County's 'new' government center ready for prime time

St. Louis County's $21 million reconstruction of the downtown Duluth Government Services Center is complete, the county's single-largest construction project ever.

The newly rennovated Government Services Center in Duluth on the corner Fourth Avenue West and West Second Street. The building is going to be rededicated Tuesday. (Clint Austin /

St. Louis County's $21 million reconstruction of the downtown Duluth Government Services Center is complete, the county's single-largest construction project ever.

The project saw much of the 1981-vintage building's interior totally refurbished as the county consolidated most of its Duluth public service offices under one roof.

The makeover of the 166,000-square-foot building has been underway for several years. The county purchased the building for $3.2 million in 2002 from the state and eventually squeezed all other government agencies out to make way for county personnel.

Tony Mancuso, director of Property Management, said the county effectively has "recycled a seven-story, 32-year-old building, and given it a new life cycle."

While the building wasn't crumbling on the outside, it suffered serious design and air quality issues that made it less than a quality workplace, Mancuso noted.


The office space also has been redesigned to better handle the flow of people. There are now some 600 county employees in the building who handle a variety of county services, including Public Health and Human Services, Planning and Community Development, Land and Minerals, Environmental Services, County Attorney, Human Resources, Information Technology and Property Management, as well as Arrowhead Regional Corrections. Previously, these departments were spread across five buildings throughout downtown Duluth.

Some 12,000 to 15,000 customers - most county residents - come through the building each month, county officials said.

New mechanical, electrical and HVAC systems are expected to cut the building's energy costs by 40-60 percent. LED lights are sensor controlled to automatically adjust to maximize use of natural light coming through new triple-pane windows. Meanwhile, window ledges, wall tiles and breakroom furniture are all made from recycled materials.

The rebuilding project has raised the county's investment to more than $25 million for the building, which recently was appraised at more than $41 million, county officials note.

The first floor was refurbished in 2011, and the building's roof and elevators were updated in 2012.

New, locally generated artwork has been added recently in the lobby and outdoor plaza.

The county is moving across all departments to own rather than rent office space for long-term savings to taxpayers, county officials say. It also helps centralize services for residents.

"This is about providing better, more efficient service," Peter Stauber, County Board chairman, said in announcing the project's completion. "The County Board has been working for years to achieve this goal of moving all county services into county-owned buildings. This makes it more convenient for our citizens to access the services they need, all in one place. It also enables county employees to do their jobs more efficiently across departments."


If You Go

The County Board will join with project contractors to host a ribbon-cutting and open house Tuesday at 1 p.m. The public is invited and refreshments will be served. The ceremony, which will include a blessing of the building, will take place on the plaza outside the Government Services Center at 320 W. Second St.

Craig David's mural "WaterNotes" and a visitor to St. Louis County’s Government Services Center are reflected in a glass wall comprising part of the building’s new entryway recently. The county is holding a grand re-opening ceremony today for the downtown Duluth building. The county, which bought the building form the state in 2002, spent more than $21 over the last two years to rebuild the building's interior and operating systems. Steve Kuchera /

John Myers reports on the outdoors, natural resources and the environment for the Duluth News Tribune. You can reach him at
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