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Duluth mental health agency expanding

"Bursting at the seams" with its 175 local employees, a Duluth mental health agency is adding more space in the city's medical district.

The Human Development Center is repurposing the former Home Care Oxygen and Medical Equipment building at 810 E. Fourth St., HDC announced in a news release on Monday.

When renovation is complete, the 7,500 square feet on the building's Fourth Street side will house the 75 employees in the agency's community-based services department, said Jim Getchell, HDC's executive director.

HDC's main building at 1401 E. First St., will continue to be "fully occupied," Getchell said, along with three additional structures on the 1400 block of East Second Street. Staff currently based in the Damiano Center and in the Salo building at 15 E. First St. will move into the Fourth Street building when it's ready, he said.

The plan is to do that by Thanksgiving, Getchell said.

The main HDC building was constructed in the 1960s, but the program outgrew its 15,000 square feet soon after, Getchell said. That led to expansion into the three Second Street buildings, with about 10,000 square feet of space combined. But as staff and the need for mental health services have grown, the buildings have been "bursting at the seams," he said.

Purchase of the Fourth Street building closed on July 3, according to the news release.

Getchell said HDC is investing $1.3 million between purchase and renovation. The lower floor of the building, which opens to an alley, will be used to store medical records, he said.

The new location will allow HDC clients to access its community services under one roof, said to help clients find jobs and housing, develop basic skills and consult with a case manager.

Although the main HDC building is about six blocks from the new location, both are in the medical district, Getchell said. And the Fourth Street building is conveniently located on the same block as the Family Medical Clinic.

DSGW is architect for the project, and Donald Holm Construction is the lead contractor.