DEDA Approves Skywalk Expansion

Expansion Will Connect HART District, Fond du Luth Casino to Skywalk

DULUTH, Minn. – The Duluth Economic Development Authority (DEDA) approved a proposal Wednesday to expand the city’s Skywalk system.

Wednesday’s approval by DEDA Commissioners was the first step needed in expanding Skywalk. The plan will expand the Skywalk along the 100 block of E. Superior Street and down to the Historic Arts and Theatre District.  DEDA will now contract local architectural firm LHB to come up with a design over the next couple months, with construction bids going out in 2018.
According to officials, existing businesses along the proposed expansion will play a big part in the final plans.

“Those affected property owners that would be a part of this, they all need to be at the table too, and we all need to agree to terms and that will take time,” said DEDA Executive Director Heather Rand.

The proposed expansion will also connect the HART District parking ramp to the Skywalk. Groups like the Duluth’s Greater Downtown Council are excited by what an expanded Skywalk means for attracting more business to Downtown Duluth.

“Being able to have an additional tool, such as a connected Skywalk to the parking structures is a great benefit for those businesses looking,” said Greater Downtown Council President Kristi Stokes. “We’ve heard that from some looking at downtown already.”

Initial estimates put the expansion’s price tag between $5-10 million. Rand says the city will look at using tax increment finance district money, and DEDA could sell property to raise money. Federal and state grants are also options, but about half the cost will fall on businesses along the expansion.

“Cost is a big factor,” said Rand. “We will be asking the affected property owners who will benefit from this, and hopefully their businesses would enjoy some increased activity, to contribute towards this.”

The Skywalk expansion would also include the Fond du Luth Casino downtown. Rand says the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, who owns the casino, has already reached out to LHB.

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