Energetic speaker helps Downtown Council celebrate 25 years
The Greater Downtown Council's annual dinner Wednesday night was a reminder of Duluth's accomplishments over the past 25 years and a glimpse of what the next 25 might have in store. The council was celebrating its 25th anniversary during the dinn...
The Greater Downtown Council's annual dinner Wednesday night was a reminder of Duluth's accomplishments over the past
25 years and a glimpse of what the next 25 might have in store.
The council was celebrating its 25th anniversary during the dinner at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center.
Mayor Don Ness briefly mentioned some plans under discussion to help make getting around downtown easier, such as perhaps improving the skywalk between Superior Street and the DECC.
"The stars are aligning for us," he told the audience, meaning that the federal government's upcoming stimulus bill might mean money for improvements in Duluth.
The main speaker of the evening, former Indianapolis, Ind., Mayor Bill Hudnut, gave the crowd of 300 a jolt of encouragement. Hudnut is a senior fellow with the Urban Land Institute.
He highlighted downtown's development over the past 25 years -- from the brick streets to the development of Fitger's and Canal Park -- and encouraged the audience to continue capitalizing on Duluth's inherent strengths, such as the port, waterfront, tourism, arts, culture and historic buildings.
"You've got restaurants coming out the wazoo," he said.
It's critical to continue fostering growth in downtown Duluth, both he and Ness said.
"Cities are organisms. They die from the inside out," Hudnut said. "The downtown is everybody's neighborhood."
It's also critical, he said, for cities to invest first in fixing infrastructure before building new infrastructure on the outskirts of town, which encourages sprawl.
The future of downtowns will rely heavily on attracting three groups of residents: "singles, mingles and jingles," said Hudnut, a lanky, jovial speaker who had the crowd constantly chuckling.
The first group is the
laptop-toting, young, single crowd; second, young couples without children who like the amenities of urban living; and, lastly, the empty nesters.
He even proposed having more college students take classes downtown. The real answer to downtown revitalization is a thousand little ones, he said.
"You want to have a downtown that's fun, friendly and funky," he said.
So his advice for Duluth?
"Where do you want to be 25 years from now?" he asked. "The answer to that question 25 years ago was 'We want a better downtown,' " he said.