Duluth school district renews focus on developing disused sitesThe district has listed the former Duluth Central High School property at 800 E. Central Entrance for a sale price of $13.7 million.
By: Peter Passi, Duluth News Tribune
Duluth schools Superintendent Bill Gronseth is stepping up efforts to redevelop unneeded district properties, including the 70-plus-acre site that was home to Duluth Central High School.
Kerry Leider, the district’s property manager, said Gronseth has launched an initiative to increase the profile of the Central site and other abandoned locations, such as Rock Ridge Elementary School in the city’s Lakeside neighborhood.
“He’s going to pull in a more diverse group of advisers,” Leider said, explaining Gronseth’s outreach efforts to attract new development interests.
The district has listed the property at 800 E. Central Entrance for a sale price of $13.7 million. That includes Central and the Secondary Technical Center.
Up until now, the district has been working primarily with FI Salter Co. of Duluth but has decided to cast a wider net in the coming months.
“We’re looking to gain some additional expertise from the development and real estate community,” said Bill Hanson, the district’s business services director.
“We want to work as a group, so as many ideas hit the table as possible,” Hanson said.
Hanson said the district still is in the formative stages of recruiting people to help with the effort, but he described an urgent desire to see surplus properties sold and properly redeveloped as soon as possible.
“We want this to be something positive for the community, the school district and taxpayers, as well,” Hanson said.
Meanwhile, the school district also is moving ahead with efforts to rezone some of its properties. Tonight, the Duluth City Council is expected to vote on a request to change the zoning of the Central property from R-1 single-family residential and rural preservation to R-2 urban residential and mixed-use business.
“We’re trying to prepare the zoning as best we can to bring a developer to the property,” Leider told the Council on Thursday.
City Councilor Sharla Gardner, who represents Duluth’s 3rd District, including the Central High property, said: “I think this zoning change makes a lot of good sense, and I’m looking forward to hearing about any proposals you receive.”
Councilor Jennifer Julsrud, who represents Duluth’s 1st District, home to Rock Ridge Elementary, urged school officials to keep the public in the loop as well.