Guest view: Seize the moment, Duluth!
Finally, easterly downtown Duluth has reached an accumulation of new and renewed development to understand and measure its turnaround. Way back in the 1980s, proposals for rethinking Interstate 35 included solutions that would permit, and encoura...
Finally, easterly downtown Duluth has reached an accumulation of new and renewed development to understand and measure its turnaround.
Way back in the 1980s, proposals for rethinking Interstate 35 included solutions that would permit, and encourage, positive development and renewal of easterly downtown Duluth and Canal Park. That was one of the key objectives, and justifications, of the whole I-35 battle, contending that significantly better highway design and planning must happen in order to achieve sound permanent development for all of downtown Duluth -- just exactly as Duluth has now experienced these past several years.
A logical follow-up should include these three questions:
1. What does this mean for Duluth?
2. What opportunities can we continue to gain?
3. What needs to be completed to assist the positive developments being seen in downtown Duluth?
What this means for Duluth:
- Local investment and stemming property degradation and losses.
- Increased tax revenue for the city.
- A multiplier effect of investment, community use and pride.
What are some of the opportunities?
- As to opportunities, the city can look forward to an additional positive
focused downtown use, attraction and identity.
- Opportunities for new businesses; additional employment will occur.
- Connections between downtown Duluth and its lakefront through the Lake Place connector over the freeway will become more obvious to citizens, tourists, City Council, downtown development, downtown and Canal Park businesses and the mayor.
What to do now: build it
- Citizens and Duluth leaders can join energies to find a way to accomplish the original Superior Street connection to the Lakefront and Canal Park planned but not completed at that time. (See the circled area in the photo below, the former Muffler Clinic site that's now a parking lot.)
- Share innovative ideas about the connection as how it can be colorful, inviting -- perhaps present an economic opportunity along an edge of this 120-by-120-foot space which was the original Sears Deck and then later the Muffler Clinic. It is now finally vacant, just waiting to become
Duluth's downtown-to-Canal Park
connection and entrance.
- Search ways to merge private/
public in a way to benefit both and
result in cost reduction for each.
In my opinion, that connection is still vital to downtown. It's the same idea as the famous 1883 Brooklyn Bridge, which created an entrance to both New York City (Manhattan) and to Brooklyn. It's a fantastic "connection." Not having that connection is like not having a front door to one's home, or an entrance to a city.
Writer Kent Worley was a key player in both stopping and redesigning the Interstate 35 extension through downtown Duluth. A landscape architect, he designed Lake Place more than 30 years ago. He also designed the main entrance, which was never built by the city.