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Rent the full Duluth Depot for a day? It'll cost you $10,000

New fee schedule adopted by St. Louis County Board on Tuesday.

Duluth Depot
The St. Louis County Depot. (File / News Tribune)

Would a filmmaker spend $10,000 to rent out the entire Duluth Depot for one day? The St. Louis County Board is willing to find out, approving a formalized set of usage fees Tuesday during its online meeting based in Virginia.

A one-night rental of the Great Hall for events such as proms or fundraisers will cost $800.

Tables and chairs will come for $10 and $5 each, respectively, for organizations that aren't housed at the Depot.

Mary Tennis, executive director of the St. Louis County Heritage and Arts Center, outlined the fee schedule, calling it "a brand-new item at the Depot."

"We've never had a fee schedule per se," she said. "This is laying groundwork for future activities at the Depot. The plan is to add more items as they come up."

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061020.N.DNT.DepotFeesPIC
Mary Tennis, executive director of the Depot, appears in the Immigrant Waiting Room inside the Duluth Depot. Tennis, the executive director, saw her fee schedule for usage of the Depot approved by the St. Louis County Board on Tuesday. (File / News Tribune)

Tennis is in her 11th month as the Depot's first executive director. The position was created by the County Board in order to achieve full potential from a facility that houses eight entities: the Lake Superior Railroad Museum, St. Louis County Historical Society, Duluth Art Institute, North Shore Scenic Railroad, The Duluth Playhouse, Minnesota Ballet, Arrowhead Chorale and Matinee Musicale.

Historically, the Depot appears to have sought limited income from use-of-space rentals. Tennis testified to that point in Tuesday's hearing before the County Board.

"My understanding is organizations would come in, rent out common areas of the Depot, sublet them for events, and collect the fees for themselves," Tennis said. "St. Louis County wasnโ€™t recouping any of those funds."

Among the other fees adopted by the board:

  • Rent the full facility overnight from 11 p.m. to 8 a.m. โ€” $500 per hour.
  • 10-foot-by-10-foot farmers market stall โ€” $50.
  • Electricity to the stall โ€” $25.
  • Long-term pop-up vendor โ€” $300 per month.
  • Long-term pop-up vendor in peak season โ€” $600 per month.
  • False alarms during an event โ€” $250.
  • Board room rental โ€” $50.

Tenants of the Depot will not be subject to all the same fees as non-tenants.
"This is great groundwork intended to bring consistency, understanding and interpretation to what had been informal practices," County Administrator Kevin Gray said.

Fees will be used to offset rising costs in utilities, and "begin to contribute to capital expenses for the building," the board resolution said.

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The Depot is in need of $8 million in repairs โ€” deferred upkeep and upgrades that have resulted in leaks and crumbling bricks. The work was identified by the county in 2017. The county has said it is willing to pay $2.25 million, and has sought state bonding for $5.75 million.

Following the hearing, the County Board approved the fees unanimously. The fee schedule goes into place June 29.

061020.N.DNT.DepotFeesPIC
Mary Tennis, executive director of the Depot, appears in the Immigrant Waiting Room inside the Duluth Depot. Tennis, the executive director, saw her fee schedule for usage of the Depot approved by the St. Louis County Board on Tuesday. (File / News Tribune)

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