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Firm to Explore Red Clay Options

Duluth Downtown Development Authority asks Hill Foley Rossi & Associates to prepare preliminary drawings and estimate cost for pre-development site adjacent to Red Clay Theatre.

The Duluth Downtown Development Authority Tuesday (June 19) authorized the firm of Hill Foley Rossi & Associates to explore preparing vacant land adjacent to the end of the Red Clay Theatre on Main Street for future expansion or development.

DDA Vice President Rob Ponder reported that Hill Foley Rossi had suggested Options 1 and 2 after the DDA had authorized paying up to $1,000 for a preliminary design to erect a wall at the end of the theatre presently covered by unsightly tarpaper, stabilize the wall by pouring a foundation, and eliminate water leakage problems in the basement at its May 22 meeting. The wall may be in danger of collapsing. This proposal identified as Option 1 would be a temporary “bandaid” approach, Ponder said.

Hill Foley Rossi’s Option 2 would resolve these issues but go further by extending the basement and constructing a concrete slab above ground between Pure Taqueria and the Red Clay Theatre that could support a two-story addition. An elevator would eventually serve the basement and both floors. Option 2 would “solve the water leakage problem, solve the tarpaper end problem, and prepare the site for future development,” Ponder said.

There would still be a small alleyway between Pure Taqueria and the Red Clay Theatre, he said.

The concrete slab could be lightly stamped with a pattern and would temporarily serve as outdoor public space, Ponder said. The slab would be at ground level on the Main Street side. On the rear railroad side, it would be elevated and lined with a balustrade. A brick wall matching the Red Clay Theatre’s facade would be constructed from the top of the slab to the ground.

Ponder emphasized that the public space would not be permanent. “We don’t want it to be a rooftop park that the public would expect to remain,” he said.

He displayed sketches of both options to DDA members. Part of the work would have to be redone if the land adjacent to the theatre were developed later. “Option 2 makes more sense,” said DDA member Kathryn Willis.

The DDA voted to have Hill Foley Rossi prepare a preliminary concept set of drawings and a cost estimate for Option 2. Hill Foley Rossi is a Duluth-based architectural and engineering company.

The end of the Red Clay Theatre building was demolished after it suffered irreparable damage from heavy rains and flooding in the fall of 2009. The end was temporarily sealed off from the elements with tarpaper. The roof has since been replaced.

Two air conditioning units have been replaced in the basement of the Red Clay Theatre. The DDA approved paying invoices of $5,020 from low bidder Lane Heating and Air and $480 from Fooks Electric at the May meeting.

At its June meeting, the DDA approved a $1,500 grant through its downtown Facade Grant Program to David and Shelly Howard for the front of the former Sensibly Chic building at 3131A Main St. The space has been leased by Trish Land, which offers home and garden décor, floral creations, and event design services. The grant covers about half the cost of painting the brick and trim and recovering the awning.

Duluth Alcohol Review Board member Luke Livingston appeared before the DDA seeking support for changes to the city’s alcoholic beverage ordinances to be aired at a July 10 ARB meeting.

A request to replace the entry doors at Peace, Love & Decorating at 3129 Main Street was approved by the Core Preservation District Review Board-Commercial (CPD-C) at its June 19 meeting.

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