Duluth’s Esmond Building Demolition Begins To Make Way For Affordable Housing, Retail

DULUTH, Minn. – The condemned Esmond Building in Duluth’s Lincoln Park neighborhood began to be demolished Wednesday to make way for a new affordable-housing development with retail space, too.

In 2014, the Housing and Redevelopment Authority created a three-step plan for the site on West Superior Street that started with maintaining the building to keep current residents satisfied.

Then Center City Housing came in to build Garfield Square for Esmond residents to move into down the street before demolition on Esmond.

“The business district of Lincoln Park deserves to have a quality building there with some additional retail space on the main level to keep the flow of the business district moving, and then three levels of housing on top, so any units we can add to our existing housing stock is very needed,” said Jill Keppers, executive director of HRA.

Staff at Free Air Life, which is an eco-friendly boutique selling clothing and goods for people who love the outdoors, said they love the transformation that’s happening in the Craft District of Lincoln Park.

“We respect the history of this building but we are just so excited to see the building come down, mostly for the purposes of moving forward, and what’s to come in the future,” Sarah Pohl, manager of Free Air Life. “Lincoln Park is building and rebuilding, and we’re just excited to see kind of the next step.”

The Esmond Building most recently went up in flames from what authorities believe was a squatter trying to stay warm.  HRA already had plans to demolish the building before that fire and two others before that, so Wednesday’s demolition ends a chapter for the Esmond, but also starts another for people looking to move and work in the area.

“The energy around here has grown and grown with the businesses moving in here, and redeveloping and the housing, and the Enger Lofts opening, and more people moving in to live in the neighborhood,” Pohl said.

“We need all areas of affordable housing, so this one is supposed to be for people that are at 80 percent of the area and median income, which generally for one-bedroom apartment, would be a nice workforce housing,” Keppers said.

The building will be fully demolished by Friday.

Construction for the new housing development is set to begin in the spring.

Categories: Business, Community, Minnesota, News, News – Latest News, Public Safety