Say goodbye to Duluth's Woodland Middle School
The uncertainty over the fate of the former Woodland Middle School in Duluth is over. The old school is coming down. Developer Mark Lambert -- who purchased the school property from the Duluth School District for $3 million -- said Thursday the b...
The uncertainty over the fate of the former Woodland Middle School in Duluth is over.
The old school is coming down.
Developer Mark Lambert -- who purchased the school property from the Duluth School District for $3 million -- said Thursday the building along Woodland Avenue probably will be demolished in December or January.
"We're taking it down, because we have no user for the school," he said.
Efforts during the past two years to find new users for the 1950s-era school near the University of Minnesota Duluth campus haven't been successful.
In its place will come a future phase of BlueStone Commons, a mixed-use development taking shape on the school property next to the building. So far, BlueStone Lofts, a 100-unit upscale housing complex, has been built and is 95 percent occupied. Phase II, the Shops at BlueStone, is under construction.
Possible uses for the site include more housing, retail and restaurants. New construction could also house College of St. Scholastica health-related programs.
"I can confirm we are in active conversation with the developer," said Bob Ashenmacher, a college spokesman. "It's ongoing. But nothing is signed, nothing is a done deal at this point. We're in discussions."
Before the school is gone, BlueStone is holding an open house from noon to 2 p.m. Sunday so former students and the public can get one last look inside.
"We're doing a tip of the hat, a farewell to Woodland," Lambert said. "If anyone is interested in coming out and seeing it again, they certainly can."
The farewell will be followed by an auction at 4 p.m. Wednesday of school equipment and other items. They include lockers, kitchen equipment, theater seats, bleachers, scoreboard, shop equipment and exit signs.
The decision to raze the school, rather than adaptive reuse came after talks with UMD and College of St. Scholastica about using the building were unsuccessful.
"We spent a fair amount of time visiting with them because of our proximity," Lambert said. "But both have indicated they are not interested in the building for various reasons."
Because the Woodland school has a pool, basketball court and theater, UMD considered using it for its recreation and fine arts programs, said Mike Seymour, UMD's vice chancellor for finance and operations.
"But to get that older building to where we needed it to be, the investment was more than what we would typically put into a building that we don't own," Seymour said. "We gave it an honest look, but in the end decided it just wasn't going to work for us."
The College of St Scholastic had considered the Woodland school building for its current and future graduate health care-related programs, Ashenmacher said.
"But when we looked at the needs for those programs that we already have, along with what we're forecasting for our planned physician assistant program, we realized that for the quality of the educational experience we need to go with new construction," he said.