The Duluth school district has shifted course legislatively to make the former Central High School property more attractive to potential buyers.
Instead of tax incentives for buyers, it's hoping for up to $2 million from the state to tear the school down. The cost involved with demolition has been prohibitive to past interested developers, city and district officials have said.
The district's current legislative platform cites a tax abatement incentive as a priority, but district CFO Doug Hasler said conversations with other stakeholders led them to advocate for demolition money instead. District officials hope that a property with a clean slate will be more attractive, Hasler said.
Sen. Erik Simonson, DFL-Duluth, introduced the sales tax exemption bill previously, and re-introduced it this session, he said. It's too late to introduce a bill for demolition money at this point, he said, but he hopes to have the Central property issue in play during end-of-session negotiations. A grant for demolition might be a viable issue for the 2019 session, he said.