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New owner lined up for Superior's Carnegie Library

A Superior building that has stood empty for more than a quarter-century could soon get a new lease on life. Once slated for demolition -- rescued by residents who invested their own money to stay a raze order -- the Carnegie Library at 1204 Hamm...

Superior's Carnegie Library, 1204 Hammond Ave., is slated to be sold to a new owner. (Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram)
Superior's Carnegie Library, 1204 Hammond Ave., is slated to be sold to a new owner. (Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram)
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A Superior building that has stood empty for more than a quarter-century could soon get a new lease on life.

Once slated for demolition - rescued by residents who invested their own money to stay a raze order - the Carnegie Library at 1204 Hammond Ave., will soon fall under new ownership.

The Friends of the Superior Carnegie Library LLC announced members unanimously approved an offer-to-purchase from Osterlund Architects LLC, based in Raleigh, N.C.

"My mom used to go to that library," said Andrew Osterlund, who founded the firm in 2008.

"It's pretty exciting," said Linda Kunelius, agent for the Carnegie LLC. "We've been hanging on for 11 years ... We value that building so much. It's part of Superior."

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The library was the first of 63 Carnegie libraries built in Wisconsin. Andrew Carnegie gave the city of Superior a grant to build the library in 1901, and the building was completed in 1902. The library served the people of Superior from its completion until 1991, when the library relocated to its current building on Tower Avenue. It's the first of two Carnegie libraries built in Superior. The other, in East End, was converted into a home after it closed.

Bob Swanson, executive director of the Carnegie LLC, said the offer from Osterlund is exciting. The Osterlund team has the knowledge, experience and financial resources to work with the community to reclaim and renovate the building, Swanson said.

Osterlund will be conducting a six-month feasibility study to identify potential tenants and future uses for the building. More information is available at aoarchitect.com/thelibrary .

Osterlund said he expects to close on the building in June, after which construction would begin with a projected opening in spring 2019. He's envisioning a "co-working hub" with office and business startup space.

Jason Serck, Superior's economic development, port and planning director, said the city's economic development team has had some preliminary discussions with Osterlund.

Previous owners were unsuccessful in efforts to renovate the building, which included damage from a fire set by vandals in the basement in 1993.

Twice the city issued raze-or-repair orders on the building. In 2005, the previous owner was ordered to vacate so the city could begin the process to demolish it. That's when 80 concerned citizens pooled their money to buy the building and started work to save it - cleaning up the grounds, removing graffiti, replacing windows and staying the condemnation order. The group then focused on selling the building to a person or group that would redevelop the property and preserve the architectural and historical character.

Then the recession hit, and area developers disappeared.

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"The group would have given up had it not been for Swanson's leadership and steadfast commitment to save this building," one volunteer noted.

"This is a great turn of events - very positive developments for building, neighborhood and city," Serck said.

Superior Telegram staff writer Maria Lockwood contributed to this report.

Related Topics: HISTORYREAL ESTATESUPERIOR
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