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Duluth discusses downtown development, addition to theater

Downtown Duluth, Taylor Park

Downtown Duluth, Taylor Park

DULUTH -- The mayor and city council put plans in motion that will continue to enhance the development of the downtown area.

From looking at the feasibility of a hotel in the downtown area, redevelopment and an addition to the Red Clay Theatre, Monday's work session discussed it all.

The biggest discussion came for the addition to the Red Clay Theatre.

In between the theater and Pure Taqueria (a Mexican restaurant) is an area where the Downtown Development Authority believed a multi-purpose building could be built.

After much discussion, the DDA and city council agreed that a basement (below street level), main level for a tavern and a roof-top dining area would be the best route to go. Four floors were also discussed, but the fact that a reconfiguration of the Red Clay roof would have had to happen if it was four floors, due to water drainage.

With six feet between each building, the plan calls for 39 feet of buildable area with 2,400 square feet for the street-level floor and the roof top.

"I'm OK with it as long as it doesn't tower over the other buildings," Councilman Jim Dugan said.

Downtown redevelopment was also discussed in which the mayor and council discussed a two-step process for seeking developers interested in constructing a village scale urban retail and restaurant district, and high quality urban residential neighborhoods.

"We're looking for someone with specific experience," City Planning Director James Riker said. "We want someone who has experience in retail and restaurant redevelopment, located in the southeast. We don't want someone who thinks they can do it; we want someone who has actually done it before and understands the dynamics of a city of our size."

The two stages are a request for qualifications, which the city staff hopes to send out in the next week, and a request for proposal, which would be submitted by companies who passed the city's qualifications on the RFQ.

The council also heard a hotel/motel study presented by Hank Staley of PKF Consulting.

The site gaining the most favorable reviews was in the downtown area on West Lawrenceville Street.

"We're assuming a few things with this," Staley said. "The redevelopment projects have to have some sort of sex appeal to it. If it weren't for the redevelopment, we wouldn't be having this conversation."