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The prospect of a new Kwik Trip convenience store coming to Duluth's Boundary Avenue, at the doorstep of Proctor, excites some neighbors but frightens others. Shain Stokke, who already operates three gas station/convenience stores in the area, contends the proposed Kwik Trip — just down the street from Stokke's Proctor Market — would place his very livelihood at stake. "I'm one of the only little chains left," he said, running through a litany of other station/stores that have closed in the wake of Kwik Trip's expansion into other parts of the region.
In the wake of a tumultuous legislative session, Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton called on Duluth on Wednesday afternoon to laud local lawmakers for their advocacy on behalf of Northland projects and to roundly criticize several aspects of Republican-drawn bills he reluctantly signed into law the previous evening. Dayton also explained his decision to veto a bill that would have stripped cities of their ability to set their own labor standards, including minimum pay requirements and basic worker benefits.
After nearly a year of work, the renovation of downtown Duluth's NorShor Theatre is about 60 percent complete, and the project remains on track to be finished by December. That was the gist of an update Christine Gradl Seitz provided during a Wednesday morning news conference in the historic theater's lobby. As the executive and artistic director of the Duluth Playhouse, she expressed confidence the NorShor will be completely ready for the troupe's opening-night performance of the musical "Mamma Mia" come Feb. 1, 2018.
A lawsuit has further clouded the already uncertain future of the former Kozy Bar & Apartments building in downtown Duluth. Paul King, a previous owner of the fire-damaged building, has filed suit against St. Louis County and the Duluth Economic Development Authority, alleging that the seizure and sale of the property last year was unlawful.
Here’s a rundown of some Northland projects that are slated to receive funding now that Minnesota lawmakers have finished their work. Gov. Mark Dayton is weighing the bills over the holiday weekend and is expected to decide on whether to sign them by Tuesday. The bonding bill includes:
Some of the Northland's most prominent players aim to reboot the Iron Range's image with a new promotional publication unveiled during a press conference at Glensheen Mansion Thursday morning. The glossy 16-page magazine is meant to burnish the Range's reputation, said Mark Phillips, commissioner of the Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation Board.
Duluth residents could be tapped to pay significantly more for city water in coming years. A resolution passed last week by the Duluth Public Utilities Commission lays out a proposal to increase water rates by 4.7 percent annually for the next six years. The compounded effect would be a total rate increase of more than 30 percent over that six-year time span. Rob Prusak, president of the utilities commission, said Duluth now is paying the price for past periods of rate stagnation.
When Gov. Mark Dayton announced late Monday night his plans to convene a special legislative session, the outlook for funding to support some key Duluth projects brightened considerably.
A proposal to require that residential gravel backyard parking pads be replaced with paved surfaces drew much criticism at Monday night's Duluth City Council meeting. And 5th District Councilor Jay Fosle has offered up a widely supported amendment that would strip the controversial new pavement rule from an ordinance that could come to a vote June 12.
Controversial proposed changes in Duluth's parking requirements for rental housing soon will be heading to the City Council for consideration. The ordinance focuses largely on restricting the parking of vehicles in front yards, but it's the new rules the city would impose on backyard parking that have been causing the biggest stir with local landlords. If amended as proposed, the ordinance would require rental property owners to provide paved backyard parking for tenants, instead of gravel lots.