Construction underway at Duluth's Board of Trade Building

Renovations started a month ago on the 1895 downtown building.

A crane blocks First Street in front of the Board of Trading building Wednesday. The crane was brought in as part of the remodeling project at the building. (Steve Kuchera /

A tall crane loomed over downtown Duluth for much of the day Wednesday.

It was working on renovations to the Board of Trade Building, which recently got underway. A Chicago-based developer is planning to open dozens of new housing units as well as commercial space in the building that’s over 100 years old.

“The space is spectacular,” said David Dubin, president and CEO of the building’s developer, Dubin Guru Group .

The 1895 building housed grain and commodity trading until the 1970s. Now, the Dubin group has plans to open commercial and retail space on the first floor, office space on the second floor, 84 mixed-income apartments in the third through seventh floors, commercial space on the eighth floor and a roof deck to top it off.

Work started around one month ago, and there are plans to renovate the entire building. “It’s got great bones, Dubin said. But “we’ve hired a trainer for the building to get rid of the fat.”


Renovations include makeovers to the commercial spaces, replacing ceiling tiles, updating electrical systems, installing sprinklers, updating the heating system, renovating the space into apartments and more.

Even with significant renovations, Dubin said they want to keep historically significant features in its common areas.

“We've got to try to keep as many historical features as we can, as you can imagine, since the building’s over 100 years old,” he said.

The Dubin Guru Group purchased the building in 2017 for $800,000. This summer, it then received a tax-increment financing package of $1.8 million in funding for the project. TIF is a subsidy that uses new property taxes, which are generated by a project, to cover qualifying development costs.

The public financing requires the developer to demonstrate that the project wouldn’t be possible without the subsidy help, and a report by financial analysis firm Ehlers found the Board of Trade project met the test, according to News Tribune reporting.

Because the project received public financing support, 20% of the total apartments must be offered at reduced rates to households making 50% or less of the area’s median income.

The other units will be “workforce housing,” with rent ranging from around $925 to $1,300, Dubin said.

The apartment will boast a range of amenities, he said, like exercise facilities, onsite storage, pet groomer space, Wi-Fi, in-unit washer and dryer, ceilings over 9 feet tall, possibly an indoor children’s play area and more.


The Chicago-based development group focuses on projects in mid-sized cities. Duluth was a good fit because construction and building purchase costs were lower compared to the Twin Cities. And, he said, “it’s a nice community.”

Dubin said he’s hoping to have residents move in by the end of next year.

Former commercial tenants, including The Exchange and the Minnesota Ballet, left their Board of Trade retail spaces in recent years. The owner of The Exchange said a combination of preparing for retirement, the ending of the business' lease and an upcoming increase in rent influenced the restaurant's closure in September. While the Minnesota Ballet moved out of the building in 2018 because of rent increases.

Other tenants started leaving in 2016 when a chimney collapsed and damaged the building , leaving much of the building vacant.

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