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Kristi Stokes: Showcasing the downtown waterfront to other communities

One of the greatest compliments for Duluth comes when another city looks toward our successes and expresses the desire to learn from them. Duluth's Downtown Waterfront has been in the national spotlight on several occasions, and will be gaining t...

One of the greatest compliments for Duluth comes when another city looks toward our successes and expresses the desire to learn from them. Duluth's Downtown Waterfront has been in the national spotlight on several occasions, and will be gaining that type of attention again within the next few days when a group of community leaders from Marquette, Mich., converges on the downtown.
Like many downtowns across the country, officials say Marquette is looking into revitalization efforts with an emphasis on the city's waterfront. Such a visit should speak volumes for what our community has accomplished and what is envisioned for the future.
This also serves as a good reminder for us that there are many positive aspects to our community that sometimes fall in the shadow of unfortunate circumstances.
I join others in expressing the disappointment that comes with the recent announcement that Lakehead Pipeline is closing its Downtown Duluth headquarters and moving to Texas. But, as in many decisions that are made in the corporate world, there wasn't anything our community could have done to change that course of action. If our business climate was dwindling or our property base was deteriorating, that could have been seen as a direct negative mark against our downtown. But that's not the case, and in fact, there are numerous downtown businesses that are reinvesting and expanding to show their commitment to the area.
The changes in the Old Downtown can provide a prime example. In many instances, the restoration of historic buildings can be attributed to the positive spin-off from the Technology Village. Such structures as the Spina Building (formerly Dreamland Ballroom) have been restored, and the owners have invested not only in the bricks and mortar, but also in the downtown community.
The Usan Building across the way on First Street is another example, followed by others such as Abalan's, Shel/Don Reproduction Centre, the Intrepid Building (formerly KBJR), First Northern, as well as the Vonjaro project at the corner of Lake Avenue and Superior Street.
What a great opportunity for us to showcase the revitalization effort that continues in Downtown Duluth. Our community should be proud to serve as a role model.
Kristi Stokes is the president of the Greater Downtown Council.

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