NorShor project moves to DEDA Wednesday

After seven years of preparation, a plan to refurbish the NorShor Theater and Temple Opera Block is scheduled for consideration today by the Duluth Economic Development Authority (DEDA).

At a 5:15 meeting in Room 303 at Duluth City Hall, DEDA commissioners will consider  a long list of agreements related to the complicated project. In short, all are related to restoring the structures, enabling the NorShor to become a venue for the performing arts and the Temple Opera Building to provide office and other space for the Duluth Playhouse. DEDA owns the structures and Sherman Associates has been selected as developer. Sherman has been instrumental in obtaining historic and other tax credits that was be used to finance the redevelopment. The company will be paid $1.4 million for development services is performs.

The estimated project cost is $30 million. Funding sources include:

• $6.95 million from a state grant.

• $3.8 million from state historic tax credits.

• A legacy grant of $150,000.

• The Duluth Playhouse will borrow $2.3 million as matching funds for the project. Is borrowing $3.5 million from DEDA to finance that expenditure and soft costs.

• A DEDA Tax Increment Financing District (TIF) will be tapped for $1.7 million.

• $3.1 million will originate from federal historic tax credits.

• New market tax credits will supply $4.9 million.

Notable expenditures include $2.3 million for property acquisition, $1.55 million for architectural and design work, $926,000 for Skyway connections and $450,000 for construction management. 

Some of the largest costs are $5.2 million for the Skywalk, elevator and additional stairway, and $12.3 million for non-public improvements such as office space. DEDA officials could not immediately be reached to obtain further details.

Hard construction costs are estimated at $16.5 million excluding property acquisition costs. Sherman and Associates will acquire the property from DEDA for $2.3 million.

The performance venue will be spread across four floors. The basement will provide space for storage and a wardrobe room. The ground floor will accommodate a warming kitchen and tenant space. The second level will have space for a scene shop, private offices, a conference room and restrooms. More storage will be available on the third floor along with rehearsal studios.

If DEDA approves the plan tonight, it will advance for final approval by the city council. A Committee of the Whole meeting is tentatively set at 5:15 p.m. Monday.

Construction is set to begin by May 31 with completion expected by Dec. 31, 2018.