Ecolibrium3 awarded grant for Lincoln Park projects
Works funded by this grant include the construction of a grocery store on Superior Street in Lincoln Park, further build out of the LNPK Hub and the Duluth Children's Museum expansion.
DULUTH — Changes are coming to the Lincoln Park neighborhood thanks to a $843,250 Department of Employment and Economic Development grant to Ecolibrium3 and partnering agencies.
The grant will address economic, educational and health disparities in the neighborhood by advancing the three construction projects. First, the funding will help the Duluth Children's Museum expand to its second floor. Secondly, the funding will help build out the Lincoln Park Hub in the former Lincoln Park Community Center. And the funds will go towards the creation of a small-footprint grocery store on Superior Street in Ecolibrium3's former space.
"This project would not have been possible without the DEED funding. They were looking to fund complex capital projects that could benefit the community that might not happen without these funds," said Jodi Slick, Ecolibrium 3 CEO, at a Monday news conference. "This project involves multiple partners and three buildings and will help our neighborhood meet its needs."
DEED received over $173 million in grant requests for this Target Community Capital Projects Grants fund. The Eco3 project was one of 16 selected for the $18 million program. Project partners include Ecolibrium3, Main Street Lincoln Park, Duluth Children’s Museum, the Duluth Housing and Redevelopment Authority, Family Rise Together, Divine Connections, Family Freedom Center, Duluth Art Institute, the city of Duluth, St. Louis County Public Health and LISC Duluth.
Duluth Children's Museum expands
The Duluth Children's Museum moved to 2125 W. Superior St. during the pandemic. The museum currently mostly resides in the first floor, but the DEED funds will help them expand to the second floor.
“The DEED funding will allow us to complete expansion efforts to the second floor of our new space, doubling our size with a new STEM lab and CreateSpace focused on young children,” said Cameron Kruger, president of the Children’s Museum. “The museum is an important way to address educational gaps experienced by Lincoln Park neighborhood children."
City councilor Renee Van Nett said she was excited to see the educational opportunities grow in the neighborhood.
"When you give children the resources to succeed, you give the community the resources to succeed," Van Nett said.
Fully utilizing the Lincoln Park Hub
Ecolibrium3 is leading the charge in turning the former Lincoln Park Community Center into the Lincoln Park Hub. The space at 2014 W. Third St. will house Eco3's new offices as well as the offices of several nonprofits such as Family Rise Together and Divine Konnections. Additionally, the space will be renovated to include a community-accessible computer lab and broadband access area, creation of a workforce training center and community education rooms. The site already includes the renovated warming center for unhoused people in its lower level.
"The Lincoln Park Community Center has been an underutilized space for many years," said Jill Keppers, executive director of the Duluth Housing and Redevelopment Authority. "By transforming the lower and upper levels, we’re finally going to see that building utilized to its fullest potential."
The organizations set to move into the new space are excited to see the work.
“This expansion will allow for Family Rise Together to provide adult rehabilitative mental health services in the Lincoln Park Community with little to no barriers for access to our offices. This expansion will also allow us to build innovative approaches to partnerships,” said ChaQuana McIntyre, founder of Family Rise Together, who will be relocated into the new office space
A new grocery store in Lincoln Park
"Over the years that we've been doing work in Lincoln Park, a new grocery store has been the number one request of neighborhood residents," Slick said. "The ability to buy fresh and affordable foods, fruits, vegetables and other staples on a year round basis will be facilitated by this grant."
The grocery store will be built in Ecolibrium3's Superior Street former offices at 2014 W. Superior St. Eco3 will work on building and preparing the space for the store and is working with a yet-to-be-named partner to run the store. Barring complications, they expect to have the store running sometime in the spring or summer of 2023.