Historic Duluth hotel reborn for modern downtown living

Zenith City Revival LLC owner Mitchell Holmes, left, and designer Kori Kneeland stand in the kitchen of a condominium model at Building No. 12 in downtown Duluth. Zenith City Revival LLC spent more than two years renovating the historic hotel property and is now marketing space inside the building.

Developers have completed major renovation work on a 19th Century Duluth hotel and will market the condominium space to buyers interested in modern downtown living.

Zenith City Revival LLC announced last week a model condominium and more than two floors of unfinished residential space is now open for showing in the rechristened Building No. 12. The historic four-story property at 12 N. Lake Ave. was constructed in 1890 and most recently known as the Gardner Hotel.

The former Gardner Hotel was built in 1890 at 12 N. Lake Ave., adjacent to the Duluth Technology Village. The building has received a full renovation and is now being marketed for condominium space.

“We’ve been working on it really hard for the last year and a half – full tilt,” said Zenith City Revival owner Mitchell Holmes during a property tour last week. “To see people’s jaws drop when they walk into this place is just fun.”

Zenith City Revival has created a new, redesigned storefront lobby and built one second-floor model condominium. The remainder of the building has been stripped to a raw shell featuring exposed brick, hardwood floors, modern utility connections and updated infrastructure.

Holmes said prospective buyers can purchase a wide range of condominium shell space and design a home to suit their needs. The model unit was built out at around 1,000-square-feet and new owners could buy and finish a similar living space for between $220,000 and $315,000.

An unfinished raw floor at 3,200-square-feet is also available for between $300,000 to $380,000.

Holmes called the building location, just off the Lake Avenue and Superior Street intersection, the “Park Place” of Duluth. The rooftop offers jaw-dropping lake views while the skywalk sits right outside a rear door. Residents will have equal access to downtown offices and its growing arts and entertainment scene.

“This is a perfect fit for downtown,” said Tellor Realty Broker Tracey Tellor, who is marketing the property. “With all the resurgence of everything that’s going on downtown. All the new restaurants and art … all the good stuff is happening right here.”

Several building sections offer space for new picture window construction. “We’re cutting out a big window there,” said Holmes, pointing to a south facing wall. “You can see the lift bridge and smell Pizza Luce.”

Real Estate Broker Tracey Tellor stands in the new lobby of Building No. 12 in downtown Duluth. Tellor said she is seeing more clients interested in downtown living.

Designer and Project Manager Kori Kneeland said Building No. 12 shell space offers new condominium owners unlimited options. “It’s just a matter of how you utilize it,” she said. “We have floor plans drawn up with an architect of what it could look like, it’s essentially a shell for you to do whatever you want.”

Kneeland has designed the building lobby with a touch of historic elegance. A refurbished chandelier hangs beneath a newly tiled ceiling and a spiral stair leads to a mezzanine office space. The main staircase uses historic railings and baluster spindles.

“That’s part of just showcasing the original elements of the building and kind of giving it back the life it once had,” she said. “You just think of how many people have been up and down these stairs from 1890 to now.”

According to the Duluth historical website Zenith City Online, a four-story building called the Tremont Hotel opened at 12 N. Lake Ave. in 1890. After an ownership change, it became known as the Gardner Hotel sometime prior to 1947. The hotel fell into disrepair and was hit by a fire in 1975. It closed that same year. In 1988, the City Center Housing Foundation received city funding to renovate the abandoned building for a low-income housing program.

A.H. Zeppa Family Foundation purchased the hotel from an investment group in 2007. The low-income housing program closed its doors the same year. Zeppa’s plans to create an arts center failed to materialize and the building has stood empty for almost 10 years.

Zenith City purchased the property for $250,000 in 2014 on a contract for deed and now owns the property outright.

Holmes said an East Coast lifestyle trend toward smaller-scale living space in historic, urban properties is now arriving in the Midwest. The Building No. 12 project has been designed to fill those demands.

“People want to be downtown,” said Tellor. ”Everyone that I’ve encountered that lives downtown has embraced every part of it.”

Kneeland said Building No. 12 will be unique to Duluth.

“It’s a step outside the box design-wise,” she said. “It’s not your traditional Scandinavian look either. … People are starting to understand how you can utilize space more efficiently.”

7 Comments

Steph

about 2 years ago

"You can […] smell Pizza Luce."

Uh, great.

Logan Klobucher

about 2 years ago

More pictures of the remodel.

Logan Klobucher

about 2 years ago

View out of Kitchen

Logan Klobucher

about 2 years ago

View out of Kitchen.

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