Task Force to Improve Downtown Duluth Reports Progress

Increasing concerns had prompted a search for solutions

Concerns about downtown Duluth’s future and its direction prompted a task force last fall to look at the issues. Monday, members said they feel good about what has happened so far.

The task force said progress has been made in several areas, including dealing with the issues of mental health resources, selecting businesses for improved lighting, a meeting in May to study the skywalk system, and a housing study expected to be completed in the next three or four months.

Adam Fulton, Deputy Director of Planning and Economic Development, said, “We need to understand the dynamics of our housing market, and the things that influence our housing market.”

“Such as vacancy of other structures, the opportunities within those vacant structures that can be converted to housing, and where do we have possibilities that might lead to other uses that are adjacent to that, and how does that influence our housing market? Such as tourism-related activities and things of that nature,” Fulton said.

Task force members said downtowns across the country have noticed fewer people since COVID. In Duluth, they estimate that about fifty or sixty percent are back. Meanwhile, the square footage for housing downtown is up about thirteen percent.

The president of Downtown Duluth, Kristi Stokes, said there is a sense of turning the corner downtown, after surviving three years of Superior Street construction, and the pandemic.

“There’s this kind of ‘coming back’ feeling for our downtown, and it has been a long-time coming, and it feels really good,” Stokes said.


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