House Hunting in Riverside

My husband and I have recently thought about buying a house in Duluth. There have been a few houses in the Riverside neighborhood that have caught our eyes, but we aren’t really familiar with that part of town. Can anyone offer up any kind of information regarding Riverside?

23 Comments

waferdog

about 6 years ago

You are probably going to get a wide variety of opinions on that question.  I live in Morgan Park and love it.  Huge house built to withstand a hurricane, incredibly cheap compared to other parts of town, parks, water access, very quiet, great neighbors with the occasional shithead and yet there are those from other parts of town who seem to think that Morgan Park is worse than Detroit.  It isn't, in fact I believe the crime rates for this part of town are really no different than Woodland or Lakeside in reality.

Niff Bimrod

about 6 years ago

isn't it considered a flood plain?

Bridgette Coughlin Baker

about 6 years ago

There has been a recent push at revitalization focused on this neighborhood and others along the St. Louis River/Grand Ave. Corridor.  

MPR: Mayor Ness turns Duluth's attention towards St. Louis River communities

Lithis

about 6 years ago

I lived in Riverside as a teenager. It was nice.

You've got easy access to both the Munger Trail and the Western Waterfront Trail, so hiking, biking, rollerblading, and snowmobiling are all within easy reach. We lived right on the Munger Trail and I had a bedroom window facing it, but I don't remember being bothered by snowmobile noise at all in the winter. The bottom access to Spirit Mountain is also close. I remember walking there carrying my skis at least once.

MomAH

about 6 years ago

There actually is very little crime in Lakeside or Woodland.  They are significantly different than some parts of the city. However, you can find relatively crime-free areas whether you are looking east, north, or west. The website crimemapping.com has a great interactive map showing police reports from all parts of the city. It can be filtered by date and you can zoom in or out as much as you want. It shows Riverside as pretty quiet as far as crime goes.

If schools are an important issue, then look into what has been going on in that aspect, too. The DNT had an interesting article about two weeks ago discussing the redrawing of boundaries so schools have more equal enrollment. The recent implementation of the Red Plan does not seem to have been equitable to those living in the western part of Duluth. The current boundaries have put Denfeld at a significant disadvantage in its ability to offer the same kind of curriculum as is found at East due to the much smaller enrollment at Denfeld.

Luckily, if access to outdoor recreation is important to you, then most places in Duluth, including Riverside, excel.

waferdog

about 6 years ago

Momah - That was kind of my point about crime.  The incidence of various crimes are really no different in Riverside or Morgan Park as they are in Woodland or Lakeside, which means they aren't that bad.

Stephanie Peterson

about 6 years ago

Thank you all for being so helpful! We are mostly attracted to the area because of the proximity to trails and outdoor recreation. All I have ever heard is to stay away from the western portion of the city, but as we have been exploring, we haven't come across any glaring reason for why we should not consider a house in this part of town. The crime map was very helpful and reassuring as well as the article on the revitalization of this part of the city!

Ramos

about 6 years ago

Yes, stay away from the western side of town--unless you're looking for good deals on large houses, surrounded by nice neighbors. I get really irritated by the huge cloud of wussiness that seems to hang over the city all the time.  People are so afraid of everything. I've lived in the West End for nine years. We've had one garden gnome stolen, one cheap ceramic lawn table ornament stolen and our van rummaged through once when I forgot to lock it ($7 in quarters stolen). I can live with that, considering you get twice as much house for the money you would pay in Lakeside or Piedmont Heights. 

The so-called "bad" areas of town aren't going to improve until people stop cringing at every shadow and give them a try and realize that they're not even bad.

jamesg

about 6 years ago

It's Duluth....crime is low everywhere.   I know plenty of people who live West and they love it.  I moved to Duluth about 10 years ago to the Lester Park neighborhood.  I personally wouldn't want to live anywhere else, but I don't think you can go wrong living anywhere in Duluth.  Moving up north from Minneapolis, I have found that people in Duluth are hypersensitive to crime.  There really isn't any crime in Duluth especially if take care to keep yourself and your belongings safe.

Rae

about 6 years ago

I'm loving this well-balanced discussion offering up the advantages of living in different areas of Duluth.   

I lived in Gary New Duluth for 9-years and was always amazed at the stigma that surrounded it. One time (the only time I ever had an issue in nine years) there was a man who decided to take a nap on the bench on our patio, he left as soon as we woke him up. I had great and helpful neighbors, it was clean, quiet, affordable, close to Jay Cooke State Park and the lovely drive of Highway 23, and only about a eight-minute drive to the on ramp for I-35 N. My "commute" to working in Superior was no more than 15 minutes.

Personally, I always feel a little crowded when I look at houses on the East end of town, but I see the feeling of denser population as a trade off for access to restaurants and the lake.

emmadogs

about 6 years ago

These comments have made me very curious as to whether, in what way, and why the West End gets a bad rap. What ever occurred that led to a bad perception? And what, exactly, is the bad perception? Is the west end of town supposed to be especially ... what, drug ridden, bad architecture, away from downtown ... what?

Nick L

about 6 years ago

Riverside is a nice neighborhood.  Lots of natural beauty and recreation.  It's definitely worth exploring.

We recently moved to Woodland after 8 years in Morgan Park because our growing family needed more room.  This is all Duluth to us.  Here, I've got quick access to Hartley.  Out west I had the Munger Trail, Spirit Mt. and the river.  I've also lived in Kenwood, Congdon Park and Hunter's Park.  All good places.

I'm not sure what led to the West is Bad perception.  It's not as strong as I remember when I moved here decades ago.  Maybe it's a cultural thing with west being traditionally industrial and east hosting more retail and professional businesses.  I'm looking forward to the answers in future comments.

Karl

about 6 years ago

To answer the question of what led to the West Side's bad rap--a lot of it has to do with Duluth's economic history. 50 years ago there was a robust manufacturing center based out that way, but a lot of that fell off in the 1980s. I don't have numbers, but I'd assume most of Duluth's demographic decline over that time happened on the west side; the main employers on the east side (hospitals, universities, corporate and government jobs) are much more resistant to recessions than manufacturing. That made for relative stability out East and a lot of empty space and some neglect out West, and once that reputation is ingrained, it creates a set of incentives that is hard to reverse. (Ask anywhere in the rust belt.) Thankfully, there have been some signs of real positive energy out west lately. People are starting to notice that it's not Detroit.

I think the West Side's biggest issue now isn't really the perception that it's horrible and blighted; it's more of a "why bother" attitude. It's just sort of there. It's not terrible, but there's this sense that nothing much has happened out that way since 1980. "Look, it's really not that bad" isn't a very good selling point. There has to be a more comprehensive sales pitch--which, again, we've started to see recently.

Schools are probably a part of it. People complain about the enrollment imbalance, and while there are some things the District can and should do to fix that, or at least guarantee greater equity in course offerings, etc., reality is that roughly 50% of the student-aged population lives east of 21st Ave. E. Higher-income areas almost always produce higher test scores, so (right or wrong) the East Side will probably continue to draw families because of that. Because the school-aged population on the west side had been hollowed out, the Red Plan closures hit it much harder than the east side, in turn causing more disruption. It's a difficult cycle to escape.

Also, a few areas that do suffer from some urban blight--the old Seaway in Lincoln Park, for example--can drag down the public perception of an entire area. Most of Lincoln Park is pretty placid, but there are a few pockets that scare people off. The paper mill smell is another complaint I've heard. On the flip side, proximity to Congdon can make some of the middle-class east side neighborhoods look glitzier than they are. Public perception of a region often trends toward the extremes.

If you haven't read enough of my blathering, I've spilled out an awful lot on Duluth's east-west divide ... some of the highlights are available at apatientcycle.com.

cosmojr

about 6 years ago

If you love being moments from the river, Munger Trail, Jay Cooke, Spirit Mountain, marina, Riverside is a great choice. I believe with the focus of the mayor and the western communities to bring some vitalization to the area it's a great place to move into. If you choose to ... "Welcome to the Neighborhood!"

Here is an article written by someone who moved out west: 
"The West Side Feels Like Home to Me"

The west side is shedding the old perception. It's just that, perception. What's going on out west is great. One commenter mentioned that its just ok, that may well have been in the past but its not like that anymore. The younger generation seems to have been a big plus for the west. It is great to see them moving in and getting involved with the neighborhoods.

The mayor is focusing on the Western River Corridor. Mayor Ness brings great ideas and energy to the area. It's a great time to become involved with the new focus out west.

Cameeela

about 6 years ago

@ RAMOS:  Um, you neglected to mention that woman who was banging on our front door with beer in hand because she wanted a hug.

Ramos

about 6 years ago

That happens everywhere we live. It's not a West End thing.

lojasmo

about 6 years ago

I think riverside is nice. There's lots of, um ... rivers and such.

HoppedDuluth

about 6 years ago

I'm a big proponent of West Duluth.  I work in the Riverside neighborhood, but live just above Skyline in Lincoln Park.  I've always been surprised by the reticence of many of my friends that have moved to town to look anywhere in West Duluth for a home.  Sometimes it seems that Duluth is a "tale of two cities" with regards to East and West.  I think folks covered the crime issue in previous posts ... it's negligible.  

I'm absolutely blown away by the amount of trails and opportunities for recreational solitude in West Duluth. You can take a run through Hartley and see 30 people, or hike the Superior Hiking Trail up to Ely's peak and be lucky if you see one person. You've got great backwater paddling on the St. Louis River right out your doorstep. Downhill flow trails at Spirit, new Mission Creek (COGGS) trails in Fond du Lac, Munger Trail, hidden segments of Skyline between Becks Road and Fond du Lac, great sections of the SHT, the old Duluth and Winnipeg railroad grade, the Western Waterfront trail, West Skyline Drive, cross-country skiing at Magney-Snively, etc.  

The one thing I think Riverside is lacking, in my opinion, is proximity to grocery stores and retail outlets. It's kind of remote, and Kmart and Super One are your options about 5 miles down Grand Avenue. Beaner's Coffee, Italian Village, Pak's Green Corner and, more distant Bent Paddle, are improving the situation. The new Co-Op in West Duluth will help the situation as well. As noted in a previous comment, you can get way more house for your money in Spirit Valley or Riverside. The little neighborhood north of Grand around 90 Avenue West is super sweet.

Merrittdweller

about 6 years ago

I can tell you as a 20-something who has purchased a home in the Denfeld neighborhood over two years ago, I never once regretted my move. I went to college at UMD and continually heard how bad West Duluth was and to not frequent out in these areas. I did and I love it.  

Riverside is a great neighborhood; you have access to the St. Louis River which provides for canoe or kayak access if you're into that -- great bird watching during the migration season. The trails are nearly endless providing the best views in Duluth (see the above post for the comprehensive list!). Super One has all the groceries we have ever needed, and we will have the Whole Foods Co-op next year. While it would be great to have a few more restaurants, there is enough to get by (and there are more restaurants out here than people believe). You have the Lake Superior Zoo which is going through a revisioning process -- Spirit Mountain if you ski or bike, and the Timber Twister in the summer.

These neighborhoods feel like communities and you will get to know your neighbors very quickly, which is something I have found lacking in the rest of the city. You get more house for your dollar, and access to the freeway puts you only 10 minutes from Downtown. The west side is changing and there is a lot of optimism about the community and the focus the mayor has put on it. Now is certainly the time to move west in my opinion.

Beverly

about 6 years ago

I would consider how long it takes to drive downtown, and to buy groceries or go to Target, etc. That might wear on me over time living there. A lot of people prefer living tucked away from all that, though. And the crime issue isn't something I would have thought to worry about. The area isn't known for high crime. I might expect an old housing stock that becomes a money pit, but you'll be able to assess that as you look at each house.

Ziggy

about 6 years ago

I've lived in Riverside for 13 years now, so I will admit at the outset to being biased.  We love the easy access to the St. Louis River, the Munger Trail, Western Waterfront Trail, Spirit Mountain.  In fact, our kids walked to Spirit Mountain on many occasions.  The neighborhood looks better than ever with the streets and storm sewers being redone and we like that there are now two entrances to the community (also part of that project). We have never felt unsafe in this neighborhood and are frustrated by the idea that living East is so much safer/better than living West.  Riverside is a good community of good people.

Stephanie Peterson

about 6 years ago

Wow! I could not have hoped for a better response from everyone! After looking around the various neighborhoods and after reading the posts here, we are pretty much sold on the western portion of town now. Thank you all again for great information!

miskwaa

about 6 years ago

Years ago, it was because it was working class, and the "East" side viewed itself as somewhat superior because it had more Norwegians and Yankees, compared to the filthy ethnics west of the point of rocks, despite their being just as many  there. They just weren't white collar. But, it was industrial, and thus it was dirty; I saw the last days of that in the 70's, and between the Steel plant, the Atlas cement plant filling your tub with dust every morning and the rails and trestles right in town, it could look sort of dismal. The East High School chant used to be " you work for our dads", bleh bleh bleh.  It was just about lunch bucket versus suit and tie.  When the Steel plant closed, it really knocked the west side down.  There were other things that closed also, so  when I came out of school in the early 80's there probably wasn't a job within 20 miles, and that was true for everyone. There were a bunch of young people with nothing to do, no jobs, few prospects close to home and not everyone wanted to or could run off.  There was a lot of alcohol, drugs and some wild activity, but frankly that was true of just about everywhere at that time., believe me., and your greatest danger was having your toolbox or minibike stolen. Many of the people weren't that nice to outsiders,especially far out west, as it had been very insular for a long time. Adding that to the lack of any opportunity is why I and most of that generation left.  But, it wasn't truly that violent, just a much tougher place than the other side of town.  That collapse in the 70's and 80's left a perception...and when I go through now, I am stunned when I see what was and what is now. I think that is because it hasn't fully transitioned yet and people haven't discovered how nice it is or they still go by perceptions.  I see the same thing almost everywhere I go; the media exaggerates any event, so three young kids half drunk and fighting in an alley turns into a horde of rapacious barbarians.

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