NorShor and Temple Opera Block

On Saturday Eric Ringsred signed a purchase agreement to sell the Temple Opera Building, NorShor Theatre, and NorShor Annex to DEDA for $2.6 million.  The sale is contingent on approval by DEDA and the Council.  It’s my intent to make the NorShor the crown jewel of the downtown, to make it the center of a regional arts and entertainment district.

There is a lot of discussion on this, let me fill in with a few thoughts:

1) It’s important to point out that we are NOT using city general fund dollars that could be used for streets, libraries, or general services.  The dollars we are using are dedicated for economic development and specifically to the redevelopment of the downtown waterfront.  In my mind, there is no other expenditure that would make a more positive impact on downtown than the purchase and rehab of the NorShor.

2)  This is a fair price for both the City and Eric.  Given our analysis on comp value with other recently sold buildings and of historic theaters in the state (and in consideration of the condition of the building) we estimate the value to be between 2.5-2.8 million.  Eric has turned down more money for individual pieces in the past.

3)  All of the leases in the Temple Opera and NorShor Annex will be honored.  There is a great mix of office and retail tenants there and we want that to continue.  As a former tenant of Eric’s (when Laura and I started Vintage Duluth) I know that he treated his tenants fairly.  It is my goal that we continue that.

4)  The City is committed to making the theater a center for the arts and to working with local arts organizations (absolutely including the Playhouse) to create and support that vision.  It is a bit premature to state what the Playhouse’s position is since they have not yet discussed it within their board.  But clearly Eric wants to see the Playhouse involved down there, so do I.

5)  It’s my goal to work with a private arts organization to run a capital campaign to raise $2 to 2.5 million to support the renovation.  Since it is in public ownership, the project would be eligible to seek state bonding funds as a match to the private donations / foundation support.  Imagine what we could do with a full $5 million renovation of this theater and restoration of the historic building!

6)  Eric Ringsred, Tim Nelson, and Rod Raymond all deserve a lot of credit for making this happen.  Rod & Tim assisted in starting the conversations and exploring various ideas.  Eric loves these buildings, he has put his life into them, but in the end, I think he saw the value of what we are proposing.  And he was willing to do his part.

7)  If you support this, let your city council know it.  Drop a line to council@duluthmn.gov and let them know why you support it.  The Council will meet next Monday night and will consider this agreement.  If it passes, the closing will occur on May 14th.

8)  The NorShor will continue to operate until that time, including the Retribution Gospel Choir and TBT shows on Saturday night of Homegrown.  I’m looking forward to that show as the start of a new era at the NorShor – a re-commitment to the arts in the NorShor.

Feel free to e-mail me at dness@duluthmn.gov if you have any follow up questions.

I think this is a very exciting day for Duluth and for downtown arts.  There are so many positive things happening in Old Downtown, this is going to add to that momentum.

Don

53 Comments

edgeways

about 5 years ago

Thanks Mr. Mayor. Without straying into gushing, I will say I think this is an excellent piece of news, and share the excitement of the possibility of a renovated and restored Norshor. Cheers

Danny

about 5 years ago

My only question: What will happen to all of the now-unemployed strippers?

eco eco

about 5 years ago

Really, it's like stealing the shirts off their backs. But great news for everyone else.

Jay & Sara Monson

about 5 years ago

Music to my ears. Way to go, Mayor and team!

wildgoose

about 5 years ago

In 2005 Mayor (then councilor) Ness really stuck his neck out and pleaded with a deeply entrenched, (and ultimately inflexible) Fire Marshall to keep the NorShor open during my short, eventful, financially disastrous, but culturally successful run of the place. Without going into all of that here I just want to put that basic fact out there as evidence that the mayor really cares about the NorShor, and that he has for about as long as I have known him. Further, his theory of using it as a centerpiece of downtown revitalization and economic development is completely sound. This is a good investment.

hbh1

about 5 years ago

God yeah. This made me cry.

rediguana

about 5 years ago

Previous owners have not been able to stay in the black with this thing, but the city will? Granted, it's not as big as the aquarium, and something a lot of people are a lot more attached to. But although the money doesn't come from the city's general fund, DEDA does live mostly on city dollars, does it not? City dollars that *could* be redirected by the council were there the political will to do so. It's all about whose priorities get taken care of--city workers' and service-using citizens', or the business community's. I think it's obvious who gets the short end of the stick. To paraphrase last year's expression, I guess we have a clear definition of what "core services" means to this administration.

The Phantom

about 5 years ago

I'll release the prisoners now. Rediguana, I'm sending Ringsred's monkey after you. Yes! It will take herculean efforts, civic sacrifice/support and lots of $$ ... but at least, it can finally start. The WPA worker guys on the stairwell are cracking plaster smiles.

Tom

about 5 years ago

The only way this could be better is if Don convinced the IRS to give the city the $8,000 first time home buyers tax refund for signing a purchase agreement before April 30th.

bully

about 5 years ago

They would only get $6,500 because they are an existing home buyer. That might cover the cost to replace the light bulbs in the sign.

@ndy

about 5 years ago

I am happy to know that the Norshor may soon be in the hands of folks able and willing to restore it to its previous splendor. However, I don't understand how the buildings came to be valued at $2.6 million. So far as I can tell, the City Assessor's office determined the Norshor/Temple Opera Block buildings to be worth just under $1 million. In 2001 the city sought to purchase the Norshor, Temple Opera Block, and the Bridgeman-Russell buildings for a total of $1.4 million, but DEDA denied funding. What has happened in the past 9 years to make those same buildings, minus the Bridgeman-Russell building, more than double in value? I fundamentally don't understand the worth of this project from an economic development standpoint. So far as I can tell, nobody is stating that the city will recoup its investment. Moreover, I haven't heard anyone articulate a viable business plan whereby the Norshor will be self-sustaining without the city having to pay its operating expenses. While I understand the desire to remove the eyesore that the Norshor has become, how is that worth $2.6 million? Frankly, downtown seems to be doing rather well as of late despite the Norshor's demise. I would much rather see the city spending tax dollars on projects that are going to increase its tax base, create jobs, or otherwise improve the local economy and I fail to see how buying the Norshor does that. It seems to me that people are supporting this for sentimental and aesthetic reasons rather than the realistic economic impacts the project is likely to have. I trust that if you feel I am totally off base or factually incorrect that you will kindly correct me. Also, I must add that if Don and/or other supporters can explain how the city will recoup its investment I will be happy to jump on board.

midlle-aged-guy

about 5 years ago

@ndy, assesed value should not to be confused with market value, as it can be as much as 50% less than actual value. These numbers must be taken from the selling price of similar properties sold in the last 6 months.

baci

about 5 years ago

DEDA is buying the Norshor. Re-vitalization of old downtown IS investment in unique resources only we have. The legacy (and remaining) old architecture which is the character of our town. Buildings like these will never be built again and they are worth preserving. They represent the flavor and character which will continue to draw creative and vibrant people to this area. It's going to be a long uphill slog to get the old lady singing again but, as the Phantom says, at least now we can start.

wildgoose

about 5 years ago

Andy, With deepest love and affection I will partly correct you. I say "partly" because I, too, think $2.6 million is a bit high, but it is not out of the ball park. The addition of the Sheraton, the purchase of the Hotel Duluth by the Sheraton, the new Black Woods contract to run Greysolon (and add the Black Water lounge) and ESPECIALLY the addition of the Zeppa properties in that block have all increased the value of the property. Oh, and Tim Nelson and Rod Raymond are restoring the old jail building which is kitty corner and also they just signed a purchase agreement for the old Carlson Book building. I also wanted to add that I think it will be economically viable to run but it took too much space to do that so I stopped. Plus, I haven't seen the plans yet or the business plan for the theater so I can only guess at that. But if they are doing the obvious things, then trust trust me, it will work.

Al

about 5 years ago

Obviously? Like the zoo, the aquarium, renting the NW building to Cirrus (at mighty cheap rent, which they still couldn't pay), etc. "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."

Bret

about 5 years ago

Any news on what the Carlson Book and Record building will be used for?

wildgoose

about 5 years ago

Maybe I was wrong about obvious. I meant the obvious things to ... well, me, anyway. I don't know what is planned for the Carlson's place. I can't even guess. How about a used book and record shop?

girlfromnorthcountry

about 5 years ago

Thank you, Mayor Ness. You rock my face off!!

@ndy

about 5 years ago

I found this quote from when the city wanted to purchase the Norshor/Temple Opera Block in 2001 from the DNT's 'Attic' and it pretty much sums up my opinion: "When I look at the idea of putting together a plan involving public money to restore that whole area and to preserve and enhance the potentialities of that area, it's very exciting. My problem is that the way this has been presented so far. It's a heart-throb idea, but there's nothing there to see it works economically - that it makes sense." - City Councilor Ken Hogg Click here to see the DNT's 'Attic' site.

baci

about 5 years ago

Living in Duluth in the winter is an impractical idea, but that hasn't stopped us silly monkeys yet. I appreciate pragmatism and acknowledge that the approach to renovation needs to be practical and sustainable. We so often forget history. Yeah the building has challenges, and it's not going to be cheap to bring it online. But don't forget the history here. It's never had organized community oversight. Single individuals have, some valiantly, some despicably, tried to make it work. Harlan Quist's Theater in the State "nonprofit" was a sham attempt at community governance of the space, more an excuse to support his lifestyle than anything and soured the powers that be to this day. I firmly believe that when there is true community-driven vision, oversight, governance, effort and support, the facility will thrive as a linchpin and epicenter. The key to economic viability is being a community focused, multi-use venue and an intelligent/energy efficient renovation, (and a cool bar/vibe/stage in the mezzanine -- IMHO). With due respect, I say onto you nattering neigh-bobs, Ni!

Rob

about 5 years ago

Andy et al- I don't know anything more about the city's plans other than what was in the press release. I have questions similar to some of yours but I'm optimistic that the Mayor will sort through the issues to maximize the benefit to Duluth. What I know for sure is that the price is a moving target and is dependent on so many variables that we'll never know. And more importantly within the context of a change of use, or a historic renovation the price becomes even more difficult to pin down. The question becomes what will the building be worth after the renovations are made and after the use has been changed. Your comment about the $1.4M years ago - just because someone offers that price doesn't mean that it will be accepted. And sure enough...it wasn't. There isn't a building downtown, BEFORE renovation, that is worth much more than a dollar. Why? The cost to bring these old buildings up to code is so astronomical. Another thing I know for sure is that the market cannot sustain the renovation of old buildings without outside forces. Whether it's New Market Tax Credits, Historical Tax Credits, Storefront loans, DEDA subsidies , TIF or straight up philanthropy - you absolutely wouldn't see ANYONE succeed in fixing up their buildings if it wasn't for these incentives. If you go down the list of both big and small developments in historic downtown you'll see a mix of the above forces: Bridgeman Russell; DEDA and HTC. Tech Village; DEDA subsidy. Wieland block; TIF, DEDA, NMTC. Sheraton; DEDA, NMTC. Zeitgeist; philanthropy. I'm not sure exactly about the small developments: DSGW Architects, Fetus, Fanny Rose, Old City Jail, Intrepid Building, Woodrush (Charter), or Whittaker (next to Carmody) but I'm sure if you asked the owners they'd confirm my point - they're either upside down or had outside help (or both). For the Mayor to see that the Norshor / TOB is an important piece of the puzzle downtown is huge. The fact that he was successful negotiating with Ringsred, after so many have tried and failed is remarkable. Opportunities like this don't come around that often and good for the Mayor - he knew he had to strike while the iron was hot. Just think if Ringsred sat on that building and let it deteriorate for another decade. It may have been lost forever. Or more importantly it would have sat there for a decade making the success of the surrounding area EVEN MORE challenging. The benefit, purely from an economic point of view is that the Norshor's renovation will help to increase the value of the surrounding buildings. By making the downtown more desirable, more people want to be there, which means condos sell and rents increase, which means more tax base. That is the economic benefit. What I hope happens next is that the community rallies their support and the theatre can be turned over to a good steward. I'd also like to see the TOB office building resold to a private developer. If I were the Mayor, now that the hard part is done, I'd be working to get the city out of the ownership business and quickly take the credit for the economic development involvement. With the right mix of outside forces I think the city can come out pretty close to even and have a ton to show for it.

Tony D.

about 5 years ago

Thanks, Donny! And Tim and Rod, and whoever else helped put this together, and to Eric for doing what I believe is best for the building. Is there any chance that the tower still exists, stored away in some sub-sub-basement, perhaps? That would be a great touch to the building's renovation. So, let's recap the past year or so: the Nor Shor looks like it will be saved, the Old County Jail was saved, Rod and Tim are restoring the old facade on the Old City Hall, there's finally a valid idea for using the Armory, and the State passed legislation providing another 20% tax credit for restoring historic buildings (matching the Feds 20% for a total of 40%). And of course the Zinema/Zeitgeist have freshened up some old building as well (and they thankfully left the terra cotta on the old Red Lion), and the building the Coney Island is in got a nice facelift, as did the old Charter building next to Carmody. And I bet I'm missing others. Well I for one am just tickled!

Resol

about 5 years ago

Yes, the good news just keeps coming. Thanks to all those who made this happen.

Madisonian

about 5 years ago

Holy sh*t! I advocated this direction in another post here about the Norshor on PDD many, many months ago. I'm ecstatic to see Duluth head in this direction and take ownership of this jewel as an investment in the creative economy. Congrats and great work!!!!!

wildgoose

about 5 years ago

Tony D: I completely agree we need to bring back the tower. Picture yourself driving downtown Minneapolis and how cool the State Theater and the Orpheum look. Now picture that being old downtown Duluth! And our Historic NorShor! Sure, the facade is just, well, a facade, but it really IS important. We are talking about using this as a symbol, after all. (But not just a symbol, naturally we need the substance, too.)

Paul Lundgren

about 5 years ago

The issue of the old sign brings up an interesting question. If a sign violates the city's sign ordinance, can it be grandfathered in if it previously existed, but hasn't been up in over 30 years?

@ndy

about 5 years ago

Rob: Just for the record, Ringsred did accept the price offered in 2001. It was DEDA that decided to only purchase the Bridgeman-Russell building.

Barrett Chase

about 5 years ago

I'll be happy if they just take down that godawful Orpheum sign on the avenue.

@ndy

about 5 years ago

Rob: Just for the record, Ringsred accepted the $1.4 million offered in 2001. It was DEDA that decided not to approve the purchase of all 3 buildings and instead only purchased the Bridgeman-Russell building.

adam

about 5 years ago

Boo says he thinks the tower was still in existence about 10 years ago. And how much did DEDA sell the Bridgeman-Russell building for?

Rob

about 5 years ago

Andy- I'm not sure that Ringsred did accept the offer (an offer that didn't materialize because of the DEDA vote) I guess we'll never know if he would have or would not have accepted it - but at least several people involved, including Mayor Ness, believe that Ringsred had no intention of selling. The likely story based on the vote was that the idea was Conlan's unilaterally. Adam- I think after unsuccessfully trying to find a viable developer for the Bridgeman Russell building DEDA agree to give it to A&L if they'd agree to build what the city wanted - a historic restoration and conversion to market rate housing. I'm pretty sure that A&L agreed to the deal so that they could get their hands on the vacant lot across from the Tech Village which they had tried to buy for years. (the Strand site) In case it was lost in my babble above...I think the Mayor is making the right decision to buy this from Ringsred. Economic development is politically charged, and expensive. The Norshor is key piece of downtown for many reasons. The status quo wasn't doing anybody any good. My hope is that the Mayor can now find someone to step in and do the redevelopment of the Temple Opera and Annex and find a viable nonprofit for the theater. The city should not try to be in either of those businesses. Economic development - yes. Longterm ownership - no.

Tony D.

about 5 years ago

Adam, I believe the Bridgeman Russel building sold to A&E for $1 American, and that was after the former city planner who purchased the building for the city left and went to work for A&L. Same deal with the Strand site. A&L also got DEDA money and a TIFF zone for the Hayes-Weiland project in part by promising to build an entrance to Lake Place Park through the old muffler shop location--but now the lot is up for sale. Other plans promised to DEDA and the planning commission changed after that deal went through, including omission of the open courtyard that was cited as a reason for tearing down the Costello Building. This is my understanding and may not be 100% accurate.

bud

about 5 years ago

Does all this mean the Norshor will go back to having a balcony? One big theater again? That's the only thing renovation could be. I sure hope so. I liked the Norshor when it was a big huge place with a balcony.

Danny

about 5 years ago

Alright. I talked about this today on Danny Does Duluth a bit (and sort of made fun of myself in the process) but there is something about this situation that bothers me. Obviously it's a little odd that Ringsred is so buddy-buddy with the city just a month after he blamed them for his friend's death. Which is fine, I don't pretend to know the whole story there and I don't pretend to. However, I wanted to read the original open letter he wrote where he mentioned the "blood on their hands" in reference to both the city and local media. I remembered it being posted in it's entirety on the Buzz, so I went there to bring it up. It has been taken down. In fact, it's kind of difficult to even find the letter with a Google search. My opinion on the sale to the city has nothing to do with this. In fact, I'm glad that this cool old building will be brought back to decent shape (odd that nobody seems too upset about all of the cool old buildings that are being demo'ed for a new Walgreens, however). I'm just a little "ooged-out" at the idea appearance of a pseudo-media black-out on a related story from just one month ago.

adam

about 5 years ago

"...that's the only thing renovation could be." Surly you jest.

Rob

about 5 years ago

Tony - You are partially correct, A&L did get TIF funds for the Wieland Block. It also got a loan for $600k from the storefront loan program. It also applied for and received New Market Tax Credits. So none of those things cost the city any money. (Including the TIF, which in this case was structured as a partial annual refund of the incremental increase in the real estate taxes A&L pays that resulted from the project being built.) The only thing that could be seen as a handout was the Strand site. I have no idea what the city paid for the Strand site. What I do know is that the city had a specific idea of what it wanted there and A&L was willing to go along with that. (Or vice versa - it really doesn't matter because they agreed.) So to recap, in addition to the almost $30 million they have into the Tech Village, A&L has spent between the renovation of the Hayes Building (Lizzards), the four-story Traphagen, the Wieland new construction, the underground parking garage and the Skywalk, more than $20 million (American as you say) and what did the city have to contribute? The land at the Strand site - a site that sat vacant for more than a decade. As far as your comment about Conlan? A&L hired a dozen consultants, including Conlan's consulting firm (which he started after he left the city) to work on this project. A&L hired lawyers, architects, bond counsel, engineering firms, environmental consultants, CDCs, CDEs, general contractors, realtors, me, shit, they even contracted out Bruce to empty the building. As far as the Muffler Clinic now? It's absurd that the city hasn't built the connection to Lake Place Park. The entire park was designed to funnel into Old Downtown and bridge the city and the Lakewalk. The Feds built an overpass right up to the edge of the Muffler Clinic and all the city had to do was buy it and spend, what was then maybe a few hundred thousand dollars to extend the park another 100 feet - and presto - a direct landscaped connection from the new Lakewalk to the heart of Downtown. THAT WAS IN 1989! Think of how nice it would be to have that. You could have live music, summertime vendors, maybe an ice cream stand, I don't know maybe something that would lure the countless lakewalkers to Downtown. Instead we have the MNDOT elevated walkways retro fitted behind the buildings on the lower side of Superior Street that only a handful of office walkers and bums use. Previous administrations had tried unsuccessfully to purchase the Muffler Clinic. On the request of a previous administration A&L acquired the property, did the demolition, cleanup and prepped the site. The handshake fell apart when the administration couldn't come up with the money or political will to buy the property and make the pedestrian corridor. So A&L waited. Then during the discussions about what A&L would build across the street from the Tech Village, some of the participants asked that A&L give the city two more years to come up with the money to fund the Muffler Clinic (Lake Place Park) connection. A&L agreed. The two years have been up for some time. (All of this is in the Development Agreement which should be on file at the city.) Why is A&L now trying to sell the site? I don't know maybe because the city hasn't delivered on it's end of the bargain and they want to recoup the $1 million they have into it. I really don't know. Your other claims about promises broken? I don't know what meetings you were at, who told you what or who spun what at the HPC. I just know what is in the Development Agreement. (And that A&L needed to tear the Abalan's Building down to make room for parking - something I fear we'll never agree on.)

Lord Phosphorus

about 5 years ago

The Earth's crust under Duluth may suffer severe seismological trauma due to the sudden displacement of trillions of tons of silicone once the strippers are forced to relocate to greener pastures and the thousands of gentlemen must find another club to engage their lofty activities at.

wildgoose

about 5 years ago

Is Rob, Rob Link?

Paul Lundgren

about 5 years ago

Is Wildgoose Rich Gossage? The answers are no and no.

Tony D.

about 5 years ago

Rob, I appreciate your lengthy reply, and I'm guessing you're right on many points, but that whole deal was hinky from the get go. Remember, the whole thing started when Rob L. said he wanted to "tear down those ugly old buildings," that were blocking his view from the tech Center. So "saving"" the Hayes and Wieland was never A&L's intent, they were pressured into doing it. Not that I'm not happy with the way the Hayes & Wieland turned out, they look great--but the Costello ("Abalans" as you call it) did not have to come down to make that a successful project. The Costello Building was in much better shape then either the Hayes or Wieland, but the Environmental Impact Worksheet was not truthful in its description of the property. A&L cited parking and an open courtyard between the Weiland and the new condos (I do not have a problem with the Strand coming down for this) as the reasons the Costello had to come down (along with inaccurate descriptions of the building's physical condition). Parking needs for the project were not based on Planning Commission congestion projections--the A&L-built parking ramp attached to the Tech Center was deemed sufficient to handle business parking. Parking under the new condos was not a planning maneuver to improve the city, it was a selling point to move high-end condos. But like you say, we'll never agree on that. One of the biggest issues I have on that project was the Environmental Impact Worksheet. By law, it is to be written by a third party and paid for by the seller, in this case, the City. Instead, the City allowed A&L, the buyer, to complete the worksheet. Then, at the Planning Commission vote on the EIW, the assistant city attorney misinformed the Planning Commission: they could have accepted the EIW, rejected it, or sent it back for revision (as was the request of the HPC since vital information was missing or just plain inaccurate (and some changes proposed were actually to A&L's advantage). Instead she told them they either vote yes and the project goes through or vote no and kill it, and no one wanted the project stopped, just redefined. So it passed, and then, because the EIW wasn't properly prepared, A&L had to make some backdoor maneuvers. By the way, the Planning Commissions minutes for that meeting, including mention of the vote passing the EIS, was written and presented to the public BEFORE the meeting took place, so do a little math there. It seemed fairly clear to me that A&L has (or had, at that time) the Planning Commission and DEDA in its back pocket. But then, that's just my opinion. I could go on, but this thread was supposed to be about the potentially exciting things happening to the Nor Shor, and we've hijacked it with this topic long enough. Let's get back to the point: Boo, where did you see that tower?

hbh1

about 5 years ago

I believe I heard from Eric R. himself that the tower was still somewhere. In the basement? In his warehouse in Superior? I believe he said his wife wouldn't let him trash it.

rediguana

about 5 years ago

I'm not saying the city shouldn't take part in any downtown restoration efforts. I know people are excited about the prospect of saving/restoring the NorShor. But my point is, if there is money in the city's piggy bank for purchasing and developing business properties, then there ought to be money there to take care of the services we already have that add to the quality of life and have been severely curtailed, supposedly for lack of funds. I'm talking about taking care of parks. I'm talking about after-school and summer programs for youth that keep them occupied doing something positive and fun (and no, pricey YMCA camps are not a substitute for free city programs). I'm talking about having a full complement of libraries open 5 days a week to serve Duluthians in their neighborhoods. $2.6 million can go a long way in any of these fields. We could be investing it in our youth, which many studies have shown gives about the best economic return on investment there is. Instead we are investing in a building and not even trying to break even, so that a few artsy businesses can turn a profit.

rediguana

about 5 years ago

A couple other things bothering me about this: Baci and others have talked about how great this is for the "community," using words like "community oversight" and "community-driven vision." This purchase agreement is the farthest thing possible from "community-driven." It is a backroom deal between a couple of guys who think they run Duluth, which was just announced as happening and is being served up to city council for their rubberstamp at the next meeting with no time to really consider the implications. This sort of boy's club deal and the pressure to act quickly nullifies community input and violates democratic process in the extreme. It profanes the community. Also, though I usually consider Danny a bit off his rocker, in this case I think he brings up an interesting point. Just what is the relationship between this deal and Ringsred's accusations of slander against the city?

Claire

about 5 years ago

RedIguana makes some excellent points about how the city is buying cake when what we need is bread, but I do believe that the revitalization of Old Downtown is a good thing, and that the purchase of the Norshor will, in the long run, greatly benefit all of us. It's going to take time, but this kind of investment will make our community a more appealing place to live, and hopefully, draw more families, more companies, more members of the creative class, here to Duluth -- which in turn will add to the tax rolls, which will then add to all of our quality of life, b/c the city will be better able to provide essential services. What is the alternative? A dilapidated eyesore sitting in the middle of what is becoming a very cool area, simply deteriorating, b/c no one is taking care of it. No thanks. As several have pointed out previously on the Norshor threads here and elsewhere, the city of Fargo rehabbed a grand old theatre downtown -- which sparked a downtown renaissance which made Fargo a more attractive place to live. And then there's Omaha, which renovated its meatpacking district, which also sparked a downtown renaissance. I know people from NYC who have moved to Omaha, b/c it's become such a cool place to live. I see the same kind of thing happening here -- and Duluth already has so much more going for it than Fargo or Omaha. BTW, It seems to me, reading Dr. Ringsred's letter in today's paper, that there's a spirit of competitiveness. He knows that area is being revitalized, with or without him, because of Zeppa's venture across the street. Ringsred can't compete with Zeppa, and he doesn't want Zeppa to get all the credit, so he's getting out of the way, and letting Raymond and Nelson go at it. Great. Wish he'd done this years ago -- though I do appreciate the cheap rent I pay for my little office in the Temple Opera Block.

Terry G.

about 5 years ago

I also think the information about the Skywalk link and cost is crucial. The cost to the City for the Skywalk link to SMDC would be outrageous without this purchase. Secondly, the long-term ramifications with the casino contract negotiations is a huge plus for this purchase. The more I hear about all these implications, the more genius I think this purchase is. Very big picture and farsighted approach.

baci

about 5 years ago

@RedIg and others in the negative, I appreciate being cautious, reasoned and sane about doing this right FOR ONCE but c'mon ... "slow down a bit" ... sounds like RNC PR to me ... this TREASURE has LANGUISHED for YEARS! The DEDA $$ cannot be spent, BYLAW, on the crucial services you mentioned above. It has to be spent on economic development. Hmmm ... maybe we could decimate another bit of forest by the mall for another TIF supported big box instead ... there's jobs for ya ... or maybe we could throw it at Canal Park ... you know, gold plate the gate they use to keep the tourists down there ... or .. maybe we could do something to continue the artistic and cultural renaissance that will retain members of the creative class AND draw visitors from the entire region. I'm biased, I love that old hulk and I'm honored to have been able to entertain people, and be entertained, there for the last 25 years.(Except for recent history because that strip club wasn't even a sad joke and I don't know how to work one of them dancing poles.) Charlie Chaplin and Chico Marx played there so STFU! Go get a super coke and buttercorn tub at the omniplex and watch car crash blow up gun fight sexyviolence movies. I'm sorry for the vitriol, skepticism is important if it's constructive, it will insure a healthy outcome ... it's just that it's disheartening to know that you can't see the positive about this.

adam

about 5 years ago

When does Car Crash Blow Up Gun Fight Sexyviolence open?

baci

about 5 years ago

Pre-production starts Saturday night of Homegrown ... RT's at 10pm.

jp rennquist aka wildgoose

about 5 years ago

Baci said: I appreciate being cautious, reasoned and sane about doing this right FOR ONCE but c’mon … “slow down a bit” … sounds like RNC PR to me … this TREASURE has LANGUISHED for YEARS! The DEDA $$ cannot be spent, BYLAW, on the crucial services you mentioned above. It has to be spent on economic development Total agreement. Total. Now, have supporters of this plan sent an email to their council members letting them know how you feel? This could be a real fight, and Chris is also right about the massive amount of DEDA $ spent on "practical" projects like Canal Park and Urban Sprawl over the hill in the last 20 years. The mayor and others are giving us a chance at a big DEDA effort that incorporates a) the arts, b) old downtown, and (most importantly) c) LOCAL Duluth and regional people's interests, creativity and passions. This does all three. Oh, one more thing, I know a lot of armchair quarterbacks have said that "the NorShor is a money pit, it'll never be profitable" As someone who has attempted to run the theater and seen its potential for sales and cashflow first-hand, I can tell you that my personal experience refutes that argument. So I strongly disagree with those statements, but I can see where people have gotten confused. The reason that it has been hard to turn a profit or operate on a sustainable budget at the NorShor is that the building needs capital improvements, once that is done, a good business plan will keep it in the black, especially if it has non-profit or governmental status and can thus access support from philanthropists, arts organizations, foundations, the MN arts/environment sales tax $ and most importantly member/consumers. Anyway, those are some of my talking points, but you can use your own. This is PDD here people, we are the hardest of the hardcore demographics that love that place, have decades of experience and there and if anyone is gonna tip the balance in favor of that project its us. Today is the time to flood the council with supportive comments: council@duluthmn.gov

Claire

about 5 years ago

I sent my email to the councilors, I do urge everyone else to do so! Wildgoose, glad you sent an email to them, you have a great perspective that most people don't have, on the building's potential, as well as its problems.

jp rennquist aka wildgoose

about 5 years ago

You know what, Claire, everyone has a NorShor story. I know because I spent 4 months hearing them every day sitting at my little wienie stand. They would walk in, tell me their story, beg to be shown around and share their wishes that it could be restored. Some people come back to Duluth just to see the theater and remember their first kisses, engagements, time with mom and dad, seeing a big star, seeing their first rock show, PLAYING their first rock show ... and it goes on and on. I could write a book (and I might). But my point is that I actually think your perspective as a tenant, among other things, is very valuable. One more thing, someone created a group on Facebook and I uploaded/tagged a few pictures, but it would be nice to get another dozen or hundred or so more up there, plus stories, links to NorShor related blogs and tales on the wall, and so on and so on. I know you've got 'em. Council votes on Monday. So ... hop to it.

mslinsa

about 5 years ago

Doesn't anybody but me think the NorShor is architecturally ugly? Being historic doesn't make it worth saving. I suggest condemning the building, tearing it down, and letting some developer with deep pockets build something new.

The Big E

about 5 years ago

A lot of people clearly don't, the end. Now, let's please leave it at that rather than fueling a giant troll-feeding frenzy.

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