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Business North - The Daily Briefing - Business Newspaper Online
Superior Street reconstruction will require delicate balance
PHOTO: More than 80 persons brought their suggestions to a Tuesday evening Superior Street design session.
When redeveloping Downtown Duluth’s Superior Street corridor, the challenge will be to strike a balance between offering attractive public space and providing adequate on-street parking, said many of the participants said at a Tuesday planning session.
They provided input at the second of at least six public meetings sponsored by the city of Duluth. Stakeholders were asked what they like about Superior Street as it exists today and what alternatives they’d like to see in terms of a street surface, design style and amenities that might attract more shoppers to the city’s central business district.
“It’s an open slate,” said Greater Downtown Council President Kristi Stokes.
As it typical at large planning sessions, participants were divided into groups where input could be voiced, then summarized and explained to the full body. Attendees also were given red and green sticky dots to express their feelings about a wide variety of potential design styles on display throughout the large meeting room.
Opinion was divided about the current brick overlay for the street and adjoining sidewalks, with some people finding the design attractive and others saying the surface is too slippery. As an alternative, some people said the city should use a concrete surface that is stamped to look like bricks.
Other design suggestions included:
• Providing more public spaces, preferably ones that include vegetation.
• Improving the area’s lighting.
• Heating sidewalks during winter months to melt snow and ice.
• Having a downtown theme, possibly one involving the city’s maritime history.
• Providing space for outdoors dining.
• Ensuring the design accommodates persons having disabilities.
In one group, Roger Wedin, director of policy and education for the Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce, cautioned against using elements that might be ruined by snow plows during the winter. That’s what happened with the current design, which originally included attractive concrete bollards, he said. Many were easily damaged when hit by plow blades and car bumpers.
He also noted that Duluthians have never warmed up to parking ramps, preferring to park as near as possible to merchants, so ample on-street parking should continue to be available.
Yet, the proper design will greatly enhance the city’s appeal to visitors and shoppers, said Keith Hamre, director of city planning and construction services.
In some cities, “I’ve seen some main streets that make me say ‘Wow – this is great,’” he said.
Financing the redevelopment remains a work in progress, said planners, who also are seeking input on how to conduct the reconstruction to have minimal impact on downtown retailers and service providers.
The next public planning meeting will be held late in February.
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