DULUTH – St. Louis Park-based Saturday Properties has agreed to pay $3 million for Duluth's Historic Old Central High School, an iconic landmark known for its clock tower.
Duluth Public Schools released details of the purchase agreement Friday in response to a public records request by the Star Tribune. It was the day after a Duluth News Tribune story questioned the district's denial of its previous request.
The company is seeking approval for state and federal historic tax credits critical for the project's financing, along with tax increment financing from the city. Construction is expected to begin after an October deal closing. The school's famous clock tower and bell will remain, along with many other historic features. The building, to be named Zenith DCHS after the former school's yearbook, will be reconfigured into 121 mixed-income units.
"We're very excited about it," Mark Laverty, the company's development director, said of the plan. "It will be such a fantastic way to revitalize that historic building."
No price was attached to the school when it was listed, and the city offered few details when the plan was announced in October. Historic Old Central was built in 1892 and used as a high school until 1971, when Duluth built a newer Central High School on the city's hillside. A 2019 assessment said Historic Old Central, on local and national historic registers, would require $48.5 million in repairs. Its historic status limits what can be done to the building.
The school district received approval from the Legislature last year to levy up to $31.5 million to build administrative offices — an amount officials say would have otherwise been put toward maintaining Historic Old Central. It will go on a section of the 77-acre property that's home to the newer Central High School, closed for a decade.
Jana Hollingsworth • 218-508-2450