluth station typically has four incoming and four outgoing buses a day with stops also at the University of Minnesota Duluth. It offers direct trips to the Twin Cities, Fargo, N.D., and the Iron Range. From the Twin Cities, bus riders can connect with Greyhound Bus Co. buses to travel farther.