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UMD buys properties for improved entrance, green space

The University of Minnesota Duluth purchased two more properties near its campus last month with future expansion in mind. The properties -- 827 Woodland Ave., paired with the house next to it, 825 Woodland Ave., and 1415 Waverly Ave. -- were pur...

Map of area
Click graphic to enlarge. (News Tribune graphic)

The University of Minnesota Duluth purchased two more properties near its campus last month with future expansion in mind.
The properties - 827 Woodland Ave., paired with the house next to it, 825 Woodland Ave., and 1415 Waverly Ave. - were purchased for $487,500 and $160,000, respectively. The Woodland properties could host a new entrance for the university whereas the Waverly property will be turned into greenspace once the two surrounding properties are purchased, too, according to John Rashid, UMD director of facilities. There is no specific timeline for completion on either project, he said.
“We don’t have anything in rock solid what we plan to do with the property, but we want to take advantage when we can,” Rashid said of the recent purchases.
The money used to purchase the houses came out of UMD’s real estate fund, which is fed by revenue from TCF Bank’s lease on campus and any real estate sold by UMD, according to Lynne Williams, UMD director of external affairs. “They can only be used for real estate purchases,” she said.
“The bottom line is that higher (education) has a lot of different pots of money that are designated for specific funds, and at the end of the day, it’s a good thing because it allows us to be very strategic and to secure certain funding for that long-range planning. If we’re not thinking ahead about these kinds of things, when it comes time for us to need that expansion, we’ll be really unprepared for it,” Williams said.
Although there are no definite plans for the entrance, the Woodland houses would be demolished for a reroute of College Street to connect with the existing traffic light at Woodland and Clover Street, Rashid said - all part of a more attractive and apparent entrance to the UMD campus.
There are now two entrances on College Street and two on St. Marie Street, but both go into parking lots.
“We’ve got four side doors and no front door,” Rashid said.
UMD wants to change that.
“Purchasing all those properties between College and Clover, that really helps with that Clover realignment. … it frees up enough property to make that turn and bring that road through there,” Rashid said.
The city of Duluth was asked by UMD to make the intersection at College Street and Woodland Avenue more efficient, said Keith Hamre, director of planning and construction services for the city, but a traffic light could not be added because of its proximity to the light at Woodland and Eighth Street. The alternative they sought was to reroute College Street through what is now the parking lot for Chester Park School and the properties UMD just bought and connect to Woodland at the existing light at Clover and Woodland. Additionally, the plan would block off the existing intersection at College Street and Woodland.
“We worked cooperatively to look at that,” Hamre said.
Like UMD, Hamre said the city does not have a timeline on project completion. Earlier this year, the city was denied a state grant for construction. “We’re still looking for funding to be able to do it,” Hamre said.

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