Home > Kozy, Old Jail Form Alliance to Help Fund Housing Projects
Kozy, Old Jail Form Alliance to Help Fund Housing Projects
Thursday, October 17, 2013
FOX 21 News, KQDS-DT
DULUTH - New developments unfolded Wednesday involving the future of two historic buildings in Duluth that have been vacant for years -- the Kozy building and the old St. Louis County Jail.The developers from the separate projects are forming a strategic alliance to better attract financing opportunities.The developers say they're 90 percent there, but they need the city's Housing Redevelopment Authority to use its state bonding power to complete a combination of 80 units of affordable workforce housing."The Kozy is right now negative space for the community. It's dead space. It's blighted property," said Mike Conlan, with the Kozy property.Conlan is the former director of planning and development with the city of Duluth. He's now the main man behind restoring the historic Kozy property into 40 units of affordable workforce housing."Usually, efficiency one bedrooms go for about 540 bucks a month," Conlan.Grant Carlson is the man behind the restoration of the historic St. Louis County Jail. He, too, wants to flip the place into 40 affordable workplace housing units, but there's a problem they're both facing."Whether you're talking market-rate housing or affordable housing or work force housing -- whatever that product is -- it's a difficult scale, so it makes a lot of sense to really team up with another project of similar size," Carlson said.And that's exactly what the men are doing, not as business partners, but rather a strategic alliance -- applying for funding as one project with 80 units of housing. And they're hoping the city and the Housing Redevelopment Authority will use its power to fill the financial gap of $1.5 million."Successful downtowns have that mix of energy and people living there and having that personal investment there," Conlan said.Councilor Sharla Garnder represents the downtown district and said she is more on board than ever before with this latest push to finally make something happen with the vacant buildings."What these two guys are doing and attempting to do is really a service to our community, and I think we're going to be looking back at this and be very grateful," Gardner said.But Conlan stresses, at least in the Kozy building's case, the clock is ticking in the 11th hour."With the Kozy building in particular though, the clock is running and the building is rather fragile," Conlan said.The two developers have not yet to formally meet with the city or the Housing Redevelopment Authority on their new alliance and request for financial help.