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Duluth mulls over site for proposed new library

It's a nice problem to have. Duluth leaders are delving into the process of siting a new library.

Officials are looking at three downtown sites and will make a recommendation to the Gwinnett County Public Library Board.

At a council meeting Monday night, the mayor, Duluth City Council members, the Downtown Development Authority and residents expressed differing opinions on the suitability of the sites and whether to recommend one, two or all three to the library board.

Library officials have expressed interest in building a new Duluth library in an urban setting of mixed uses, according to Chris McGahee, the city's economic development manager.

The proposed 22,000-square-foot library would replace the existing 10,000-square-foot Duluth Public Library at 3480 Park Lane, reportedly the most heavily used library per square foot in the Gwinnett County system. It has been estimated that the new library would generate about 1,000 vehicle trips a day and increase foot traffic in downtown Duluth.

The city has offered to provide the site for the library construction from the following:

· In the proposed redevelopment of the old City Hall block, which includes office, retail and residential uses. The DDA voted 3-2 at its March 17 meeting to recommend this site.

· A five-acre site on Main Street adjacent to the new Duluth Downtown office/retail building, across the street from the new Duluth City Hall.

· A three-acre site on Hill Street next to the Town Green behind the new City Hall. On the Hill Street site, the library could possibly be developed as part of a three- or four-story office/retail building and a one- or two-level parking deck.

The city owns most of the property in the proposed redevelopment project. It would have to purchase the Main Street or Hill Street property.

The Red Clay Theatre and Arts Center had been considered a fourth site, but was eliminated because it's too small.