Armory: Love it, but would also love this

I was reading the Duluth News Tribune coverage of the Duluth Armory flood damage and happened upon this comment:

I wonder if the Armory Arts Org has bitten off more than it can chew. This place is really a white elephant but that is the regretful truth. The scale of difficulties in dealing with a place of this size, age and state of disrepair – now with flood damage and other problems – It’s just not going anywhere!

An alternative would demolish the Armory and devise an arrangement that would masterplan the whole city block around a public square. Around the square, the Armory Arts Org could pursue the music and recording studio it wants in a purpose-built facility. The farmers market could relocate to the square, perhaps attracting a public food hall (bakery, butcher, fishmonger, flower market, eateries) of Northland food producers. There could be artist studios and galleries, artisans’ workshops, seasonal pop-up shops and lots of outdoor plaza space. Much needed student and artisan housing on site would make it 24/7 and give roots to the Creative Corridor.
The whole place could grow organically but adhering to design criteria and sustainability (environmentally and fiscally) with public:private financing from the city, charities, arts organizations, guilds, co-ops,developers and private benefactors.

It would really rejuvenate the east Downtown, East Hillside and anchor some really positive things there for everyone to enjoy – the young, the elderly, the craftsmen, the artists, the students, the families – Duluthians.

– Blighty

I just thought it was a very interesting thought. I live in the neighborhood and would enjoy walking the dog past this and perhaps even patronizing it.



about 12 years ago

Once Dylan finds out about this it's totally gonna happen.


about 12 years ago

The armory has certainly reached that point of not worth saving and I say that from a very preservationist perspective.  I think most people will agree that a new structure and layout will benefit everyone.  Buildings last a long time but there's nothing wrong with conceding the end and starting anew.


about 12 years ago

Once (if) the building comes down, it might be difficult to build anything new on the site because the creek underneath would require an EIS and other permitting issues that might preclude certain kinds of development.


about 12 years ago

Thank you.  I posted the comment on the DNT.
I posted a subsequent one, too more or less saying that being a historic preservationist, I said "demolish" with a heavy heart.

I just think an arts org may not have the resources to deal with all this - now the flood damage and the asbestos contamination.

Maybe it would be better for them to cut their losses and get on with their artistic pursuits.

There's the matter of the $1m donation - no doubt strings attached.  Is the anonymous benefactor still alive?  Would they approve?

I hope this starts a community conversation because I think something really worthwhile is going to happen there someday - sooner is preferable to later.


about 12 years ago

In this time of everything sustainable, one thing that is blatantly not sustainable is the armory.  Demolish this millstone around the neck of Duluth taxpayers.


about 12 years ago

Ooo I like this idea. I understand about the difficulties of the EIS, but it seems that if it was done well it could happen. Purpose-built, sustainable buildings would be wonderful for everyone. And I'm not just saying that because I've been fascinating about this sort of thing since I was a teenager.

about 12 years ago

Demolishing the armory would give me a slightly better view of the lake from my "office" window.

The armory folks bought the old Perkins/office building on the same lot a little bit ago and have been clearing the inside.

As someone who has to look at this building every. single. day., I want to see something happen to the site that will be useful and beneficial for that corner of the neighborhood. There's already a lot of development being spurred by the new Walgreens and Ace (yay!) ... which could also spur a renovation of the Plaza (it's a stretch, I know ... and then there's the Beijing/CVS issue across the street.)

I wish they'd shit or get off the pot.

about 12 years ago

A thought on the demolition issue though, that building is one gigantic superfund site just waiting to happen ... lead, asbestos, pigeon shit, godknowswhatelse ... that stuff is neither easy or cheap to clean up ... and it has to be done properly because of its proximity to the lake and the surrounding community.

Let's see how this trilogy ends, friends ... hopefully they'll be able to pull a diamond out of the rough.


about 12 years ago

I finally finished up my long awaited (by pretty much just me at this point) Strategic Plan for an open-air market on Lake Superior.  It's a pretty dense PDF.  I'm wondering (aloud) if I couldn't publish it online via PDD.  

But ... it has a lot of ideas that could be adapted to what Kodiak and In.Dog are saying about the Armaory site, although that is not the site I considered. 

Would anyone be interested in a public meeting on this material?


about 12 years ago

God I'm glad I didn't volunteer there after all.  Nothing ruins a man's sense of well being more than work down the drain.  Or the thought of knowing you just inhaled your lifetime allotment of asbestos and pigeon shit, and still got life to go.  I once caught a bat shit virus that almost took me out.  Nice if they find a way to retrofit though, old structures can be sound, but that said, anyone who's rehabbed an old structure, in my case, a beast of a Centennial Duluth Mansion, knows it is exponentially easier to build new.  Blood Sweat and Tears.


about 12 years ago

Hi Wild Goose.  I'm very interested in reading your proposal but my only reservation is "open air." Taken in a literal sense, would that run contrary to a food hall? I'm asking because an open-air market is wonderful in good weather but disastrous when it's inclement.  

Stockholm has two very good food halls (saluhalls) -- one at Haymarket (Hoejtorget) and the other in the eastern, richest quarter of town (Oestermalm). Last February, one of the seafood purveyors had a "skaldjur fest" of shellfish.  It was pricey but fantastic and took place out of hours so it was exclusive. Riedel was there to showcase their glasses and a wine/bubbly sommelier talked about the wines.  Of course, Melanders, a family run fishmongery, had several people on hand to "interpret" all the different shellfish we were served.  This was exceptional but illustrates what can be done in mid-winter indoors.

Helsinki also has a food hall on the waterside.  There you can buy seasonal berry preserves, honey, reindeer, fish, shellfish, seasonal fruit and veg and specialty foods from Finland.  Like Stockholm's foodhalls, you can sit down for a cooked meal at a number of eateries.  

It's like "from field to fork."

BTW - I advocated and proposed a wholesale/retail fish market on one of the "piers" at Bayfront with an authentic seafood restaurant and lunch counter such like they have in Seattle at Ivar's and at Pike Place Market.

about 12 years ago

Let me just say that I'm equal on either option. I'm just trying to be objective without judging the people or the process because frankly, the fate is completely out of my hands. 

Staring at the same brick wall across the street for nine years gives you some time to think about what you'd like it to become.


about 12 years ago

Can anything be built in this town without the idea of an artist commune coming up?

about 12 years ago

Mmm ... Ivar's. Keep Clam.

I used to grab a snack there while waiting for the 10:35 to Bremerton back in the day.


about 12 years ago

Kodiak, if you have my email address (it's a Gmail) send me a note and I'll email you a copy.

I agree the open air thing is an issue in Duluth, especially.  This is just one idea, it can be adapted.  One problem was that at the time the Duluth's Farmers Market had a near monopoly on the local public market scene.  Monopoly is bad for consumers and growers as a whole. In years it took me to finish in fits and starts we have seen 3 or 4 new healthy public markets pop up so the urgency is gone. 

Same with the Armory. Clyde Iron has devoured their potential market share as a performance space.


about 12 years ago

I'd say knock it down, pave it over and let the food trucks park there.


about 12 years ago

Wildgoose. I emailed you at your Gmail address. Perhaps you didn't get it. Maybe you need to adjust your junk mail filters? Anyway, it's from Hotmail.

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