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City of Duluth to share early design concepts for plaza behind DECC next week

The city's plan to bring a passenger cruise terminal and better waterfront for Harbor Drive behind the DECC will be unveiled beginning with a live public event Tuesday, followed by a public session

File: Harbor Drive Parade of Sail
The tall ships Abbey Road, left, and Pride of Baltimore II dock by Harbor Drive after the Parade of Sail in 2016. The city of Duluth will share design concepts with the public for the proposed Harbor Plaza and cruise ship docking area along the waterfront. Steve Kuchera / File / Duluth News Tribune
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The city of Duluth will share design concepts with the public for the proposed Harbor Plaza and cruise ship docking area along the waterfront directly behind the Duluth Entertainment and Convention Center.

The city has for some time been embarking on a passenger terminal and design process to replace the damaged seawall and aging infrastructure along the waterfront behind the DECC.

"This process creates and defines a new harbor plaza area by reimagining the use and function of the waterfront and Harbor Drive between the Minnesota Slip Bridge and Bayfront Festival Park," a city of Duluth news release said. "Design concepts include accommodations for the Great Lakes cruise ship industry, more intentional resting spaces, improved walking and gathering areas."

Duluth Parks and Recreation is conducting two information sessions: an open house from 3-6 p.m. Tuesday, near the Vista Fleet dock on Harbor Drive, and at 6 p.m. Thursday in an virtual format via WebEx at duluthmn.gov/live-meeting ; select the “Parks & Recreation Public Meetings” button.

The public is encouraged to attend one of two information sessions next week, the city said. At the live gathering, a white canopy tent will be on-site for the public to review interactive conceptual plans for the space. City staff will be available to talk about the plans. At the virtual event, there will be a presentation followed by an opportunity for individuals to share feedback on the concept and plans, the city said.

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In recent years, Harbor Drive has become a place ripe for the imagination. Former Mayor Don Ness once proposed filling in the slip and relocating the William A. Irvin ship in a big reimagining of the space. More recently, the city has been wrestling with a need to provide a proper terminal in order for the city to render what is a reemerged Great Lakes cruise trade. Lately, in July, Executive Director Dan Hartman of the DECC discussed a test exhibition aimed at assessing the area as a concert venue .

"I think people in three years will see Harbor Drive as something entirely different, especially with the city's investment that's coming forward," Hartman said.

Duluth Parks and Recreation is working with a consultant team led by the firm, Confluence, Inc., the city said.

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