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Duluth Council gets glimpse of Town Center plan

The Duluth Council got its first glimpse Monday of a plan for the Duluth Town Center, a proposed mixed-use redevelopment of the block around City Hall.

Architects for potential developers the Milestone Group and its partner Coro Realty Advisors presented renderings of the redeveloped block bounded by West Lawrenceville Main Street, Hill Street and Abbotts Bridge Road to the council. The redevelopment was proposed by the developers in response to a Request for Proposal asked for by the city.

The Duluth Downtown Development Authority recommended the council consider the plan at a called meeting Oct. 2, according to DDA member Shelly Howard, who introduced Mike Maschmeyer representing Milestone and Bill Bartlett representing Coro Realty Advisors.

Existing buildings on the block would be razed with the exception of the original church that houses the present Duluth City Hall on West Lawrenceville Street. A new City Hall overlooking the Town Green is under construction.

Architect John Abbott, a partner in the firm of Stevens & Wilkinson Stang & Newdow Inc., which was hired by the developers to draw up the redevelopment plan, said the plan includes office, commercial and residential uses. Abbott said City Hall would be used in an arts/community-related function, possibly as artist studios. He was assisted with the presentation by Robert A. Bartlett, another member of the architectural firm.

The plan features a 2,900-square-foot restaurant and a two-story commercial development fronting West Lawrenceville Street that would include retail shops on the street level with offices on the second level. A pub or smaller restaurant would be located at the corner of West Lawrenceville and Main streets. On Main Street, there would be one level of commercial buildings topped by office space. The architecture would be "comparable in style, scale and materials in the immediate area of downtown Duluth," Abbott said.

In addition, three levels of condominiums would be built on Abbotts Bridge Road. Development on Hill Street would consist of one or two levels of condos over one level of retail space. Secure self-parking would be located underneath each condo development.

Also, a 15-foot sidewalk with trees and landscaping would encircle the block, Abbott said.

A two-level parking deck would be built in the center of the block with the lower level depressed into the land, Abbott said.

Cliff Cross was introduced as the new director of planning and development for the city. Cross, who started in his new position Oct. 1, was previously planning director in Kankakee, IL.

By unanimous 5-0 vote, the council decided against applying for a $64,000 grant from the Georgia Emergency Management Agency for an independent Repeater System and additional radios to allow the Duluth Police Department's Command Center to operate in areas where all communications are down in the case of a major disaster or terror attack.

Councilwoman Marsha Bomar, who made the motion to deny the request, said that such situations were unlikely to occur in Duluth, and the funds could better be used for daily city needs. The city would have been required to provide an additional $12,000, which would have come from drug-related confiscation funds, to obtain the grant.