A developer from Minneapolis
is looking at converting polluted industrial property
in West Duluth into upscale housing that would be
complemented by ballfields, shops, a restaurant,
a marina and perhaps even a golf course.
Well, maybe not the
golf course, said some of about 30 neighbors living
near Hallett Dock.
The neighbors met Wednesday
evening with two representatives of Real Estate
Recyclers of Minneapolis. The for-profit development
company has been retained by the companies responsible
for cleaning up the environmental mess. They've
been hired to figure out how best to use the property
Using conceptual drawings
they described as very tentative, the developers
showed neighbors a Hallett Dock area filled with
single-family homes, townhouses, waterfront eateries,
ballfields, soccer fields, a public boat launch
and a golf course.
"The concept is people
near the waterfront,'' said Brian Sullivan, a landscape
architect working for Real Estate Recyclers.
"We want to make sure
we enhance the quality of the neighborhood, not
detract from it,'' Sullivan said. "We want to give
the neighborhood something to make it a better place.
This site has a lot of potential. It's just a great
place for people.''
There was praise for
"It was a pleasant
surprise to see these guys come here, especially
with what they have in mind,'' said Mike Casey,
who lives on the St. Louis River's Kingsbury Bay.
"Where you live, you don't want some factory. For
25 years, I lived a block from Diamond Tool. No
more. I want to see some houses near me. This is
The developers' plans
contrast sharply with the present Hallett Dock area,
now an industrial park with few tenants.
For decades, the river
there had been lined with heavy industry that discharged
waste directly into the water. Four corporations
were tagged to clean up the pollutants, some of
which cause cancer.
One of the responsible
parties, Beazer East, denied responsibility. XIK
Corp., formerly Interlake Corp. of Chicago; Domtar
Inc. of Quebec; and Honeywell International Inc.
of New Jersey, the successor to AlliedSignal, are
now negotiating with citizens and the Minnesota
Pollution Control Agency to determine the best cleanup
The responsible parties
hired Real Estate Recyclers to determine an industrial
reuse for the land once it's cleaned up. That's
the firm's strength. For more than six years, it
has acquired and developed contaminated industrial
land in Milwaukee, Illinois and across Minnesota.
Upon arrival in Duluth,
however, Real Estate Recyclers employees didn't
see factories at the Hallett Dock site. They took
one look at the spectacular views of the river,
the wooded Wisconsin shoreline, Spirit Mountain
and the Grassy Point Bridge and decided housing
and recreation were a better option.
At least one city official
"The Hallett property
is one of the last industrial properties left in
Duluth. We're probably going to recommend it stays
in the city's industrial inventory,'' said Mike
Conlan, the city's director of planning and development.
The city is in the
process of completing an inventory of industrial
land. Conlan said it should be completed within
a few weeks.
"So much of our industrial
property is gone,'' Conlan said. "This piece is
a pretty key component. Their plans are really premature.''
The responsible parties
will likely have to purchase the Hallett Dock property
for the cleanup. Duluthian Jerry Fryberger, president
of Hallett Dock Co., said late Wednesday the company
is more than willing to sell.
"We have always said
that Hallett wants to be as accommodating as possible
to assist in the cleanup,'' he said. "If they're
going to use our property, they'll have to relocate
us ... We have mixed emotions about moving.... We're
giving up a lot of land if we were to leave.''
According to the developers'
plans, they'd buy the land from the responsible
parties. The developers would then put in roads
and utilities and do other site preparation work.
Then they'd sell the land a piece at a time to housing
developers, a marina developer and others.
No price tags have
been connected to the project.
"We're really early
on, but we do have some thoughts,'' developer Paul
Hyde said. "In our successful projects, everyone
cooperates, it's win-win and the community gets
a great asset. This plan is best, long-term, for
Most neighbors at Wednesday's
"We're all boat people
and we like to be on the river,'' said resident
Aurine Casey. "These plans look excellent. I think
it's just a great idea.''
"I like the idea of
a marina,'' said Marlene Simonson, who lives on
Stryker Bay. "And a restaurant would be lovely.
It would be kind of fun, taking a pontoon over in
there. That would be nice.''
A couple neighbors
raised concerns over the golf course idea, citing
the recent controversies over a proposed golf course
at Spirit Mountain. They also felt the property
could be better used for recreation for children
Other concerns were
over a foot bridge across Stryker Bay and the possibility
that new businesses could negatively compete with
existing shops in West Duluth.
"I don't see anything
here that will generate jobs or bring money into
this neighborhood to keep our kids from leaving
town,'' West Duluth resident Jack Paquette said,
voicing the only opposition to the project as a
whole. "How is this going to benefit this community
in the long run? Jobs keep people in the community,
News Tribune reporter Chris Havens contributed