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Duluth developers eyes old jail for apartments

  • Associated Press
  • March 28, 2013 - 11:43 AM

DULUTH, Minn. - It might not be the first place you'd imagine calling home, but a Duluth developer wants to turn the city's former St. Louis County Jail into apartments.

Developer Grant Carlson told the Duluth News Tribune ( http://bit.ly/11QslvW) that he originally planned to market the property as commercial/office space, but after researching the local market, he realized the need for rental units in the city's downtown area.

Duluth Mayor Don Ness said the city's downtown has an "extreme need" for new rental units.

"There is a real need for work force housing in our city," he said. "The rental market is really tight, especially for young professionals."

Carlson is envisioning a 26-unit building that would be a mix of one- and two-bedroom units and efficiency apartments with a slick, modern feel. He said the ground floor might be reserved for commercial or retail use or studio space for artists.

"There are clearly some good market indicators to support such a project in Duluth," he said.

The jail was built in 1924 and has sat empty since 1995. Carlson and his father and business partner, Clint Carlson, bought the jail in 2009 for $54,000.

He said they've invested about $500,000 in the building so far, including installing a new roof, tuck-pointing the building's masonry and repairing damaged terra cotta work. Part of that funding came in the form of a $225,000 check from the Minnesota Historical and Cultural Grant Program.

Carlson estimates needing another $2 million to $4 million to make the necessary conversions, and is looking for a development partner from the Twin Cities.

The jail narrowly escaped the wrecking ball after the Preservation Alliance of Minnesota identified it as one of the state's 10 most endangered historic places.

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Information from: Duluth News Tribune, http://www.duluthsuperior.com

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