Experts say DCVB underfunded, GDC needs to broaden approach
The Duluth Convention and Visitors Bureau is underfunded, and the Greater Downtown Council needs to develop a broader approach. Those were just two of many insights made at a Friday luncheon by a team of experts on the preservation of historic bu...
The Duluth Convention and Visitors Bureau is underfunded, and the Greater Downtown Council needs to develop a broader approach. Those were just two of many insights made at a Friday luncheon by a team of experts on the preservation of historic buildings.
Friday's meeting was only a preliminary report after a weeklong tour of the city. The final report is due early in 2004 and will include not only what the team thinks needs to be done but also how it can be done.
"Historic preservation doesn't have to be the antithesis of development," said Mac Nichols, director of preservation development initiatives for the National Trust for Historic Preservation. He urged Duluth to move from the mindset of "How do we stop things?" to "How do we use things?"
Nichols called on the community to develop a capacity to compromise. He said that a lot of energy is focused on past battles. "Get over it," he said to applause.
Carolyn Brackett, senior program director for heritage tourism for the National Trust, said that 81 percent of adult travelers include culture or heritage stops in their trip. Since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, she said, that is the only segment of the travel industry showing an increase.
She called for unifying the heritage travel industry, bringing together the Convention and Visitors Bureau (which she said is "very underfunded"), attractions, special events, bed and breakfast inns, hotels and motels, and then developing a cohesive plan that will be good for all of them. Brackett suggested that developing a walking tour between Canal Park and downtown, "tea trains" originating at the Depot, and providing vouchers from the B and B's for Glensheen tours are examples of what could be accomplished using this approach.
Another member of the study team, Jay Juergensen of Detroit, noted that the links between downtown and Canal Park are not "pedestrian friendly."
He also believes that the city has overused tax increment financing districts as a development tool and underused historic tax credits.
He called for creation of a training program in preservation construction, so that construction workers would be trained in how to conserve historic buildings.
Nichols said that downtown Duluth has more retail than there appears to be at first glance, but that it is spread out, with some of it being on the skywalk level.
He saw the increased interest in developing housing units on the upper levels as a positive sign and predicted that with more housing will come more jobs on the street level.
He urged a four-point approach for redevelopment: a strong design program, an organizational structure to do the work, an ongoing marketing effort and economic restructuring.
He suggested that the Greater Downtown Council may need to restructure itself to become a one-stop shop for business development.