The Duluth Seaway Port Authority has completed its $950,000 purchase of the Duluth Lake Port dock on Rice's Point, advancing plans to rehabilitate a stretch of properties in the region.

The 7.5-acre Duluth Lake Port dock and a 3.5-acre slip date to the 1880s and were previously used as a flour mill, grain elevators and storage.

The purchase closed Dec. 1, officials announced Thursday, and includes land, buildings, the slip and 3,000 feet of rail lines that connect to the city's adjacent Clure Public Marine Terminal and to the CN Duluth Intermodal Terminal.

The site, which sits near Azcon Metals' recycling property, will become part of the city's larger plan to update and refurbish the area.

"We're excited to acquire this property, which will help us strengthen the port's working waterfront, enhance trade and bring new opportunities to Rice's Point," said Port Authority Executive Director Deb DeLuca.

The Port Authority bought the dock from TN LLC, which had acquired it in 2017.

Duluth Cargo Connect now operates the dock's rail line and a shop building, while J.F. Brennan leases part of the property to store maritime and engineering equipment and materials.

"Our future use of this property is still in the planning phases, but our goal is to revitalize the pier and bring it back to life in a way that contributes to our regional economy and further expands Duluth Cargo Connect's service to customers within our region and around the globe," DeLuca said. "In the long term, it could become a second expansion of the Clure Terminal."

The city spent $18 million expanding the Clure Terminal in 2016 as part of a longer-term Port Authority project to transform a dilapidated dock into a vibrant piece of the Duluth Cargo Connect multimodal logistics hub, DeLuca said. The investment paid off.

This season, the Clure Terminal played an "essential role in the port's record-setting wind energy cargo campaign," she said.

With the expansion of the Clure Terminal, Duluth's Port Authority welcomed a record 525,000 freight tons of turbine blades and other energy cargo in 2020. That eclipsed the previous high of 306,000 freight tons in 2019.

The hope is that the new purchase and future redevelopment of the Duluth Lake Port dock will produce similar gains and drive bigger cargo milestones for the region, DeLuca said.

In the near term, the city expects to rehabilitate the pier's dock walls, secure the site and open it to possible freight use. Possibilities include demolishing the dock's grain elevator structures or keeping those buildings while using the land for non-agriculture storage.

Dee DePass • 612-673-7725