DULUTH — The long-vacant Central High School property, which sits atop one of the city's midpoint hills and offers a wide and unobstructed view of Lake Superior, will be sold for $8 million to developers based in Minnesota and New York.
The Duluth school board approved a purchase agreement with Chester Creek View LLC on Monday during a special meeting, according to a news release from the Duluth school district. The sale of the 55-acre site is contingent on the demolition of the building that was constructed in the early 1970s — work that is expected to be completed in the fall.
"I am very pleased that the district is moving forward with the sale of Central High School for more than the asking price," Superintendent John Magas said in a news release. "It will be helpful in providing additional resources to the students and families of the district, and will be a wonderful development opportunity for the city of Duluth."
The school district did not offer more information on the buyer or its plans, and the city directed questions to the district. Monday's meeting was a closed-door session.
Developers have twice backed out of purchase agreements for the property. St. Louis Park-based Saturday Properties entered into a purchase agreement with the district in 2021 with plans to build housing, a park and potentially a brewery on the site, which they shared in detail with the school board in early February. A month later they backed out, citing rising construction costs, market conditions and city expectations that created "too many barriers to ensure success of housing on the site."
Saturday Properties also bought Historic Old Central High School, a 130-year-old former school that sits in Duluth's Central Hillside neighborhood. The $3 million sale was not affected by the dissolution of the agreement to purchase the newer property.
Central High School closed in 2011 as part of a long-range facilities plan and at the time was listed for $13.7 million. A $10 million deal with a Chicago-based developer fell through in 2015 because of difficulties involved with working on the marshy and rocky landscape.
Duluth Edison Charter Schools wanted the property for its own high school in 2016, but the school board rejected the $14.2 million bid because of a policy to not sell property to competitors.