A public hearing has been set for the plan to sell Historic Old Central High School and the alternatives for programs and staff currently located in the building.
The hearing has been set for 6 p.m. March 2 at Historic Old Central High School Board Room. Due to the pandemic, the hearing will be conducted similar to the one held in October before the Duluth School Board decided to enter into a purchase agreement with Saturday Properties, based in St. Louis Park, Minnesota.
To make a public comment in person during the meeting, residents should enter Historic Old Central High School through the Third Street entrance. They will be directed to the gym on the second floor, where they will find a signup sheet to speak; the signup deadline is 6 p.m.
Speakers will wait in the gym until it is time for public comment and then they will be escorted to the board room one at a time for their presentation. They will be escorted back to the gym when they're done. Masks must be worn in the building at all times, including while speaking.
Speakers will be given three minutes to make their comments. Those using an interpreter will be given up to six minutes. Jeff Anderson will moderate the hearing.
Residents not attending the hearing in person can submit written comments by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or mailing a letter to 215 N. First Ave. E., Attn: Superintendent, Duluth, MN 55802. Add the following note in the email subject or at the top of the letter: "Public hearing on sale of HOCHS held on March 2, 2021."
Written statements will be scanned and posted publicly for the School Board and community to review.
Programs currently using the building will need to be relocated before Oct. 25. The exact plans for relocation will be developed over the next month and released to the public on the district’s website.
Historic Old Central opened in 1892 and was modeled after the Allegheny County Courthouse in Pittsburgh. The Richardsonian Romanesque-style school was designed by Emmet S. Palmer and Lucien P. Hall.
The building served as a regular high school until 1971 and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places a year later. Even though the building is on the register, the district doesn't qualify for historic tax credits if it maintains the status quo.
Those currently in the building include district administration, the Area Learning Center and Academic Excellence Online High School. A nonprofit, Companies to Classrooms, also occupies space.
The district's Central High School, located at 800 E. Central Entrance, is listed at $7.9 million. The nearly 77-acre vacant property, with a hilltop view of Lake Superior, has been on the market for more than seven years.
Greg Follmer, of Follmer Commercial Real Estate, said in a recent property update to the board that negotiations were underway to work toward an acceptable development agreement for Central High School on the hill.
This story was updated at 11:22 a.m. Feb. 23 with more information on public comment. It was originally posted at noon Jan. 22.